While the Oakland Raiders have done a lot to address what was once a very weak offensive line unit, there is one position that is still a major issue for the Raiders. Last season, the right tackle position was responsible for a disturbing number of penalties and was a serious liability in pass blocking. For most of the season, that position was manned by the guy who is considered the odds on favorite to be a starter again this season in Khalif Barnes.
Barnes was brought to the Raiders in 2009 as a free agent after being a starter at left tackle for his first four seasons in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. When he came to the Raiders, it was expected that he would take over the right tackle position almost immediately. Instead, he saw time at guard and as a back up before finally earning a starting role at right tackle this past season. Rather than proving he had earned the spot, Barnes made it clear that his job as a starter at right tackle had more to do with the fact that the Raiders had no one else who was capable of starting over him.
The only guy who will compete with Barnes for the starting role this season is second year player out of LSU, Joseph Barksdale. When he was drafted in the third round, many figured that it would only be a matter of time before Barksdale took over the right tackle position for the Raiders. In his rookie year, Barksdale saw time at the guard position, and is versatile enough to back up both spots. But the Raiders hope he will challenge for the starting role at right tackle. He played both right and left tackle at LSU and spent a good amount of time in a zone blocking scheme and after one year in the NFL, Barksdale really needs to start showing whether or not he is capable of starting for the Raiders.
This battle is as wide open as any on the Raiders this off season. Neither guy has stepped up and made a clear showing that they should be the starter at right tackle for the Raiders. But one thing is for sure, if Barksdale is not able to unseat Barnes as a starter, it is a good sign that the Raiders may need to begin looking elsewhere for their future starting right tackle.