Josh McDaniels has led the Las Vegas Raiders to a 1-4 record so far, making his tenure as coach disappointing. One notch above McDaniels in the Raiders hierarchy, making the decisions with regard to this team is general manager Dave Ziegler. Hired as a one-two punch by owner Mark Davis, there are quite a few commendable accomplishments that deserve merit so far.
When Dave Ziegler decided to reunite Davante Adams and Derek Carr
The biggest hole for Ziegler in his first offseason was at wide receiver. This was due to the Raiders’ losing their number one wideout, who was involved in a terrible accident last year. Following the debacle surrounding Henry Ruggs III, many believed the Raiders would strengthen their receiving core by using their next first-round pick (2022). Well, technically they did, but it was via a blockbuster trade.
Two-time All-Pro Davante Adams was acquired by the Raiders for their first- and second-round picks in 2022. Afterward, Adams signed a new five-year, $141.25 million contract and was reunited with Derek Carr, his former college quarterback.
Adams has lived up to the hype. His five touchdown receptions rank second in the NFL, and he leads the Raiders in every receiving category. Adams is one of just seven receivers in the NFL with three or more games of 100 yards or more.
It isn’t just his receiving ability that makes him so valuable; it is the attention he requires from defenses. This has allowed Mack Hollins and Josh Jacobs to have strong starts to the season. Adams is the best wide receiver the Raiders have had since Tim Brown. Sorry, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, Adams is just different.
Ending the relationship with Alex LeatherwoodÂ
To put it mildly, the Raiders’ relationship with Alex Leatherwood was toxic. The Raiders’ first-round pick from 2021 got off to a bad start and was unable to turn things around this season.
Although he played left tackle for the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Raiders selected him to play right tackle. He was given a shot at that position but was horrible at it and had to be moved inside to right guard. The move to guard didn’t help either, as Leatherwood still struggled.
Leatherwood started all 18 games for the Raiders last year, and coming into the offseason, there was speculation that he just needed a new coaching staff to help develop him. Oh, that was incorrect. Leatherwood received every opportunity during the preseason, but McDaniels noticed no change in his game. Leatherwood’s time with the Silver and Black can be summed up by the fact that he was consistently losing to teams’ second and third stringers in the preseason.
Prior to Week 1, the Raiders tried to trade him but received no takers. Consequently, the team decided to release him. McDaniels and Co. made the decision to cut him, as he had not proven himself worthy of a roster spot. This was wise because tackles like Jermaine Eluemunor and Thayer Munford Jr. both appeared to be much better options.
Dave Ziegler drafting Dylan Parham is proving to be a steal
Ziegler tried his best with the limited options he had in the 2022 player’s selection meeting. They had their draft start in the third round after trading their first and second round selections. In hindsight, the general manager might’ve had one of the biggest steals of this year’s class. Dylan Parham was the first draft pick in the McDaniels and Ziegler era, and he was the center of attention heading into the team’s offseason activities and then training camp. Parham showed out during the preseason, but he didn’t get the start until Week 2.
Until Andre James returned, he started at center for two weeks in a row. He then started at right guard and, most recently, left guard. It’s uncommon for a third-round draft pick to have that kind of versatility, which is what makes Parham a standout offensive lineman.
The Raiders have been lacking a mauler in the run game since the days of Kelechi Osemele, which is another quality that makes Parham so unique. Parham has the highest run-block win rate among guards, at 83 percent. Although there will be growing pains, Ziegler did well with his pick for the Raiders.
*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal