Raiders fans won’t know for a while how Reggie McKenzie has done in this year’s draft and free-agency period.
They can only hope McKenzie fared as well as he did in 2016 and that newcomers on the offensive line, for instance – such as offensive tackles David Sharpe (fourth round, Florida) and Jylan Ware (seventh round, Alabama State) – become major contributors.
Certainly one McKenzie addition in 2016, guard Kelechi Osemele, has been a major factor in the Raiders’ resurgence.
Osemele, who immediately started at left guard in 2016 after coming over from the Ravens as a free agent, was selected to his first Pro Bowl last season and was named a first-team All-Pro player by the Associated Press.
Now Osemele has been chosen by the NFL Network for the first time on its annual list of the top 100 players in the NFL, at No. 95.
Osemele, of course, was thrilled. “Ayyyyye. Bout time!!!” Osemele tweeted this week when he learned of his selection.
Osemele didn’t give up a single sack at left guard all of 2016 and was a big factor in the Raiders’ sixth-ranked rushing attack.
Sam Monson of the analytic website Pro Football Focus noted that Osemele “was a monster” blocker all season for Oakland and rated as the NFL’s No. 2 guard. His addition to the offensive line – joining left tackle Donald Penn, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Austin Howard – created an offensive line that now is one of the team’s strengths. The Raiders’ line was rated the NFL’s fourth-best by Pro Football Focus.
Said longtime NFL guard Richie Incognito, of the Bills, of Osemele’s impact on the Raiders last season: “What they’re trying to do in Oakland, it’s perfect for him. He was kind of the missing link to get that whole offense going.”