Oakland Raiders offensive lineman Khalif Barnes is like a cockroach that just won’t die. He first joined the Raiders in 2009 on a one-year contract and he keeps coming back, season after season, on one-year deal after one-year deal. He has been a starter on occasion, but for the most part has been a super-sub, there to fill in whenever an injury takes place or to replace an underachieving starter. Known for his tendency to false start and allow pass rushers into the backfield, Barnes has never played well enough to secure more than a one-year contract, let alone a recurring role as a starter.
At the same time, he has shown enough for the Raiders to continuously re-sign him. In fact, other than special teams strongholds Jon Condo and Sebastian Janikowski, Barnes is the longest-tenured player on the entire Raiders roster, much to the dismay of many Raiders fans.
Barnes is far from a fan favorite, but he is a coaches’ favorite. He is a hard worker who give it his all in the offseason and during practice. He’s also the prototypical team player, ready to contribute in any way the coaching staff needs. That showed last season when he was asked to play guard despite spending his career as a tackle. Barnes did well at his new position — even earning a starting role in the preseason — only to be unseated by Gabe Jackson before Week 1.
This year, however, Barnes could very well find himself in competition to start once again. As the roster currently stands, the Raiders do not have anyone penciled in at right guard — unless, of course, you count Barnes. Austin Howard, who played the position last year, could be moved back to right tackle where he belongs and the team did not sign anyone in free agency to replace him. (The unofficial depth chart on the Raiders’ website lists Barnes as the starting right tackle and Howard as the starter at right guard.) That leaves Kevin Boothe, a guy who didn’t see the field in 2014 for a reason, Menelik Watson, a tackle who might be better suited as a guard and the Khalif “The Cockroach” Barnes.
It is assumed that the Raiders will draft a guard, but there’s no guarantee they can land another starting caliber player like they did with Jackson in 2014. No matter what happens in the draft, there will be a serious competition for the starting right guard role in 2015 and Barnes figures to play a big role in that competition.