Raiders could own NFL’s best offensive line in 2016

With the re-signing of left tackle Donald Penn, the Oakland Raiders may have the league's best offensive line entering 2016.

| 6 months ago
(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Raiders could own NFL’s best offensive line in 2016


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.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • Alfredo Cota

    It may not be the best, but it’s definitely the biggest: 4 out of 5 members are 330+ pounds (only Hudson is 300).

  • Todd J. Zilla

    Hell. Yeah.

  • shaunhan murray

    I loved the resigning, nfl teams for some reason have this belief that an incredible guard is worth less an average tackle. It could be 2014 packers esk with great pass blocker everywhere. Best o line I dont think so but top 5 probably.

  • shaunhan murray

    I loved the resigning, nfl teams for some reason have this belief that an incredible guard is worth less an average tackle. It could be 2014 packers esk with great pass blocker everywhere. Best o line I dont think so but top 5 probably.

  • shaunhan murray

    As a steelers im very excited for this new season, I cant wait for pouncey to get hurt again and get to watch timmons get picked apart for 15 million dollar guaranteed.The raider will be interesting at the least.I worry about some regression from players like amerson and howard and maybe even Derek Carr.And of course injuries r usually the reason teams don’t live up to offseason hype and that is the most likely case.The Jags signing Beachum very well may be the best singing so far far depending on the money.Beachum is great and while there are some worries (lack of talent at positions around him, injury, no more mike muchak) he fills their 2nd biggest need

    • Ike Evans

      Pouncey gets hurt on freak accidents….you act like its a hamstring or a quad problem…..and Timmons is about to get a restructure so hes not seeing 15 mil

      • shaunhan murray

        Unless they extend him, he is getting that money this season. Pouncey has missed many games and he is like the 3rd highest paid center in the league and im bitter

    • Alfredo Cota

      Derek Carr won’t regress dude, he has scheme and personnel stability for the first time in his pro career.

      • renegadelama

        Well, it hasn’t been that long a career yet, but this upgraded line will definitely improve his playing environment, no doubt.

        • shaunhan murray

          Yeah its just a chance thing, again no guarantees

    • codered5

      Amerson and Howard, yeah you could expect some regression. Carr on the other hand had never played with any of his starting receivers prior to last year (cooper, walford, crabtree,or smith) and the system was was literally invented right before last season. I would expect cooper to be significantly better and that alone should allow carr to produce similarly or better than last year even if the play isn’t the same level.

      • shaunhan murray

        Yeah its just building the story before it (prolly wont)happens and the theory that a better wr will make up for the qb’s drop in play is not really that real

        • Jesse Gardner

          Carr will take another step forward, not regress, thats pretty much a guarantee, what with having over a year with his WRs after this off season, plus a big upgrade on the line means he can relax in the pocket. It was the second half of the season when he was getting less then 3 seconds to throw that he struggled. You seen him play well vs Pittsburgh, that was his last game of high numbers bc our center and #1 WR both got hurt, plus our RT went down a week or so later, and from that point on (starting week 9) Carr was the 3rd most pressured QB in the league, and it showed. Now that the line has been upgraded to beastly, and there’s plenty of quality depth, the run game won’t disappear in the second half of games, giving Carr play action for the whole game, something he desperately needed last year. He was a top 5 QB before injuries, and seeing that he had all new WRs, and they were all in a new system, its safe to say that their timing and chemistry will only get better, so he should be able to surpass where he was last season . Carr will be one of the best QBs in the league very soon, no question.

          • shaunhan murray

            There r no guarantees, that is a fact.If he got 3 sedonds to throw always he would be the most protected qb EVER

  • Tito Puente

    I love the fact they’re keeping Osemele at guard, where he’s proven to be dominant. They will still have plenty of cap room while Mack, Carr and Cooper are on rookie deals.

    That trio right up the middle is going to be nasty, with Gabe Jackson, Hudson and Osemele, should allow the Raiders to dictate tempo to other people, run right up the gut. (Wouldn’t mind grabbing a feature back style runner in the 4th rd of the draft or later to back up Latavius).

    I really think the fact the Raiders will run even better behind this line will make it easier to pass — and i’m expecting a breakout season from Clive Walford at TE based on successful running, play-action passing etc.

    So glad they kept with Reggie through the rough years, patience paying off!

    • MD_in_MD

      Nice write-up….. A sleeper RB in later rounds (maybe 4th) could be CJ Prosise from Notre Dame….. 6’1 – 220lbs

  • MD_in_MD

    I’d be surprised, and frankly annoyed, if they picked Elliott with the #14 overall pick. I highly doubt he’ll be there, but I think it’s a dumb pick. They need to get more secondary help and an ILB before another RB…..at least THAT high in the draft. I think Derrick Henry would be a much smarter pick in round 2, if they’re hell-bent on getting one of the high-rated RB’s in the draft.

  • Tysfree

    Now that they’ve got the offensive line set and in place we know that they most likely will not get a lineman in the first two rounds. In my opinion I think they should move Keith McGill back to its natural position of safety when he played in college. He was one of the top players at safety coming out of college before he switched to cornerback. He is a ball hawking free safety and I think he would do a lot better than Allan. Then they should pick up a strong safety in the second round of the draft or try to find somebody in free agency. That could solve most of the problems with the secondary for all the starting positions. My gut feeling tells me that they’re either going to be drafting a inside linebacker or a cornerback in the first round. Elliot would be very enticing in the first round and some view him as the best player in the draft but I think a lot of his play was due to a good offensive line. So who knows, we can guess all we want but we will never know until the draft rolls around and we pick up number 14. I love this time year because hope and optimism is at a high-level for everybody and their team. You can call me biased but I think we will make it deep into the playoffs farther than anybody else thinks. Go Raiders!!!

    • Jesse Gardner

      Not necessarily, RM could draft a LT prospect high as an insurance policy on Penn, in case his slowing down towards the end of the season is permanent, and/or to learn from Penn, and as depth. IMHO I think we go LB, Elliot, or Thompson in the first. Either way RM will hit a home run, and in the long run, thats all that matters.

      • Bama_Raider_

        y’all niggas must have forgotten about Menelik Watson (who was supposed to be our starter before he got hurt over Donald Penn) we don’t need to take one high at all

  • Gregory Johnson

    With a tear running down my cheek “Les go Raiders”

    • crosseyedlemon

      The autumn wind is a Raider
      Pillaging just for fun
      He’ll knock you round and upside down
      And laugh when he’s conquered and won

  • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

    the nfl is better in general when the raiders are relevant, and as a broncos fan i’m excited to see them looking really good again. the DEN vs OAK rivalry is special and i for one am glad it’s back to full glory now. all that said… you guys suck and i hate you all, lol. 😉

    • Tito Puente

      Good to know.

      Funny how the Raiders weren’t relevant last year when Khalil Mack almost singlehandedly cost you the division and home field advantage in Denver.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Definitely agree that the league benefits from having the Raiders relevant. They have a rich history and were the team fans loved to hate….until the Patriots assumed that role.

    • Jonathan

      :) Lol, I hate you too. Game on!

  • Tim Edell

    Reggie has gone from the firing line to building this team into a contender.

    • PwnageHands

      He was never on the firing line. Mark Davis said he would give him ample time to get past the shit-storm of a situation he was handed for a true rebuild.

      Anyone with a brain knows rebuilds of this scale don’t happen in 2 years. (Except for the browns owner I guess.)

      • renegadelama

        Rebuild is one thing, massive upgrading is another. You never finish building or rebuilding your team (note the Broncos), but this is a substantial upgrade to a very serious playoffs- contending unit. Personally, I’m blown away by what RM has accomplished in a relatively brief period considering how long the Raiders have been horribly horrific. I’ve been watching the Raiders since their 13-1 season and went to the 2nd Super Bowl ever, and I have to say I had completely given up on this ever again happening. Now they finally have a good, and possibly great, offensive line and a very dangerous pass rush.
        “In the first 5-10 minutes of every game, the quarterback must go down, and he must go down hard.” Al Davis

      • Tim Edell

        He won 11 games in his first 3 years so the pressure was definitely on him going into this year. Luckily for him, after missing on picks such as DJ Hayden after trading down from 3, and Menelik Watson, he has hit big time on the last 2 drafts.

  • Ron

    Now draft a MLB & a RB,Sj State RB Ervin in the 5th rd

  • renegadelama

    I’m hoping that the Raiders will go for CW’s replacement at safety by going for the best available prospect left by their time to use their 2nd round pick. I’m just not interested in any of the available corners this year, certainly not to the point of wasting a 1st on any of them. My hope is that they pick up the best available running back with their first. I know that has become anathema, but I think this year’s available backs are impressive, and I was very impressed with what the Jags did by picking up Ivory to try to save their starting RB that is young and has struggled with injuries already. Sort of like someone the Raiders have (right Latavius?) LOL When you have such a great O line, why waste it by not having an above average RB available each week a la the CHIEFS.

  • Leanne Harrington

    So they paid Osemele tackle money to put him at guard? That’s an overpay.

  • X-raiderd 1

    Best o-line we’ve had In i a long time, since our gruden years lead by guys like Kennedy, wiz, Robbins, Middleton, big mo Collins those guys were hogs! The weak link of that line was Barry sims he struggled with speed off the edge. This line has to the potential to b even better can’t wait to see these monsters dominate opposing teams d-lines! Super pumped for the up coming year! JUST WIN BABY!