Raiders news: Josh McDaniels wants to “maximize” talent at OL
According to some fans and media, the Las Vegas Raiders offensive line was a weakness entering free agency. Their play on the pitch helped create anticipation for an overhaul based on their performances last season.
Where the free agency rumor begins is the combine, and the Raiders’ connection to offensive line free agents was minimal. Teams were ready to pounce on players such as Alex Cappa, but the Silver and Black front office and coaching staff had a different course of action.
The Raiders wanted to give young players a chance. But new coach Josh McDaniels made it clear at NFL owners’ meetings Monday that he believes in his group.
“I think we have a lot of players there who haven’t hit their cap yet,” McDaniels said. “I feel pretty good in the squad that we have, and now our short-term job here is to try to coach them, get them to play better, every squad, every man to play better, and that’s what what I’m going to focus on.”
The talent on the offensive line is there with high draft picks at every level. Both Kolton Miller and Alex Leatherwood are first-round picks, with the NFL higher than draft media. John Simpson’s RAS score is one of the best you see from a guard.
The idea of coaching players to their potential is not lost on the new head coach.
“Again, our job now will be to work hard to improve the guys that we have,” McDaniels said after being asked about the same question. “The guys we have on the roster at the moment are competitive, and we’re going to try and train them and improve them, and that’s our job. If we can’t improve the players on our team, then we have to do something different.”
The signing of Alex Bars was the only addition to the group not on the 2021 roster. The re-signings of Jermaine Eluemunor and Brandon Parker show how they want to keep the young core together.
Eluemunor’s familiarity with the coaching staff played a big part in his return to Las Vegas. Parker’s versatility at both tackle points made him an ideal candidate for a swing tackle role.
“When you put together this pack, you can’t just put a pack of ponies together at a trick. So, Parker, can he swing? Yeah. Jermaine has guard, tackles flexibility. You never know nowadays, which you’re going to need, and you certainly can’t go with a bunch of players at one position.”
McDaniels believes in Carmen Bricillo, a stand-in for the legendary Dante Scarnecchia. Bricillio struggled with injuries last season, fielding ten different offensive line groups in the first six weeks. He was resilient and found a way to put together the right roster to help in a playoff run, with substitutes such as Ted Karras earning good paydays.
If the Raiders can maximize the talent of young players, the team could have a great offensive line for the next three years. Hopefully this doesn’t all turn the other way.