Raiders bolster run game on both sides of ball
Less than six hours into the official start time of NFL free agency, the Oakland Raiders have landed some talent they believe will aid their future.
Center Rodney Hudson, tight end Lee Smith and linebacker Malcolm Smith will have eight chances to dive into the black hole in 2015, pending physicals. Tight end Jermaine Gresham and running back Demarco Murray have been reported to be close to agreeing on deals with Oakland as well.
Hudson, 26, will take over for the departing Stefen Wisniewski, and is a significant upgrade for Bill Musgrave‘s uptempo offense. Six-foot-2 and 300 pounds, Hudson is a more agile lineman who could be coupled with a run-blocking guard to be named later.
Lee Smith, a run-blocker himself, isn’t an established pass catcher and caught only 20 balls in four years with Buffalo. He is, though, young and an imposing target at 6-foot-6 and 270 lbs.
Malcolm Smith is perhaps the most well known of the new Raiders to date. The 2013 Super Bowl MVP, he was primarily a backup on Seattle’s devastating linebacking corps and fills a need at middle linebacker.
The Raiders have plenty money to go around still, and are surely far from finished in free agency. The team has a massive hole at safety, and it’s reasonable to think they’ll chase guard Clint Boling to block on the right side of Hudson.
Hudson was the fifth ranked player on SFBay’s top 20 free agent list for the Raiders, Malcolm Smith ranked 11th. Lee Smith was not ranked, but fits the build of Lance Kendricks, who rounded out the list at 20.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.