When the Las Vegas Raiders selected Thayer Munford in the 7th round of the 2022 NFL draft, it was seen as a high upside pick that would likely end up on the practice squad. Munford would clearly be behind Brandon Parker, Alex Leatherwood, Jackson Barton, and Jermaine Eluemunor in the right tackle pecking order, while Kolton Miller is a mainstay at left tackle.
However, with Brandon Parker’s injury and Leatherwood’s ineffectiveness, Munford has been given an opportunity. Eluemunor also seems locked in as a swing tackle while Barton has mostly been the backup left tackle.
In many cases in the NFL, players simply need an opportunity. Munford had been buried on the depth chart, but with Parker’s injury, Munford has been given a chance and has played well.
As a 4-star high school recruit, Munford wasn’t sought after due to poor grades. However, he eventually received a late scholarship offer from Ohio State and was able to redshirt his freshman year. Munford then became the starter at left tackle and didn’t allow a sack in 2018.
In 2019, Munford continued to start and was named Second Team All-Big 10. Munford followed that up by playing all of 2020 and once again not allowing a sack and being named First Team All-Big 10. Munford then switched to guard in his senior season, where he struggled. Had Munford come out after 2020, he likely would have been a higher draft pick. In reality, the Raiders may have gotten a steal.
What does Munford have to offer the Raiders?
Munford has a lot to offer. He has a ton of experience in a high-end collegiate conference while also having the ideal size and position versatility. Many mock drafts expected Munford to go in the 4th round, which made it more surprising that he fell to the 7th.
A year with a new offensive line coach could do Munford wonders, but it looks like he is ahead of schedule. Munford clearly has a lot of talent, and his slide was because of his struggles switching positions. Munford was moved to left guard to accommodate tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, who was selected in the third round this season.
Munford performed well in his start against the Vikings. While it was against the Vikings’ reserves, he held up well and didn’t require extra help like Leatherwood did. Munford’s immediate passing of Leatherwood says a lot about both players. Munford kept his momentum by being the story of practice this week as he shut down superstar Maxx Crosby.
Roquan Smith could be the missing puzzle piece to take this Las Vegas Raiders defense to another level alongside Denzyl Perryman.
Munford seems to be taking full advantage of his opportunity. Coming in, he seemed like a solid prospect who struggled with a position switch, one that likely had him questioning after he was dominant the previous season. If Munford can sure up his technique, similar to a young Kolton Miller, he could end up being the steal of the draft and if he can continue to impress, he may just be the opening day right tackle.