When the Raiders used a first-round pick on offensive tackle Kolton Miller of UCLA and then followed that up in the third round by picking another offensive tackle in Brandon Parker of North Carolina A&T, one analyst wondered what Oakland was doing.
Geoff Schwartz, a former NFL lineman who writes for SB Nation wrote that Miller has a flawed technique and that Parker was far below anyone’s radar and is a not-ready-to-play project.
Levi Damien, also of SB Nation, noted that Parker had played against lower-level competition and had a tendency to be overpowered by bull rushes and “is still raw and needs to add some weight, probably 15-20 pounds.” Plus, when Parker did get the chance to play with and against big-time players in the Senior Bowl, he had a terrible game, allowing two sacks and six pressures.
Yet the Raiders see a lot of potential in the 6-foot-8, 300-pounder. He was the MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year and first-team all-conference for three seasons at left tackle. He’s tall, athletic and according to his college coaches, a hard worker with a great attitude who was a team captain.
Sam Washington, the head coach at North Carolina A&T who was defensive coordinator during Parker’s years in school, told Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com this week that Parker “looked like a basketball player” when he entered the program, but added 40 pounds through strength training and improved his skills. Washington believes Parker has just scratched the surface of his potential.
“He transformed himself, his body,” said Washington.
His college offensive line coach, Ron Mattes – a former NFL lineman – calls Parker “a hard-working kid.”
“He works on his craft on a daily basis, and he improved the whole time I’ve been here,” Mattes told Paskal. “It was a joy watching him work hard and improve.”
Though Parker had a rough week at the Senior Bowl, not everyone was down on him as a prospect. Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, for one, saw a lot of things he liked. When McKenzie called Parker to tell him he’d been drafted, McKenzie was fired up, telling Parker: “When I saw you at the Senior Bowl I said, ‘I’m going to get that guy. I’m going to get that guy.' … We think you can play and we have a great coaching staff that’s going to get you to where you need to get to, OK? You just got to be willing to work hard, study hard and when it comes time, to play hard, all right?”
For now, Parker – if he makes the roster – will likely be used as a swing tackle behind Donald Penn on the left side and Miller on the right.