The offensive line that paved the way for the Raiders' No. 2 ranked rushing offense last season will look a little different in 2011.
When Tom Cable was replaced by Hue Jackson it was clear that there were going to be changes made along the offensive line.
Jackson has said that he wants to build a bully and to be a bully in the NFL it all starts up front. You need some big maulers up front if your going to bully around any NFL defensive linemen. Not every linemen from last years squad matches what Hue Jackson wants.
Guys like Robert Gallery and Cooper Carlisle are better suited to play for a team that uses a zone blocking scheme.
Gallery has already moved on to Seattle.
Carlisle has attended practices, but may be cut before the season starts.
The Raiders added a couple of prospects during the NFL Draft. Stefen Wisniewski and Joseph Barksdale have what it takes to be successful in the NFL. Both have good size, strength and smarts. Whether they both start or not depends on how fast they catch on in the NFL.
Now that the lockout has been lifted, free agency is upon us. The Raiders are sure to add at least one offensive lineman through free agency. Maybe more?
Is that a big man or what? Jason Campbell would surely feel comfortable with this beast watching his blindside.
Numerous reports have stated that the Raiders are in discussions with Jared Gaither's agent. This move was expected with former Baltimore coaches Hue Jackson and Al Saunders currently in Oakland.
Jared Gaither would finally solidify the LT position for the Raiders. He was playing at an elite level before he had to miss the 2010 season due to a back injury. His agent said that he is 100 percent healed and ready to go.
At 6'9" 340 lbs he is a beast of a left tackle. Gaither is a mauler in the run game and has proven he can hold his ground against elite pass rushers. If the Raiders can sign him it would go a long way towards building that bully that Jackson desires.
Last season when Robert Gallery was hurt—yet again—Daniel Loper did an excellent job at LG. Al Davis and Hue Jackson obviously liked what they saw as the Raiders locked him up for the next two seasons with a four million dollar contract.
He isn't the biggest guy on the field, but he has above average size at 6'6" 320 lbs. He did a great job last season opening holes for McFadden and Bush as well as holding up against the pass rush for Campbell.
Personally, I thought Loper did a better job than Gallery last season and wasn't at all surprised when the Raiders announced that they weren't going to re-sign him.
He'll have to earn his spot at LG, but he may end up starting for the Raiders.
The Raiders made Stefen Wisniewski their first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and Jackson has already stated that he will be the starting center for the Raiders. Of course, he will have some competition since last year's starting center Samson Satele is still around.
Young WIZ is 6'3" and 325 lbs. His size and strength will help him against those big nose tackles that gave Oakland's centers problems in the past.
He is a mauler and plays with a mean streak. He goes hard from snap to whistle and then some. I am confident he will be a tough competitor throughout his career.
Reports have the Raiders making a run at the five-year veteran who helped pave the way for the Cardinals prolific offense when they made it to the Super Bowl a few years ago. Deuce Lutui has started all but one game during the last four seasons and had nine starts as a rookie.
Lutui is a big man and would be a huge upgrade over Cooper Carlisle.—literally and figuratively.
At 338 lbs he is nearly 50 lbs heavier than Carlisle. I am sure he fits what Jackson envisions as a bully and I know that Darren McFadden would love to run behind this guy.
Lutui would be a huge addition if Al Davis can get him in the silver and black. If the Raiders are lucky, he will be signed by the time you read this.
Arizona has agreed to terms with former Packers guard Daryn Colledge, making it likely that Lutui will sign elsewhere.
Jared Veldheer began the season as the starting center but ended up finding a home at left tackle after rotating with the disappointment known as Mario Henderson.
There were games where Veldheer played some good football and there were games in which he just couldn't handle his man coming off the edge. Overall, he was better run blocking for McFadden than he was at protecting Jason Campbell's blindside.
In a recent interview Veldheer said that he felt "skinny" last year. He bulked up a bit adding some muscle to his frame to help him hold up against those bull rushers. He seems to be on the right track athletically and physically and should prove to be a steal for the Raiders.
Playing RT will be an easier task for Veldheer since he won't be lined up against the elite pass rushers as often. Veldheer along with the other Jared will give the Raiders two huge book ends on the offensive line.
LT: Gaither, LG: Loper, C: Wisniewski, RG: Lutui and RT: Veldheer.
If things work out, this could be the Raiders starting unit in 2011.
Of course, there are other players in the mix. Guys like Bruce Campbell and Joseph Barksdale have the ability to lock up one of the positions if they can catch on. Either way I believe the Oakland Raiders offensive line will be beefed up and an overall better unit than last year's.
I predict that the Raiders lead the league in rushing behind the new and improved offensive line along with the running of McFadden, Bush, and Juice Jones.
Their passing game will continue to grow. Jason Campbell is going to have that extra split second he needs. DHB, Murphy, and Ford were open more often than most realize, but the problem was that Jason Campbell didn't get a chance to stand in the pocket and go through his progressions. This unit can fix that problem.
If the Raiders are going to be the bully that Hue Jackson wants, it has to start up front and this unit can dominate in 2011.
What do you think?