The Oakland Raiders seem to have a settled situation at left tackle with Jared Veldheer firmly entrenched as the team’s starting left tackle for years to come. He has steadily improved and showed the upside that made the Raiders draft him in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Veldheer has a terrific 6’8″ frame that gave him that “upside” label coming into the draft, and he certainly fulfilled that upside after a rough start. Last season, Veldheer really broke out and was one of the best 15 offensive tackles in the league last season. His pass protection has been what his potential said it could become, and he is definitely locked into the left tackle position with his pass blocking ability. His frame also leads me to believe that it would be unwise for the Raiders to move him to the right side just to draft another OT.
But according to a tweet from Daniel Jeremiah, there is a “lot of buzz” that the Raiders will take an offensive tackle (specifically, a left tackle) with their first-round pick. The Raiders hold the third pick in the draft, and that would mean Eric Fisher would be the pick for the Raiders there. This draft will likely have the top three tackles all off the board by pick number seven, and it is impossible to envision Lane Johnson falling out of the top ten.
The Raiders could use an upgrade at right tackle, so they could just draft Fisher and play him at right tackle. What intrigues me, though, is that Jeremiah’s tweet specifically stated “LT” as the position on the line. Are the Raiders somehow disappointed in the way Veldheer is coming along? Now that’s also impossible to envision. He smashed the incentive triggers laid out for him in 2012, and Veldheer is on his way to potentially becoming one of the top ten tackles in the league.
It is far more likely to see the Raiders take defensive tackle Star Lotuelelei or Sharrif Floyd- depending on whom they view as the better prospect. Jeremiah notes that the Raiders taking an OT would mean that Floyd would end up falling, and that could benefit a team like the Carolina Panthers if Floyd falls far enough.
This isn’t the first time we have heard rumblings of the Raiders potentially taking an offensive tackle with the third pick in the draft, but I think it’s more likely that they trade down than take a tackle. A defensive tackle makes sense for the Raiders, but an offensive tackle (if they strictly want to play him at left tackle) would make little sense. If they do take Fisher with the intent being to play him at RT, would he be open to that? To be honest, I think he would. They say you don’t take a tackle high in the draft to play him on the right side, but I say “screw it” if the guy is good enough.
Whew, lots of semantics to keep up with. What are your thoughts on draft strategy as it relates to the offensive tackle position, Raiders fans? Let your voice be heard in the comments.
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