When the Raiders drafted offensive lineman Jon Feliciano in the fourth round last spring, they hoped he might eventually battle for a starting job at right guard.
At the University of Miami, Feliciano had played center, tackle and guard, though most of his snaps came at guard. The Raiders loved his physical style and his size, 6-foot-4 and 323 pounds.
Raiders offensive line coach Mike Tice, who met Feliciano at the NFL Combine, raved about Feliciano’s potential and his ability to pull, run and block in space.
“Our guys are going to have to be able to run,” Tice said right after the draft. “They’re going to have to be able to pull. Jon pulls well already, so that’s good. I’m excited to add him to the mix.”
It took awhile for Feliciano to crack the lineup, but once he did the results were promising.
Late in the season, after an injury to starting right tackle Austin Howard, J’Marcus Webb moved from right guard to replace Howard and Feliciano moved into the guard spot. Feliciano started the final three games and fared well.
With his size and athleticism, he made an impact.
“He played pretty well,” said head coach Jack Del Rio after his starting debut. “He’s a tough guy, he brings a little grittiness to the group. … He was pretty solid.”
Del Rio said he relies on Tice’s assessment and said, “We think that Jon has a bright future as a guard in this league.”
Now, as the Raiders get closer to moving into the free agency period and the draft, it’s likely they’ll pursue talent to bring in on the right side of the offensive line. Even if they do, however, it appears Feliciano will get a chance to compete for a starting job. So far, the Raiders have liked what they’ve seen from the young lineman.