Reggie McKenzie is gone now, his tenure as Raiders general manager over and his list of personnel moves subject to scrutiny.
One McKenzie move from early March of 2015 has been brilliant, and will continue to produce for the Raiders in 2019: the free-agent signing of center Rodney Hudson.
At the time, McKenzie believed the addition of Hudson to the middle of the offensive line would stabilize the unit. He gave Hudson a five-year deal worth as much as $44.5 million, but he was getting a young, mobile center from the Chiefs with smarts and leadership skills.
Hudson, 29, will now enter the final year of that deal having missed just three of 64 possible games and being selected twice to the Pro Bowl. This past season, when the team slogged through a dismal 4-12 performance, Hudson was as good as ever. He played every single offensive snap (1,045 in all) and was the No. 1 pass-blocking center in the NFL, according to the analytic website Pro Football Focus. Hudson allowed zero sacks and just five pressures in 609 pass-blocking opportunities.
As Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com noted this week, Hudson was the star of an offensive line that at one point started two rookie tackles and lost dominating left guard Kelechi Osemele to injury for a chunk of the season. Hudson was not only the most valuable player on the O-line, wrote Paskal, but “the MVP of the entire team.”
Wrote Paskal: “We’ve talked ad nauseam about the ever-changing cast of characters that the Raiders offensive line featured last year, but through it all, week in and week out, Hudson was the much-needed constant anchoring the group.”
Hudson is responsible for calling out blocking schemes to his linemates and adjusting to blitzes. Quarterback Derek Carr says he’s more important than fans realize, and “probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever been around.”
“He’s awesome,” Carr said this season. “He’s a Pro Bowler, (or) should be every year. Should be an All-Pro. He’s the man.”