The Raiders’ once-shaky offensive line has become a strength of the team as it enters this 2020 offseason.
After drafting left tackle Kolton Miller in the first round of the 2018 draft and getting free-agent right tackle Trent Brown and left guard Richie Incognito before the 2019 season – to go with Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson -- the O-line performed very well during a 7-9 season in Oakland.
Though the Raiders may add more talent to the line in this spring’s draft – when they have five of the first 100 picks, including two first-rounders and three choices in the third – it’s no longer a top priority.
As Cyril Penn of SB Nation noted this week, the Raiders O-line gave up just 29 sacks and a league-low 52 quarterback hits in 2019 after allowing 52 sacks and 89 hits the previous season. The analytic website Football Outsiders ranked the unit among the top six in the NFL in some key categories measuring line play.
Two of the newcomers, Incognito and Brown, performed brilliantly. According to the analytic site Sports Info Solutions’ blown-block rate, both rarely blew assignments in 2019 and were models of consistency in pass protection. Incognito ranked 10th in the NFL, with Brown 12th and Hudson 13th.
Incognito had just three blown blocks in 414 pass-blocking snaps and two in 328 run-blocking snaps. Brown had three blown blocks in 307 pass-blocking snaps and six in 250 run-blocking snaps. Hudson had four blown blocks in 501 pass-blocking attempts and nine blown blocks in 370 run-blocking snaps.
Miller, meanwhile, had 21 blown blocks in 561 pass-block snaps but only eight in 424 run-blocking snaps. Miller also played more snaps than any other member of the offensive line.
Brown, who had an early December exit to his season because of injury, helped solidify the entire line. He was a devastating blocker who could neutralize even the best of the NFL’s pass rushers. Head coach Jon Gruden calls him "the best right tackle in the game."