The offensive line has been a liability for the Oakland Raiders since the 2003 season. Robert Gallery was drafted to be the team's left tackle of the future, but became merely a good left guard. A guard is important for a power rushing team like Oakland, but nothing solidifies a line like a dominant left tackle. This year it became clear that the Raiders may have found their dominant left tackle in the form of Jared Veldheer. He was excellent in both rush blocking and pass protection and seems a natural fit at the position.
Next to Veldheer, replacing Gallery at left guard, was rookie Stefen Wisniewski. He had the typical rookie mistakes, getting called for his share of false start and holding penalties, but in general he showed tremendous promise and upside and should be a fixture at left guard for years to come, giving the Raiders a dominant left side of the line.
At center, Samson Satele played very well and showed that he was an excellent signing by the team. Without him in the lineup the offense really suffered. He's not usually a player that you notice when you watch the game, but you notice the offense goes down the toilet when he's out, so that shows his value pretty clearly.
On the right side, Cooper Carlisle and Khalif Barnes are on the old side and were never that great to begin with, and will need to be replaced in the next few seasons. Luckily, the Raiders have some young offensive linemen waiting for their opportunity in Bruce Campbell and Joseph Barksdale. Both will have to develop more before cracking the starting lineup, but both have ideal size and measurables. It remains to be seen whether they become starting caliber linemen or if the Raiders will have to search further for the answers on the right side.
The Raider line did a pretty good job overall last season. The running game was effective and Jason Campbell and Carson Palmer, neither of whom are the most mobile of quarterbacks, were not sacked an inordinate amount of times. The Raiders' last two drafts have produced two high-quality starters and they deserve a high grade.
2011 Grade: B+