Las Vegas Raiders options at right tackle

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Carmen Bricillo continues to tinker with her offensive line thanks in large part to injuries and efficiency — or in this case, inefficiency. Luckily for the Las Vegas Raiders offensive line coach, the philosophy of having his lineman learn multiple positions allows his squad to be nimble and make adjustments as needed. Versatility proved to be both prudent and fortuitous.

Take for example the intriguing first-team squad Bricillo took out on Tuesday – the opening day of joint workouts with the visiting New England Patriots: Kolton Miller (left tackle), Dylan Parham (left guard) , Andre James (center), Lester Cotton Jr. (right guard) and Jermaine Eluemunor (right tackle).

Absent from the usual first-team squad were John Simpson (left guard) and Alex Leatherwood (right tackle). Much has been written and discussed about Leatherwood’s performance on the perimeter and if it hadn’t been for Brandon Parker and Thayer Munford, perhaps the competition for the right tackle would have been fiercer.

Don’t be surprised if Las Vegas’ offensive line groups fluctuate during sessions against New England. Bricillo and head coach Josh McDaniels are on a mission to have the top five linemen protecting quarterback Derek Carr and leading the way on the ground game. Bricillo himself noted that the starting five remains a fluid thing.

“I would say that’s still something we’re working on,” the offensive line coach said last week. “I would say nothing is set in stone, really. I think the players will tell you that too. Competition is a good thing, it breeds all sorts, makes everything stand out.

So, by steps Eluemunor at right tackle, a player that head coach Josh McDaniels and Bricillo know very well as the lineman started eight games at right tackle for the Patriots in 2020. The 27-year-old lineman may be a dormant pick to win the gig, but it comes with the right mindset and work ethic born from the last-ditch mindset.

With Parker and Munford running out of time, Eluemunor rebounded from the blindside in the Raiders’ preseason against the Miami Dolphins last Saturday due to starting left tackle Kolton Miller failing to prepare for the trio of games in exhibition so far. Going left to right isn’t easy, but it’s a reminder that the offensive lineman can play multiple positions.

“It’s a trait, a talent that is not easily acquired,” Bricillo said of Eluemunor. “Jermaine has done that for us at other places we’ve been together, and he will continue to do that here. You need these guys as we keep hinting at. Injuries are going to happen and you can only take eight offensive linemen to a game. So you’re going to need guys who can play multiple positions.

Daryl Williams is one of the best right tackles available in the free agent market. Williams has started the last 33 games at right tackle for the Buffalo Bills.
Rich Barnes – USA TODAY Sports

The options

Of course, with the lineups flowing, maybe Leatherwood gets another try at the right tackle, along with Munford and Parker – once they’re healthy.

Parker was the early favorite to start on the right side – despite going on a tough outing at left tackle in the Raiders’ first pre-season game. Munford picked up snaps with the first-team group at right tackle, but there’s a reason he was a late-round draft pick. As Bricillo said, the group at right tackle is a mash-up from Clint Eastwood’s movie The good, the bad and the ugly.

Ditto for Eluemunor. There’s a lot to love, but there are also areas of opportunity.

These are the internal options. The free agent market has a pool of veterans available and the discount days (August 23 and August 30) will likely flood the market. Right tackles such as Daryl Williams (Bills) and Marcus Cannon (Texans) are the top three free agents in the position pool. Williams has started the last 33 games at right tackle in Buffalo while Cannon is a longtime former Patriot who saw just four starts in Houston last season.

As with any added player, there will be time to acclimatize and assimilate to the Raiders scheme. Thankfully, Las Vegas is still in preseason mode and has time before the Week 1 clash at the Los Angeles Chargers.

Training effect

There is a ripple effect of Eluemunor winning the gig on the right side.

Las Vegas could try to bring Leatherwood back to right guard to rival Cotton. Leatherwood seemed more comfortable on guard during his rookie campaign last year while Cotton had his own growing pains against Miami.

Parham and Simpson face off to start at left guard. Parham offers positional versatility to move inside to pivot, if needed, but has seen more action at left guard lately.

Miller and James are apparently the only two solidified starters on Bricillo’s offensive line.

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