Depth Chart Analysis: Offense

S&BI takes a look at the offensive depth chart, with rookies and free agents included. While the team could probably afford to add a few more pieces, they certainly are not short on options.


Depth Chart: Jason Campbell, Bruce Gradkowski (injured), Charlie Frye, Kyle Boller

Analysis: Perhaps the writing was on the wall for JaMarcus Russell all along, but the former No. 1 overall pick's release was certainly expedited by the draft-day acquisition of Jason Campbell. Although Head Coach Tom Cable has publicly stated that there is an open competition, the Raiders did not trade for and extend the contract of Campbell to be a backup. Bruce Gradkowski certainly has a chance, but a torn pectoral muscle will keep him out until the start of training camp. Frye and Boller round out the depth chart, and it is likely that the odd man out will be let go before the regular season begins.

Running Back

Depth Chart: Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Michael Bennett, Rock Cartwright, Andre Anderson.

Analysis: Justin Fargas' release did two things: one, it showed that the Raiders have some faith in Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, and two, it created a serious lack of depth considering the two youngsters' durability issues. Based purely on limited performances, Bush is probably more deserving of the starting role, but the team has not given up on McFadden and his (potentially) great playmaking ability. 2010 will be a make-or-break year for one or both of these running backs. McFadden has been a major disappointment in his first two seasons, and while he has shown brief flashes of his big-play ability, his inability to stay on the field has been disheartening. Bush's story is more or less the same. It certainly is exciting to think what the two could be capable of, if healthy, and improving the offensive line will go a long way in helping them out.

Still, the Raiders needed some insurance, and addressed those issues by adding veteran free agents Michael Bennett and Rock Cartwright, and undrafted rookie Andre Anderson. Bennett was signed after coming into min-camp on a volunteer basis. Ideally, the Raiders would like to have a more proven backup to the McFadden-Bush combo, but the team is hoping that one of the three others, especially Anderson, will prove to be a serviceable third.


Depth Chart: Manase Tonga, Chane Moline, Marcel Reece, Luke Lawton (suspended)

Analysis: Fullback figures to be an important position for new Offensive Coordintor Hue Jackson's scheme. Coming from Baltimore where the fullback was fully utilized, Jackson wants his fullbacks to be adept blockers, tough between the tackles, and versatile enough to be a factor in the passing game. The Raiders have a fair lot to choose from with Manase Tonga, Chane Moline, and Luke Lawton. The Raiders will likely carry two capable fullbacks on the roster, and if anything, it will be one true fullback and another who has some versatility in the backfield. Tonga and Lawton are the pure fullbacks of the bunch while Moline and veteran Marcel Reece fit into the latter mold. Ideally, the Raiders would like to carry one of the two undrafted rookies (Tonga and Moline) and one of the veterans, but all that will be sorted out in training camp. Reece and Lawton have experience in the Raiders' system, but fullbacks are generally expendable, and furthermore, Lawton has definitely hurt his cause with a failed drug test and suspension.

Wide Receiver

Depth Chart: Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Todd Watkins, Jacoby Ford, Yamon Figurs, Nick Miller

Analysis: The talent is there to work with for the Raiders, but it is just a matter of when. Schilens was poised for a big year in 2009, but a preseason foot injury cost him half the season. Last year's first round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey was a major disappointment, as his production was dwarfed by fellow rookie, fourth round pick Louis Murphy. The staff wants to give Heyward-Bey every chance to succeed, and he has taken steps this offseason to improve his play: he has made some strides as a route runner and with his hands, and he has also added ten pounds of muscle to his frame while maintaining his blazing speed. While Murphy is probably the safer option to start opposite Schilens, Heyward-Bey will likely get the nod, especially if he can have a good training camp and preseason. Johnnie Lee Higgins has his moments as a receiver, but it will be tough for him to crack the top three in the rotation. He will get his catches though, especially if injury or poor play plague the top three. Todd Watkins has proven himself to be a capable fifth wide receiver, but ideally, he should be seeing the field in garbage time. Jacoby Ford, Yamon Figurs, and Nick Miller are all viewed as specialists in the return game, first. However, of the three, the rookie Ford probably has the best shot at cracking the rotation, only because he is an unknown NFL quality in that department.

Tight End

Depth Chart: Zach Miller, Tony Stewart, Brandon Myers, John Owens

Analysis: Zach Miller is the one proven commodity in the Raiders' offense. Despite the lack of great quarterback play, he has played himself into the discussion of the best tight ends in the league. Ideally, the Raiders would like to upgrade their second tight end spot, but the team anticipates some special things with second-year man Brandon Myers. Myers did not get many touches his rookie season, but really impressed the staff and even earned two starts. Veteran Tony Stewart is a valuable locker room presence, and on the field, his blocking abilities complements Miller's pass-catching skills. John Owens was signed in late April, and the staff hopes he can push both Myers and Stewart for playing time.

Offensive Line

Depth Chart: (LT) Mario Henderson, Jared Veldheer, (LG) Robert Gallery, Daniel Loper, (C) Samson Satele, Chris Morris, (RG) Cooper Carlisle, Bruce Campbell, Alex Parsons (RT) Khalif Barnes, Langston Walker, Erik Pears

Analysis: Offensive line was arguably the biggest need to address in the draft, and the staff added two talented but unproven youngsters in the third and fourth round. Jared Veldheer, out of Division II Hillsdale College, is being thrown right into the fire, as Cable expects him to challenge for a starting tackle spot (on either side) or be the third tackle on the depth chart. Veldheer will push incumbent left tackle Mario Henderson, who has done an admirable job, despite his somewhat limited potential. In his first few seasons, Henderson has played beyond what has been expected of him, but people around the team question if he will ever be a franchise tackle, and given the demands of the left tackle spot, the staff is trying to infuse the position with some competition. Bruce Campbell, who many thought the Raiders would take in the first round, fell to them in the fourth. While listed as a tackle out of Maryland, the staff is putting him at right guard first, where they hope to take advantage of his feet and lateral agility.

The health of Robert Gallery is somewhat of a concern, considering the amount of time he lost last season. Still, he has found a home at left guard, and when he is in the lineup, he is arguably the Raiders' best lineman. Samson Satele and Khalif Barnes both had disappointing first seasons in Oakland, but both are coming in healthy and are looking to rebound. Barnes will be pushed by Veldheer and Langston Walker, but despite last year's struggles, he is the best option at right tackle. Cooper Carlisle has seen his play decline dramatically in recent years, and depending on how training camp goes, Carlisle might very well be on the outside looking in. His experience might keep him in the lineup, but if Veldheer or Campbell impress, that could force the staff to change things up. Barnes has experience playing inside, and if Veldheer can claim the right tackle spot, Carlisle might be pushed back a position on the depth chart.

Chris Morris is a valuable backup because of his versatility as a capable center and guard. The staff views undrafted rookie Alex Parsons as someone in the same light, as he has experience playing all five spots on the line. Langston Walker and Erik Pears return, and the team just recently signed former Detroit Lion Daniel Loper. Those three will fill out the depth chart.

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