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Las Vegas Raiders: Potential right guard plans following Denzelle Good’s retirement

Moe Moton

On Monday, the Las Vegas Raiders officially moved Denzelle Good to the reserve/retired list and re-signed Jordan Meredith in a corresponding transaction.

Good hasn’t gone public with his reason to retire. With that said, he tore his ACL last September in the Raiders’ season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. The 31-year-old agreed to reduce his base salary from $3.09 million to about $1.04 million last Thursday, per ESPN’s Field Yates.

After missing spring practices, Good avoided the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to start training camp. Yet the versatile offensive lineman who played both guard positions and right tackle in seven NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and Raiders decided to hang up his cleats.

As the Raiders give Good their well wishes on the next phase in his life, the coaching staff must figure out how to fill the right guard spot. How could an open competition at the position shake out this summer? Let’s take a look at three possible scenarios.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders training camp preview

Las Vegas Raiders could move Alex Leatherwood back to right guard

las vegas raiders' alex leatherwood
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur listed the most common offensive line combinations at practices, and he shared the following five-man unit atop a list of four personnel groupings:

  • LT Kolton Miller, LG John Simpson, C James, RG Lester Cotton, RT Brandon Parker

For context, Tafur has listed Leatherwood exclusively at right tackle in his three other common lineups.

On Sunday, NBC Sports’ Peter King noted that Leatherwood had been taking reps with the second unit behind Brandon Parker who lined up with the starters.

Let’s remember that the Raiders won’t have their first padded practice until Wednesday, which will give them a better assessment of the offensive and defensive linemen. However, based on observations from Tafur and King, Parker clearly has a shot to win the right tackle job. Leatherwood isn’t a lock to start at that position.

If Parker puts a stronghold on the lead for the right tackle spot, the coaching staff can move Leatherwood back to right guard where he played most of the 2021 season — from Week 5 through the playoff matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

While a lot of fans continue to hold out hope that Leatherwood wins the right tackle job, the 6-foot-5, 312-pounder might possibly be a better right guard. It’s the position he played at Alabama before moving to left tackle.

As insurance, the Raiders should also consider free-agent offensive lineman Daryl Williams, who has notable pro experience at right tackle and right guard. He could compete with Parker at right tackle and join an open competition at right guard.

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Turn to the focus to Lester Cotton’s development

las vegas raiders' lester cotton
Mickey Welsh / Advertiser

During the spring, Lester Cotton Sr. took first-team reps at right guard in Good’s absence. Tafur listed the 6-foot-4, 335-pounder as the starting right guard in all four of his most common offensive line combinations.

Former Raiders guard Richie Incognito, who retired a couple of weeks ago, spoke highly about Cotton via Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore:

Since going undrafted out of Alabama in 2019, Cotton has spent most of his time on the Raiders’ practice squad. He’s only suited up for five games and played five offensive snaps. However, as a standout through organized team activities (OTAs), he could make the 53-man roster and remain active through an entire season this year.

Clearly, the new coaching staff wants to see what it has in Cotton, who’s taken a significant number meaningful reps. With Good’s retirement, he has a chance to compete and win a wide-open camp battle at right guard.

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Give Dylan Parham a chance to earn the starting job

NFL: Scouting Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t forget about rookie third-rounder Dylan Parham. At Memphis, he played left guard for two terms, then moved to right tackle and finished his collegiate career at right guard in 2021.

For now, Andre James seems like the safe bet to open the 2022 season at center. According to Tafur, John Simpson has been a constant starter at left guard.

Following a full year at right guard, Parham could make a push for the spot alongside Cotton and Leatherwood if the coaching staff moves him back inside. The versatile rookie offensive lineman may have an uphill battle to win the job, but he certainly has a shot without a clear-cut front-runner in the competition.

If the Raiders don’t move Leatherwood back to right guard, we could see an intriguing battle between Parham and Cotton for the spot.

Maurice Moton covers the Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.