The Oakland Raiders have made a concerted effort to improve the team along both sides of the line. Of the seven players they have added in free agency, four are linemen and a fifth, LaMarr Woodley, will likely be moving to the defensive line. Clearly it has been a priority of general manager Reggie McKenzie to win in the trenches.
Given that fact, there is still a move the Raiders can and should make that would be an immediate and massive upgrade to their line play. A guy who is a veteran and arguably one of if not the best players at his position. A guy who would make everyone around him better and could take an above average unit and make it one of the best. The Raiders could make one move that would upgrade several positions and be the biggest improvement this team has seen in years.
Which is exactly why the Raiders need to bring in Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack.
I have heard some say this is a bad idea because it would mean moving Stefen Wisniewski to the guard position. This argument is based on the idea that Wisniewski is better as a center than as a guard, but that is an argument that is far from being a given.
Yes, Wisniewski’s worst season in his short professional career was when he was playing guard. But that is not even close to the whole story. It also happened to be his rookie season where he started as a second round pick and in the middle of a rather lackluster offensive line unit. The fact that his rookie year was not his best year in the NFL should be expected. If he was his best as a rookie and declined after it would be VERY concerning.
Yes, he was better when he moved to center his second season. But guess what? He was also better in his third season. He has improved every year he has been in the NFL in large part because he is a hard working and determined guy. That is what you want a player to do. You want them to keep working on their game and keep getting better. To say that he would not be good at guard because his rookie season was not his best is completely discounting the fact that he likely would have improved the past two seasons even if he had stayed at guard.
Plus, let’s not forget that while his rookie season was his worst, it was far from bad. He had two very bad games, his first and his last of the year. But aside from that, he had a very solid rookie campaign. In week three he won the Pepsi Rookie of the Week honors and at the completion of the season, he was named to the Pro Football Weekly all rookie team as the starting left guard. With the addition of Young Wiz at guard, the Raiders boasted a top ten run game and tied for the third least sacks given up.
Is Wisniewski a better center than guard? Possibly, but the jury is still out because his only time spent there was as a rookie. Would an offensive line with Alex Mack at center and Young Wiz at guard better than a line with Young Wiz at center and ANY OPTION playing next to him? HELL YES. Even if Wisniewski is better at center, he is no slouch at guard. He would be better than anyone else who has played the position the past two seasons and there is absolutely no question that Mack is a big time upgrade at center.
Saying the Raiders should not sign Mack because Wisniewski might be better at center than guard is saying the Raiders should pass up an opportunity to greatly improve their team because one guy out of 53 may have had a better year if they didn’t upgrade the team as a whole. The offensive line would be light years better with Mack in it even if Wisniewski is a better center than guard and that is exactly why the Raiders should bring him in.