Offensive Tackle Pre-Season Rankings for the 2021 NFL Draft
Welcome to part 5 of my summer scouting series. This post will preview the OT class. If you missed my previous posts in this series, click here! Follow me on twitter to keep up with the blog! https://twitter.com/Simple_Scouting
To preview the 2021 class, I watched 10 eligible draft prospects and rank them based on their talent, athleticism, production, and potential. My OT grading categories include footwork, pass blocking, run blocking, hands, strength, athleticism, and leverage.
This tackle class has a lot of boom or bust potential. Sewell looks to be one of the better tackle prospects to come out in the past few years. Behind him are plenty of athletic and fluid players, but many need to improve their technique for me to feel safe drafting them before day 3. This is why I'm a little lower on players like Cosmi, Radunz, and Faalele, but the potential in this class is strong. I only decided to watch 10 prospects, but I wanted to give some honorable mentions. Some tackles to watch out for include:
Landon Young (Kentucky)
Walker Little (Stanford)
Spencer Brown (Northern Iowa)
Myron Cunningham (Arkansas)
Greg Eiland (Mississippi State)
Liam Ryan (Washington State)
Tommy Doyle (Miami OH)
Thayer Munford (OSU)
Carson Green (Texas A&M)
Syrus Tuitele (Fresno State)
Jackson Carman (Clemson)
Adrian Ealy (Oklahoma)
Brady Christensen (BYU)
Robert Hainsey (Notre Dame)
Rasheed Walker (PSU)
Drew Himmelman (Illinois State)
Tyler Vrabel (Boston College)
Cordell Volson (North Dakota St)
Now for my rankings!
At #1 we have Penei Sewell - Left Tackle - Oregon (6'5, 330)
Sewell is the consensus top tackle in the class and it only takes a few plays on tape to understand why. He’s such an amazing prospect because of his athleticism and pass protection skills. He’s got quick feet and great lateral movement skills to mirror rushers and displays impressive hands. He packs a strong punch and does very well to combat a rushers hands. He possesses great natural balance and a strong anchor to hold off power rushers. I really only saw him get beat on quick inside moves when rushers get Sewell moving outside, but he’s athletic enough to recover or at least significantly slow the rusher. I don’t think he has great length and he will at times struggle to get hands on rushers turning the corner, but he moves so well that he can still stay square with them. He also needs to be more patient as a run blocker, as he’ll often try to hit hard instead of maintaining his angle and position. He’s got strong driving power on runs and he’s amazing when he gets into space. He’s still so young and he has the potential to become one of the best tackles in the NFL. This play from Sewell demonstrates his athletic ability and how well he moves in space. He gets out and runs over the safety.
#2 - Liam Eichenberg - Left Tackle - Notre Dame (6'5, 205)
Eichenberg is a very smart and technically sound prospect. You can see the years of experience in his technique. He displays great footwork and maintains a wide base throughout plays. He’s got a very strong punch to displace rushers and does well to initiate contact early. He plays with great leverage and gets low in his sets. He’s got good strength and can anchor against most power rushers. He could use more strength in his lower half as he was occasionally driven back towards the QB. He’s also not a good athlete but is adequate enough to be a starter in the NFL. He’s much more developed than most in this tackle class which breaks him into my top 3. He's not going to wow you often on tape, but he will consistently stop pass rushers from getting to the QB. The clip below highlights his active hands and footwork. He slides laterally and is able to stay in good position against the rusher, and I love how active he is with his hands.
#3 - Rashawn Slater - Left Tackle - Northwestern (6'4, 315)
Slater may not be the flashiest player but he quietly gets the job done, showing great skill and technique as a pass and run blocker. He’s got fantastic footwork, allowing him to remain square with rushers and maintain balance. What’s unique about Slater is how early he engages defenders. He hits with a strong punch and possesses the grip and strength to lock rushers up, and hitting them early limits their space to work with. Even though he isn’t the best athlete, he displays good agility and can change directions well. In the run game he shows great driving power and always seems to be in great position when he rises to the second level. A change to guard has been thrown out by others, but I think he can become a quality tackle starter in the NFL given his technique and aggression. To really perfect his technique, he needs to improve his leverage. He gets too upright and allows rushers to push him back and get him on his heels. Other than that, he’s a very solid prospect who should be a starter in the NFL for years whether that be at tackle or guard. Here you can see Slater get out very early and basically attack the pass rusher, displaying strong hands and the ability to lock up and control the rusher.
#4 - Alex Leatherwood - Left Tackle - Alabama (6'5, 310)
Leatherwood shows a great first step and gets off the line very quickly. He’s got the foot speed to meet rushers on the outside and uses his length to slow down speedy EDGE defenders. He’s a really solid pass blocker who can match up against power or speed. He possesses a strong anchor and plays with great leverage. There’s a bit of development needed in his run blocking ability. He displays a poor understanding of angles and how to maintain leverage on defenders. He’s a bit too aggressive and reckless. There are also concerns about whether Leatherwood can be a successful tackle at the next level due to his tight hips and average athleticism. When he was beat on pass sets, it was from skilled defenders chopping his arms down or when he needed to turn his hips around the corner. Improvements are needed with his hand fighting and agility, but he’s proven to be a reliable tackle prospect who looks good in pass sets. In the play below Leatherwood is matched up against K'Lavon Chaisson. He had a pretty up and down game against Chaisson, but on this play he displays quick footwork and great lateral movement skills. He gets off the line quickly and has the speed to keep up with Chaisson, also using his length to slow him down.
#5 - Daniel Faalele - Right Tackle - Minnesota (6'9, 400)
Faalele is an absolute behemoth, standing at 6’9 and 400 pounds. His size alone makes his potential very intriguing but once you see how nimble he moves it really gets you excited. He’s got good footwork and a quick first step. He shows good strength and power as a run blocker, and he’s basically a wall when he gets in front of defenders. In pass protection rushers won’t be able to run through him and he’s got the length to attack rushers coming off the edge. He’ll struggle against speed rushers as his hips are too tight when turning the corner and he lunges too often. His technique overall needs to improve and he has a bad habit of bending at the waist instead of lowering his hips. This all makes sense because he is relatively new to football, starting in high school at the IMG academy. If he can continue to refine his technique, he can easily become one of the top tackles in the class. For someone of his size, he shouldn't be this quick off the line and smooth in his pass sets. He's able to keep up with the rusher and use his length to initiate contact and keep his large frame in front.
#6 - Abraham Lucas - Right Tackle - Washington State (6'6, 320)
When at his best Lucas looks like one of the better pass blockers in the class. He’s really fluid moving laterally and stays squared with rushers. He works with a wide base and strong anchor, and he’s able to mirror quick rushers on the edge and shows the length to engage and allow his feet to catch up. Even though Washington State doesn’t run many run plays, Lucas was able to consistently turn defenders out to seal running lanes and looked good as a down blocker. The problem with him right now is remaining consistent with his technique, specifically his footwork and hand placement. When he slides laterally, he brings his feet too close together which hurts his balance and ability to flip his hips if a pass rusher makes a move inside. He can be too passive with his hands, waiting too long to engage. His hands are too far outside the pads and his punch strength is inconsistent. He just plays sloppy sometimes and will show bad bend and lunge at rushers. I’m looking for him to clean up his technique and remain more disciplined. This clip below is great because it shows how well he can mirror rushers, and he does well to fight off the spin move.
#7 - Jalen Mayfield - Right Tackle - Michigan (6'5, 319)
Mayfield is still pretty raw at this point but I really like his potential. He’s super quick off the line and gets good depth on his kick slide. He plays with a nice wide base and natural strength to hold off power rushers. His run blocking is impressive, showing a great understanding of angles and where to maintain leverage on defenders. He uses his length well and when he lands his punch its heavy and strong. Most of his issues arise from speedy EDGE rushers. He moves well and possesses quick feet, but he’ll lose leverage when rushers get on his outside hip and his hips are a little too stiff to stay square. He stands a little too upright and needs to play with a lower pad level. He also tends to mistime his punch and will lunge, giving up his balance and leverage. He’s a good athlete and his quickness combined with his strength really intrigues me. Nothing special about this clip below, but I like his first step and where he carries his hands. He then hits with a strong two handed punch and holds his ground.
#8 - Samuel Cosmi - Left Tackle - Texas (6'5, 295)
Cosmi displays fantastic foot quickness and athleticism. He’s fluid when moving laterally and can mirror quick EDGE rushers. He has surprising driving power in the run game despite his lean frame. He gets good positioning to shield the ball carrier and is able to seal running lanes. From a technique standpoint, there is a lot of development needed with Cosmi particularly with his leverage and hands. His displays poor bend and leverage which allows defenders to get him off balance easily. He carries his hands low and his punch is very inconsistent, often punching with a wide motion to the outside of the rushers arms. He also needs to develop more strength as bull rushes push him back toward the QB. He’s been getting a lot of buzz because of his athleticism and movement skills but he needs to develop mechanically first. With all that said, if he is able to improve his technique and add some weight, he would be a player worthy of a first round pick. This clip highlights the potential and upside with Cosmi. He's so quick off the line and is able to keep up with K'Lavon Chaisson, who comes screaming off the edge. He then displays good hands and strength to sustain the block. Not many tackles can move this quickly.
#9 - Alaric Jackson - Left Tackle - Iowa (6'6, 320)
Jackson shows great ability as a run blocker. He’s strong off the line and displays great strength and lower body driving power to move defenders. He does well to seal running paths and gets into space nicely. His ability to move off defenders and switch targets is smooth and seamless. He’ll struggle in pass protection mainly because of his leverage and hands. He blocks too upright in pass sets and he’s too passive, allowing rushers to initiate him first. He may project best as a guard, but he should be able to stick as a tackle in the league with improvements to his technique in pass protection. In the play below Jackson does a great job of engaging early and controlling the pass rusher with his hands.
#10 - Dillon Radunz - Left Tackle - North Dakota State (6'5, 298)
Radunz has been rising up draft boards this summer. He’s got some dominating tape and is a fun watch, but he’s a project right now. What I like best about Radunz are his movement skills and length. He’s got a really quick first step, especially on run plays. He gets himself into great position and leverage to drive players out of plays. He looks great in space and mauls smaller defenders. The work needs to come in the passing game, mainly with his footwork and leverage. He flashes proper footwork technique but needs more development and consistency. He is very quick to go into chase mode and his legs get sloppy as he tries to gain ground. He’ll lose his leverage often, getting upright after contact is initiated. He will also need to build strength as he gets pushed back in the pocket easily, and it will be much worse at the next level. Add on top of this the fact that he plays at the FCS level, I struggle ranking him higher than #10 right now. His work at the senior bowl will be very important and significant to his draft stock. This clip below highlights the strength and power Radunz has in the run game. He engages the defender and just throws him down to the ground.
Best Pass Blocker - Penei Sewell
Best Run Blocker - Rashawn Slater
Best Athleticism - Penei Sewell
Most Potential - Penei Sewell
Most Complete - Liam Eichenberg
Underrated - Jalen Mayfield
I will not be previewing the interior linemen, but the names to watch out for include:
Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma)
Wyatt Davis (OSU)
Trey Smith (Tennessee)
Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC)
Josh Myers (OSU)
Tommy Kraemer (Notre Dame)
Sadarius Hutcherson (South Carolina)
Stewart Reese (Florida)
Ben Cleveland (Georgia)
Landon Dickerson (Alabama)
Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa)
Jaelin Fisher (Charlotte)
If you made it to the end, thanks for reading!
Display Image Credits
Penei Sewell: Ron Jenkins/Associated Press
Liam Eichenberg: Joe Robbins/Getty Images