News & Analysis

Raiders could own NFL's best offensive line in 2016

By Nathan Jahnke
Mar 16, 2016

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Oakland Raiders tackle Donald Penn (72) sets to block against Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Paul Kruger (99) during an NFL football game in Cleveland, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

The deal: As first reported by Ian Rapoport, the Oakland Raiders re-signed LT Donald Penn on Wednesday. The deal is worth $14 million over two years.

Grade: B+

What it means for the Raiders: Over the last two years, Donald Penn (84.5 overall grade in 2015) has been one of the better left tackles in football. In 13 of 16 games last year, he allowed two or fewer pressures. He has graded as an above-average run-blocker every season that PFF has graded him (since 2007). While he isn’t as consistent as other left tackles in pass-protection, his 84.5 overall grade is good for eighth-best among left tackles.

Bringing back Penn allows the Raiders to move one of the biggest free-agent signings of the offseason, Kelechi Osemele (79.6) back to guard—a position he is more experienced with. In 2015, his eight highest-graded performances of the season all came at left guard, while four of his worst six came in the four weeks he played left tackle.

The move gives the Raiders the best offensive line on paper heading into the 2016 season. Oakland added Rodney Hudson (84.7) at center last offseason, and he lived up to the hype. They drafted Gabe Jackson (84.4) in the third round of 2014 and he became an immediate starter. Austin Howard (80.6) was able to move to right tackle for 2015, and he had the best year of his career in pass-protection.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 9.57.19 AM

When Derek Carr was not under pressure last season, he had an NFL passer rating of 96.4; that should only get better with another year of chemistry with Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Clive Walford. The offensive line should be able to keep pressure off of Carr most of the time. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Raiders add a running back in the draft or free agency to help complete this very young, but very talented, offense.

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