Can The Oakland Raiders Run Game Be Trusted?

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Published: May 4, 2013

Oakland Raiders 2013 Running Game

Menelik WatsonWith their second pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders selected Menelik Watson OT from Florida State. Menelik enters a team that has an immediate need on the offensive line at the right tackle position. Watson does fill a Raiders off season team need, but it should be noted that he does come every inexperienced. The 6’5, 310lbs big man only had one season of football with Florida State, where he played 12 games as a Seminole in 2012. Watson is an aggressive player, yet has a background in other sports as has been viewed as a project player with huge upside. Menelik’s greenness has experts worried about his ability to read the defense and pick up the blitz.

Musical Chairs

The Oakland Raiders blind side is locked up by Jared Veldheer, who was the lone bright spot for the Raiders O-line last year. Veldheer will likely keep his position on the left side. New Rookie Menelik Watson will compete with Mike Brisiel and Khalif Barnes for a position on the right side of the Raider’s protection unit. Watson should pass Brisiel easily after a poor season in 2012, leaving the real camp battle between Khalif Barnes who came in early last season for the Raiders and did his best considering. The best option for the Raiders will be to move Barnes to the right guard position, and have Menelik start outside of Barnes. Watson displays the physical attributes to be an NFL lineman, his play is compared to a quick jab and he has the ability to recover quickly. Watson has tremendous upside which has been compared to Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher.

New Running Scheme

Greg Olson Oakland RaidersAfter a nightmare zone blocking scheme, the Oakland Raiders will get back to basics after naming veteran NFL assistant coach Greg Olson as offensive coordinator. Olsen’s accomplishments from his time as OC in Tampa Bay and St. Louis included:

  • Explosive ground games that ranked among the league’s top 10 in rushing plays of 50-plus yards during four of his six years as an offensive coordinator.
  • High-octane elements that fueled two finishes in the NFL’s top 10 in plays of 20-plus yards
  • Four Pro Bowl selections, all skills players
  • A knack for punching in touchdowns in goal-to-go situations (two finishes in the top eight of league rankings)
  • A propensity for protecting the ball (finished among the NFL’s top six in fewest giveaways on two occasions)
  • An ability to consistently find paydirt in the run game, something the Raiders lacked in 2012
  • A noticeable lack of dropped passes and negative-yardage plays, especially negative runs

Darren McFadden Impact

Menelik Watson will come in and immediately help one of the best running backs in the game. Darren McFadden is hoping to be healthy for the entire 2013 season, which would be a first in his career. The new power-blocking scheme will help the run game which averaged slightly over two yards per carry behind the right tackle last year. For those keeping track of stats at home, any rushing stat around 2 yards is sub-par. If Oakland can polish Watson’s many tools, they can combine a hopefully healthy Run DMC with a new quick footed right tackle. The combination of the two will surely make that two yard average increase. Menelik Watson is another risky pick by the Raiders based on his rawness, but he does have the physicality needed to justify his pick at number 42 overall and help the silver and black immediately.

 

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