Las Vegas Raiders UDFA Steal: McClendon Curtis


Las Vegas Raiders UDFA Steal: McClendon Curtis


Las Vegas Raiders UDFA Steal: McClendon Curtis



The Las Vegas Raiders went into the 2023 NFL Draft with a need at guard, and after not selecting one within the first three rounds, many were left confused. Then, the team inked UT-Chattanooga offensive lineman McClendon Curtis as an undrafted free agent. Curtis earned a 3 year, 3.4 million deal with an initial $210,000 guaranteed, one of the highest bonuses this draft cycle. While at Chattanooga, Curtis was a two-time FCS All-America (first team in 2022, second team in 2021) while also being a three-time first team All-Southern conference in 2022, 2021, and 2020. 

On the consensus board, Curtis was projected as the 112th ranked prospect, which sits him as an early fourth round prospect. In his career, Curtis only allowed four sacks and 20 pressures in 919 pass blocking snaps, while drawing just seven penalties. Curtis played 499 snaps at left tackle, 16 at left guard and spent the majority of his career at right guard with 1,375 snaps. It just so happens the Raiders have a need at right guard, so the cards are aligning. In 2022, Curtis was sensational allowing only seven pressures and no sacks with a 90.9 pass blocking grade, which included a stifling performance vs. Illinois facing two potential NFL starters. 

Obviously, Curtis fell for reasons, most notably being some stiffness in his lower body at times. Curtis tends to keep his hips tight and will lock his knees at times. That compared with a lack of upper body strength at the initial contact can really limit his ability to draw vs. powerful blockers. However, Curtis does have some elite traits, especially with his lower body strength, elite size at 6-6, 326 and incredible instincts. Curtis is always looking to help along the line, and lay a heavy block in the run game. 

The Raiders are going to give Curtis the opportunity to fight for the right guard spot, as team sources have indicated. Netane Muti, who was signed off the Broncos practice squad, is the “lead’ right now, though nothing is set in stone. In 2021, Muti appeared in 162 snaps at right guard, allowing two sacks and seven pressures against the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets. Muti is a powerful lineman at 6-3, 310, though he’s been held back due to injuries. The other option right now is Justin Murray, who was signed as a free agent in February. In his career, Murray has 548 snaps at right guard and 903 at right tackle. Murray posted 522 snaps at right guard in 2020 with the Arizona Cardinals, allowing just nine pressures and no sacks. Murray is a clear-cut pass protector at 6-5, 306 with a long frame and good instincts. He’s the veteran option that the Raiders could start if needed. Alex Bars is expected to be the backup center, and Jermaine Eluemunor could start at right guard, but it will take a huge jump from Thayer Munford and Muti, with Curtis and Murray struggling heavily. 

In no way is Curtis the likely starter for the 2023 season, but there is the potential. The Raiders managed to snag who many viewed as the top ranked UDFA, for a good price and there is a consideration for him to play right guard, but the team would need to see a jump from him, especially in his lower body agility. Carmen Bricillo is an amazing offensive line coach, and there’s no reason to fear Curtis’ development track not being a good one. 


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