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3 things to watch as Raiders begin OTAs: QB battle begins

Updated May 21, 2024 - 7:00 pm

The Raiders begin the final phase of their offseason program Monday.

That means the first leg of their starting quarterback competition will begin, they’ll look at offensive-line combinations and they’ll see how much progress their 2023 first-round pick has made this spring.

The Raiders can hold up to 10 organized team activities, which can include seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills, before their three-day mandatory minicamp takes place June 11-13. Their first OTA is scheduled for Monday.

Here are three things to watch as the workouts begin:

1. QB battle

Nothing is going to be settled over the next month between Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew, but one can give himself a leg up heading into training camp.

Coach Antonio Pierce said last week O’Connell has earned the right to take the first-team reps in OTAs. O’Connell appreciates the gesture, but he understands he needs to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Just trying to make the most of each day,” O’Connell said.

It’ll be worth monitoring how fast O’Connell and Minshew learn new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s scheme and what kind of chemistry they can build with wide receiver Davante Adams.

Those things will go a long way toward deciding who opens the season as the Raiders’ starter.

2. Offensive-line makeup

The Raiders bring back just three offensive-line starters from a year ago, so change is coming.

Kolton Miller and Andre James are set at left tackle and center, respectively. Dylan Parham should remain part of the starting lineup as well. Everything else is up in the air.

The Raiders have an opening at right guard with Greg Van Roten unsigned. It was presumed that second-round pick Jackson Powers-Johnson would take that spot, but he lined up at left guard during last week’s rookie minicamp. That means it’s possible Parham could shift from left to right guard for the Raiders this season.

The move would make some sense.

Parham would add a veteran presence on that side while the Raiders break in a new right tackle to replace Jermaine Eluemunor, who signed with the Giants in free agency. Third-year pro Thayer Munford is the favorite to win the job. Rookie third-round pick DJ Glaze and second-year pro Dalton Wagner are also in the mix.

Parham, who played 101 snaps at right guard as a rookie, could help those inexperienced players develop.

Moving Parham to the right side would also slot Powers-Johnson between Miller and James, two veteran players who could show him the ropes.

It will be interesting to see if that’s the way the Raiders decide to line up this week.

3. Tyree Wilson’s growth

The Raiders knew they would need to be patient with edge rusher Tyree Wilson.

He was still recovering from a serious foot injury he suffered at Texas Tech when the team selection him with the seventh overall pick in 2023.

The injury cost Wilson most of the offseason. He didn’t even step foot on the practice field until the last week of training camp. It felt like he was playing catch up his entire rookie season.

The Raiders hope a full offseason dedicated to football — with veteran Maxx Crosby pushing Wilson every step of the way — will set up a second-year leap.

OTAs will give the team a chance to evaluate Wilson’s progress.

He was lining up on the inside on passing downs often by the end of last season, which allowed him to use his size, speed and strength to beat smaller guards and centers. Pierce hinted that will remain part of the Raiders’ plans for Wilson this year, but they also want him to develop as an edge rusher.

It will be interesting to see where Wilson lines up in workouts and how much different he looks than he did as a rookie.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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