The first pick of the Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler era with the Raiders didn’t exactly create huge headlines. But he might end up filling a big need.
The Raiders began the day holding the 86th pick overall in the third round. But after falling back four spots to No. 90 in exchange for a fifth-round pick (169th) from the Tennessee Titans, the Raiders selected Memphis offensive lineman Dylan Parham.
Parham profiles as a guard in the NFL, although some evaluators believe he can also play center.
The Raiders are expected to plant him firmly in the competition at guard, though, and it would not be a surprise if he began the season as a starter either on the left or right side.
That could also mean the Raiders prefer last year’s first-round pick, Alex Leatherwood, at right tackle. Leatherwood was drafted to fill that role last year. But after struggling at tackle he was moved to right guard, where starter Denzelle Good was lost for the season in the first half of the first game of the year.
Whatever the plan is for Parham, though, the 6-foot-3, 305-pounder said he is ready to compete.
“I’m just really focusing on wherever the team needs me to be at this point,” Parham said. “Wherever they need me to come in, they want me to work at that position that’s what I’m willing and ready to do.”
None of which should be a big adjustment for Parham, a four-year starter who played left guard, right guard and right tackle.
In fact, he arrived at Memphis as a tight end in 2017, then was moved briefly to the defensive line before switching to the offensive line. After redshirting his freshman year, he ended up earning a starting job at left guard. He played that position before moving to right tackle in 2020 and then taking over at right guard last season.
Ziegler and McDaniels have preached the importance of versatility almost from their first day on the job. The selection of Parham is indicative of their intent to acquire players who can play multiple positions, even while mastering one.
“Definitely part of the allure,” said Ziegler of Parham’s versatility. “The value of a guy that can come in and play two spots just adds depth to your team. It’s an important part of the evaluation.
Parham believes he can help in that regard.
“I’m most definitely confident in my ability. I’m ready to go out there and showcase that,” Parham said. “Just being able to show my versatility. I feel like that’s one of the things that they really enjoy about my play style, just me having multiple looks at different positions.”
The immediate plan is to get Parham into the building and give him a chance to get reps across the offensive line. It is something they will continually stress, especially among their interior linemen.
“We’ll let him come in and see what he can do,” Ziegler said. “And the more that he can do, we’re going to allow him to do. We’re not going to set out and you’re going to start here or start there. We’ll just kind of give him an opportunity and see where it goes.”