The Las Vegas Raiders’ offensive line has been an issue all season and that was never more evident than during their most recent game on Monday night.
Quarterback Derek Carr was sacked four times and the team averaged just 2.7 yards per carry on the ground against the Chargers. On the year as a whole, the Silver and Black have allowed 12 sacks - tied for the fifth-most in the NFL - and average 3.3 yards per rush - second-worst in the NFL.
One of the biggest culprits in pass protection has been rookie right tackle, Alex Leatherwood. Per Pro Football Focus, Leatherwood is responsible for four sacks and has surrendered 18 pressures, while grading out as the second-worst pass protector at the position.
Heading into the Draft, many felt the eventual first-round pick would be better suited at guard for this reason and apparently, the Raiders coaching staff is now seeing that as well. Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently shared that Leatherwood is taking reps in practice at right guard and backup Brandon Parker has stepped in at right tackle.
In Week 2, Parker played the entire second half and surrendered two pressures and no sacks, so Las Vegas should at least get a small boost in pass protection if this change holds. That’s good news seeing as Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn are coming to town this weekend.
As far as the ground game goes, Jermaine Eluemunor has been the primary right guard for the Silver and Black so far this year, but it sounds like that’s going to change. For what it’s worth, Eluemunor has earned a 49.5 run-blocking grade from PFF, which ranks 65th at the position but is still higher than John Simpson’s 40.2 mark. Bonsignore has also confirmed that Simpson is still at left guard in practice.
Circling back to Leatherwood, he’s actually had some success as a run blocker this season, though still nothing to write home about with a 53.9 grade in that realm. A move to the inside could help give his grade a boost though, and he has experience at guard having played there as a sophomore at Alabama.
Adam Hill of the Review-Journal recently shared that offensive coordinator Greg Olson said the team is “still looking at finding different ways to get our best five guys on the field and find that combination.”
Raiders OC Greg Olson says of Alex Leatherwood taking reps at guard that the team is just trying some new things: "We're still looking at finding different ways to get our best five guys on the field and find that combination."— Adam Hill (@AdamHillLVRJ) October 7, 2021
As of right now, there’s been no news in regards to changes at center as Andre James would likely be the next starting offensive lineman to lose his spot if more shuffling is coming. James has struggled in pass protection and the ground game this year, while veteran Nick Martin sits behind him.
In the video shared by ESPN’s Paul Guitierrez, Martin can be seen standing right next to the coaching staff, guard Lester Cotton is the only other backup that is visible, and Martin steps up and takes some reps with the first unit at the very end.
Again, the Bears have an impressive defensive line so this isn’t the best week to try and solve offensive line issues, but the Raiders will have to make do and figure it out quickly.