Centers squarely on Raiders draft radar

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With how bad the Raiders’ offensive line was last season at every position but left tackle, it can be easy to overlook the center position. Mainly because right tackle is so crucial to pass protection and there are two guard spots. But make no mistake, the need at the position is considerable.

Andre James was a real question mark as an unproven player being handed the starting job last season after the team traded away Rodney Hudson. And the answer wasn’t a resounding yes. It was more of a ‘told ya so’ from those who weren’t confident in the move, as were the two guys to his right.

But unlike Alex Leatherwood who was selected at 17 overall in last year’s draft, it would be much easier to move on from James should they find an upgrade.

Two other factors that make center a good position to target is you can often find good ones on day two and three and they can often play guard as well, so you can address two positions at once. Those factors are pretty valuable to a team with four picks in the third round and after.

Here are some centers that could come in and immediately compete for the job.

Dylan Parham, Memphis -- Round 3

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Parham has played all over the offensive line, starting every game the past four years for the Tigers. But he projects as a center in the NFL. That’s where he lined up in the Senior Bowl. But if the Raiders need him at guard early on for whatever reason, he was a first-team All-AAC at right guard last season.

Luke Fortner, Kentucky -- Round 3

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Started every game last season at center and was named First Team All-SEC. This after starting every game the previous two seasons at both guard spots. Any questions?

Cole Strange, Chattanooga -- Round 3-4

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Another center projection for a guy who started just one game at the position in college. He did start 42 games at left guard, so there’s that. But his explosiveness, along with his strong play against upper-level competition, could have him sneaking into day two. If he makes it to day three, he would especially be a very intriguing talent.

Dohnovan West, Arizona St -- Round 5

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Started every game last season at center for the Sun Devils. Earning Second Team All Pac-12 honors. In previous seasons, he had started at left and right guard.

Zach Tom, Wake Forest -- Round 7

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A Second-Team All American at left tackle last season. But his less than ideal length would seem to move him inside in the pros. And since he started his college career — and was an Honorable Mention ACC performer at the position — that would seem like a good spot for him to find his place in the NFL.

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