The Las Vegas Raiders have relished in the emergence of Darren Waller as one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
However, there are still some concerns about the major changes made alongside him on the offensive line this offseason when they parted ways with center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson, and right tackle Trent Brown.
The Raiders have since replaced them with Andre James at center, first-round pick Alex Leatherwood at right tackle, and Denzelle Good at right guard. While they managed to maintain some continuity on the left side of the line between Kolton Miller and Richie Incognito, it remains to be seen if these changes were for the better.
Fortunately, Waller is optimistic about the state of the offensive line and even attributed the turnover to being a natural part of the offseason during an appearance on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, via Myles Simmons of Pro Football Talk:
“Change is a part of every single year in the NFL. No team looks exactly the same going from year to year,” Waller said. “So, we’ve got some guys stepping in there. I’ve been impressed with Andre James at center so far, just his mental preparation and how he’s already on top of calls and checks and [on] the same page with Derek [Carr]. Alex Leatherwood is a guy — you can tell he’s fully locked in and is taking this very seriously. And I’m excited to see how he builds upon the foundation that the already has.
“And just having guys like Richie [Ingocnito] in there and Denzelle Good on the interior helping guys like John Simpson continue to develop on our offensive line is going to do great things and just continue to get better under [OL] coach [Tom] Cable’s leadership.”
Waller’s comments are reminiscent of how the rest of the locker room feels about the changes going into the 2021 NFL season. Although they were undoubtedly significant, young players like James and Leatherwood have provided good reason to be hopeful so far.
Another silver lining is that the Raiders actually boasted a top-10 offense in yards and points during the 2020 campaign. Even Waller has not been shy about his expectations for this group to kick things up a notch with all the new additions.
Of course, any potential shortcomings up front could quickly lead to a major setback on offense. Therefore, the onus will be on offensive line coach Tom Cable to ensure this group is up to the task.