2021 NFL draft offensive linemen rankings: Top tackle, guard and center prospects

USA TODAY Sports Network
·10 min read

The 2021 NFL draft will occur across downtown Cleveland locations that include FirstEnergy Stadium (home of the Browns), the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and a select number of prospects will take the stage.

The first round will be held on Thursday, April 29. Rounds 2-3 will take place on Friday, April 30. Rounds 4-7 will be held Saturday, May 1. The draft will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network.

USA TODAY Network NFL reporters break down the draft position-by-position.

Offensive tackles

1. Penei Sewell, Oregon

Pros: Plus body control and balance. Will get a

. Keeps his feet active but smooth. Adjusts well against both power and speed. Smart player who doesn’t get overwhelmed. Can process information quickly.

Cons: Pad level and knee bend are inconsistent. Needs to engage from the hips down more consistently rather than just lean on defenders as a run blocker.

Penei Sewell opted out of the 2020 season.
Penei Sewell opted out of the 2020 season.

2. Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

Pros: Technically sound with the hand strength of a boxer. Coordinated and accurate with his punch. Elite balance and body control. Plays with easy eyes and smooth footwork. Peels off linemen to the second level with ease. A dominant run blocker in space.

Cons: Lacks ideal length for an edge pass protector. Won’t always get a downhill push in the running game.

3. Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

Pros: Easy and natural mover on all domains. Can adjust in space with smooth footwork. Comfortable and easy in space. Controls and maintains quality contact no matter where he is and who is across from him. Excels at being a mirror to the defender.

Cons: Needs more attitude and power in his game. Can be a little too delayed in adjusting to double moves.

4. Jalen Mayfield, Michigan

Pros: Consistently gets inside position and will lock his hands on. Keeps the legs engaged and maintains good force throughout. Has excellent initial footwork up the edge in pass protection. Comfortably moves with good speed in the open field.

Cons: Must work to keep his hands up and high. Only played in 18 career games.

5. Jackson Carman, Clemson

Pros: Outstanding natural power presence can make him look like a man among boys at times. Has a big base attached to feet that can stay active and quick. Has heavy hands that do damage on contact.

Cons: Will lose track of the width of his feet, minimizing his balance. Needs to mirror better.

6. Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State

Pros: Smart, outstanding balance and body control. Quick to redirect. Strong hands. When he gets his hands on the breastplate, he locks up the pass rusher. Can really run. Gets downfield ahead of the play.

Cons: Can use more upper- and lower-body strength. Played against a lower level of

competition. Needs a more explosive punch.

7. Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa

Pros: Freak athlete with elite body control for his frame. Shows the ability to mirror inside and out. Quickly gets to the second level and has the twitch to stick to linebackers.

Cons: Struggles to anchor if he does not bend his hips and knees. Must keep his hands high and tight in pass protection.

8. Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame

Pros: Snappy out of his stance with heavy, strong hands. Consistently wins the initial battle with an accurate strike. Can initially mirror a defender of any shape or ability to move. Stays within himself; trusts his ability. Quick thinker with a controlled lower half. Consistent and repeatable techniques.

Cons: Has a hard time winning the lockout battle with bigger defenders. Will overextend for the big blow and struggles to gather himself again.

9. Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State

Pros: Excels as a run blocker, then plays a gap and gets off the ball correctly. Will lock his hands inside while keeping his feet active. Energetic player who plays hard through the whistle. Energetic player who plays with violence.

Cons: Inconsistent with a lot of important techniques. Spends too much time on the ground. Too often goes for a knockout blow rather than a bunch of controlled jabs.

10. Samuel Cosmi, Texas

Pros: Shows an aggressive style with good hand fighting; will be able to lock onto defenders. Works hard to get across his man’s face in the running game. Gets a strong initial punch and shows good forward lean. Generates good power from both his hips and hands.

Cons: Plays too high after contact. Balance throughout engagement is an issue. Lockout game is lacking.

11. James Hudson, Cincinnati

Pros: Has explosive footwork that translates into power and incredible twitch in his lower half. Has the quickness and agility to move with defenders beyond the line of scrimmage. Has a violent punch that gets big-time movement on his man when his feet and hips are lined up. Still at the start of the learning curve for the position.

Cons: Raw and inexperienced. Techniques are inconsistent across the board. Hands are inaccurate.

12. Walker Little, Stanford

Pros: Can snap out of his stance with consistent torso-to-hip angles. Easy knee bender. Will work hard to keep his hands inside. Has an accurate and strong initial punch. Fights hard through the whistle; recovers well. Upper-body prowess goes a long way.

Cons: Played in just one game since the conclusion of the 2018 season. Struggled to stay upright and stable in space.

13. Foster Sarell, Stanford

Pros: Really active from snap to whistle. Will aggressively attack defenders with his hands and long arms while keeping his feet moving. Can slide himself up the edge while maintaining his center of gravity. Strong initial contact. Works hard and plays hungry.

Cons: Looks raw and underdeveloped when it comes to techniques, most notably with his hands and arms. Will overset often, showing his numbers to the ground.

14. Alaric Jackson, Iowa

Pros: Excellent grip strength. Can render a defender completely ineffective when he gets inside position and feet underneath his hips with good knee bend. Can anchor himself well against a big bull rush. Recovers well and will always be able call on his natural power on the move.

Cons: Foot speed and balance are inconsistent. Doesn’t adjust well on the outside against speed. Arm length is an issue.

NEXT BEST:

15. Brady Christensen, BYU

16. Tommy Doyle, Miami (Ohio)

17. Landon Young, Kentucky

18. Brenden Jaimes, Nebraska

19. Stone Forsythe, Florida

20. Drew Himmelman, Illinois State

21. Cole Van Lanen, Wisconsin

22. Josh Ball, Marshall

23. Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan

24. Abraham Lucas, Washington State

25. Larnel Coleman, Massachusetts

26. Dan Moore Jr., Texas A&M

27. Jake Curhan, California

Guards

1. Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

Pros: Can strike defenders with a violent punch. Will roll his hips into his man and produce secondary movement off the ball. Has ability to maintain his balance if initially beat. Will trust his techniques and anchor; won’t lose his center of gravity.

Cons: Will keep his pad level a bit too high. Very upper-body-dominant blocker who needs to engage his lower half more in pass protection.

USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker Blocks against Oregon.
USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker Blocks against Oregon.

2. Wyatt Davis, Ohio State

Pros: Powerful and sturdy and will factor in the running game right away. Gets a strong initial push, creating a new point of attack. Has the speed and quickness to peel off the line and reach the second level in a hurry.

Cons: Needs to maintain his positioning to improve his ability to mirror.

3. Trey Smith, Tennessee

Pros: Will overwhelm and swallow up defenders. Can win the battle even if he lacks the ideal positioning. Versatility is a plus, has played all over the line. Keeps the arms long and feet active post-contact.

Cons: Doesn’t always show natural knee bend. Will get top heavy and lunge with his upper body.

4. Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater

Pros: Gets his hands on abruptly post-snap and has along reach. Understands and uses quality leverage. Will keep the feet moving while he can slide laterally to mirror. Versatility is a plus, can realistically project to all three inside spots. He was a standout at the Senior Bowl where he showcased his balance, quick hands and natural ability.

Cons: Needs to put more attention on the accuracy and timing of his footwork. Feet get

stuck in pass protection at times. Played at a lower level of competition in college.

5. Alex Leatherwood, Alabama

Pros: The long-armed Outland Trophy winner (for best interior lineman) looks the part with his NFL body. Projects inside at guard because of his struggle with edge speed. Heavy-handed player who can overwhelm defenders both in line and in space. Has a year of experience at guard and two years at tackle.

Cons: Speed rushers really expose him. Inaccurate hands that too often end up outside

the shoulders. Needs to play more patient and aware of spacing and angles. Doesn’t seem to always trust his footwork against speed.

6. Aaron Banks, Notre Dame

Pros: A powerful and huge blocking presence who plays with balance and anchor. Flashes a heavy-handed punch. Strong on down blocks. Can pull and adjust on the run. Will run over corner support.

Cons: Gets high on pulls at times if he doesn’t drop his weight. Could improve mobility if he dropped 20 pounds.

7. Deonte Brown, Alabama

Pros: Big-time power generated from his hands and the fact he is almost always the heaviest player on the field. Dominant flashes in a gap run-blocking role. Gets push in the run game. It is a cab ride to get around him as a pass rusher.

Cons: Really sluggish when he gets out into space. Phone-booth player who has marginal quickness.

NEXT BEST:

8. Sadarius Hutcherson, South Carolina

9. Ben Cleveland, Georgia

10. Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame

11. Kendrick Green, Illinois

12. Jack Anderson, Texas Tech

13. Tristen Hoge, BYU

14. Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame

15. Royce Newman, Mississippi

16. Kayode Awosika, Buffalo

17. Robert Jones, Middle Tennessee State

18. Bryce Hargrove, Pittsburgh

19. D’Ante Smith, East Carolina

20. Jared Hocker, Texas A&M

21. Larry Borom, Missouri

22. William Sherman, Colorado

23. David Moore, Grambling State

24. Carson Green, Texas A&M

25. Will Fries, Penn State

26. Greg Eiland, Mississippi State

27. Samuel Cooper, Merrimack

Centers

1. Landon Dickerson, Alabama

Pros: Will overwhelm interior defenders with his initial punch and desire to stay on top and drive them through the ground. Maintains the inside position and keeps his face up. A true leader of the line who brings the heat every down, every week.

Cons: Knee and ankle flexion are tight. Suffered multiple injuries to his knees in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

2. Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma

Pros: Plus size and power presence. Has good enough athletic ability off the snap to make do in zone blocking schemes. Excels with hand placement, accuracy and strength. Will get and maintain the inside position.

Cons: Needs to be better in pass protection. Inconsistent with keeping his feet active

post-snap.

3. Drew Dalman, Stanford

Pros: Top-tier quickness, balance, and use of leverage. Can stick to speed and quickness. Rarely caught in a bad position as a result of his smarts and superb body control. Smart player who is quick to diagnose and even quicker to react.

Cons: Undersized and appears to have a frame that is already maxed out. Can be exposed when left on an island against someone who can outsize or outmuscle him.

4. Josh Myers, Ohio State

Pros: Quality straight-line athlete who shows a high level of physical potential. Moves to the second level in a hurry. Strong lockout game in pass protection against bull rushers. Smart, heady player who has the tool set to play multiple spots along the offensive line.

Cons: Has weak lower-body engagement, is overly reliant on hands. Inconsistent mirror with his feet.

5. Trey Hill, Georgia

Pros: Can really get moving in space. A solid straight-line athlete with plus explosion off the ball. Can overwhelm defenders with his upper-body pop and ability to lock on. Has the skill set to fit into multiple blocking schemes.

Cons: Gets top heavy at times as a result of poor lower-body flexibility and awareness. Spends too much time off balance and on the ground.

NEXT BEST:

6. Michal Menet, Penn State

7. Jimmy Morrissey, Pittsburgh

8. Brett Heggie, Florida

9. Drake Jackson, Kentucky

10. Harry Crider, Indiana

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL draft 2021 offensive lineman rankings: Top prospects