In the 2020 NFL season, per Sports Info Solutions, quarterbacks threw from 0-3 step drops on 12,252 dropbacks. Conversely, quarterbacks threw from 5-7 step drops on 4,760 dropbacks. When you have an increasing quick game, and RPO concepts have become the order of the day, there often isn’t enough time for edge-rushers to upset the quarterback’s timing and rhythm.
Because of this, interior defensive pressure has become more crucial than ever. It’s a simple matter of the shortest distance and a straight line, and the inside guys have the advantage. There are many reasons that Aaron Donald is the most important defensive player in the NFL, but that’s certainly one of them. When you have a guy who plays more than 70% of his snaps on the interior, and he’s able to average about 100 total pressures a season, you are dealing with a player who can single-handedly change a passing game.
Flip that to the other side of the ball, and you understand why centers and guards are also so crucial in today’s NFL. Someone’s got to deal with the Aaron Donalds of the world, and the best at those positions will be rewarded appropriately.
The defending AFC champion Chiefs released offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz this offseason after a Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers in which their backup tackles were exposed over and over. So, how did general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid spend their cap dollars? By signing former Patriots guard Joe Thuney, who handled Donald as well as anybody has back in Super Bowl LIII, to a five-year, $80 million contract with a $17 million signing bonus and $46.89 million in injury guarantees. And ask those same Buccaneers how their offensive was negatively affected when left guard Ali Marpet lost a couple games due to injury in mid-season.
When turning to the 2021 draft class of interior offensive linemen, there are both career inside guys, and a couple of potential offensive tackle converts whose skill sets I think might work better with a positional move. The top players have the potential to have more of an impact in the NFL than they might have in previous seasons.
Note: The percentiles in parentheses listed next to pro day data are compared to all historical athletic testing (combine and pro day) at the respective position of the player. Kudos to Pro Football Focus, and their Pro Day Schedule and Results Tracker, for this. As there was no scouting combine in 2021, and pro day schedules vary, we may not have all testing information for all prospects at publication time. For offensive tackles whose positional specificity is in question, we will include percentiles for both positions per PFF’s data.
Also: PFF’s True Pass Sets, explained in further detail here, represent snaps in which an offensive tackle pass-protects specifically without play-action, rollouts, and screens, with more than a three-man rush, and with between two and four seconds to throw the ball. This gives a more accurate picture of true pass protection.
1. Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Height: 6'6" (56th) Weight: 317 (69th) Arm Length: 33 1/2 inches (30th) 40-Yard Dash: 5.03 (85th) Bench Press: 36 reps (98th) Vertical Jump: 33 inches (90th) Broad Jump: 106 inches (60th) 3-Cone Drill: 7.72 seconds (59th) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.66 seconds (67th) Bio: A three-sport star (baseball, basketball, football) at Topeka High in Kansas, Jenkins received a few offers as a three-star recruit -- Kansas State, Louisville, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma State, his ultimate choice. With 2,672 collegiate snaps at both right and left tackle, Jenkins has worked hard to improve at both positions from a technical standpoint while maintaining his aggressive (and at times dominant) playing style. Voted first-team all-conference in 2020, Jenkins opted out of the final month of the season. Stat to Know: In his collegiate career, Jenkins allowed one sack, two quarterback hits, and nine quarterback hurries in 236 true pass sets. In 2020, runners going to his gap averaged 5.6 yards per carry, and 2.6 yards per carry before contact. Strengths: Jenkins is a frighteningly strong player -- he's got more pancakes on his tape then your average IHOP, and when he gets his hands latched onto your frame, you're done for that rep -- if his hands stay there. Will engage with a defender for a while, and then, out of nowhere, he'll just bury the poor guy. It happens a lot. Plays with an angry athlete personality (in a positive sense) but stays under control in short spaces. Has the awareness and lateral mobility to move from one defender to another on stunts and second assignments. Weaknesses: As a pass-protector on the edge, Jenkins has some work to do. Lunges precipitously when he gets beaten by speed around the arc, and while he's able to recover at times because of his size and aggression, this could be a major issue in the NFL against more advanced speed-rushers. Doesn't mirror well at all, and is susceptible to rushers slipping off from side to side as a result. Has the quickness to get to the second level in the timing of the down, but it's not always clear what he's doing when he gets there -- has as many whiffs as hits in space. At times, becomes so fixated on sheer physical dominance that he'll lose control of the rep. Short arms show up when he's late with his punch, and defenders can get inside his personal space. Conclusion: When transitioning college tackles to NFL guards, it's important to remember that there's a fundamental difference between tackles with outstanding guard qualities, and sloppy tackles who probably won't make it at any NFL position. There are people who think that Jenkins has a future as an NFL tackle, and more power to them. But to my eye, he'd be an absolutely dominant guard with his ability to dominate in short areas, his quickness in space, and his overall awareness. I do think the spatial requirements of the tackle position leave him in the lurch at times, while a move to guard would be just the ticket for his professional future. NFL Comparison: Kevin Gogan. I love throwback comparisons, and Jenkins reminds me of Gogan, the highly athletic and animalistic guard who played in the NFL from 1987 through 2000 and made three Pro Bowls. Like Gogan, Jenkins would provide an impressive combination of aggressiveness, short-area quickness, and the ability to physically dominate as an interior blocker. And like Gogan, Jenkins may start out as an NFL right tackle, and find his true home inside.
2. Landon Dickerson, Alabama
(Gary Cosby Jr-Imagn Content Services, LLC)
Height: 6'6" (56th) Weight: 317 (69th) Arm Length: 33 1/2 inches (30th) 40-Yard Dash: 5.03 (85th) Bench Press: 36 reps (98th) Vertical Jump: 33 inches (90th) Broad Jump: 106 inches (60th) 3-Cone Drill: 7.72 seconds (59th) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.66 seconds (67th) Bio: A four-star recruit out of Hickory High School, Dickerson was the second-ranked recruit out of North Carolina in his class, behind current Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. He chose Florida State over a host of other possibilities graduated cum laude with a degree in sports management in three years, and entered the transfer portal, choosing Alabama. Dickerson's college career was unfortunately marred by injuries -- all three of his seasons with the Seminoles were cut short, and he was unable to participate in the 2021 Senior Bowl due to a torn ACL. But when healthy, he provides outstanding multi-position flexibility, and top-tier center potential. https://twitter.com/NFL_DougFarrar/status/1368654368048902144 Stat to Know: Dickerson didn't allow a single sack in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He gave up a sack in his first game of the 2020 season against Missouri, and gave up no sacks and two total pressures through the rest of the season. Strengths: Multi-system blocker (56% zone and 43% gap in 2020) who played all five positions at one point or another in Alabama's dominant (and shape-shifting) offense. Dickerson presents serious problems for defensive tackles playing head-over or shade, because he snaps the ball very quickly and explodes out of his stance with a wide base and quick, aggressive hands. Latches on to seal in the RPO and run games, and can do it against tackles who outweigh him by 20-30 pounds. Weaknesses: Injury history is long and disconcerting, especially given Dickerson's physical nature. Better in a phone booth than on the move; Dickerson isn't the first guy you're looking at if second-level blocking from your center is a high priority. Target accuracy and functional strength can be an issue in space. Decent puller, but it's not an obvious strength. Conclusion: Were it not for his injury history, Dickerson would probably be a slam-dunk first-round pick, and an NFL team might surprise and take him in the first half of the first round because of his positional flexibility. The team that eventually does take Dickerson will get a Day 1 plug-and-play guy from a physical and mental standpoint, and if he's able to transcend his medicals, Dickerson looks like a player with a Pro Bowl future. NFL Comparison: Damien Woody. You don't see a lot of centers at 6-foot-6 and 326 pounds, and Dickerson's positional flexibility in college makes me think that his NFL team might want to move him around as well. Woody played from 1999 through 2010 with the Patriots, Lions, and Jets, switching from center to guard to tackle along the way, always at a high level, and at 6-foot-3 and 330 pounds. Dickerson has absolute top-tier potential as an NFL center, but he may be capable of even more.
3. Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Height: 6'5" (79th) Weight: 325 (86th) Arm length: 32 1/4 inches (15th) 40-Yard Dash: 5.32 (30th) Bench Press: 24 reps (40th) Vertical Jump: 31 inches (84th) Broad Jump: 100 inches (33rd) 3-Cone Drill: 7.69 seconds (61st) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.89 (18th) Bio: A four-star recruit out of California's El Cerrito High School, Banks was rated as the state's third-best offensive lineman behind only Wyatt Davis and Alijah Vera-Tucker. Oregon, Notre Dame, and Michigan were among his suitors, and he eventually chose the Fighting Irish. Then, he had the pressure of his role as Quenton Nelson's successor at left guard. He's not quite Nelson (very few guards are), but Banks has done well for himself. Stat to Know: In 2020, Banks cleared the way for his running backs to the tune of 6.6 yards per carry to his gap, with 3.5 yards per carry before contact. He also allowed no sacks, three quarterback hits, and seven quarterback hurries. All three of those hits and six of those hurries came in true pass sets. Strengths: Looks quicker and lighter on his feet than his listed playing weight of 338 pounds would indicate; 325 seems more in the ballpark. Highly mobile pusher of humanity who can pull and seal with ease and is always looking for work. Moves naturally and laterally from target to target in the same play -- this is one guy you won't have to lecture about tunnel vision. Doesn't seem to have any issue handling stunts and games; he's a very aware blocker. Has the natural footwork to go well from side to side in mini-arcs. Keeps his feet moving through extended blocks. Works decently to the second level to hit and seal his target. Has more than his share of buried defensive tackles when he gets on the move and uses his upper-body strength with timing and technique. Doesn't get over-extended often; Banks understands his base and uses it well for the most part. Weaknesses: At times, Banks will be too passive with his hands, allowing defenders into his kitchen and given them the potential to work right by him. Needs a consistent base to maintain optimal play strength; he'll get thrown over once in a while by better defenders. Banks will lean into contact at times, which magnifies these other issues. He's not an obviously athletic player for his position when it comes to the second level, but he has enough attributes to make up for it. Conclusion: While Banks doesn't enter the NFL with Quenton Nelson's pedigree, he shouldn't be dinged for that. He's a plus guard if you need a consistent mauler who can offer value in the passing game, and if he's not ideal when in space or doesn't have Nelson's murderous athletic temperament, that's okay. In a gap/inside zone-heavy offense, he'll be the kind of player you don't mention often, which is generally a compliment for any offensive lineman. NFL Comparison: Kelechi Osemele. Like the veteran, Banks is at his best in a phone booth, he looks smoother and more athletic than you'd expect from a man his size, and he'll do his best to open gaps and keep his quarterback clean without an abundance of highlight plays -- good or bad.
4. Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
(Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'4" (37th) Weight: 312 (86th) Arm Length: N/A 40-Yard Dash:5.09 seconds (81st) Bench Press: 29 reps (74th) Vertical Jump:33 inches (96th) Broad Jump:112 inches (93rd) 3-Cone Drill:7.54 seconds (70th) 20-Yard Shuttle:4.46 seconds (86th) Bio: A wrestler from age four (!), Humphrey got into football in his middle-school years, eventually becoming a four-star recruit out of Oklahoma's Shawnee High School. Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M were among those vying for his services, and he started off with a commitment to Texas A&M, but eventually went with the college team that was his favorite when he was a kid. Humphrey started his collegiate career with 877 snaps in 2018 as a redshirt freshman, snapping the ball to 2018 Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 first-overall pick Kyler Murray. Stat to Know: Humphrey may be the most balanced center in this class, schematically. In 2020, he blocked 51% of the time in zone schemes, and 46% in gap schemes. Throughout his collegiate career, he helped his runners gain 5.7 yards per carry in zone, and 6.9 yards per carry in gap. Strengths: Smart, mobile shot-caller who gets the ball out and out of his stance quickly to ascend to the defender. As long as he's first in attacking with his hands and getting in a defender's pads, he's very tough to shake. Outstanding, determined athletic temperament. Has the quickness and lateral flexibility to mirror defenders in short spaces, and can orbit slower defensive tackles to seal them to either side. Core strength for his size shows up; perhaps the wrestling background is a plus when he shows up with a good, low functional base and the ability to explode into a defender's pads. Has the quickness and agility to be a plus blocker at the second level and on the move. Weaknesses: We don't know exactly what Humphrey's arm length is, and there might be a reason for that. NFL teams will want to know, because he will let defenders into his kitchen, and he doesn't have a lot of counters when that happens. Flexible enough to present some back bend when he's physically beaten, but that happens more than you'd like. Suffered in strength battles with bigger, squattier nose tackles, either head over or shade. Can get absolutely rag-dolled at times. Conclusion: There's some talk about positional flexibility adding to Humphrey's draft value, but I'm not sure about that -- he didn't play a single snap anywhere but center for the Sooners, and with his shorter arms and issues against power, he looks like a scheme-specific guard at best. However, Humphrey does have the potential to be an above-average center at the next level -- he's just going to have to continue to maximize his leverage and be in an offense where power is less important than intelligence and athleticism. NFL Comparison: Cody Whitehair. The Bears selected Whitehair out of Kansas State with the 56th overall pick in the 2016 draft, and Whitehair has proven to be a smart, versatile player with especially impressive reps at center despite a strength profile that doesn't blow you away. And it's not to say that Humphrey isn't a power player at times; it's just not his calling card. Like Whitehair, Humphrey will thrive in a system where he's able to do more than wrestle in the mud with big guys.
5. Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
(Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'3 5/8″ (35th) Weight: 315 (66th) Arm Length: 33 7/8 (71st) 40-Yard Dash: N/A Bench Press: 25 reps (49th) Vertical Jump: N/A Broad Jump: N/A 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Bio: Davis certainly comes to the game of football naturally. He is the grandson of former Packers defensive lineman Willie Davis, a Hall-of-Famer, and his father Duane played Alvin Mack in "The Program." A five-star recruit coming out of California’s St. John Bosco High, Wyatt Davis had more than 25 scholarship offers, choosing Ohio State over Alabama, Auburn, and Michigan, among others. Stat to Know: Davis allowed sacks against Nebraska, Penn State, and Indiana in the first half of his 2020 season. Those are the only sacks he's allowed in his collegiate career. Strengths: Well-proportioned ass-kicker who absolutely explodes out of his stance into the defender. Natural drive-blocker who can work a tackle out of the play. Has a pancake mentality, and it shows up on the field. Nasty finisher at times. Flexible enough to run to a defender's other side and seal in slide protection. Can pull with authority. When he's first and right with his hands, Davis can make life very difficult for bigger defensive tackles. Weaknesses: When Davis gets off-kilter with his leverage and hands, he will lose battles both in strength and placement. Needs to be more consistent in latching on, otherwise he'll lose tackles along the way. Has the athletic profile to be a plus blocker at the second level, but isn't always consistent on accuracy and placement in space. You'd like to see more of a consistent finishing mentality on longer blocks. Needs to avoid forward lean and losing power. Defenders can slip off when he's off his game. Conclusion: Watching Davis on tape is both fun and frustrating. When he's on point and using his leverage and advanced hand technique, he's as formidable a guard as there is in this class. But there are also spaces of time where he'll just kind of... lose it, play more randomly, and the inconsistency makes you wonder. I don't want to attribute that to any non-physical issues on Davis' part because I don't know the player, but in a strong room with a fiery coaching staff, Davis has all the potential to stone NFL defensive tackles and rack up Pro Bowl trips. NFL Comparison: Trai Turner. When Turner came out of LSU and was selected by the Panthers with the 92nd overall pick in the third round, he became one of the league's better drive-blockers over time. I think Davis has the same profile to define the physicality of his NFL offensive line, if he is more consistent from snap-to snap.
6. Ben Cleveland, Georgia
(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'6″ (92nd) Weight: 354 (99th) Arm Length: 33 inches (37th) 40-Yard Dash: N/A Bench Press: N/A Vertical Jump: N/A Broad Jump: N/A 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Bio: Opposing defensive tackles may have wished that Cleveland had chosen baseball over football, which he could have done if he'd liked, but the 6-foot-6, 320-pound freshman chose Georgia and football and commenced running people over on the gridiron after choosing his home state school over Alabama and Florida. Stat to Know: In his collegiate career, runners who worked through Cleveland's gap averaged 5.6 yards per carry, and 2.9 yards per carry before contact. Strengths: Cleveland's weight would be an issue if he wasn't so well-proportioned, but he plays with good weight -- he's not carrying 30 pounds on his gut that he shouldn't. Makes defensive tackles look like linebackers, and there are plays in which Cleveland will pancake more than one guy in a single rep. When he latches on, you're done. Impressively quick to the second level when run-blocking, and if his target is right in front of him, his target is going to die. Can seal easily to either side. Weaknesses: As you'd expect from someone his size, Cleveland really isn't a landmark-chaser in space -- he can get to the second level alright, but he's hit-and-miss when he gets there. And while he's dominant when he punches, he has a tendency to stop his blocks at times in the back half of plays. You'd like to see him finish blocks both at the line of scrimmage and at the second level. Conclusion: Cleveland is a fascinating player to watch, because he carries his weight so well, and that gives him a positive NFL future. He lined up in zone schemes on 87% of his snaps with the Bulldogs, so he's not just a gap-scheme tractor. He won't be for every team, but if you're looking for pure physical dominance and your line coaches can work with him on finishing what he starts, Cleveland could be dominant at the next level. NFL Comparison: Leonard Davis. You don't see a lot of 350-pound guards. Per Pro Football Reference, there have been eight such players who have tipped the scales at 350 or more in pro football history. I have no idea what Cleveland's NFL playing weight will be, but he does remind me of the 6-foot-6, 355-pound Davis, who was selected second overall in the 2001 draft by the Cardinals, struggled mightily at tackle, but went on to have three straight Pro Bowl seasons as a right guard for the Cowboys. Hopefully, Cleveland's NFL team won't try the tackle thing -- just put him inside and get out of the way.
7. Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
(Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'5″ (38th) Weight: 326 (85th) Arm Length: 32 5/8 inches (8th) 40-Yard Dash: 5.31 seconds (27th) Bench Press: N/A Vertical Jump: 28.5 inches (48th) Broad Jump: 96 inches (8th) 3-Cone Drill: 7.86 seconds (43rd) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.91 seconds (17th) Bio: The former Grand Rapids Press Defensive Player of the Year out of Catholic Central High in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mayfield chose the Wolverines over Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, and other major schools. Mayfield's father Brian played left tackle at Ferris State before he got into coaching. Stat to Know: In 2020, runners working through Mayfield's gap averaged a preposterous 9.7 yards per carry, and 6.7 yards per carry before contact. Strengths: Absolute dog as a run-blocker with the mentality and pure strength to get under a defender's pads and walk him right out of the picture. Has excellent (if inconsistent) placement inside a defender's pads and on the numbers, and will work his opponent through the snap. Has surprising athleticism to the second level, though his accuracy on targets leaves a lot to be desired. Weaknesses: When he's protecting through the arc as a right tackle, Mayfield has a tendency to lunge and leave himself out of place from his first couple of steps. Looks absolutely lost in space at times, as if he's unsure of his assignment, though this could be more of a physical inability to catch up with speed rushers and linebackers. Allowed 27 total pressures in his one full season as a tackle (2019), and 25 came in true pass sets. Has a worrisome tendency to beat himself when extending out against edge defenders -- he'll get sloppy and late with his hands, and guys will just blow right by him. Has very limited mirror ability, and no real answer against spin moves. Conclusion: Of any player on this list, Mayfield may have the most obvious schism between his ability to demolish people in the run game, and get completely worked by speed and agility on the edge. That doesn't make him a bad player or a "bust," but his NFL team is going to have to understand exactly what he clearly is -- and obviously isn't -- and avoid the "coach 'em up" mindset at all costs. NFL Comparison: Ereck Flowers. This comparison covers all the good and bad -- both the former Giants offensive tackle who was massively overdrafted with the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft, and the later version of Flowers, who became a more than credible guard, first with Washington, and then with the Dolphins. Bug Blue coveted Flowers because he was built like a battleship, ignoring the fact that Flowers also had the mobility and reactive ability of a battleship. Mayfield isn't hopeless as a tackle, but he's got so many technical things to develop outside, while his tape and athletic temperament just scream "ass-kicking guard" to me.
8. Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater
(Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'3″ (19th) Weight: 320 (79th) Arm Length: N/A 40-Yard Dash: 4.86 seconds (99th) Bench Press: N/A Vertical Jump: 32 inches (90th) Broad Jump: 111 inches (90th) 3-Cone Drill: 7.33 seconds (97th) 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.47 seconds (93rd) Bio: Meinerz didn't just get out of high school without any stars next to his name; he doesn't even have a profile on 247 Sports. This despite earning Honorable Mention All-State honors as an offensive and defensive lineman at Hartford Union High School. He played guard at Wisconsin-Whitewater, and made his way to the Senior Bowl after his team's 2020 season was cancelled. Outside of his Senior Bowl exploits, Meinerz is perhaps best-known for his "Canada Workout," which is... different. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV1OPvGanGQ&ab_channel=QMeinerz77 Stat to Know: There aren't a lot of advanced metrics for his time at Wisconsin-Whitewater. But Meinerz became the toast of his Senior Bowl week, with 12 total "wins" against higher-level competition -- one at left guard, nine at center, and two at right guard, per Pro Football Focus. Strengths: Highly competitive player who obviously worked on his craft between the 2019 season and the Senior Bowl. Keeps his head active, always looking for work, and sometimes to a ridiculous degree... https://twitter.com/NFL_DougFarrar/status/1380184550018588677 Good power blocker with the low base and nasty playing personality to drive opponents where he wants them to go. Explodes out of his stance with the right idea. Has proven to have a good sense for stunts and other defensive line movement. Agile enough on pulls, sweeps, and screens, and could further develop this with a targeted fitness program. Weaknesses: Meinerz would do well to lose his famous gut -- at times, he'll block with his upper body too far forward, and he doesn't recover well. Hits the second level well and with frequency, but could be more accurate with his targets. Conclusion: Beyond the unknown-to-Senior Bowl story and the fun workout, Meinerz does have a place in the NFL -- probably as a center, though he could be an above-average guard with some cleanup work. Had he not shown what he did at the Senior Bowl, he might be an UDFA prospect given his strength of competition, but the bump he's already taken augurs well for his NFL future. NFL Comparison: Ted Larsen. Selected by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, Larsen has bounced around the league as a center and guard, with plus power-blocking ability, and some degree of agility and mobility. Meinerz has the look of a reserve-to-starting player overall, but could be an immediate asset with an offense looking to push people around more than anything else. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvGv36ecl-w
9. Kendrick Green, Illinois
(Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports)
Height: 6'4″ Weight: 315 Arm Length: N/A 40-Yard Dash: 4.85 (99th) Bench Press: N/A Vertical Jump: N/A Broad Jump: N/A 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Bio: The Peoria High School graduate chose to play for the Fighting Illini over Notre Dame, Iowa and Minnesota, among other schools, because he preferred to stay in his home state. He originally signed as a defensive tackle, moving to the offensive line in 2018. Stat to Know: In 2020, runners working through Green's gap averaged 7.0 yards per carry, and 3.6 yards per carry before contact. Alternating between center and guard in 2020, he allowed no sacks, two quarterback hits, and four quarterback hurries in 238 pass-blocking snaps. Strengths: Green presents impressive power at the line of scrimmage in multiple ways -- he explodes out of his stance with a lot of power and aggressive hands, and he has the lower-body strength and recovery ability to deal with bull-rushers who get to him first. Good cut-blocker who doesn't just fall forward. Can consistently seal to either side. Offers legitimate starting experience at guard and center. Weaknesses: Let's just say that Green's go-for-broke style gets in the way of his situational awareness at times. https://twitter.com/NFL_DougFarrar/status/1368532622524231681 Green isn't the best player in space -- he has some quickness and agility, but he's not always on target at the second level, and he's more comfortable nearer the line of scrimmage. Tends to fixate on what's in front of him at the expense of lateral pressure. Conclusion: Green played more zone than gap through his collegiate career, but he helped his rushers to a 6.3 yards per carry average in gap over the last three seasons as opposed to 5.3 yards per carry in zone, and that's where I'd like to see him in the NFL -- in a gap-heavy power offense that will let him thrive with his power attributes and competitive demeanor while he works out various technical and awareness issues. NFL Comparison: Brandon Linder. Selected by the Jaguars in the third round of the 2014 draft, Linder has been an above-average power-based player at both center and guard, and Green could be the same kind of multi-positional force multiplier in the right offense.
10. Deonte Brown, Alabama
[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]
Height: 6'3″ (24th) Weight: 344 (98th) Arm Length: 32 3/8 inches (16th) 40-Yard Dash: 5.45 seconds (11th) Bench Press: N/A Vertical Jump: 27 inches (35th) Broad Jump: N/A 3-Cone Drill: N/A 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Bio: A four-star recruit at Alabama's Austin High School, and the Class 6A Lineman of the Year in 2015, Brown chose the Crimson Tide over Tennessee and Mississippi State. Stat to Know: He's obviously best-known for his run-blocking, but Brown never allowed a single sack in 258 true pass sets over four seasons. Strengths: Brown uses his wide base, freakishly strong upper body, and massive legs to drive opponents out of the run in the run and RPO game. Bull-rushers aren't going to do much damage. Has the ability to pull from right guard all the way to past left tackle and stick his man when he gets there. Has some mirror and transitional abilities in pass protection in his gap, and sinks his hips well to eclipse quicker lateral movement. Weaknesses: More of an innocent bystander than an active participant at the second level; Brown is a guy you want as close to the line of scrimmage as possible. Even there, and even in short spaces, he'll just whiff with oncoming defenders when he seems to have the room to dominate. Tends to lunge when in pass sets, even in a phone booth. Conclusion: As detailed in the Ben Cleveland section of this article, there aren't a ton of guards throughout pro football history as huge as Brown. Even if we were to start the clock at 340 pounds instead of Brown's 344, there's just 27 in pro football history. There are clear reasons for this -- the sheer physical limitations brought about by that weight, no matter how a player wears it, becomes prohibitive at a certain point. Brown would be a nice addition to any gap-heavy, power-heavy offense, but if your offense is built around quicker guards -- especially to the second level -- these are not the droids you're looking for. NFL Comparison: D.J. Fluker. The Chargers selected Fluker out of Alabama with the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft because of his obvious ability to physically dominate opponents at 6-foot-5 and 342 pounds. It was a bit rough for Fluker at first, as he allowed six sacks in each of his first two NFL seasons, but he eventually became an effective power-blocker both in the pass and run games, and Brown could do the same -- in time.
11. Trey Smith, Tennessee
(AP Photo/Michael Woods)
Height: 6'5″ (92nd) Weight: 321 (80th) Arm Length: N/A 40-Yard Dash: 5.11 seconds (75th) Bench Press: 32 reps (89th) Vertical Jump: 31 inches (84th) Broad Jump: 100 inches (33rd) 3-Cone Drill: 7.43 seconds (90th) 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A Bio: A five-star recruit at Tennessee'sUniversity School of Jackson, Smith was getting interest from college programs in middle school, and was ranked as the fourth-highest offensive tackle in his recruiting class behind Alex Leatherwood, Foster Sarell and Walker Little. He chose to stay in his home state despite offers from Alabama and Ohio State. Ole Miss offered Smith a full ride when he was a high-school freshman. Stat to Know: Smith cleaned up his pass protection in 2020, with no sacks, no quarterback hits, and three quarterback hurries allowed in 145 true pass sets. Strengths: At his best, Smith presents a real problem for opposing defensive tackles with a good base, choppy feet through the snap, and independent hand usage. When he's aggressive with his hands, Smith has the strength to counter drive-blocks from bigger men, and just bury people in his own weight class. Has the lateral movement skills to pull and dominate to the edge. Weaknesses: Smith tends to fixate on what's in front of him to a worrisome degree, which leaves him missing the bus on stunts and second assignments. Tends to miss stuff crossing his face. Not an ideal second-level blocker, though that's a matter of technique over athleticism -- sometimes, Smith is just sloppy in space. History of blood clots in his lungs will have to be resolved with official medicals. Conclusion: Famous last words for any coach? "I can fix this guy." There are a handful of players in every draft class whose raw athletic gifts make that risk worth taking, and Smith could well be one of them. He has a combination of athleticism and pure power that will be highly attractive, and if he can solve his technique issues, he could be well on his way. NFL Comparison: James Carpenter. The Seahawks took Carpenter with the 25th overall pick in the 2011 draft as a tackle, which lasted exactly one season before Carpenter kicked inside to guard. Carpenter's technique will never win any awards, but he's made himself into a functional pass-protector and plus run-blocker over time, and Smith has that same potential -- with a lot of coaching in-between.