One of the bigger storylines in Oakland these days is second-round pick Menelik Watson getting a chance to play left tackle. He will start Thursday night against Seattle.
I could see Watson being the starting left tackle in the regular season if he shows promise against Seattle. The team is desperate for help with standout Jared Veldheer out for about three months with a triceps injury. Watson will likely get the chance to play right tackle (which he was drafted to play) when Veldheer returns. However, if Watson shows great promise at left tackle, it could change Oakland’s long-term thinking. Veldheer is entering his contract year.
While Watson is immensely gifted and has big potential, there are some issues. The England native has little experience. He played one year at Florida State, all at right tackle. He has never played left tackle. Adding to his challenge, he missed virtually all of training camp with a calf injury.
Oakland is pushing him to the field again, because the Raiders know he has more potential than the other current options. I spoke with Scouts Inc. draft expert Steve Muench on his thoughts about Watson getting this chance. He thinks it’s a worthwhile try.
“Other than being green, Watson fits better on the left than the right,” Muench said. “You may not want him protecting your quarterback’s blind side, because he was still developing in terms of recognizing blitzes/line stunts on last year’s tape. However, he has the foot speed and enough length to match up athletically with the league’s better edge rushers. If he can improve his overall technique with added experience and get a little stronger, he has a bright future.”
For Oakland, that future might start right now.