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By and large, offensive guards land infrequently in Round 1 of the NFL draft. But if there’s a prospect there befitting of a first-round selection in the 2021 NFL draft, it’s probably Wyatt Davis.
As Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported, Ohio State’s Davis has opted out of the 2020 college football season and will begin preparation for next year’s draft.
The second-team All-Big Ten selection is coming off a terrific first year as a starter for the Buckeyes. Although he’s played almost exclusively at right guard — typically a lower-priority position in team building — Davis possesses all the qualities to be one of the first 32 players selected in the draft.
The scouting service BLESTO gave Davis a summer grade that put him just outside the first-round range. But teams we’ve spoken with this summer believe he has a good chance to be the top interior offensive lineman drafted.
Typically for a guard to land in Round 1, he needs to possess very-good-to-excellent athletic ability, above-average-to-elite strength and be a fairly polished technician. On average, there are about one or two of these players per draft class.
The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Davis checks off all those boxes, despite his lack of extensive experience.
In fact, what stood out on his 2019 tape was that Davis played like a seasoned performer. Had you only watched him play and not known he had only two starts coming into last season, you might have assumed he was a multi-year starter.
Davis is blessed with top-end physical skill but doesn’t simply rely on his traits to win matchups. He plays under control, maintains balance and keeps his feet underneath him.
A veteran evaluator once told us when it comes to offensive linemen: “One of the first things I learned to keep track of is, how often are they on the ground? And if they do, why did they end up on the ground?”
Davis almost never loses his balance; he’s usually the person putting his opponent into the dirt. That’s typically a good sign for an offensive lineman. This is a Buckeyes program that has produced five OL draft picks in the past four drafts, all under the watch of OL coach Greg Studrawa, plus several more undrafted Buckeyes who are on NFL rosters and practice squads.
Davis might even have a chance to be the highest drafted of the lot, topping Billy Price, the 21st overall selection of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018.
Expected to spend time working with noted OL coach Duke Manyweather leading up to the draft, Davis can continue to hone his eyes, his reaction time and add a little more core strength to power his run blocking. There has been talk that Davis’ arm length is nothing special, so he’ll need to compensate with his lower half and his middle to boost his anchor.
But right now, we feel this is a player who needs to be locked into the first-round spectrum until we have a valid reason not to put him there. Davis is that good, and he profiles as a player who figures to be a Day 1 starter for any team that would consider using a high selection on him.
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