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Oakland Raiders Position Breakdown: Offensive Line

The Oakland Raiders have struggled to find consistency at many positions ever since the Gruden Bowl loss that sent them in a downward spiral. Amongst the areas of need, offensive line has been one which was consistently overlooked. After wasting a first round pick on the bust known as Robert Gallery, the Raiders did not pay much attention to their offensive line besides the occasional late round pick, or unheralded free agent. As a result, offensive line is still one of the Raiders biggest concerns heading into the 2012 season.

Luckily for the Raiders, one of the later round picks, Jared Veldheer, has turned out to be a very solid left tackle. Also, the Raiders second round pick in 2011 has turned out to be a real stud. Stefen Wisniewski, aka Young Wiz, played at left guard in his rookie season, but will be moving to center to start out the 2012 season. However, besides those two, who are locked in as starters, there are question marks that span across the remainder of the offensive line.

The Raiders currently have 14 offensive linemen on the roster:

Jared Veldheer
Stefen Wisniewski
Cooper Carlisle
Mike Brisiel
Khalif Barnes
Joseph Barksdale
Tony Bergstrom
Alex Parsons
Lucas Nix
Ed Wang
Kevin Haslam
Dan Knapp
Zach Hurd
Colin Miller

As I stated above, both Jared Veldheer and Stefen Wisniewski are locks to start in 2012. Without a doubt, Veldheer will be the Raiders starting left tackle and Stefen Wisniewski will be the Raiders starting center. The remainder of the starters, however, is unsure. Leading into the draft, it looked as though the starting guard positions were also solidified with Cooper Carlisle and free agent signing Mike Brisiel. However, when the Raiders chose Tony Bergstrom with their first pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the guard position was thrown wide open. Bergstrom is a guy who has the talent to be a starting guard in the NFL, the only questions are whether or not he will start as a rookie, and if so, whose spot will he take.

At the right tackle position, Khalif Barnes likely has a slight lead over Joseph Barksdale for the starting position. This is clearly the biggest position of need for the Raiders on the offensive line. Barnes is not a starting caliber tackle and last season had a ton of issues with false start penalties. Barksdale was a the Raiders' 3rd round pick in 2011. At the time, it was hoped he would develop into a starter, but so far, has not been much of a challenger for the job. Hopefully for the Raiders, that will change this season.

Dan Knapp and Lucas Nix were both signed as undrafted free agents in 2012. Neither has a high chance of making the team, but Lucas Nix is an interesting player. In his junior season, it was thought that he would be a mid round draft pick. However, due to a poor senior showing, he fell off of many draft boards. If the Raiders can get him back to playing like he was as a junior, he could add some valuable depth.

Ed Wang was an interesting off season addition. He started his career with the Buffalo Bills in 2010, but after injuring his hand before the 2011 season, he was cut from the team. He could be a steal for the Raiders if the Bills cut him purely due to injury reasons. The Raiders could use some quality depth at the tackle position and Wang may be able to provide that.

Parsons is a guy who has been in camp with the Raiders before and is being brought back again this season. He is likely more of a camp body and potential practice squad player, but since the Raiders are bringing him back, they may see potential in him. Kevin Haslam, Zach Hurd and Colin Miller are three other players who have been camp bodies and practice squad players in the NFL the past couple of seasons. The only intriguing guy here is Colin Miller, and that is primarily due to the utter lack of depth at the center position.

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