Last season, Denzelle Good was the Swiss Army Knife of the Las Vegas Raiders offensive line, filling in at several positions. He played well enough that he earned a new contract. Now the question is whether he should be the full-time starter at the right tackle spot.
Raiders’ options at right tackle
Realistically, there are likely no more than three possible candidates to start opposite left tackle Kolton Miller this year. The front-runner for the job is clearly first round pick, Alex Leatherwood. Good spent ample time at the position last year, so he could be a viable option if he does not end up playing guard. Finally, the Raiders could always go with [sighs] Brandon Parker, who has made many forgettable starts at the position over the last few years. Any other tackles on the roster are depth pieces at best and are not real contenders to start.
Is Leatherwood the answer?
The Raiders are going to give their first-round pick every opportunity to win the right tackle job. General manager Mike Mayock made that clear after making the pick. However, there’s clearly some wariness there as Mayock mentions that they are “going to see if he can hold onto that job.” I’m not sold that he can do that. Last month, I had Leatherwood in the back end of my guard rankings. His playing style will not work against the league’s premier edge rushers. I think he will eventually have to transition back to guard to be a reliable starter, which is why I had such a low grade on him. So, while the Raiders seem insistent that he’s the guy, there is reason to be skeptical.
If Leatherwood doesn’t pan out…
The Raiders have some options if their draft pick looks shaky during camp. There’s always Parker [shrugs]. Just kidding. Let’s all hope that it never comes to this. In all seriousness, Good has proven that he can step in at that position and be competent. The tricky part with him is figuring out where he is needed the most. Is he going to be more valuable at guard or tackle?
The bottom line
Whether Good starts at right tackle or not, this is isn’t about him versus Leatherwood. It’s about Leatherwood’s capability at tackle versus several factors at guard: Richie Incognito’s health, the development of John Simpson, the ability of either Nick Martin or Andre James (whoever loses out at center) to move to guard, and possibly even Leatherwood’s ability to move to guard. If there are not two better options than Good starting at guard, the idea of him playing tackle is a moot point unless Leatherwood’s a total bust. Basically, Good will end up playing wherever he’s needed most. Based on the teams options, I would say he should be taking most of his snaps in camp at right tackle. I want to be optimistic that I’m wrong about Leatherwood, but the Raiders would be wise to have Good ready to go.
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