by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
February 4th, 2021
1) Penei Sewell, Oregon; Ht: 6-6 Wt: 330
If you’ve seen Penei Sewell play football you won’t need much convincing here. If you haven’t let me educate you. Sewell isn’t just a huge man with the perfect body for blocking, he’s the most sound technical blocker we’ve seen come out of college for years and would be the top prospect in the class were it not for a possibly transcendent quarterbacking talent in Trevor Lawrence. For a man his size, Sewell is shockingly fast and unbelievably graceful in his footwork. He keeps separation from the player he’s blocking yet keeps his balance and stays home on every move a defender can show him. He’s out for blood in run block and will show no mercy on linebackers and defensive backs while he’s extremely difficult to drive back in pass protection. He will be the first offensive lineman taken without a doubt.
2) Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech; Ht: 6-5 Wt: 311
Darrisaw came from a bit off the radar this season. There were expectations that the player could turn out well, but not this well. The idea that he could challenge to be the next tackle off the board after Sewell is almost shocking, but when you watch his film you can understand why there’s hype. Like many of the top players on offensive lines, Darrisaw has very good movement for a big man. His first step is quick in both run and pass block and his mobility was a huge asset for Virginia Tech as he was able to block screens and sweeps with good speed. It didn’t matter who his assignment was, they were all getting blocked. Darrisaw absorbs contact well and is effortlessly dominant with everything he does. The scariest part about this player is that he’s very capable of being even better with good coaching.
3) Rashawn Slater, Northwestern; Ht: 6-4 Wt: 315
In most of my mock drafts you’ll see Rashawn Slater labeled as an “Offensive Lineman” instead of an Offensive Tackle because he’s so versatile. He’s easily the most versatile lineman in the draft and could be the most versatile player in the draft considering he’s able to play tackle, guard, and center. He’ll probably end up as an interior lineman in the NFL but his draft stock and most recent position indicates he’s going to be at least tried at tackle. The player is a killer in run block and absolutely dominates in pass protection, using the defender’s momentum and position to whip them around and keep them in the worst possible position to breach the pocket. He scans the field well, thinks a step ahead of the defense, utilizes great footwork and active hands, and has great mobility that contributes to devastating pulls. If there is a weakness with the player it could come against really quick moves, but for the most part he can keep up with anything thrown at him. He could be taken ahead of Darrisaw because of his versatility.
4) Jalen Mayfield, Michigan; Ht: 6-5 Wt: 320
Mayfield is the top tackle in the class that isn’t in the upper echelon, but he’s not far away from that promised land. In fact, none of the guys in this second tier are far off from being top tier players, but most have one or two things to improve before skipping the top three, though all should be able to contribute this season. Mayfield played on the right side at Michigan which could be a deterrent for some teams, but his qualities will translate no matter what side of the line he plays on. He’s better at blocking the run than he is at blocking the pass, but he doesn’t struggle in the latter. Mayfield is flatly a mauler in run block, using a good first step, a beautiful frame, and very good strength to get ends off the ball. He also excels in run block because he does such a good job at identifying potential tacklers and putting his helmet on theirs on the second level. His weaknesses come in terms of his balance and blitz identification. He’s a very smart player but complicated blitzes, crossing schemes and blitzes that rely on decoys, can fool him and leave his flank exposed for free runners. He can also be pulled down if a defender is smart enough to lure him into lunging.
5) Jackson Carman, Clemson; Ht: 6-5 Wt: 335
Clemson offensive linemen always carry a bit of a red flag because their skill players are so talented and their opposition usually isn’t, but there’s no doubting Jackson Carman. The player isn’t as mobile as his ranked predecessors, but his ability to just block is up there with the best of them. There isn’t a blocker who hits as hard as Carman in this draft. In run block his objective is just as much to bury his mark as it is to open a gap, and that’s lovely if it doesn’t get the player off balance or draw penalties, which it hasn’t yet. In pass protection he doesn’t get to show that same visceral disregard for human life, but he does get to display some wonderful skill with his arms and legs. Carman’s hands are active and efficient while his footwork is exceptional. He stays home and doesn’t get beaten inside while keeping stable enough of a base to avoid being run over by bigger players. He’s aggressive in the run, patient in pass protection, and just a smart overall player. He should be starting on a roster this season.
6) Alex Leatherwood, Alabama; Ht: 6-6 Wt: 312
Alex Leatherwood is a player who actually didn’t benefit from his return to college in terms of draft stock. Of course winning a National Championship will make the return worth it, but his draft stock isn’t nearly as high in this class as it was in last year’s. A player with former top-10 looks will now be in a battle to make the first round. However, the player is still very talented and will make a starting line somewhere this season. His first step is lightning fast and he displayed very good footwork this season. While that footwork is good, I would like to see him better his base in pass protection because there are occasions where he can be bull rushed and collapse the pocket. My other concern about Leatherwood is that sometimes he just doesn’t find a block when there’s one to be found. It’s not about patience, it’s just that he occasionally takes a play off. Otherwise the man is more than ready for an assignment. He’s a mobile player with a ton of high level experience in an intricate offense. He’s a fantastic run blocker and relishes smashing unsuspecting tackles and linebackers on down blocks and will make a devastating head on and backside weapon for a running back.
7) Samuel Cosmi, Texas; Ht: 6-7 Wt: 309
Cosmi was a player who was initially projected to be a higher pick in this draft but the rise of some other players has dropped him a bit in the opinion of most outlets. Cosmi is one of the more sizable players in this class which will perk the senses of a lot of teams, but his footwork scales with his size, slowing a bit and losing some quickness. However, the player is a rock and won’t be pushed off his spot by any one player. What I love about Cosmi is his ability to put a defender on an island, locking him in with his vice-like hands and dominating him with a premeditated plan that nearly always goes his way. He can get moved around a bit, but he’s not going to be run over or thrown down. In addition, his blitz pickup to the outside is maybe the best in the draft. He’s good in run block as well but his upside in pass protection will make him an attractive player for a team who runs a more passing-oriented offense.
8) Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame; Ht: 6-3 Wt: 302
It was a possibility early this season that every Notre Dame offensive lineman would be taken in the NFL Draft and it could have stayed a possibility had Jarrett Patterson declared for the draft. Even though all five won’t be taken, Liam Eichenberg will still represent one of the best lines in the country as the best player from it. The left tackle had a tough task blocking for Ian Book but still did a great job of protecting the jittery quarterback. Eichenberg is best as a run blocker, as many Notre Dame linemen are, driving well, hitting hard, and finishing plays. His optimal use is in a running scheme, but he’s capable of playing well in a passing offense as well. He’s a strong player defending the pocket and his hands are very active. He absorbs contact and relishes big collisions, plus his feel for the pocket and awareness is better than most players in this class. He was vital to the Notre Dame offense and can continue being vital to an offense in the NFL.
9) Daniel Faalele, Minnesota; Ht: 6-9 Wt: 400
Yep, you’re reading that correctly. 400 pounds. Daniel Faalele is a good deal larger than Makhi Becton and he actually might be more mobile. Faalele is a hulk of a man but he’s not slow or clunky on the right side, he’s actually pretty smooth. His first step is quick and his hips are extremely fluid, something that indicates he can be coached into a great product. He’s clearly not going to be moved off his spot by anyone and he’s laughably good while run blocking. If he gets in with a good coaching staff and tightens the screws, he could end up as one of the best players, not tackles, players, in this draft.
10) Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State; Ht: 6-6 Wt: 320
Jenkins bookends this second tier in my eyes, but his film and ability have him dangerously close to jumping a lot of players on this list. These top 10 tackles, especially 4-10, are going to be interchangeable for the most part, and NFL teams will likely have a couple other players on their radars in this area as well. I think there’s probably 13 different offensive tackles who have a chance of going in the first round depending on what teams are looking for in a player, and most of them would probably be justified going there. Jenkins was absolutely stellar for Oklahoma State this year and did everything well. He’s a bit unique in that he prefers to drag his defender in close to block and gets mean with them in pass protection and run block. His footwork and posture are consistent with that of a great tackle and they’re profitable for him when blocking. He’s extremely aggressive in run block and is always intent on winning and finishing blocks while he mauls players in pass protection. I could see Jenkins going much higher than the 10th tackle in this class and expect to see him gone in the first round.
11) Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa; Ht: 6-9 Wt: 321
Brown is another player who could be snagged by a team looking for upside, but I have him heading my third tier of players in the tackle category. The player is extremely tall, but unlike Faalele, his weight doesn’t scale as much. Brown doesn’t look much like a tackle in that he doesn’t have the courtesy weight strapped on, but he’s big enough to handle most players. The issue with not being extremely large at that height is that he’s easier to move around since his center of gravity is a bit higher, so if he’s not perfect in that respect he can be ripped past and pulled down. I would like to see him focus on getting his hands inside and getting a better push while run blocking in addition to beefing up a bit, but for the most part this is a player ready to go. He plays on the right side and will probably stay there in the NFL, but don’t let that make you doubt him. His first step is nice and his foot churn is integral in holding his spot, plus his intelligence and ability to process the game makes it a bit easier for him to overcome any limitations he currently has. There’s a very good player in here but I don’t think there’s a reliable blind side blocker.
12) Walker Little, Stanford; Ht: 6-7 Wt: 320
Again, I won’t be surprised to see little going higher than this evaluation, but I think his opting out of the season actually hurt his draft stock a bit. I think another year of film in a weaker Pac-12 would have served him well, but I certainly won’t criticize his decision to sit the season out. Little possesses a very good size and frame for his left tackle position and his intelligence won’t be in question having come out of Stanford. I actually don’t have any negatives that I pulled from the player, I’m just concerned that his overall level of execution and experience will leave him a bit exposed early on in the NFL. Little is clearly one of the more physically imposing players on this list. He’s incredibly strong and used that advantage to win blocks consistently, but I’m worried that it won’t be enough to win all the time in the NFL. Luckily Little is also pretty fast and is fundamentally sound for the most part. He stones edge rushers in pass protection and can roll defenders in the run while he pulls well and approaches his blocks patiently. His blitz identification is adept and he allows defenders to bury themselves. This player has a lot of upside but I don’t think he’s ready to start just yet.
13) Cordell Volson, North Dakota State; Ht: 6-7 Wt: 310
It’s probably a touch controversial that my first North Dakota State tackle isn’t Dillon Radunz, but I don’t mind that controversy because I think Volson is and will be the better player. I doubt he’ll be taken before Radunz, but my opinion still stands. I was very impressed with Volson’s pass protection right off the bat. First, he has heavy hands and punches that can stop the progress of a rusher on their own. He follows that up with an ability to anchor extremely well, never allowing defenders to go through him while also refusing to bite on dummy moves. When he does need to adjust he can move quickly and fluidly and keeps that strong base in a position where he can immediately redeploy to block. He drives well in the run and has good awareness that kept Trey Lance safe. His footwork can do with some improvement and the quality of opposition could raise questions, but Volson will find success at the next level.
14) James Hudson, Cincinnati; Ht: 6-5 Wt: 310
Anchoring the blind side of one of the best teams in the country generally makes you a shoe in candidate to be taken in the draft and that’s exactly what we have here in James Hudson. The Cincinnati product was stellar all season for the Bearcats and should be able to make his way into a late 3rd round pick. He’s one of the better athletes on this list and has a lot of upside in both pass and run block, but I would like to see him become more consistent with footwork details and keeping his hands inside so he’s not getting hit with penalties. Otherwise, this player has really high potential.He’s very quick off the snap and is a mean blocker in the run, blocking aggressively and with intentions of finishing strong. He gets to the second level very well and uses his speed effectively, plus his base lets him latch on and stay put in pass protection. There’s a lot of upside, he just needs to be more technically consistent.
15) Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State; Ht: 6-6 Wt: 298
Radunz will go higher than this appraisal in the actual draft, but know that my evaluation isn’t meant to be a slight, I’m just not nearly as high on the player as most. Like Daniel Faalele and Spencer Brown, I would like him to tighten the screws and beef up a bit, but there’s more issues that I felt were detrimental as well. His pass protection scan isn’t very good and outside blitzes from corners, safeties, or late outside linebackers can go straight by unnoticed at times. She can get off balance as well, lunging for blocks and ending up on his face. However, he’s a very adept run blocker and makes his presence felt in that avenue. He’s a really smart player and can process and transition well with what he sees, but he needs to move his head and feet more so that he isn’t missing blocks he’s capable of making. There’s a lot of potential with this player but he must get better in pass protection before he can be trusted with starting.
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