Position To Watch: Left Tackle

There were approximately four major needs the Raiders wanted to address this offseason.

1 – The Quarterback

2 – The Run Defense
3 – The Offensive Line
4 – The Return Game
Time will tell if the offseason moves will actually improve these areas, but the Raiders took significant steps to that end.
The Raiders have done just about as much as they can do to address the quarterback, the run defense and the return game.
The offensive line has some depth, but will Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer be immediate starters? Can either play left tackle?
It would make sense at this point for both guys to compete for spots at right tackle and right guard. Tom Cable has made comments alluding to this kind of start for the Raiders young lineman.
This leaves incumbent start Mario Henderson the lone man at left tackle, with very little competition to push him.
The good news:
– Both Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer have the potential to be a good left tackle
– The line has depth
– Khalif Barnes and Cooper Carlisle have significant competition.
– Cornell Green will no longer be pass protecting
The bad news:
– It may be a season or more before Campbell or Veldheer have a chance to win the left tackle.
– Cornell Green will no longer be run blocking
– Mario Henderson needs to improve leaps and bounds
I think most people are excited about the Raiders offensive lineman, but given the inexperience and quality of the incumbents, there is room to be cautious.
Jason Campbell needs time to deliver the ball will be very important to the Raiders success this offseason and even more important will be keeping the quarterback healthy.
Bruce Gradkowski was injured, Russell’s big frame was dinged up and Charlie Frye also couldn’t stay 100% healthy in 2009.
The comfort level with a rookie at guard or right tackle is certainly higher than at left tackle, especially one of the non-premium prospects like Veldheer and Bruce Campbell.
A chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

With plenty of depth and competition at RG and RT, this line could take shape quickly. However, there is a complete lack of depth on the all important left side.

Keep an eye on what the Raiders do at left tackle.

I am not sure if the Raiders are even interested, but undrafted rookie Tony Washington, OT, ACU is worth a look, despite a disturbing off-the-field incident six years ago.
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