With a young and raw team, training camp is an exciting time — especially from the fans perspective. Honestly, I’ve been anticipating the Oakland Raiders July 25 training camp since the draft occurred. So many positions have uncertainties and chances to build strong potential.
I’m starting this position-by-position series with probably the most important role on the field, the offensive line.
There are a couple of sure things on the O-Line in LT Jared Veldheer and C Stefan Wisniewski. Something about Veldheer being in a contract season and the Raiders entering 2014 with a world’s amount of cap space spells a dominant season for the LT.
However, the three other positions on the line are points of concern.
At RG, Mike Brisiel will be very interesting to watch. Brisiel, a career zone-type blocker who struggled mightily in 2012, is now being asked to run the power-scheme. It’s simple: either he plays well or he doesn’t. Watch out for Lucas Nix or even Khalif Barnes to step in if Brisiel struggles. The same goes for the LG spot, if Tony Bergstrom performs poorly, he could find himself being replaced. Hopefully we’ll see some progression from Bergstrom as he heads into his second season.
This training camp will be huge for rookie RT Menelik Watson. Although Barnes received a large amount of first-team reps in mini-camp, I see Watson prevailing as the starter come the end of camp. Coming out of the second round, reporter Todd McShay labeled Watson as a “project player” and doesn’t see him being a first-year starter.
Scouting reports of Watson depict him having superior strength, footwork and pass protection. If Watson can exceed expectations, it creates a dynamic weapon with the presence of Veldheer and Wisniewski and the usage of Darren McFadden.
The potential is there, if one of Oakland’s young lineman can standout, it could create a strong franchise building block for years to come.