As we move through the pro days and hear the noise of outlandish forty times and verticals through the roof, I have personally gone through and done more research on every position.
The Football Scout 365 Big Board
Don't forget to check out the full Football Scout 365 NFL Draft Big Board.
After Further Review NFL Draft Edition On YouTube
You can check out our Football Scout 365 After Further Review NFL Draft Edition on Youtube. We have five shows so far, three covering the QB position where I break down and connect the dots between player skillset and what the player displays on film in relation to such buzzwords like arm talent, arm angle, pocket presence etc.
What I look for when evaluating an OT.
For the most part, you scout all of the offensive line positions similarly with a few variations. Everything begins and ends with how a player moves, observing the prospect's first few steps when in pass pro, their athleticism and ability to get to an area to block in the run game, hand usage, and strength.
Some prospects are raw but athletic and need polish, vs. some who are very technical but lack strength or athleticism. As a pass blocker, how well does the lineman use his hands? Does he stick and move like a boxer with good footwork (punch defender). How does he handle a bull rush or players who use a wide array of hand combos to disengage? Where are his eyes? Is the prospect flat-footed at times or consistently on his toes?
Can the prospect get a good push or move a defender? Can he leverage the defender with his size? Does he play with a good bend (bends at the knee, not at the waist)? When moving the defender, does he distribute his power from the legs up? Is the prospect's hand placement in the correct area (inside shoulders, thumbs are pointing up)? Does the player finish, and is he consistent in all of these critical areas?
The scheme fit matters; some guys are more comfortable in a zone-blocking scheme than, say a power, or gap scheme; some are good at both. Some are good with straight-up man blocking one on one; it varies with the run game as a general rule; Gap schemes are more effective if your offensive linemen are not physically as strong as the defensive linemen help deal with stunts and twists. Zone Schemes are great ways to feature a runner with great vision and punish fast-flowing linebackers.
2021 NFL Draft OT Rankings
Okay, so let's dive into the OT rankings;
1) Oregon OT Penei Sewell 6-5 325 lbs Instant Impact Player
Sewell received better grades in 2019 than other highly rated tackle prospects entering the 2020 NFL Draft. The talent is unquestioned, and if it were not for the strong QB class, Sewell would be the top player drafted in 2021. He is versatile, can play IOL if needed. Sewell is a mauler in the run game who can move his defender with ease. He can get to the second level and attach to defenders in space. In pass pro, He plays with a solid base and is fundamentally sound using good hand placement. What concerns me is that he didn't face many versatile edge players in college in the Pac 12. But he is also only 20 years old, meaning that he holds great value in terms of potential years he can play.
2) Va Tech Christian OT Darrisaw 6-5 314 lbs Potential Upside Player
Darrisaw consistently improved while at Va Tech. He is known more as an excellent pass blocker who wins with his feet in pass protection. Speed rushers beware; Darrisaw understands how to defend against versatile rushers who like to throw changeups in the middle of pass rush. He improved in this area over the years, proving he can win one on one in space vs. athletic defenders. As a run blocker, he is agile; he can locate a defender and latch on in space. The knock-on Darrisaw can have moments of inconsistency or a half-hearted effort that happens far less in 2020 than previous years, proving his consistent upward arch of improvement.
3) Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater 6-4 315 lbs Potential Upside Player
Slater can play tackle or guard. He is a powerful athlete who wins with fundamentals and good power. He plays with good bend and is consistent with his pad level. He plays with good footwork; his first step allows him to position and leveraging his frame to wall off defenders. His hand placement is consistent and adequate to win at the NFL level. He needs to work on his ability to drive defenders off the football in the run game more consistently, using his power and an excellent base to fire into the defender.
4) Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood 6-5 312 lbs Potential Upside Player
Leatherwood is another tackle who can move to guard, he is versatile, and that is important in the NFL, where a guy who possesses the ability to play inside and out is a valuable trait. He plays with power and aggression; he can operate as a road grader in the run game. As a pass blocker, he needs work; he is adequate and might be a liability early in his career if playing tackle. He possesses the ability to handle quick edge rushers, but he doesn't play well against those possessing a litany of combo moves. Leatherwood might benefit from a year at guard where he doesn't have to cover as wide an area, but there is no doubt he has the size and enough tools already to become an NFL starter with a season of development?
5) Michigan OT Jalen Mayfield 6-5 319 lbs Potential Upside Player
We may have the highest grade for this prospect out of any service. Mayfield had a great 2019 season; he opted out of 2020 and then opted back in. Mayfield graded well in 2019-20. He is a player with elite athleticism and size. He does lack experience posting less than 1000 snaps at Michigan. His upside will hinge on his ability to improve his hand placement and show more consistency as a pass blocker. He can often open up too wide or incorrectly place his hands too far outside rather than inside the defender. He is a versatile player who can move from tackle to guard if needed or full-time, depending on how well he develops.