Sorting out the 6 most realistic Las Vegas Raiders offensive line combinations

Before the 2022 NFL Draft, Las Vegas Raiders fans have wondered about the complexion of the offensive line. Who should start and at which position?

During the draft, the Raiders selected Dylan Parham and Thayer Munford in the third and seventh rounds, respectively, which further complicates the potential training camp battles at three or four positions.

First and foremost, the Silver and Black need to focus on one thing with its offensive line: play the best five guys. Though that objective sounds simple, we could see several permutations as players cross-train at different positions. Vegas has a versatile unit, which allows the coaching staff to move linemen around like blocks on a Rubik’s Cube.

What’s the best combination for the 2022 season? Let’s go through six possible options with a notable name that’s not currently on the roster.

Option 1: Best-case scenario for Las Vegas Raiders offensive line

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Left Tackle Left GuardCenterRight GuardRight Tackle
Kolton MillerDylan ParhamAndre JamesAlex LeatherwoodDaryl Williams (FA)

The Raiders’ starting right tackle may be on the free-agent market. Williams fits the profile of the prototypical player in this role under the current regime.

Over the last two seasons, Trent Brown (6’8″, 380 lbs), Mike Onwenu (6’3″, 350 lbs) and Jermaine Eluemunor (6’4″, 345 lbs) took most of the snaps at right tackle with the New England Patriots while current Raiders offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo held the same position with the AFC East club. He served as the co-offensive line coach in 2020 and took over the role by himself last year.

Perhaps head coach and offensive play-caller Josh McDaniels and Bricillo have a specific type to play right tackle—a bigger lineman who’s well over 300 pounds and able to seal the edge in the run game. If so, Williams fits the bill at 6’5″, 335 pounds. He had his best years as a run-blocker while at right tackle rather than at right guard.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders 2022 draft grade

In the best-case scenario, Leatherwood continues to develop at right guard if the Raiders sign Williams. You never want to see a first-round pick in a backup role in his second year. At Memphis, Parham played his first two years at left guard. As a third-round pick, he’s capable of beating out Simpson, a 2020 fourth-rounder, for the position.

Though Simpson improved as a pass-blocker in the second half of the 2021 season, he committed a penalty in five consecutive games between Weeks 12 and 16, per Pro Football Focus.

Lastly, Miller and James, the two linemen who will most likely remain starters from last year, hold on to their spots. The former is a lock to play left tackle.

Option 2: Alex Leatherwood gets another chance at tackle

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Left Tackle Left GuardCenterRight GuardRight Tackle
Kolton MillerJohn SimpsonAndre JamesDenzelle GoodAlex Leatherwood

McDaniels suggested that the team would give Leatherwood a chance to play at right tackle.

“We’re going to try to give him an opportunity to earn a role that’s his best fit, and the best fit for the Raiders. We know what he was drafted for, and we’re going to give him an opportunity to do such. But ultimately, what we want to do at the end of the day, is we’re going to put the best five guys out there.”

Las Vegas Raiders HC Josh McDaniels on Alex Leatherwood

Leatherwood has worked on his technique with trainer Duke Manyweather over the course of the offseason, and we could see a much better player at right tackle compared to the first four weeks of the 2021 campaign:

If Leatherwood shifts back to the perimeter, Good can move into the right guard spot where he started for one contest before tearing his ACL in the 2021 season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. In case he’s a bit slower following his recovery, Parham could start over him. The rookie played the position at Memphis last year.

From the left to the center, the Raiders carry over all three starters to build continuity.

Option 3: Projected Raiders offensive line with Brandon Parker

Left Tackle Left GuardCenterRight GuardRight Tackle
Kolton MillerJohn SimpsonAndre JamesAlex LeatherwoodBrandon Parker

In the event that Leatherwood plays his best at right guard, the Raiders would likely slot Parker in at right tackle if they don’t sign a notable free agent at the position.

Remember, team brass re-signed Parker on a one-year, $3.5 million deal, which shocked some fans, but clearly, the coaching staff believes he can develop into a serviceable offensive lineman.

Last year, Parker struggled at right tackle, allowing eight sacks and committing nine penalties through 881 snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Also, according to the football analytics site, he’s surrendered a staggering 23 sacks and drawn 26 penalties in 2,275 pass-blocking snaps. With that said, Vegas’ current coaches probably believe they can help him turn his career around.

Just like the lineup in option No. 2, the Raiders lean on the same three starters at left tackle, left guard and center to build some chemistry.

Option 4: Las Vegas rolls the dice with youth

NFL: Scouting Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Left Tackle Left GuardCenterRight GuardRight Tackle
Kolton MillerThayer MunfordDylan ParhamJohn SimpsonAlex Leatherwood

With this combination, the Raiders would be proud of their coaching staff and young talent. If Munford and Parham claim starting spots as rookies, both could hit the ground running on the pro level.

While a lineup with Munford and Parham seems a bit optimistic, don’t count them out. They’re both four-year starters on the collegiate level with a lot of experience.

Related: How las Vegas Raiders top pick Dylan Parham can become a 2022 starter

Munford played with the first unit in 45 games at Ohio State, transitioning from left tackle to left guard in his final campaign with the Buckeyes. Parham opened 51 contests across three positions with the first-stringers at Memphis. Because of his solid showing at center during Senior Bowl week, he’ll have a shot to line up at the pivot.

At Clemson, Simpson played right guard before he became a full-time starter at left guard. Perhaps he’s able to flip sides and beat out Good, who will try to bounce back from a torn ACL at 31 years old.

Option 5: Raiders trust experience to protect Derek Carr

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Left Tackle Left GuardCenterRight GuardRight Tackle
Kolton MillerDenzelle GoodAndre JamesJermaine EluemunorBrandon Parker

With this lineup, the Raiders would send a message that they don’t trust their rookies or young guys yet, which means Leatherwood, Simpson, Parham and Munford all take backseats to more experienced veterans.

As noted, Parker has struggled at right tackle, but the Raiders retained him, so they see something in the fifth-year pro. Furthermore, they’ve suggested that Leatherwood has to earn a starting position. The new regime isn’t going to hand the 2021 first-rounder a lead role.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders landing spot in 2022 NFL defense rankings

Eluemunor could start because of his familiarity with the current system. He played under McDaniels between 2019 and 2020. Last year, he logged 266 snaps at right guard and only allowed five pressures, per Pro Football Focus.

Option 6: Worst-case scenario

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports
Left Tackle Left GuardCenterRight GuardRight Tackle
Kolton MillerDenzelle GoodAndre JamesAlex BarsJermaine Eluemunor

In the worst possible scenario, Leatherwood, Parham and Simpson fail to win starting roles, which is a bit concerning because of Leatherwood’s draft status, Simpson’s year of starting experience and Parham’s inability to unseat a career backup in Bars.

If Eluemunor starts over Parker, the former may be a better fit at right tackle in this scheme because he has a wider body than the latter who’s 6’8″, 320 lbs.

Nonetheless, the coaches would have to shake their heads and think why did we re-sign Parker with all his experience if he cannot beat Eluemunor, who’s played fewer than half as many career snaps (1,007)?

Bars has played every position across the offensive line, but he’s not a starting-caliber player—more like a spot starter in case injuries pile up within the group.

If you see this lineup for Week 1, the Raiders would leave a lot of potential on the bench. Fortunately, this five-man combination seems unlikely because Parham, Leatherwood and Simpson all have a fair amount of upside.  

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

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