Grading Raiders offensive linemen

Grading Raiders offensive linemen
January 14, 2013, 9:45 am
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Under the zone-blocking scheme, the Raiders' run game suffered but Oakland allowed the fifth-fewest sacks in the league. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Editor's note: Insider Paul Gutierrez is reviewing the Raiders' 4-12 season by assigning grades to each position group. Up next, the offensive line…

Offensive line
Left tackle Jared Veldheer -- 4 sacks allowed, three holding penalties for 30 yards
Left guard Cooper Carlisle -- 1.25 sacks allowed, three holding penalties for 29 yards
Center Stefen Wisniewski -- no sacks allowed, three holding penalties for 24 yards
Right guard Mike Brisiel -- one sack allowed, three holding penalties for 30 yards
Right tackle Khalif Barnes -- 4.5 sacks allowed, two holding penalties for 20 yards
Tony Bergstrom -- 1.5 sacks allowed, two holding penalties for 20 yards, nine games, one start
Alex Parsons -- no sacks allowed, 16 games, one start
Willie Smith -- 5 sacks allowed, nine games, seven starts, three holding penalties for 30 yards
Lucas NIx -- no sacks allowed, one game, no starts

Is it fair to grade a unit that not only changed its philosophy -- from the power-blocking scheme to the zone-blocking scheme -- but could not work on it in practice because of the cut blocks involved, meaning that they actually practiced it in, gulp, games? Probably not, but life in the NFL is not fair, not even with the injuries that hastened the development of the ZBS, which did seem to improve at the end of the year. Running behind this line, the Raiders had just the No. 28-ranked rushing attack in the NFL, but surrendered just 27 sacks, the fifth-fewest in the league. Veldheer, who has started 42 straight games, led the team with 1,078 snaps while continuing his development at left tackle. Carlisle, who made the switch from right guard, played 1,076 snaps and has started 76 straight games. Wisniewski's switch from LG to center was slowed in the offseason by shoulder surgery and in the preseason by a calf injury. Brisiel, meanwhile, struggled through a rough Raiders debut after being signed to help with the ZBS transition and missed the finale with an ankle injury. Barnes missed seven games early with a groin injury and underwent surgery to repair it. Bergstrom, the first draft pick of the new regime, struggled to see the field early as he dressed for 14 games but saw action in just nine, though he did start the finale. Parsons took first-team reps at center throughout the offseason, camp and the season opener in place of the injured Wisniewski. Smith had a rough go of it in place of Barnes and Nix made his season debut in the finale, splitting reps with Bergstrom at right guard. With offensive line coach Frank Pollack fired, you have to wonder if the Raiders will move back to a power scheme. Another question is what to do with unrestricted free agents Carlisle and Barnes, while Parsons is an exclusive-rights free agent.
Grade: D+

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