The Senior Bowl features the best upperclassmen across the country, from FBS to FCS to Division II (and even a Division III player, this year!). Given there are five offensive line positions and each position draws at least two players per spot, the offensive line group is overflowing with talent each and every year. As such, it’s tough to do all 22 offensive linemen between the two rosters proper justice with their reports. Instead, we’ll be creating a “starting” OL for each roster (North, South) to go in-depth with, then go through some quick hitters for the other 12 players.
Trey Adams, Washington
Trey Adams’ collegiate story is one of perseverance.
A draft-eligible junior in 2017, Adams was one of the best offensive tackles in the country. His length and raw strength in anchoring against pass-rushers made him a clear NFL candidate down the line, if not at the end of that season. Unfortunately, Adams suffered an ACL injury toward the end of that 2017 campaign and missed the rest of the year.
Adams was set to return from the ACL injury just fine in 2018, but a back injury cropped up before the season. The exact nature of the injury was not clear at the time, though it required surgery and kept Adams out of action for the first 10 games of the year. Thankfully, he was allowed to count that season, which was supposed to be his senior season, as a redshirt and return for 2019.
Had Adams not been injured all that time, it’s likely he would have already been a first-round pick by now. Adams has the size, strength, and experience that NFL teams look for in top offensive tackle prospects. Since he had to come back in 2019 after two injury riddled seasons, though, Adams has taken a slight step back and his stock has taken a dip due to his stagnation as a player (as result of constant injuries) and the potential health risk he poses.
If nothing else, Adams’ experience and savvy still shines throughout his game. While he may not be as agile as he once was (and, well, he never really was) or quite as stout in his anchor, Adams’ understanding of how defenses are trying to attack is noticeable. Stunts, twists, late blitzes, etc. that get sent Adams’ way are often neutralized before they become a problem.
In both plays, Cal try to get after Adams with an end-under-tackle twist. The edge player knifes to the inside toward the guard, while the defensive tackle briefly steps off the line of scrimmage to begin a path around the edge. In theory, the offensive tackle is supposed to bite inside trying to follow the end as the defensive tackle gets a jump on getting around the edge momentarily uncontested. Adams sniffs out the twist on both occasions and resets to pick up the defensive tackle with ease.
The Senior Bowl environment isn’t set up for Adams to show off his savvy like that, though. At the Senior Bowl, defenses are only allowed to use a standard four-man rush when doing team drills. In 1-on-1 drills, there is obviously no threat of a stunt, twist, what have you — it’s just an individual battle.
As such, Adams is going to need to prove himself a smoother mover than he has in the past. 1-vs-1 drills at the Senior Bowl are sort of geared toward defensive linemen winning reps because offensive linemen aren’t using to blocking on an island. They play as part of a unit and often have some sort of help or safety valve, particularly to the inside. Offensive linemen don’t have any of that safety in individual drills and it can leave slower tackles eating dust. This is a great chance for Adams to prove he’s got the feet to handle himself on the edge.
Josh Jones, Houston
There are a handful of non-Power 5 OL down in Mobile this year. UConn’s Matt Peart, Temple’s Matt Hennessy, SDSU’s Keith Ismael, and the list goes on. Of that talented group, Houston’s Josh Jones is the leading candidate as the best non-Power 5 OL at the event and is one of the best OL at the event, period.
Jones experienced plenty of change during his five years at Houston. In 2015 and 2016, during his redshirt and redshirt freshman seasons, Jones played under non-Texas head coach Tom Herman. The following two years, Jones played for head coach Major Applewhite, who was promoted to head coach when Herman left. Applewhite’s two-year tenure also featured different offensive coordinators in each season. As a redshirt senior in 2019, Jones stuck it out through a brutal inaugural season in the Dana Holgorsen era. Given Jones is a four-year starter at left tackle, he started full seasons under all three head coaches and four different play-callers, including the wide-open spread of Kendal Briles (now at Arkansas).
Experience and fortitude through change aren’t Jones’ only advantages, though. Jones stands tall at 6-foot-7, 310-pounds and sports long arms that help him keep defensive ends at a safe distance. Coupled with some light feet for a man his size, Jones has all the desirable tools that an offensive line coach would be looking for.
Proper technique is a foreign concept for Jones, however, and the Senior Bowl could be the trial run he needs to prepare him for the kind of coaching he will require in the NFL. Jones has gotten by to this point by being a superior athlete playing in the Group of Five, which has only been accentuated by playing in a handful of spread and Air Raid offenses that emphasize getting the ball out quickly and do not necessarily mimic NFL passing offenses appropriately.
In turn, there are likely to be a handful of reps in which Jones gets embarrassed in 1-on-1’s. There are way too many talented and skilled pass-rushers in Mobile this year for Jones’ technique to not be exposed from time to time. That said, if Jones can avoid being a total wreck and at least show flashes of why his physical talents can reign supreme against NFL talent, he will have done all he needed to do at this event to solidify his status as one of the best developmental OL projects in this class.
Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas
Like many of the best tackles in Mobile, Hakeem Adeniji is a four-year starter. Adeniji primarily manned the left side of the line, but started his freshman season at right tackle and started a handful of other games on the right side throughout the early part of his college career. At 6-foot-5, 300-pounds, Adeniji is on the leaner side and shows off the impressive movement skills expected of a player his size. While it would be nice to see Adeniji beef up a tad and play with a bit more oomph, he should still be a nice Day 3 option as a swing tackle for zone teams.
Charlie Heck, North Carolina
Measuring in around 6-foot-8 and 315-pounds, it’s tough to imagine Heck having much of a chance to slide inside. He’s much too tall for most quarterbacks to throw over comfortably. As a bookend, however, Heck has the length and baseline athleticism to be an intriguing option. Heck can serve as a swing tackle considering he has started a full season at both right tackle (2018) and left tackle (2019).
Justin Herron, Wake Forest
Justin Herron is a rare sixth-year player as a result of a medical waiver. After redshirting in 2014, Herron quickly assumed a starting left tackle role in 2015 and never let go of it. Early in 2018, the year that was supposed to be Herron’s final season, the redshirt senior suffered a torn ACL and was forced to miss the rest of the season, which is what prompted him to apply for a sixth year. Herron’s draw is that he is a solid athlete with passable length to be bookend, but being that he is a sixth-year player (24 years old as of November) with no clear trump card, it’s tough to imagine he has an enticing ceiling. Expect Herron to be a mid-to-late Day 3 pick, depending on how his trip down in Mobile goes.
Colton McKivitz, West Virginia
Colton McKivitz is another four-year starter in this year’s experienced crop of offensive tackles. Following a redshirt year in 2015, McKivitz took over the right tackle spot and held it for the next four seasons. Though West Virginia fell off in 2019, McKivitz helped keep Will Grier upright in 2017 and 2018, helping lead West Virginia to their best offenses since the Pat White era. McKivitz, a massive bookend at 6-foot-7 and 312-pounds, earned third-team All-America honors in 2019. While McKivitz needs to show some more aggression in pass pro (pass pro isn’t passive, after all), he has the tools to be an intriguing stash option on Day 3.
Matt Peart, UConn
Matt Peart is going to be a project at the next level, there is no doubt about it. However, considering his size, versatility, and flexibility, he just might be the perfect project for a well-off team to take on. Peart, all 6-foot-7 and 301-pounds of him, is a former basketball player with multi-positional experience. Peart started the 2018 season at guard, while playing 2019 at tackle. As far as technique and refinement goes, Peart is still a ways off from where he needs to be, but he checks every box that a legit project prospect should. Oh, and he also made first-team All-AAC in 2019.
Jonah Jackson, Ohio State (G)
It’s not often a player from Rutgers can grad transfer to a program like Ohio State and earn a starting spot, but Jonah Jackson proved to be a unique case.
A 6-foot-4, 305-pounder, Jackson was initially Rutgers’ starting center in 2017. He switched over to guard in his final season with the Scarlet Knights in 2018 and continued to play guard for the Buckeyes in 2019. Jackson, in just his first season in Columbus, helped running back J.K. Dobbins break Big Ten rushing records and quarterback Justin Fields lead a near-Heisman campaign.
Jackson also helped his case through being dependable and available. According to Dan Hope of Eleven Warriors, Jackson tied for the lead in offensive snaps played for the Buckeyes in 2019. The offensive line battled injuries all year, especially at tackle, but Jackson remained a steady presence up front.
In terms of his skill set, Jackson wins through passable movement in space and a great understanding of how to operate at the second level. Jackson can work across the line to double team then climb up to the second level and pick off a linebacker, just as its drawn up in the playbook. Though he is not exactly an elite athlete, he is plenty agile enough when considering how well he processes where he needs to be at any given time.
Strength and anchor will not be Jackson’s best talking points, but he wouldn’t be the first zone offensive linemen that would be true of. It’s tough for offensive linemen to be truly good in both areas, and even just being good at one should make Jackson a viable backup at the next level. Zone teams like the Vikings, 49ers, Rams, and Packers should be eyeing Jackson when Day 3 of the NFL Draft rolls around.
Ben Bredeson, Michigan (G)
Being a 6-foot-5, 325-pound four-year starter from Michigan is an automatic entrance into the NFL draft. While that could still mean Day 3 of the NFL draft, it’d be dang near impossible to check all of those boxes and not get drafted.
Ben Bredeson isn’t just a superficial pro, either. The simple measurements and Michigan “pedigree” don’t tell his full story. In 2019, Bredeson capped off his collegiate career with a third-team All-American honor alongside fellow Senior Bowler Jonah Jackson (Ohio State) despite Michigan’s otherwise lackluster offense.
As one might expect of a hefty guard playing in a Harbaugh offense in the Big Ten, Bredeson is a bully and a brawler. Bredeson is at his best when he can work directly downhill and in a phonebooth. Not only does Bredeson have the raw power and want-to to crush it as an interior people mover, but he’s got solid technique that enables him to get that done consistently. Bredeson does well to get low, get into his opponent’s frame, and drive them away from the rushing lane. Likewise, Bredeson has a mean anchor in pass pro and won’t be one to get bullied against bull rushers.
The “downside” for Bredeson is that he isn’t the smoothest athlete. That isn’t to say he’s a bad athlete or incapable of surviving at the NFL level, but he’s not going to wow many teams with his ability to get moving at the second level. He should be able to get by and avoid sticking out like a sore thumb, but for all those teams that love outside zone, Bredeson may not be the smartest pick.
If nothing else, look out for how Bredeson handles some of the quicker defensive tackles down in Mobile. We already know Bredeson can handle rushers head on, but the 1-on-1 drills at the Senior Bowl could be a good chance for him to prove he’s got the quicks to match the strength. With a good showing at the Senior Bowl, Bredeson could buy himself a ticket to Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
Nick Harris, Washington (C)
Nick Harris proved to be a natural at center the moment he made the transition to playing the position. Early in Harris’ Washington career, he was a guard. Harris even started the 2017 season at guard. Heading into 2018, though, Harris made the switch to center. Harris fit in right away.
In just his first season at center in 2018, Harris earned first-team All-PAC honors. Harris doubled down by earning the same honor in 2019.
Perhaps Harris’ move to center worked out because of his athleticism and ability to work in space. At guard, Harris was more often put in a phonebooth and asked to be the enforcer on run concepts. At center, however, Harris is enabled to be more of a facilitator and help out at the first level before climbing up to the second level. Harris’ smooth movement in space, made easy by his low and light 6-foot-1, 301-pound frame, makes him the perfect candidate for zone running teams.
Where Harris will come up short (literally) is with his arm length. We will know more about Harris’ exact arm length after Senior Bowl weigh-ins and re-measurements at the NFL Combine, but it’s no secret that he has T-rex arms. It can be difficult for Harris to consistently play on the front foot because he simply does not have the length to initiate contact against every defender. A few successful centers such as Corey Linsley, Chase Roullier, and Matt Paradis have below-average arm length for the position, so it’s not as though arm length alone dooms Harris, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Tiny arms be damned, Harris may still be the best interior offensive linemen in the class. He shows a clear understanding of zone schemes and the ability to execute well as a combo-blocker and at the second level. The projection for Harris’ game is minimal — he has shown exactly how and where he wins, and that environment can be replicated at the NFL level.
Matt Hennessy, Temple
Matt Hennessy might be this year’s best example of “guy who knows how to play the position, but might not have the chops to actually do it.” A little underweight at 6-foot-4, 295-pounds, Hennessy understands how to get in front of his man and reset his base as necessary. He strikes the chest well and isn’t one to lose many reps before they’ve truly begun. However, Hennessy doesn’t really have the sand in his pants to anchor against quality power rushers, nor does he has the quicks to deal with fast 3-techs, blitzers, and twists up front. Hennessy makes sense as a late Day 3 pick who NFL teams can hope to bulk and speed up a bit after a couple seasons on the bench.
Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn
(Note: Wanogho has been ruled out due to a failed physical)
While Prince Tega Wanogho is not the only “talented ball of clay” offensive tackle prospect in Mobile this year, he is the best of them.
Weighing in at a lean, mean 6-foot-7, 305-pounds, Wanogho has the perfect blend of height and length while still being able to comfortably play low and with quick feet. Wanogho isn’t one of those freakishly tall guys who struggle to control their movements, a la Dan Skipper (Arkansas, 2017 draft class). In fact, assuming his measurables from Auburn are fairly accurate, Wanogho has almost identical height/weight as Eric Fisher (6’7/306) did when he went first overall in 2013.
When it all comes together for Wanogho, he looks as dominant as any offensive tackle in the class. In the clip above, Wanogho absolutely dumpsters K’Lavon Chaisson by hitting him right in the chest and ripping him to the ground before he could get going around the edge. To get in front of and perfectly hit an edge rusher as explosive and fluid as Chaisson is no easy task. That Wanogho could get in that position is impressive enough, much less pummeling him into the grass with no chance of finishing his pass rush.
Where the “ball of clay” aspect comes in for Wanogho is that he doesn’t always look like this. While his flashes of brilliance crop up plenty often, hence his status as a top-75 player, surely coaches would be more comfortable with him earlier in the draft if he did not have some of the lapses. Wanogho has instances in which he will get a bit antsy to initiate contact, leading him to lunge at air or lean out a bit too far and put himself off balance for no reason. He does have the athletic ability to recover on occasion, but it would be better if he just stopped putting himself in that position altogether.
The taste of NFL coaching Wanogho will get at the Senior Bowl could go a long way for him. That isn’t to say Wanogho can fix all of his issues over the course of three practices at all star game, but it could give him a better idea of what NFL coaches will be asking of him and help him in the long run. Considering Wanogho’s lack of experience and technique compared to some of the other tackles at the event, he may have the most room to rise during Senior Bowl week, even though he is already a fairly coveted prospect.
Terence Steele, Texas Tech
It might be tough to imagine that anyone from Patrick Mahomes’ offensive lines at Texas Tech would be a future pro, but here we are. In fairness to Terence Steele, he was just a redshirt freshman in 2016 (Mahomes’ final year) and was asked to start at both tackle spots throughout the season — it wasn’t meant to be a smooth year for him.
Steele has come a long way since those days, though, and has solidified himself as one of the Big 12’s best offensive tackles. Steele started his freshman season at left tackle before transitioning to right tackle midway through the year. From that point on, Steele remained at right tackle throughout his Texas Tech career.
Coming in at around 6-foot-6, 310-pounds, Steele is plenty tall and long for the position. A few extra pounds and some time in the weight room wouldn’t hurt him, but considering he is unlikely to be pinned as a starter right out of the gate anyway, he should get time to address those minor issues.
It’s no surprise given the nature of Texas Tech’s offense, but Steele isn’t the most refined player around. He plays high out of his stance and his hand placement can run hot and cold. While the flashes of potential look like when everything comes together, the nature of Tech’s offense coupled with his own inconsistencies means those flashes don’t pop up often enough for him to be a surefire top-100 pick.
Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson
Positional versatility will be one of Tremayne Anchrum’s main bullet points. Anchrum walked onto Clemson’s campus as a high school guard, but by the time he earned a full-time starting position with the Tigers in 2018, he was a right tackle. For the past two seasons, Anchrum has anchored the right side of Trevor Lawrence’s pocket. A short, stout tackle at 6-foot-2, 315-pounds, many are speculating Anchrum is due for a transition back to the interior. Anchrum is even listed as an “OL” on the Senior Bowl roster than as a true OT. It’s likely he will get action at both tackle and guard over the course of the week. Anchrum’s stout frame and strong anchor would make him a great candidate for transitioning back to guard in the NFL.
Tyre Phillips, Mississippi State
Tyre Phillips is a bit of a late bloomer. After spending two years at the JUCO level, Phillips jumped to Mississippi State and redshirted during the 2017 season. In 2018, Phillips did not have a full-time starting role, but logged almost 400 snaps as a rotational player. It was not until 2019 that Phillips seized a full-time job, showing off all the necessary strength and nastiness needed to survive in the SEC.
Alex Taylor, South Carolina State
Alex Taylor has tree vines for arms. Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy said Taylor has an 88-inch wingspan, which would be one of the widest wingspans in the NFL. That’s absolutely absurd. For reference, now-Baltimore Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown was lauded for his length and has a wingspan of 85 ⅛-inches. Taylor has a long ways to go to become an NFL starter, which is no surprise considering he is an FCS product, but the Senior Bowl is the perfect opportunity for a player like him to prove he can stand up to the competition. Taylor has more to gain than just about any other OL in Mobile.
John Simpson, Clemson (G)
John Simpson has an argument as the most accomplished interior offensive linemen in the class. After being a rotational player at both guard spots in 2017, Simpson assumed a starting role in 2018. Clemson went on to clobber Alabama in the national championship that season, in large part because quarterback Trevor Lawrence was kept clean enough to carve up Alabama’s secondary.
In 2019, Simpson against helped the Tigers to the national championship, though they did not come out victorious that time around. More than just the team accomplishment of getting to the title game again, Simpson also earned second-team All-America honors alongside Oregon OL Shane Lemieux.
Considering Simpson’s role at a dominant program, experience at both guard spots, and a hefty 6-foot-4 and 330-pound frame, it’s no surprise Simpson earned an invite to the Senior Bowl.
However, while Simpson’s heavy frame is enticing at first glance, he does not carry that weight as well as one may hope. Simpson can maul people in a phonebooth, but when asked to slide across the line of scrimmage in quick pass protection or find moving targets in the run game, Simpson looks a little out of his depth. He isn’t going to be the guy picking off linebackers at the second level after executing a swift combination block on a zone block. Simpson is much better served down blocking on power and counter concepts.
Simpson’s pool of potential teams is limited somewhat by him not being a great fit for zone teams. Additionally, Simpson doesn’t really have the tools or single shining strength that will get him drafted in the top-100. It’s more likely that Simpson ends up a Day 3 pick to a team like, say, the Indianapolis Colts or Pittsburgh Steelers considering their emphasis on gap run concepts and maintaining quality along the offensive line.
Logan Stenberg, Kentucky (G)
Not many interior offensive linemen are 6-foot-6 like offensive tackles and there is a reason for that. Unlike offensive tackles who sort of fan out and flow around in a wider set of space, interior linemen are more or less locked into a tight area right in front of the quarterback. Quarterbacks have to be able to throw over the top of them and some simply can’t or struggle to do so.
Logan Stenberg is looking to transcend that “rule.” At 6-foot-6, 322-pounds, Stenberg is a hefty dude who started for four seasons at left guard with the Kentucky Wildcats. While team success was hit or miss, Stenberg always stood out among his o-line peers. As is often necessary in the SEC, Stenberg is a mauler in the trenches and never plays with the intention of allowing his opponent to overpower him.
In fact, Stenberg makes it a point to ensure his opponents feel the lasting effects of each and every rep. Stenberg plays with a raw power and aggression that can physically wear down opponents over the course of the game, especially if the Wildcats run game is really clicking. For coaches that want to impose their will on opponents — and even with the rise of analytics, there are plenty of these dudes around — Stenberg’s nastiness is a perfect fit.
Conversely, Stenberg’s height legitimately works against him. Not only does Stenberg have the potential hindrance as a pass protector mentioned before, but being such a tall player at a position that often requires low, flexible leverage can be a problem. While there are instances in which Stenberg’s power wins out anyway, Stenberg can almost never be the lower man and will be at a significant leverage advantage most of the time in the NFL. Against bigger, better, smarter NFL athletes, that leverage difference will absolutely be felt by Stenberg.
Still, Stenberg has found a way to make it work this well in the SEC for a half-decade. Aside from maybe doing it at LSU or Alabama, Stenberg’s experience and film resume are about as convincing as they could be for a player of his unusual size for his position.
Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU (C)
Lloyd Cushenberry is one of a handful of players at this year’s Senior Bowl who was not technically a senior. Fourth-year juniors can play in the Senior Bowl with the stipulation that they must be graduates, which Cushenberry is.
In turn, Cushenberry is a tad short on experience compared to his peers. After redshirting in 2016 and playing sparingly in 2017, Cushenberry took over the starting center job in 2018. Cushenberry’s first season as a center went fairly well as the Tigers guided a milquetoast Nick Brossette to over 1,000 yards rushing en route to a 10-win season.
In 2019, well, I think we all know how that went for LSU. Cushenberry was the literal centerpiece of the best, most explosive offense the country has ever seen. Star quarterback Joe Burrow almost always had pristine pockets to work with, in large part because of Cushenberry’s contributions holding down the middle of the pocket. Cushenberry’s efforts helped LSU’s offensive line earn the Joe Moore Award, which is awarded to the best collective offensive line unit in the country.
By a handful of measures, both formal and informal, Cushenberry is a good fit for a handful of different offensive schemes. At 6-foot-4, 315-pounds, Cushenberry is built well and has the raw strength to be a force in the middle. Power and counter concepts are great for him as he can be a bulldozer when downblocking. He also carries his weight with grace and has proven himself plenty capable of moving laterally to combo in zone before climbing to the second level. It’s not abnormal to see Cushenberry take out two defenders on a play, or at least help on a double team before taking out someone else by himself.
Depending on offensive identity, Cushenberry may be the best center in the class. For pure zone teams, someone like Washington’s Nick Harris may be a bit more desirable, but for multiple or gap-oriented teams, Cushenberry should be the target. His blend of power and baseline athletic ability, coupled with his pedigree in leading LSU’s 2019 offensive line, are all the makings for a center who can be ready to go the moment he gets into an NFL training camp.
Ben Bartch, Saint John’s
Every Senior Bowl features at least one “who the heck is that?” offensive linemen from a school you either haven’t heard of or were not aware had a football program. Ali Marpet (Hobart College) and Alex Cappa (Humboldt) are a couple recent examples. Ben Bartch of Saint John’s is that guy this year, and he is the only Division III OL at the event. In fact, he is one of just two non-FBS OL at the event.
Keith Ismael, San Diego State
Heading into his redshirt freshman year in 2017, Keith Ismael was supposed to end up as a guard, but he played much of the season at center. Ismael stuck at center for the following two seasons, establishing himself as one of the Mountain West’s offensive linemen. In San Diego State’s downhill, run-heavy offense, Ismael had plenty of chances to show off his strength and force as a people mover. Between his strength and positional flexibility, Ismael should be a solid Day 3 candidate for plenty of teams around the league.
Damien Lewis, LSU
If nothing else, Damien Lewis gets a bump for being part of the OL that won this year’s Joe Moore Award, which is handed to the best collective offensive line in football. Lewis is a JUCO product who came to LSU in 2018. He immediately earned a starting job that season and served as a starting guard for the Tigers for two years. At 6-foot-3, 332-pounds, Lewis is a big dude who thrived in LSU’s offense that featured plenty of “duo” run concepts.