The best word to describe the Las Vegas Raiders offensive line is fluid.
OTAs started this week and just two out of the five starting spots appear to be locked in place, left tackle Kolton Miller and center Andre James, and one could argue that James’ standing is somewhat in doubt. To make matters more complicated, Alex Leatherwood has been primarily taking reps at right tackle instead of guard, where he made 14 of his 18 starts last season.
So all of this got me thinking, what starting lineups could the Raiders’ offensive line roll out if Leatherwood does stick at tackle?
In full disclosure, head coach Josh McDaniels did say the second-year offensive lineman will be “moving around” the line, but the 2021 first-round pick’s reps were primarily on the edge this week and it’s May so humor me a little.
Also, the combinations below aren’t the team’s only options as players can be swapped out at different spots and shuffled around to make hundreds of options. The ones below are merely a few realistic options where the swing players, minus Leatherwood, hold a starting spot at each position they could conceivably play.
Kolton Miller (LT), John Simpson (LG), Andre James (C), Denzelle Good (RG), Alex Leatherwood (RT)
This was the Raiders starting lineup for about 20 plays last season before Good tore his ACL. It’s also probably the most ideal starting five seeing as they’d be relying on a couple of veterans in Good and Simpson, and would be getting the most out of Leatherwood’s draft value. The biggest question marks would be if Simpson can continue to progress, Good staying healthy and then if Leatherwood can hold down the edge?
Kolton Miller (LT), Denzelle Good (LG), Andre James (C), Dylan Parham (RG), Brandon Parker (RT)
Our first lineup with the rookie in it. Parham took 881 snaps at right guard this past season at Memphis so putting him where he’s comfortable might be best for his transition to the next level. Plus, Good has experience playing both guard spots with 773 reps on the left in 2020. It’s not out of the question that Parker winds up in the starting five once again, as backing his way into the role seems to be his specialty.
K. Miller (LT), D. Parham (LG), A. James (C), Jermaine Eluemunor (RG), D. Good (RT)
Eluemunor makes his first appearance and could be a darkhorse to crack the starting lineup. He’s listed as a guard/tackle combo and has experience playing at both spots in Josh McDaniels’ system, having notched over 400 snaps with the Patriots in 2019 and 2020. Good’s flexibility also helps give the Raiders more options, though he did struggle at tackle a couple of seasons ago.
K. Miller (LT), J. Simpson (LG), A. James (C), D. Good (RG), J. Eluemunor (RT)
This one is really just last year’s Week 1 lineup with Leatherwood swapped out for Eluemunor. The former Patriot did take 277 reps at right tackle in 2020 and posted a respectable 68.0 overall PFF grade.
K. Miller (LT), J. Eluemunor (LG), A. James (C), D. Parham (RG), B. Parker (RT)
The thought of Parker starting could be startiling, but he did have some quality games as run blocker last year with two elite run-blocking games, 91.7 against Cincinnati in Week 11 and a 90.2 in Week 16 versus Denver, and two more 70-plus performances. Eluemunor only has 11 reps of experience at left guard, but if he can play both tackle spots and play inside, adjusting to the other side of the center shouldn’t be much of an issue.
K. Miller (LT), D. Parham (LG), A. James (C), J. Simpson (RG), A. Leatherwood (RT)
As a fresham and sophomore in college, Parham took nearly 2,000 reps at left guard and held his own with PFF grades of 73.7 and 70.5. Simpson hasn’t played on the right side evening going back to his Clemson days, so that might be a bit of a stretch. Then there’s the big question mark in Leatherwood at tackle, and just by looking at these scenarios, his days at tackle might be numbered.