Breaking down the right tackle competition at Raiders training camp
The jury has been out on the Oakland Raiders right tackle position for years now. The Raiders have tried a litany of players in the position ranging from Khalif Barnes to Austin Howard to Menelik Watson. None of those players are currently on the roster, thank God, but that leaves a massive question mark at a position essential to the pass offense.
Here, we will dive into some camp names and hash out some positives and negatives on the current batch of possible right tackles and then hopefully have a clearer picture on the position moving forward.
Outside of Donald Penn. there is only one player on the roster that has more than a couple years of service time in the NFL at either tackle position, and that player is Marshall Newhouse. The 7 year veteran out of TCU has spent his last few seasons alternating between RT and RG for the New York Football Giants. Newhouse played in 24 games over 2 seasons, starting 20 of those games. In 2016, Newhouse was beat out on the NYG starting rotation by Bobby Hart and was relegated to the 3rd tackle spot.
New house was ranked as number 29 on the Bleacher Report top 35 Tackles list in March of 2016. He shows good punch and strength at the point of contact, but will often lose footwork and technique when lined up across from speedy edge rushers. His footwork has also been called into question as he will find himself out of position to seal the edge. Most seem to think that Newhouse’s talents would be better suited for the guard spot since he would not be asked to provide a seal and he will be helped by a better tackle lining up beside him.
All in all, Newhouse will be a serviceable RT and provide an upgrade from Watson or Barnes, but was not a clear upgrade over Howard. Newhouse is penciled in with and been taking early snaps with the 1st team offense, so there will be some spotlight on the tackle early in camp.
Taken in the 7th round of the 2016 draft, Vadal Alexander was selected out of LSU to play guard with the Raiders. Injury and lack of depth at the corners of the line pushed Alexander to play at the tackle positon in his rookie year with the team.
During the game against the Tennessee Titans, Alexander was placed at RT when starter Menelik Watson was injured. Following that, Alexander started against Baltimore the next week where he saw his fair share of false start and holding penalties, but did provide suitable protection on the right side. Alexander has inconsistent play keeping him from taking the RT role for the upcoming season.
He, like Newhouse, is better suited for a guard where footwork won’t be as a big of detriment against the elite pass rushers in the NFL. If Alexander wants to put his stamp on the starting RT position, he will need to find ways to put himself into better position to stay in front of his opponent. He will need to improve his footwork, while doing a better job of reading the defense across from him, if he wants to prove he isn’t just the 4th guard on the Raider offensive line.
The last two players we can look at this role will be David Sharpe and Jylan Ware who are both rookies coming into 2017. Sharpe has already been fighting some early rumors about his eyesight since he was taken in the later rounds by the Raiders in this year’s draft.
The 6’6 tackle out of Florida passes the eye test, forgive my pun, but lacks the agility and movement to truly excel in the NFL. His footwork and ability to move in space to initiate blocks in the second level graded poorly by scouts and was the main reason for his drop on many boards.
If he can keep his feet under him and latch onto defenders before they can make a move on him, he has the power and hand strength to stay engaged and finish off his blocks. He has the long arms and the punch to provide serious protection, but he has to be coached into his body and using his size as an advantage rather than being victimized with his lack of mobility.
Jylan Ware has the height, but lacks the weight to be an effective tackle. Ware is the anti-Sharpe when it comes to physical tools.
Ware is mobile and is flexible when he is tasked against his defender. He keeps his hands in and does not find himself off balance when he decides to engage. He can match most edge rushers with his footwork and is not often out of position.
His negatives lie in his strength. His lack of strength and power will hurt him in run blocking sets and stronger defenders will be able to push him off of his anchor point. If Ware wants to make an impact, he will need to bulk up and keep off of his heels in pass sets.
Right tackle was seen as a position of need going into free agency and the draft and was addressed with quantity over quality. The loss of Austin Howard may not seem like a hit, but the lack of more competition may indeed hinder the process.
Marshall Newhouse will receive his fair shake in seizing the starting role, but his negatives will leave the door open for one of the rookies to challenge and even overcome him in the starting lineup. I would like to see David Sharpe tighten up his footwork and use his hands more actively. I want Jylan Ware to bulk up and work on his strength. I want to see Vadal Alexander shore up his decision making and try to understand what the defense is showing him along with keeping his head in the game and reducing penalties. Marshall Newhouse is what he is at this point.
The RT position will be one to keep an eye on moving forward and should provide some welcome competition in camp.
- August 3, 2020
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- Wes Davis