Warning: Please avoid jumping to unwarranted conclusions or heaping on any unnecessary pressure.
In his debut appearance for the Oakland Raiders, rookie offensive tackle Menelik Watson exceeded expectations while protecting the blindside.
Due to the recent nightmare situation that developed at left tackle for the Raiders, the former Florida State standout got the starting call at a position that he had never previously played. He was originally drafted to push for the starting right tackle job, but was flipped to the other side after a horrid preseason showing from Alex Barron.
Against the Seattle Seahawks, Watson held his own at an unfamiliar position. In 17 pass blocking snaps, he succeeded at keeping his man contained, never allowing even a pressure on his passer. He also took 10 snaps as a run blocker, and was serviceable.
According to Pro Football Focus, Watson finished the night with a 1.4 overall rating, including a 1.2 rating as a pass blocker. By all appearances, he was comfortable with his assignments and confident in his play.
Watson spent the last few months nursing a calf injury before finally being cleared on August 21. He made a short-lived return on August 7, but suffered a setback within the first few minutes of the start of practice. Now healthy for the Raiders, Watson appears primed to live up to his second-round billing.
At one point or another, though, there will be some growing pains for the raw rookie tackle.
Even if Watson does pan out for the Raiders, the silver and black will still field one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Following the loss of stud left tackle Jared Veldheer to a triceps injury, Oakland was left with only one solid offensive lineman – center Stefen Wisniewski – in the starting lineup. Watson, however, could make it two if he carries this momentum into the regular season.
Proceed with caution, but there is some preliminary hope that the Raiders might not be as doomed at left tackle as originally believed.