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Film room: What Dylan Parham brings to the table

Diving into the rookie’s game

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice
Dylan Parham
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It took a couple of rounds for the Las Vegas Raiders to get involved in this year’s NFL Draft, but the Raiders eventually took Memphis offensive lineman Dylan Parham with their first pick.

For a third-round rookie, Parham heads to Las Vegas with some decently high expectations. Many expect him to at least compete for a starting spot during training camp as the offensive line is arguably the weakest position group on the roster.

The former Tiger will enter a position battle that resembles a Royal Rumble with how many participants there are expected to be. Parham, Denzelle Good, Andre James, Jermaine Eluemunor, Alex Leatherwood and John Simpson are the headliners expected to compete for the three first-string interior offensive line spots, and everyone but the new guy has starting experience.

So, now that he’s part of the equation, what does Parham bring to the table?

Stats

Before diving too deep into the numbers and film, let’s take a look at how the Raiders’ new rookie was used in college.

As a redshirt freshman and sophomore, he made 28 starts and accumulated 1,861 snaps at left guard, per Pro Football Focus. He had 941 reps as a run blocker within that snap count, 473 or 50.3 percent of which were gap runs and 396 snaps or 42.1 percent on zone concepts. The remaining 77 or 8.2 percent would be either trick plays or a more rare concept that falls outside of those two categories.

In 2018, Parham recorded the second-most gap run-blocks among FBS guards — first place was his teammate — and ranked 23rd with a 67.0 PFF run-blocking grade on such plays. He didn’t register nearly as many reps on zone runs that year, tied for the 77th-most, but did see more success with a 79.4 grade as a zone run blocker, which ranked 10th at the position.

Both trends continued the following year as he had the 19th-most gap run snaps but tied for the 114th-best grade (59.9) while tieing for the 183rd-most zone run blocks and earning an 81.0 grade that was tied for 16th.

As far as pass protection goes, Parham didn’t have a ton of success on true pass sets (TPS), which remove plays with less than four rushers, play action, screens, short dropbacks and time-to-throws under two seconds.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 03 Memphis at SMU
Dylan Parham
Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In 2018, he had 127 opportunities to allow pressure on TPSs and surrendered three sacks and nine hurries for a PFF pass-blocking efficiency rating of 94.1. Those figures ranked tied for 115th, 291st, 255th and 272nd among FBS guards, respectively. His numbers dipped even further the following season with 114 opportunities (tied for 134th), four sacks (tied for 306th), 10 pressures (tied for 271st) and a 92.1 efficiency rating (tied for 294th).

However, it was a completely different story for the Memphis product as redshirt Junior.

That year, he switched to right tackle and took 849 total snaps, with just 125 or 36 percent of run-blocking reps coming as a gap run blocker — 198 or 57.1 percent in zone — and 130 opportunities to allow a pressure on TPSs.

Parham’s number of gap run blocks ranked tied for 36th among FBS tackles while grading out as the 10th-best gap run blocker with a 79.6 mark. On zone runs, he earned an elite grade at 90.0 but ranked 13th at the position. Side note, seventh-rounder Thayer Munford was two spots ahead with a 90.3 mark that year.

The former Tiger also saw a dramatic improvement in pass protection. His TPS opportunities noted above were the 29th-most at the position, and he allowed one sack, one QB hit and three hurries for a 97.7 efficiency rating. Those numbers ranked tied for 94th, 95th, 63rd and tied for 33rd.

It’s important to note that his rankings for sacks, QB hits and pressures allowed get deflated by tackles who record significantly fewer pass-blocking snaps. The minimum threshold used for the rankings that year was 115 snaps.

Finally, we get to Parham’s senior year where he switched positions again and slid inside to right guard.

He ended up registering 336 run blocks in 2021, 119 or 35.4 percent of which were on gap runs and 191 or 56.8 percent on zone runs. It’s become a theme at this point as he was more successful on the latter, tieing for the 138th-most gap run blocks and a 62.1 grade that was tied for 115th among guards, compared to tieing for 102nd and 32nd (81.8) on zone runs.

In pass protection, the Memphis product ranked 84th with 140 TPS opportunities and surrendered zero sacks, two QB hits and five pressures, which was the fewest, tied for 111th and tied for 139th among tackles, respectively. But most importantly, his efficiency rating of 97.5 ranked tied for 67th, a dramatic improvement from his first two years on the inside.

Film Clips

Now that we’ve been staring at the numbers, let’s switch gears and take a peek at the tape to see what the Raiders’ third-round pick brings to the table.

To kick things off, we’ll go back to Parham’s 2020 season and see an example of his strength against Cincinnati defensive end Myjai Sanders, who was drafted 10 pickers later at No. 100 overall by the Cardinals.

Memphis is running outside zone where Parham is playing right tackle and is supposed to reach Sanders, but Sanders has the pre-snap leverage advantage by playing outside shade and the Bearcats have a slant called to the play side. So, the tackle turns a reach block into a drive block and gets his inside hand right under the defender’s armpit and tosses the end right out of the club.

With plays like this on film and an 8.81 RAS score, it’s easy to see why McDaniels and Ziegler fell in love with Parham.

You’ll have to bear with me a bit as I do my best Marty McFly impression and bounce back and forth between 2020 and 2021. The clip above is from this past season and has our subject playing right guard.

Parham is going to execute a combo block on the backside of another zone run, where we can see an example of his awareness and ability to create second-level rushing lanes. Mississippi State calls a twist with their nose tackle and defensive end, which is designed to confuse the offensive line and give either the end or linebacker a free run at the ball carrier. However, Parham doesn’t fall for it and stays locked onto his area instead of a man.

Recognizing that allows him to continue on his path, climb to the second level and beat the backer to the spot. From there, the offensive lineman can position his body between the defender and ball carrier to create a second-level rushing lane for the running back.

All of that helps push this to a six-yard gain instead of a one- or two-yarder had the slant confused Parham and the linebacker came free.

Staying within the same year and game, we’ll see an even better example of how effective the rookie can be on combo blocks.

Parham does a great job of initiating the contact with and getting underneath/leverage on the defensive tackle to turn the tackle’s shoulders. He even has the strength to do that with one arm and the block is easy for the offensive tackle to take over with the defender’s shoulders turned basically parallel to the line of scrimmage.

Then, the guard continues on his path and stays tight to the line of scrimmage while working up to the next level to avoid creating a crease for the linebacker to shoot. At this point, it’s just like the last rep where Parham has great body positioning to clear out a lane and help spring this run for a first down.

Our next clip transitions to pass protection but stays within the 2021 season where Parham is playing guard and shows an excellent blitz pickup and use of hands.

Pre-snap, he takes a peek out to the edge to identify any potential threats and sees the slot cornerback start to creep. He protects the inside first after the snap with a post arm but has his eyes to the outside to find the nickel coming hot, perfectly marrying his pre-snap read with post-snap responsibilities.

He does overset a little too much to the outside which opens up the inside stick move for the defender. However, Parham does a great job of using his inside hand to almost catch and slow down the defensive back, allowing him to recover. Then, he just opens up his hips and gets his outside hand involved and Houston’s blitz is effectively picked up.

Getting rid of the overset will be key for him at the next level when the margin for error lessens, but this is a pretty impressive rep from Vegas’ first pick of the draft.

Here, we’ll see another good example of Parham’s hand usage as a pass protector, and this rep comes against Logan Hall, who was drafted by the Buccaneers as the first pick of the second round.

Hall’s go-to move is an arm over and he tries to set Parham up with it by attacking up the field initially and giving him a little shake right before making the move. However, the Memphis product doesn’t bite and goes to punch with his inside hand.

That stops the rusher’s momentum and then the offensive lineman gets his outside hand involved when the rusher goes for the swim move, and the former has enough strength to wash the latter inside to the center and concede maybe a yard or two past the line of scrimmage. He also does a good job of moving his feet to defend against Hall’s attempt to recover and spin back to the outside.

A quality rep against a quality opponent.

We’re hopping back in the Delorean for our final clip, where it’s 2020 and Parham is playing right tackle against Sanders again.

It’s a three-step drop by the quarterback so Parham uses a quick set and Sanders tries to set up for the outside stick move by stemming to the inside and getting head up on Parham. However, the tackle knows the guard is uncovered so he has help to the inside and doesn’t have to overplay it. Once the pass rusher commits to the outside, Parham gets his hands to the perfect spot, rides the rusher’s momentum and buries him on the spin back to the inside.

One nit-picky note, ideally, you’d like the tackle to move his feet and match the edge’s speed as relying on opening the gate can allow edges with good bend to turn a tight corner. This is probably part of the reason why Parham is projected to be better inside in the NFL.

Conclusion

The Raiders certainly got an offensive lineman who can compete for a starting job this fall. He made some dramatic strides in pass protection from his first two years in college to his last two, to the point where I think that will be his biggest strength on the inside at the next level. As a run blocker, he has some work to do, most notably at the point of attack and on gap runs, but Parham can certainly get the job done on zone runs.

Now, we just have to play the waiting game for five months to get a hard answer on what he brings to the table.