I took a look yesterday at the best and worst defensive players for the Oakland Raiders in 2013. Given the fact that the defense was absolutely unwatchable at times, the hardest part was figuring out which terrible performer was the worst. But given the fact that there is a standout talent on defense in Lamarr Houston, picking the best player wasn’t too difficult.
On offense neither answer is obvious. The Raiders offense, though better than it was under Greg Knapp in 2012, was decidedly boring in 2013. There was no identity as two different quarterbacks with different styles and different play books each played for nearly half of a season. The starting running back, Darren McFadden, once again went down with injury and the Raiders had to change game plans for back up Rashad Jennings, whose style is much different than McFadden’s.
On a unit where mediocrity ruled the day, it is hard to choose a best and worst because almost everyone was in the same range of bad but not terrible play. Obviously there are some guys who stood out as better than the rest, but none of them had a truly special year, just a year that looks good compared to the rest of the Raiders offense.
Worst player on offense: Lucas Nix, offensive guard
Clearly the worst part of the Raiders offense in 2013 was the offensive line. The line was made up of undrafted free agents and guys picked up off of the street and was missing its best piece for most of the season in Jared Veldheer. Essentially held together with sticks and glue, the line was nothing short of pathetic. But among that group of scrubs, one man stood out as distinctly worst than the rest.
Lucas Nix was the worst player on the worst offensive line in the league. That is saying something. But it gets worse. At one point in the season, Nix had the worst score on Pro Football Focus of any offensive guard in the history of the site. Though he finished the season with a string of games where he played about average, most of the season he was one of the worst players on the team.
Nix would have been lucky to make the practice squad of most NFL teams and yet he was a starting guard for the Raiders. That tells you something about the lack of quality on that roster in 2013.
Much like on defense, both the best and worst players on offense can be found on the line. Had he been healthy, left tackle Jared Veldheer likely would have been the best offensive player since he is probably the best player on the entire roster. In his absence, Wisniewski was easily the best player on the Raiders offensive line, as well as the best player on their offense.
Young Wiz, the nephew of Raider legend Steve Wisniewski, has played both guard and center since being selected by the Raiders in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He has shown the ability to play at a Pro Bowl level at times, but has not quite been able to do it consistently yet. But in a year when he was flanked by two very bad guards, Nix and Mike Brisiel, Wisniewski still managed to shine, scoring the highest ranking of anyone on offense on PFF with plenty of room to spare.
As the Raiders prepare for the start of the 2014 league year, Nix may be looking at his departure from the Silver and Black, and possibly from the NFL. Meanwhile, Wisniewski will clearly be back, but could see his position changed again. The Raiders need help at guard and there is some good free agent talent available at center. For both, the future seems pretty clear. Wisniewski will probably continue to grow as a player and hopefully make a few Pro Bowls in his career while Nix will be lucky to make another regular season roster.