Hot Takes, Predictions for Raiders Rookies After 2022 NFL Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2022

Hot Takes, Predictions for Raiders Rookies After 2022 NFL Draft

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders haven't been a model of draft-day success over the past few years, at least not with their early selections.

    Just consider the fact that they recently declined the fifth-year option on all three of their 2019 first-rounders: Josh Jacobs, Johnathan Abram and Clelin Ferrell.

    Las Vegas has a new regime, though, headed by coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. That new regime didn't make any early selections in its hometown draft, as the Raiders sent their first- and second-round picks to the Green Bay Packers for wide receiver Davante Adams, who notably has zero bust potential.

    The Raiders did make six selections over draft weekend, and a couple of them should make an impact as rookies.

    Here, we'll dive into the team's rookie class and make some bold predictions for the 2022 season, but first, let's recap how the 2022 NFL draft unfolded.

2022 NFL Draft Results

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Dylan Parham Will Start at Least Nine Games

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    The Raiders didn't make a selection until the end of Round 3, and picks late on Day 2 aren't often expected to start right away. However, former Memphis guard Dylan Parham has the skills and the experience needed to see the field sooner than later.

    The 22-year-old, the eighth-ranked interior lineman on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's big board, started at right tackle and both guard positions. He might be a future fit at center, too.

    "Parham's athletic ability will allow him to pull and work in space effectively while his processing skills lend themselves to a possible move inside at center, where his sawed-off frame may be best utilized long-term," Brandon Thorn of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.

    Grabbing Parham was a brilliant move because it helps give the Raiders options with 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood. The former Alabama tackle was moved to guard, where he struggled. He was responsible for 14 penalties and eight sacks allowed in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Parham can step into either the right tackle spot or at guard, allowing Las Vegas to play Leatherwood where he is most effective. Tackle Brandon Parker and guard Jermaine Eluemunor should also be in the mix.

    While Parham might not start from Day 1, he should quickly ascend and spend more than half the season in a starting role.

Zamir White Will Supplant Kenyan Drake as the No. 2 RB

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    In the fourth round, the Raiders snagged former Georgia running back Zamir White, and they got themselves a gem.

    While the 5'11", 214-pounder has limited upside as a receiver—he only had nine catches for 75 yards in 2021—he's a battering ram of a runner.

    With Kenyan Drake working his way back from a broken ankle, expect White to see early playing time as the No. 2 runner behind Jacobs. He might not be the team's primary receiving back, but his bruising style will quickly eat into Drake's workload.

    "White is a tough runner who consistently falls forward through contact. He has enough speed to get to the edge and create yards at the second level," Nate Tice of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.

    Last season, the 22-year-old tallied 856 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 160 carries for the Bulldogs.

    Expect Drake, who had 30 receptions in 12 games last season, to retain some value as a pass-catcher when healthy. However, White should see a bigger share of the workload, especially later in the season as Las Vegas looks to see if he can replace Jacobs as the primary ball-carrier.

    With his fifth-year option declined, Jacobs will be playing for his job in 2022. White will be playing for Jacobs' job, too.

Thayer Munford Was a Steal and Will Make the 53-Man Roster

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    Seventh-round draft picks don't always make the regular-season roster, and Ohio State's Thayer Munford does face an uphill battle.

    However, the former Buckeyes starter wasn't a typical late-round throwaway selection. Hot take: Las Vegas got itself a steal.

    Munford needs some polish, but the 6'5", 328-pound lineman has tremendous physical upside and four years' worth of starting experience. He also has enough positional versatility to stick as a valuable swing player.

    "Munford's adequate foot quickness will give him the best chance to succeed as a pro inside, but his experience makes him an option for a team to get out of a pinch at tackle if need be," Thorn wrote. "Overall, Munford's size, length, grip strength and experience at multiple positions make him a worthwhile developmental piece for an offensive line."

    Don't expect the Raiders to develop the 22-year-old on the practice squad. As previously noted, the Raiders need work along the line, and he can be a backup asset. His big-program experience at both guard and tackle and his physical tool set will allow him to provide quality depth from Day 1.

    Expect Munford to make the final 53 and be a key backup with future starting potential.