2022 NFL draft scouting report: Mississippi State OT Charles Cross

·3 min read

Mississippi State OT Charles Cross

6-foot-5
307 pounds

Yahoo Sports' 2022 NFL draft grade

6.50 — certain first-rounder; immediate-impact prospect

Here's how we use our prospect grades for the 2022 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Here's how we use our prospect grades for the 2022 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

TL;DR scouting report

Light-footed left tackle whose transformation from Air Raid pass sets could lead to early lumps, but he has Pro Bowl upside as a blindside protector

The skinny

A 5-star Rivals recruit (17th nationally) in the Class of 2019, Cross flipped from Florida State to the Bulldogs. He received a few snaps as a freshman in 2019 under former head coach Joe Moorhead before winning the starting left tackle job in 2020, playing every snap there that season, under new head coach Mike Leach. As a redshirt sophomore, Cross received all-conference and some All-America mentions in a 12-start season. He opted out of the team's bowl game and declared early for the 2022 NFL draft following the season.

Mississippi State OT Charles Cross took a big step in his development in 2021. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Mississippi State OT Charles Cross took a big step in his development in 2021. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Upside

  • Ideal length — just shy of 6-5, with 34 1/2-inch arms and 10 3/4-inch hands

  • Nice athletic profile — light on his feet with very good straight-ahead burst

  • Well-distributed weight an has a frame capable of adding bulk

  • Excellent 40-yard dash (4.95 seconds) with very good 10-yard split (1.73)

  • Very little wasted movement in his approach

  • Good flexibility and balance — can mirror quick rushers and cut off initial rush moves

  • Decent recovery ability

  • Can turn defenders off their desired rush paths

  • Decent core strength to torque and uproot defenders

  • Works contact on the move — rides defenders forward or laterally

  • Natural hand technician — quick-reaction and exchange skills to parry rushers

  • Lands quick jabs and keeps opponents guessing with punch placement

  • Able to work off combo blocks and pick up free rushers

  • Alabama moved Will Anderson (possible top-three pick in 2023 NFL draft) away from Cross

  • Very steady performer in 2021 — fewer ups and downs than in 2020 season

  • Soft-spoken and humble — a quiet performer who lets his play do the talking

  • Best football might be ahead of him — tangible upside as 21-year-old rookie

Downside

  • Surprisingly slow 3-cone drill time (7.88 seconds)

  • Vertical jump (26 inches) would be considered poor for lumbering offensive guard

  • Lacks a ton of true pass sets on tape

  • Will almost get out too quick to second level and overshoot landmarks

  • Run-blocking prowess will be tested in pro systems — fewer than 350 run-block snaps past two seasons

  • Not a power player

  • Needs better sustain and finishing ability

  • Doesn't always keep inside foot anchored an can lose cross-face battles

  • Appeared taxed by tenacity of Ole Miss' Sam Williams and required some help with him

  • Needs to add more bulk and develop better lower-body strength

  • Limited experience — two years of starting in Air Raid system

  • A bit grabby — gets hands wide at times and makes for easier flags called against him

  • Penalty-prone — nine accepted flags in 2021, including back-to-back calls prior to missed FG vs. Texas A&M

Best-suited destination

Cross has the ability to be a front-line pass protector in time, although a learning curve should be expected. The Bulldogs' one-dimensional scheme will require Cross to learn on the job and likely take some lumps along the way. But in time, he could develop as a good left tackle, ideally suited to fit a quick, rhythm passing game.

Did you know

Cross' college nickname was “Sweet Feet.”

Player comp

Shades of Andre Dillard coming out a few years ago, but Cross could end up as the next Eugene Monroe at his peak.

Expected draft range

Top-25 pick