In part one of this series, I explained that Tom Cable has had a huge impact on the overall look of the Oakland Raiders. This is most evident when you look at the group of players to be featured in this second part, the offensive line.
Not only has Cable brought in some young talent, but the hiring of offensive coordinator Hue Jackson will free Cable from his play calling duties and allow him to concentrate on what he does best---coaching the offensive line and motivating players.
The fresh talent, more attention from Cable, and the influence of Hue Jackson should result in drastic improvement by the Raider's offensive line.
That said, the odds of me actually being able predict this portion of the depth chart correctly are astronomical. There is so much new talent and so many rumors about position changes that it will be nearly impossible to get it right, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway!
Let's do it...
In 2009 Raider fans were pleasantly surprised by the emergence of Mario Henderson. He didn't play perfectly, but he did play better than anyone expected.
Henderson is going to be pushed by returning veteran Khalif Barnes and rookies Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell, but is almost a lock to win the job.
Backing Henderson up will be veteran Langston Walker and Veldheer. Walker came in and played pretty well at guard when the line was shuffled due to the injury of Robert Gallery. That said, tackle is Walker's natural position and he should compete for the starting job on the right side, but we'll talk about that a bit later.
Veldheer is sure to be a great player in the future, but is coming from a small school and will need time to adjust to the speed of the NFL. Once he does, he will be competing for the starting job.
No real shocker here. Robert Gallery's flowing mane will once again be found next to the center on opening day.
Starting his career as "the tackle of the future", Gallery struggled, but has since found a home as a dominating guard on the Raiders' offensive line. 2010 should be no different and Gallery will once again anchor the interior of the line of scrimmage.
The back-ups at both guard spots are much more difficult to predict. Cooper Carlisle is the most experienced, but is rumored to be on his way out. Daniel Loper and Brandon Rodd are also on the roster, along with undrafted rookie Alex Parsons.
Assuming Carlisle stays with the team, he will be the first back-up. Following him it's anyone's guess. Something tells me that Parsons is better than anyone thought. He is also diverse enough to play center. This should keep him on the roster ahead of Rodd and Loper, but behind Carlisle.
The center position is one that will be contested this offseason with the incumbent, Sampson Satele, winning the battle once again.
Criticized for being too small, Satele is sure to hit the weight room and supplements to allow him to gain weight. He has the awareness and understanding, he just didn't hold up to the big, bull-rushing nose tackles of 3-4 defenses. If he adds 20 pounds, that problem is solved.
I'm looking for Chris Morris and Alex Parsons to battle for the back-up job. I think it's pretty certain that Morris will win that battle, but Parsons will give him a run for his money.
Having Parsons as a "utility" C/G will be nice for depth and should keep him off the practice squad.
Bruce Campbell was expected to go to the Raiders with the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft. However, Al Davis did the prudent thing and waited to pick him in the fourth round.
I expect Campbell to take the "Robert Gallery road to success." Come out of college as a left tackle, work hard, and wind up being a very good guard. Like Gallery, he is a freakishly athletic big man which is ideal for playing the guard spot.
Once again, the second and third string guards are much more difficult to predict. Carlisle, Rodd, Loper, and Parsons will all be fighting to stay on the team. Once again, I'm inclined to beleive that coach Cable will end up keeping Carlisle for his experience and Parsons for his versatility.
This leaves Loper and Rodd as the odd men out. One should make the practice squad and one will be looking for work elsewhere.
Right tackle was the most difficult for me to attempt to predict. There are some pretty equally talented players vying for this spot. I'm leaning towards Khalif Barnes---at the moment!
Langston Walker, Erik Pears, and Jared Veldheer will all be in the mix for the starting job. At this moment there is not a clear leader in my mind. Walker and Barnes have the experience which gives them a slight edge.
Pears and Veldheer are young and talented, but Pears has a couple of years in the current system, giving him an edge on Veldheer. However, it's looking like Veldheer has more overall upside and is a hard worker.
This position is up in the air to tell the truth!
It's looks to me like Walker and Veldheer will be listed on the depth chart as the back-up tackles, but we can't sleep on Pears as he is sure to give it all he's got, assuming he stays with the team.
This is the position that I'm am least confident about my picks. I just don't see a clearly defined winner at this point, but it's the best I could do at this time. We'll all know more when training camp rolls around.
Let's see what offensive line coach Jim Michalczik will have to work with...
T: Walker, Veldheer
G: Pears, Parsons
C: Morris, Parsons
That makes a total of 10 offensive linemen which is more than most teams carry, but with the luck the Raider's have had with injury, they will likely carry more than most teams.
There is so much work to be done and so many possibilities that Head Coach Tom Cable's head just might explode soon!
As I said in the opening slide, it is highly unlikely that I got all of these positions correct. I'm very confident about the left side and center, but the right side positions are too contested to judge accurately at this point.
I reserve the right to re-evaluate and re-work this depth chart some time after training camp!
So, what do you think Raider Nation? How did I do? Where am I right? Where am I wrong? Let me hear your opinions about this!
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