The New England Patriots decided to undergo a large transformation on their offensive line this offseason. Both starting guards from their 2021 team have departed since the opening of free agency, with Ted Karras signing a 3-year, $18 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals and Shaq Mason being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a fifth round pick and cap space.
David Andrews, Isaiah Wynn, and Trent Brown will all return from the 2021 starting group, while Michael Onwenu is expected to slot in to one of the vacant guard spots left behind by Karras and Mason. If you’re doing the math at home, that still leaves one starting spot up for grabs.
There are in house options to fill the void. James Ferentz was re-signed this offseason to continue his role as the ultimate reserve interior offensive lineman. Arlington Hambright and Drew Desjarlais were signed to reserve/future contracts and are expected to compete for reserve roles, and Will Sherman returns for year two after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 draft. While all of those players will be given a chance to earn a starting role, it’s likely that the Patriots are still in the market for a long term starter. The best way to add one of those players? The draft. The best value at that position in this draft? This man.
Name: Dylan Parham
School: Memphis (RS-Senior)
Opening day age: 23
2021 season: 5 games, First-Team All-AAC
Size: 6’3”, 311lbs
Expected round: 3rd
2022 #Patriots Draft Target Thread— Keagan Stiefel (@KeaganStiefel) March 24, 2022
IOL Dylan Parham#Memphis
(6’3” - 311lbs)
I think Dylan Parham can be the Ted Karras to Michael Onwenu’s Shaq Mason. In other words, he’s good and I think he isn’t getting enough credit. pic.twitter.com/kKWYmDxJrU
Strengths: Dylan Parham is a technician. Much closer to a Joe Thuney than a Shaq Mason, Parham’s best trait comes in his lower body mobility and footwork. His feet are very quick for a man that weighs more than 300-pounds, that keeps him balanced when climbing in the run game or setting on passing downs. As a pass blocker it’s impressive to watch how short his sets are, he likes to get on top of defenders and he does that by showing his knee bend and exploding up with his lower body.
The footwork and balance that Parham shows at 311lbs is incredible. His ankle flexion is exactly what you look for in a short setting guard, which is how he plays his best football. pic.twitter.com/rlbwI8ojJH— Keagan Stiefel (@KeaganStiefel) March 24, 2022
As a run blocker Parham won’t overpower anyone with raw strength but he’s got enough core strength to anchor down and drive. He beats people with his ability to move and use angles more so than anything strength wise.
Weaknesses: As we said, raw power isn’t where Parham will make his money. Despite being filled out and looking like a mauler, I’d say he’s more of a finesse player. That’s not the worst case in the world as Joe Thuney had a similar wrap early in his career, but it would be nice if he checked all of the boxes instead of most of them.
What would be his role? Parham’s a starter on day one. His understanding of run concepts was on full display at Memphis and he shouldn’t have trouble walking into an offense that is expected to continue to hand the ball off more than they throw it. Playing in-between David Andrews and one of New England’s tackles should help him with whatever growing pains come with being a rookie.
Does he have positional versatility? A fun addition to his strengths is his ability to move around. Though he is certainly best suited to play guard, Parham spent time at tackle in college and even got reps at center in the Senior Bowl.
He’s a guard but they had him get some reps in at center at the Senior Bowl. He had no problem adjusting and made some blocks that NFL centers can’t make. pic.twitter.com/3M6uVycil9— Keagan Stiefel (@KeaganStiefel) March 24, 2022
Who’s his competition? Drew Desjarlais is a name to watch out for during training camp. A former CFL All-Star and fourth overall pick in the 2019 CFL Draft, Desjarlais was the best player in the CFL in 2021. It’s a large jump from Canadian Football to the NFL but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that he could earn a starting job.
It would be a stretch to say I think Drew Desjarlais could start for the #Patriots.— Keagan Stiefel (@KeaganStiefel) March 24, 2022
I do LOVE the idea of him taking over that 6OL role from Mike Onwenu this season though, he’s super fun to watch run block. pic.twitter.com/1VTjhQEkhD
Why the Patriots? They quite literally do not have either starting guard from last season’s playoff run. They need to find at least one new starter.
Why not the Patriots? I can not and I will not find a reason for them not to draft this player.
Verdict: The 85th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft belongs to Dylan Parham.