Leading up to the 2019 NFL draft, which starts April 25, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down 10 at a time, followed by profiles on our top 30 overall players.
Previous entries: Nos. 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30. Drew Lock | 29. Deandre Baker | 28. Taylor Rapp | 27. Garrett Bradbury | 26. Dexter Lawrence | 25. Jerry Tillery | 24. Josh Jacobs | 23. Christian Wilkins
22. Oklahoma OL Cody Ford
6-foot-4, 329 pounds
Key stat: Played in only 29 career games, starting 21 – 14 at right tackle and seven at left guard.
The skinny: Four-star recruit who left Louisiana and turned down several SEC schools to play for the Sooners. Ford redshirted in 2015 and was named scout team Offensive Player of the Year before starting the first three games of the season in 2016 at left guard. On the first drive of the game against Ohio State that season, Ford suffered a broken left fibula and sat out the remainder of the season.
In 2017, Ford played in 12 games and started four at left guard after starter Ben Powers went down, but Ford also missed two games (Baylor, Tulane) as well because of an undisclosed injury. Ford moved out to right tackle last season to take the place of Bobby Evans, who shifted to left tackle. In starting all 14 games in 2018, Ford was named first-team All-Big 12 selection by the league’s coaches (second team by media), third-team AP All-America and was a key member of a Sooners unit that won the Joe Moore Award, given to college football’s best offensive line.
Ford, who will turn 23 in December, declared early for the 2019 NFL draft.
Upside: Massive man with a huge wingspan and gifted feet. Moves very well for his size and can adjust well to pass rushers’ speed and countermoves. Width and girth allow him to manhandle quicker, faster rushers and can stymie them off the snap. Possesses a powerful pop in his punch and extends his arms well for full effect. Combination of athletic gifts and sheer mass has some NFL believing he has the most raw upside of any blocker in this entire class.
Has starting experience on one of college football’s most explosive offenses at two positions, guard and tackle, and is being considered at both by NFL teams. The Sooners played fast, and Ford handled that well, not wearing down in games over a long season. Plays with energy and emotion and appears to take his craft seriously. Sooners coaches praised his work ethic and improved conditioning. Most of his testing numbers at the NFL scouting combine were strong for his size.
Appears to be an NFL-ready run blocker. Gets downhill quickly and has bad intentions when he squares up defenders in his crosshairs. Seeks to bury people – gets his legs underneath him, keeps his pads level and explodes through the block. Improved flexibility and 15-pound weight loss prior to the 2018 showed up on tape. Showed improved ability to work up to the second level.
In what has to be one of the best athletic displays for a man his size in this entire draft class, Ford made a block 40 yards downfield against Baylor on a play that could win him over in NFL war rooms. The play starts around the 13:11 mark – watch as Ford worked all the way from his own 40-yard line (while pass blocking) down to the Baylor 20-yard line, where he throws a key block that frees up RB Trey Sermon to score.
Downside: Pass protection remains a work in progress, with lack of experience outside showing up in sloppy mechanics and crossed-up feet. Needs to do a better job of getting his hands inside against smaller defenders and being ready for counters. Gets too upright in his stance and can lose leverage. On the ground too much for a man of his power and size. Can turn his body sideways too quickly and open up rush lanes to blitzers and stunts. Late awareness on line movement with sometimes average reaction times and occasional laziness in technique. Lined up primarily in a two-point stance in college.
Even with 34-inch arms, Ford’s bench-press total of 19 reps is considered below-average, and his 3-cone drill time of 8.27 seconds was the fourth-worst among all offensive linemen at the scouting combine. Conditioning is improved, but Ford might always have to be on a strict weight program in the NFL with fears of him ballooning up to the 350-pound range he played at earlier in his career. Reportedly gained 50 pounds after suffering broken leg his first season and was up over 365 at one point.
Played on a talented line with four 2019 draft prospects and on an offense that got the ball out quickly at times. Had a rough go of it against Alabama in the college football playoffs, allowing multiple pressures in arguably his worst game of last season. Surprisingly small hands (9 3/4 inches) and considered short for offensive tackle. Appeal and upside at tackle doesn’t appear to be as great as it is at guard. Some teams strictly looking at him as a guard. Lack of experience hurts, especially in a draft class with so many three- and four-year starters available.
Best-suited destination: Although Ford has good tape at tackle, his best NFL home might be at guard. We see him as a mauling run blocker on the next level who can kick outside in a pinch. The teams that might be most interested in his services include the Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins (and Ford grew up a fan of the team), New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals.
Fun fact: Originally committed to TCU, Ford was a late flip to Oklahoma and then-head coach Bob Stoops. Ford had given a verbal agreement to TCU early in the recruiting process coming out of high school but switched his allegiance late when the Sooners came on strong.
Then he ruffled some feathers in Horned Frog country when asked why he made the switch.
“First of all, it’s Oklahoma,” Ford said. “They win games.”
They said it: “I’m the most athletic. If you turn on the tape, I feel like [my athleticism] tops everybody else’s. No offense to the other guys. People say, ‘You play in the Big 12.’ It doesn't matter. You do what you do. I feel like I’m the top guy in this class.”
— Ford at the combine when asked what separated him
Player comp: Gabe Jackson
Expected draft range: First-round pick
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