Raiders Sign 54-Game Starter to Major Position of Need

josh mcdaniels

Getty Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels.

The Las Vegas Raiders haven’t been as aggressive in addressing some major needs this offseason as many expected. The offense is loaded with talent but the offensive line has some holes, especially at guard. The team decided against adding a single offensive lineman in the draft.

They also didn’t do much in free agency. The Raiders likely have confidence in their young players to improve in 2023 but they finally did decide to add a veteran. The team announced that they’ve signed offensive guard Greg Van Roten.

Great offensive linemen don’t last this long in free agency but Van Roten is a solid addition. He has started in 54 games over his career and has played in 93 total. The 33-year-old isn’t a superstar guard but he’s an experienced veteran who could likely serve as a backup or even start if they need him to. He most recently played for the Buffalo Bills where he played in 16 games, starting four of them. He has also played for the Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers and New York Jets. At this point, he could be competing with Alex Bars for the right guard spot if the plan is to play Jermaine Eluemunor at right tackle.

Raiders OL Still a Concern

The Raiders must have confidence in offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo. The offensive line was thought of as a major weakness prior to last season but the group performed above expectations. The Raiders are planning to bring back essentially the same group so they have to believe that Bricillo can work some magic. Regardless, Pro Football Focus believes that offensive line is still a concern for Las Vegas:

Heading into the draft, Dylan Parham, Andre James and Alex Bars were slated to be the Raiders’ starting three interior offensive linemen. The issue here is that they produced PFF grades of 61.9, 62.8 and 45.4, so there was a need for some improvements here.

Parham was a rookie, and while he endured his struggles in pass protection, producing a 48.8 PFF pass-blocking grade, he did have some flashes throughout the year. Bars, on the other hand, has been in the NFL for four seasons, seeing 600-plus snaps in two of those, and has yet to produce a PFF season grade above 53.3.

The Raiders coming out of this draft with zero players on the interior of the offensive line was a major surprise.

Could McClendon Curtis Compete for Starting Spot?

The Raiders didn’t add an offensive lineman in the draft but did find an interesting one in undrafted free agency. McClendon Curtis out of Chattanooga was expected to get drafted but no team selected him. He was immediately one of the highest-priority free agents but decided to go to the Raiders.

He’s as raw as they come but it’s hard to not be intrigued by his potential. He had the eighth-highest athletic score among offensive guards at the NFL Scouting Combine, via Next Gen Stats. He needs a ton of work but if things click for him early, there’s no reason why he can’t compete for a starting spot. Right now, Bars and Van Roten are the favorites to start at right guard but neither are inspiring. The Raiders would love to see a young player step up and earn the spot.

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