NFL Mock Draft 2011: A Look at the Raiders O-Line Draft Needs

When I look at 2011 Mock Drafts that go to the second-round the first thing I check is to see if they have the Raiders selecting an offensive lineman. If they don't, I move onto the next one.

It is the Raiders biggest need, and it is also their position with currently the most vacancies. Before we discuss where they need to go in the draft, let's assess what they have.

Jared Veldheer had a solid rookie season, but he went up against a gauntlet of edge pass rushers, and the QB often paid the price.

Langston Walker was a force in the run game, but that is due to the fact that he appeared to take pass plays off. He is also not currently under contract.

 

In fact the Raiders only have one tackle under contract and that is Veldheer. They have three guards, Cooper Carlisle, Daniel Loper and Bruce Campbell under contract, and exactly zero centers inked.

They have placed a tender on center, Samson Satele, and even if that tender is void after the players return to work it seems a certainty that Al Davis will ensure Satele remains a Raiders.

LG Robert Gallery is almost assuredly moving on.

That leaves the Raiders with a trio of free agent tackles. Khalif Barnes has shown he is nothing more than a backup and an extra tight end in jumbo sets. He may return, but that will not impact the starters.

Mario Henderson is one of the few free agent tackles on the market with starting left tackle experience, and he is likely going to move on as a team may be tempted to overpay him as they grasp for answers on the left side.

I expect the Raiders will re-sign Walker, and I also expect he will be starting somewhere on the line. He could do the job at right tackle if they are unable to find talent elsewhere. As he proved in 2009, he is also probably better suited to play guard rather than tackle.

And that is a good thing, because a starting guard combo of Daniel Loper and Cooper Carlisle is less than inspiring. Loper is serviceable at best, and Carlisle is aging and better at the zone blocking system the Raiders are moving away from.

The Raiders likely want Bruce Campbell to win the starting job at right guard, but he barely made it onto the field in 2010 and wasn't even active for every game.

All of this means the Raiders should re-sign Walker, and draft a right tackle with their first pick, No. 48 overall.

If there is not a tackle still on the board worth selecting—which is a very strong possibility—they should take the best available guard, and hope Walker can patch together another year at right tackle or try to sign one of the few starting caliber right tackles available in free agency.

At number 48 in the draft, the Raiders are actually in a pretty good position to draft some interior offensive line talent.

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