This line class falls short of 2019’s firepower, but is full of many interesting options. Each position group is very deep (tackle being more so) which may entice teams into waiting longer than usual to address them. Here are my top 5 OTs and IOLs!
1. Penei Sewell, Oregon
If this QB class did not have the chance to be generational, Sewell would be getting way more buzz. His blend of power, length, and athleticism are unparalleled in this class (or in recent history). The hulking Samoan weighs 330 lbs but moves like he’s half that.
I’d honestly be fascinated to see what he could do with the ball in his hands. Sewell is a no-doubt, can’t-miss prospect and should be treated as such.
2. Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
There is a steep drop-off after Sewell with Darrisaw checking in next. Leading a glut of good-not-great tackle prospects, Darrisaw is an imposing force who wins with sheer power. He is a bulldozer in the run game (PFF’s top graded run-blocker in the Power 5 last season) despite not being the fleetest of foot. Still, he can definitely move and VT organized much of their run-focused attack behind him.
An oak tree with arms moving downhill, check out #77 drive his man back a clean 5 yards. He bullied Miami’s high profile edges this entire game, his most impressive on tape.
Many have been critical of Darrisaw’s lack of technique, but he showed improvement in each of his 3 years as a starter and the successes of Mechi Bechton and Tristan Wirfs give me confidence in Darrisaw’s size as a reasonable building block. His profile warrants top 10 consideration.
3. Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
Slater makes for an interesting evaluation. He played LT for the Wildcats in 2019 and excelled, finishing the year as PFF’s 8th highest graded tackle. This came against a gauntlet of Big 10 pass rushers including Chase Young, AJ Epenesa, Jayson Oweh, Josh Uche and Yetur Gross-Matos. Check out this rep against Young.
Slater gave him fits this entire game, holding him to just one sack (a rarity for Young). Not many tackles have this type of lateral agility and it helps him to stick with twitchy edge rushers.
However, length may wind up being an issue for him as he transitions to the pro game. Listed at just 6’3″, it would be surprising for his arms to measure up to some of the other physically gifted tackles on this board. Certain teams will not consider him as an OT for this reason alone and simply evaluate him as a guard. Truthfully, he would be the best guard in this class given his agility, balance, and power, but I bet his first crack in the league is still at tackle and he has a shot to stick there. The length knocks him down a wrung for me though.
4. Samuel Cosmi, Texas
Cosmi finally played up to his potential in 2020. Not that he was bad in his previous 2 years as a starter, he just was not spectacular. He put up pass blocking grades of 82.6 and 86.0 (via PFF) as a RS freshman and sophomore, winning with superior length and athleticism. He did get into trouble against stronger defenders, routinely getting burned and pushed back by powerful bull-rushers. Troubling, but not a deal-breaker.
He came back stronger last season (looked like he even packed on a few pounds) and stonewalled the Big 12. Cosmi allowed just 8 pressures over the season and cemented himself as a first round talent. Adding more mass to his 6’7″ frame could vault him into potential All-Pro status.
5. Walker Little, Stanford
A truly forgotten man, Little is former blue chip recruit (top 10 overall in 2017 class) who has barely seen the field since 2018. A huge season for him, Little earned All-Pac-12 honors and was featured on prominently on ‘way too early’ 2020 mock drafts. Coming into 2019 as a preseason All-American, he played a clean first game against Northwestern before being ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. He passed on the draft in favor of playing out his senior season, but then opted out as the conference waffled.
Little may be the most volatile prospect on the board. He has ideal size, power, and agility and has shown it in one elite season on tape. Purely based on potential, he is a top 15 overall player in this class who has not had the opportunity to showcase his talents.
Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
James Hudson, Cincinnati
Brady Christensen, BYU
1. Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
Teams who favor versatility will have Vera-Tucker very high on their boards. A guard by trade, he kicked out to LT this past season and earned an 81.8 overall grade on PFF. That is more than fine, but he is much better suited to play guard at the next level and I suspect that is where NFL GM’s will have place him.
Think of him a bit like ‘Slater-light’: solid base and light on his feet without prototypical length. Although, we have much more proof that Slater can get away with it. That being said, Vera-Tucker is exceptional in space and will shine at the next level if moved inside.
2. Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
Davis is the only true, high-end guard in this class. He put up 2 stellar seasons in Ohio State’s offense, only allowing 4 sacks and pressures combined as a starter while thriving in the run game. A physically-imposing mauler, watch Davis uproot this defender.
This man excels in space and is determined to punish any would-be tacklers. He pairs exceptional size (6’5″) with his ferocity and has a floor of very very good NFL with an All-Pro ceiling.
3. Ben Cleveland, Georgia
This guard class has much less top-end talent compared to the tackles and Cleveland brings us into the second tier. He exemplifies the term ‘telephone booth guard’ at 6’6″, 354 lbs. The big man is nimble enough though and only allowed 8 pressures all season en route to PFF’s 3rd highest pass blocking grade for a guard at 86.2. His size limits his ceiling a bit, but Cleveland will bring a proven track record and rock-solid floor to whatever team is lucky enough to selects him Day 2.
4. Landon Dickerson, Alabama
Dickerson is an old school center. The mean, nasty, get-in-your-face type of player. He has tremendous power at the point of attack and is exceptional at using his hands to knock defenders back. His primary knock is a lack of athleticism, but check out the big man showing off the wheels here (#69).
Dickerson finishes every single play, he has no quit in him. The only thing that can slow down this force is injuries, and his laundry list has really piled up. Numerous ankle and knee surgeries may drop his stock and could be viewed as a serious concern.
5. Drake Jackson, Kentucky
Jackson is physically unspectacular yet steady. He was one of 2 centers to earn both a pass and run blocking grade over 80.0 last season per PFF and the only to do so in the SEC. The four-year starter was a team captain and anchored the Kentucky running attack with his blend of nimble feet and heady play. His size (6’2″, 290 lbs) will surely limit his potential and knock him out of the top 100 picks, but this is an NFL starter who could thrive as part of a zone scheme.
Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
Kendrick Green, Illinois
Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater