The Las Vegas Raiders have a couple new additions in free agency that could signal offensive line as a draft priority.
The Las Vegas Raiders are joining the party in free agency. The AFC West has made major moves, from the Broncos acquiring QB Russell Wilson and the Chargers getting Khalil Mack. Vegas now has its own superstar pass rusher, as they are signing former Arizona Cardinals rusher Chandler Jones to a deal for three years and $51 million. Jones is still one of the best pass rushers in football, with fantastic technique and rush moves that are a bit unorthodox.
The Raiders weren’t done there, trading Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. Ngakoue get to reunite with former Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and Vegas gets a starting corner that had his best season in 2021.
It’s clear that the Raiders have begun with investing in their defense, and might not be done at corner. Hopefully their safeties can continue to grow (especially Trevon Moehrig) and they can still look to upgrade at linebacker.
The piece of the puzzle that still needs help is the offensive line. Alex Leatherwood is still looking to find a home, and it’s likely at guard, but they’re exceedingly average-to-below average outside of Kolton Miller, who has had his own struggles recently.
When the 2022 NFL Draft rolls around, the Las Vegas Raiders should make the offensive line a top priority. Three spots should likely be up for grabs, including the center position. There should be a plethora of options on the first two days.
It may not seem like he could fall into the 20s, but Tyler Linderbaum is certainly a player to watch. As good as he is, the NFL is cautious about sub-300 pound centers. Garrett Bradbury was extremely athletic and under 300, and was still picked outside the top 15 (18th overall). So, if the Raiders see Linderbaum fall to them, it would be a great addition up front.
If not, there will be other options. Two (primarily) guards, Zion Johnson and Kenyon Green, both bring some positional versatility to the table and would lock down one of the three spots, with potential to move around to help out wherever necessary.
The middle rounds present opportunity as well. Abraham Lucas is often overlooked, but he’s a great pass-protecting right tackle who could lock down that spot for the Raiders to bookend with Miller. If they look for a versatile guy, Chris Paul (no not that one) from Tulsa has guard and tackle versatility as well.
No matter who the prospects are, expect the Las Vegas Raiders to dip into the offensive line pool multiple times in the 2022 NFL Draft, as it is the one position that needs the most help. Free agency could ease some concerns, but it’s a unit that needs to get right in a division full of defensive line talent.