Each and every draft cycle there is a Dylan Parham. A guy who’s undersized, undervalued, and/or massively overlooked until he dominates the all-star circuit, smashes interviews, tests well at the NFL Scouting Combine, and, resultantly, skyrockets up league-wide draft boards. While last year’s interior diamond in the rough came via Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Quinn Meinerz, who the Denver Broncos took in the third round, comparing him and Parham would be unfair, as they are drastically different interior movers. However, with similar nastiness, powerful hands, and a frame to build on years down the road, Parham could follow in the footsteps of the former DIII All-American with an eye-popping Senior Bowl and an impressive offseason showcase cycle.
A former 3-star recruit out of high school, the fifth-year redshirt senior enters the offseason with one of the more intriguing skill sets of any interior lineman. In a class lacking top-tier interior punch outside of Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum, Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green, and Kentucky’s Darian Kinnard, Parham’s current projection as a late day-two, early day-three pick has room to grow, especially when you turn on his film.
At 6-foot-3, Parham is vertically adequate for the guard position at the next level, but where issues have arisen on his projectability are with his frame. At 285 pounds, he’s extremely light for the position. For context, the average NFL lineman weighs around 305-325 pounds. While there are outliers like Las Vegas Raiders lineman Trent Brown who weighs nearly 365 pounds, Parham hides the lack of sand in his pants with his outstanding ability to win the leverage battle, pushing through opposing defenders with a herculean lower half, and, unlike Brown, plays to the inside shoulder of the right tackle.
In the clip above, you can see how quickly he passes off the 3-technique over to the right tackle, only to then quickly engage with the outside rusher working his way inside. Initially making contact at the 45-yard line, Parham drives the Mississippi State defender back nearly six yards off the ball with a powerful, quick-moving lower half that gains steam each and every step he takes.
Often asked to pull in the Memphis offense due to his feathery footwork and knack for staying on balance when asked to engage outside of his frame, Parham rarely fails to deliver the first blow. He makes his presence known early, and attempts to get by the long-tenured starter are often shot down quickly on the inside. While he’s proven to be better in the run than in his pass sets, his projection as a pro has become awfully intriguing considering his current stature. A body that could serve to add pounds of extra muscle, the versatility he provides as a former right tackle in the Tigers’ offense makes him an outstanding chess piece to have whether he starts from day one or works into snaps gradually.
A 2021 All-AAC performer alongside teammate Calvin Austin III, who I detailed here, Parham’s performance at the Senior Bowl in February will provide an excellent glimpse into exactly how impactful, or not, he could be right away on Sundays. A raw athlete that touts an unlimited ceiling if he figures it all out, he’s one of the prospects I’ve become most lured to as we approach the official start of pre-draft events.
As defenses continue to deploy lighter, quicker threats both off the edge and at the second level to counter the growing level of burst within NFL offenses, Parham’s fundamental traits and high-level footwork as a former tight end have placed a bold circle around his name as a player to keep a keen eye on as we move into the winter months.
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