Oakland Raiders: Ranking The AFC West By Position Group – Offensive Lines

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 7: Guard Gabe Jackson
OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 7: Guard Gabe Jackson /
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Oakland Raiders
SAN DIEGO, CA – OCTOBER 25: Derek Carr /

1. Oakland Raiders

With a starting unit that includes Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, and Kelechi Osemele, it’s not all that difficult to see why the Raiders have, hands down, the best offensive line in the AFC West. The fact of the matter is, they have one of the two or three best offensive lines in the entire league.

If there is one question about this Raiders line, it’s the same question that plagued them last season – what to do with the right tackle position. It figures to be the fiercest and most intriguing battles in training camp this season, with any number of players looking to lock down the starting spot.

As of right now, the contenders for the job are Marshall Newhouse, Austin Howard, Jylan Ware, David Sharpe, and Denver Kirkland. There’s no telling who might have the edge just yet – we’ll see the position take shape as training camp goes on, but it’s worth noting that both Kirkland and Vadal Alexander – who is currently penciled in as a guard – spent time at the position last season and acquitted themselves fairly well.

Although most people see Oakland’s right tackle spot as the team’s weakest link – a not wholly unfounded observation – whoever wins the spot in camp will have earned it. And under the tutelage of Mike Tice and his staff, will be a solid addition to the line.

The continuity for this Raiders line is going to be the key – unlike Kansas City, whose line was mediocre – Oakland’s line is, in fact, dominant. They’re without question, one of the best lines in the league. They’ve got the trust of both quarterback Derek Carr and Oakland’s stable of running backs, and they’ve led this offense to heights not seen in the Raider Nation in a very long time.

Oakland’s offensive line protected Carr better than any other unit protected their quarterback in the NFL last season. The 18 sacks (16 of Carr) the line surrendered were a league low. And that protection allowed Carr to guide the Raiders to the league’s sixth best overall offense.

The 26 points per game the team put up were seventh best in the league – and more points than Raider fans have seen the Silver and Black offense put up in a dog’s year.

Next: Ranking AFC West By Position Groups - Running Backs

Even better, that offensive line powered a Raiders ground game – led by the now departed Latavius Murray – to be the sixth best rushing unit in the NFL. Their average of 4.4 yards per carry were tenth best, and their 17 rushing touchdowns were the league’s sixth best.

And now, with Marshawn Lynch teamed with Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, and Elijah Hood in the backfield, Oakland’s ground game could potentially soar even higher.

Oakland’s offense is in the midst of a renaissance. They unit is more explosive and prolific than it has been since Rich Gannon was throwing to Tim Brown – and it could potentially be even more prolific than that unit.

And it all starts up front. The Raiders have, far and away, the best offensive line in the AFC West, and could even take another step forward to being the best unit in the entire NFL.