Raiders Draft Outlook: Offensive Line

S&BI takes a look at the Raiders' offensive line, and how they are going to fill some holes via the draft. Last year, the line suffered from a myriad of injuries and inconsistent play, so the team is looking to revitalize the unit with some youth and quality depth. It's a deep year for linemen, so the Raiders can hit several needs in this year's draft.

The Raiders obviously have some work to do on the offensive line, as it is arguably the biggest priority coming into the draft. Inconsistency, injury, and declined play handicapped the group last season, and the Raiders are hoping some guys will come back healthy and will be ready to have bounce back years this season. Still, the upcoming draft is a chance to infuse the line with some fresh talent and much needed depth.


Mario Henderson's youth and ability to grow probably makes him one of the safer bets on the Raider offensive line. But while he's done an admirable job as the starter for essentially the past two seasons, he suffers from bouts of inconsistency, and there are questions as to whether he will ever truly be a dominant, franchise left tackle. As such, most of the talk surrounding the Raiders' first pick has been about left tackles, and this year's draft is rather deep in talent.

At right tackle, the team brings back Khalif Barnes, who had a disappointing first season in Oakland. Gone is Cornell Green to the Bills, but his departure isn't a huge blow, especially if Barnes comes back healthy and is ready to go. Erik Pears and Langston Walker return to fill out the depth chart.

Russell Okung, out of Oklahoma State, is the highest rated tackle and is projected to go somewhere in the top five, to either the Lions or the Redskins. Besides those two teams, the Chiefs and Seahawks are also rumored to be looking at tackles, so it's possible the Raiders might have to select at number eight with already three or four off the board.

After Okung, the next guy on the board is Oklahoma's Trent Williams. Williams is versatile as he has experience playing inside and outside and can play both tackle spots. Many view him as a left tackle, but there are others who seem him better suited at right tackle. Williams' greatest deficiency is his lateral movement and there are questions if he can regularly handle NFL speed rushers off the edge.

Bryan Bulaga is the tough and athletic tackle out of Iowa. Bulaga excels against the pass rush, and still has plenty of room to grow ('s Chris Steuber even projected that Bulaga might move ahead of Okung as the number one tackle in this year's draft). Bulaga has some work to do as far as strength and technique, but he is definitely one to watch for.

After the first three of Okung, Williams, and Bulaga, things get a little interesting for the Raiders. Anthony Davis out of Rutgers is an immense talent, but his questionable attitude and poor performance at the Combine have moved him out of the top ten on most draft boards. The prospect who has been most discussed for the Raiders at the eighth spot has been Maryland's Bruce Campbell.

A year after taking Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Raiders might take another Terrapin who had a great combine in Campbell. Physically, Campbell is the most impressive offensive lineman, and perhaps the most impressive looking prospect overall. At 6-7, 310-lbs., Campbell looks like an oversized tight end, has broad shoulders, and looks like he could put on another 10-15 pounds easily. With all that size, Campbell made headlines by running a ridiculous 4.78 in the 40-yard dash (a Combine record for an offensive lineman). That speed alone is enough for you to believe Al Davis will make Campbell the eighth pick in the draft. It's hardly a forgone conclusion, but if you were a betting man, you would certainly put your money on Campbell being a Raider.

Not only did Campbell test well numbers-wise, during the linemen drills, he displayed great lateral movement in containing the rush and used his strength well to throw defenders off balance. There are questions about Campbell's durability and the fact that he has limited starting experience. However, there is no other tackle in the draft that projects as highly as Campbell, and despite being raw, owner Al Davis loves athletic freaks with raw potential.


Robert Gallery, who was injured for much of 2009, hopes to return healthy and regain his form. Gallery has done a good job at left guard, but given his durability last season, the team might look to draft a capable backup. Cooper Carlisle will turn 33-years old in August and his play has seen a steady drop off in recent years. While still capable, the Raiders would certainly like to get younger at the right guard spot.

The top interior lineman in this year's draft is Mike Iupati out of Idaho. Iupati is a mammoth lineman at 6-5, 325-lbs., excels as a run blocker, and still has plenty of room for growth and development. He's projected to go anywhere between the mid to late first round, so unless the Raiders trade down, Iupati would be a reach at the eighth spot.

Vladimir Ducasse is the next best guard available, and he's someone the Raiders could realistically take in the 2nd round (he's projected to go somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd). Like Iupati, Ducasse is huge (6-4.5/326-lbs.), versatile, and raw—Ducasse can play tackle or guard, and only started playing football in high school.

If the Raiders decide to address a different need in the second round, another interior lineman that might be available is Jon Asamoah out of Illinois. Asamoah is a technician—he's mechanically sound and does a very good job in both pass and run blocking. One of the noted drawbacks of Asamoah however is that his arm length measured the shortest among those who attended the Senior Bowl. Still, short arms or not, it's hard to discount Asamoah's durability (22 consecutive starts for the Illini) and NFL-ready skill. He is projected to go anywhere between the late 2nd to the 3rd round.

Speaking of NFL-ready, Texas Tech's Brandon Carter definitely fits the bill. Carter is a humongous presence at 6-6, 356-lbs., but what makes him so special might be his feet—Carter has great agility for such a big man, excels when working in space, and won't get beat too often against quick defenders.


Samson Satele looks like he might be the starter at center, although the versatile Chris Morris is not one to discount. The hope is that Satele will bounce back after last year's inconsistencies and be a steady force at center. The Raiders will probably not draft a center, but if they were to, it would probably be of the late round variety.

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