With the signing of Donald Penn, the Raiders have added three new offensive linemen to the mix in Oakland. After losing Jared Veldheer to free agency and Rodger Saffold to a failed physical, the Raiders signed Austin Howard, Kevin Boothe and now Penn. All three are favorites to be starters on the offensive line, but the Raiders are not promising anything to anyone.
Austin Howard told Greg Papa and John Lund on 95.7 The Game that the Raiders told him the best five offensive linemen would take the field on opening day. Clearly part of Reggie McKenzie’s plan is to get versatile linemen who can play pretty much anywhere. This provides added depth and camp competition, since pretty much every position is up for grabs.
The Raiders have 12 offensive linemen on the roster right now: Howard, Boothe, Penn, Menelik Watson, Khalif Barnes, Mike Brisiel, Tony Bergstrom, Stefen Wisniewski, Lamar Mady, Lucas Nix, Jarrod Shaw and Jack Cornell. Clearly a few of those players are just camp guys or destined for the practice squad, but including the three new names, there are eight players who should be competing for starting jobs with Oakland. I also would not be surprised if McKenzie isn’t finished adding offensive linemen. There is always the chance they use the No. 5 pick on a tackle, but there is also a chance they add another versatile free agent to the mix.
McKenzie has shown a desire to strengthen the offensive and defensive lines this offseason, something that was long overdue. The Raiders have suffered from inept play along the offensive line for the majority of their Decade of Disaster, and they’ve been looking to fix that area of the team since drafting Robert Gallery with the second overall pick in 2004. Masked by consistent struggles behind center, the offensive line in Oakland has been one of the squad’s biggest problems for years.
This is not exactly what one would call a dominant offensive line, but it is far better than anything seen in Oakland in several years. The unit should be able to create holes for the running game and provide better protection in the pass game. Finally fixing the offensive line is a great way to start free agency for the Raiders.