2021 NFL Draft Offensive Line Preview

by Selyan Lonqueux
2021 NFL Draft Offensive Line Preview

After previewing the running back and defensive line classes, we're back to preview the 2021 NFL Draft offensive linemen. We'll analyze the top offensive tackles, guards and centers the 2021 class has to offer.

2020 saw five offensive tackles drafted by the twentieth pick. While we may not see the same volume drafted at that range this year, the prospects look just as good if not better. The interior class is significantly better this year, with some versatile long-term starters entering the league. We'll break all of my top-5s along with a depth analysis for each position.

You'll find my full positional rankings, big board and all my scouting reports in the 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Portfolio, released mid-April. The pre-order form is tagged at the bottom of the article.

2021 NFL Draft Offensive Line Preview

2021 NFL Draft - Centers

  1. Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
  2. Landon Dickerson, Alabama
  3. Josh Myers, Ohio State
  4. Kendrick Green, Illinois
  5. Drake Jackson, Kentucky

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Top 5

Creed Humphrey and Landon Dickerson are both long-time starters for their respective teams and enter the league with experience and leadership that teams will covet at the center position.

Humphrey's an experienced high-IQ center with a compact build and natural leverage and knee bend. He plays with terrific core strength, hand technique and ability to recover and redirect. He doesn't have the range of other centers but works with good timing climbing or trapping within the tackle box. He's rock-solid at everything he does despite some physical limitations and should see similar success in the NFL.

Dickerson is a mean, physical interior lineman with high-IQ and position flexibility which will attract NFL teams. He has the profile of a top-50 pick if he can pass his physicals, as he is dealing with a torn ACL.

Myers has a mature, pro-ready frame with built-in leverage. He plays with will to finish and play with toughness. He offers some flexibility as well with a background at guard in high school. Pass-protection technique is still developing and he has a tendency to over-extend and sacrifice balance at times but his developmental potential is intriguing on the back-end of day 2.

Kendrick Green is a springy athlete with a ton of range and agility as a zone-blocker. He can work from center or guard alignments and has the frame to get bigger in the NFL. He's a sleeper who could find a big role in a wide-zone scheme in the NFL. Drake Jackson is short and lacks a bit of length but plays with a mean streak at the center position. Leverage and functional power are a strength of his. He may be a center-only prospect which limits his stock, but he can be a solid piece in an NFL offensive line room.

Depth Analysis

Teams can find some decent option on day 3 at the center position.

Stanford center Drew Dalman stands out with his football pedigree and IQ. Although his physical and athletic traits are middle of the road, he plays with very sound technique and instincts. He needs to build up his core strength to work his way to a starting role, but his zone-blocking profile make him an interesting projection. His schematic profile makes him a potential fit for the neighboring San Francisco 49ers, who are looking for interior depth.

Jimmy Morrissey is a former walk-on who worked his way into starting role for four seasons, serving as a team captain in two. He possesses modest physical traits, but plays with mobility and sound hand technique. His instincts to find work or detach to find delayed blitzes are noticeable. He lacks strength and anchor to start but offers developmental upside.

2021 NFL Draft - Offensive Guards

  1. Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
  2. Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
  3. Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
  4. Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater
  5. Wyatt Davis, Ohio State

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Top 5

Alijah Vera-Tucker took over for Austin Jackson at left tackle after starting at guard for two seasons, and actually held up pretty well for the Trojans. He's strong with plus agility and foot quickness to mirror in pass protection. His hands are quick, strong and powerful when he strikes. He's technically sound to grip and reset. Overall, Vera-Tucker plays under control at all times and rarely loses on film. It's tough to poke holes in his game and he looks like the prototype NFL guard. Rock-solid prospect with versatility as well.

Jenkins and Mayfield both started at right tackle for their respective teams (Mayfield saw time at guard in the past) but I believe both project better to guard in the long run. While Jenkins deserves a shot at right tackle before a move inside, his lack of length remains a significant concern. However, his college film at tackle is spectacular, showcasing brute strength and a nasty demeanor that would make any o-line coach rave.

Quinn Meinerz is everybody's NFL Draft crush since the Senior Bowl and rightfully so. He showed a ton of improvement with body control and proved he has the versatility to work from the center position. He has freakish core strength, a nice grip, competitiveness and finish. His work ethic and off-field character are well documented. He's a freak athlete with blocking attributes to grow into a star at the next level.

Wyatt Davis was my top guard entering the season with good functional athleticism and strength. However, his 2020 film didn't live up to first round status, finding multiple body control concerns as he tends to rush his striking process too often. But he is powerful with good size and a solid anchor in pass pro to grow into a reliable starter at the next level.

Depth Analysis

There's a lot of depth to be excited about in the interior class, contrary to last season. This includes two Alabama prospects: Alex Leatherwood and Deonte Brown. I'm not as high on Leatherwood as other but he has some traits that warrant excitement. He has quick feet and good length to mirror and strike to maintain separation. I think his play strength underwhelming and he looks pretty stiff when redirecting against inside counters but a move back inside could help his projection.

Deonte Brown is a big bulldozer with some bad weight on him but a ton of power for a gap scheme looking for a people-mover. If he can keep his play weight under control he's an intriguing prospect. He had an outstanding game against Derrick Brown in 2019.

Trey Smith is one of my favorite prospects in the class, with huge clamps for hands that lock the rep up when they land. He plays with good leverage and a stout anchor but body control and balance are lacking at times. His intangibles are off the charts and he looks like the perfect NFL guard from a physical traits standpoint.

Jackson Carman is another offensive tackle that may be destined for a move back inside due to lack of quickness up his pass pro sets, but he plays with outstanding power on running downs. If a team can coach up his pass protection technique (both hands and feet), he could find a role on an NFL offensive line.

Ben Cleveland is a bit stiff but a very powerful and strong prospect with great body composition. He run blocks with nastiness and good speed to power conversion. Body control is also remarkable on the interior, he should find a role at the next level.

2021 NFL Draft - Offensive Tackles

  1. Penei Sewell, Oregon
  2. Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
  3. Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
  4. Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
  5. Samuel Cosmi, Texas

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Top 5

Penei Sewell is potentially the top prospect in the draft if we ignore positional value pushing Trevor Lawrence to the top. He's still young in his technique development but possesses absolutely rare physical traits with raw power, strength, flexibility and explosiveness all at elite levels for his size.

But I believe the split between Sewell and Slater isn't as large as people may think. Slater's film is spectacular with great functional athleticism, strength and versatility. His only significant knock may be his length but that hasn't been much of a factor so far in his career. He's a top ten prospect in the class. Forget his highlight videos, just watch him go to work against Chase Young and Ohio State and welcome to the bandwagon.

Christian Darrisaw is a big man with impressively quick feet protecting the blind side for VTech. He has good body control and a ton of power in the run game. He flashes some nasty at times but not enough for my taste which slides his grade a little bit.

Read about my thoughts on Spencer Brown.

Samuel Cosmi is your prototype developmental left tackle prospect. He's super athletic with good flexibility, mobility, footwork and rhythm, but lacks overall functional strength and anchor against power. If a coach can get that out of him, he can be a great blindside protector in the NFL.

Depth Analysis

There's a ton of interesting developmental options at tackle on days two and three of the draft. Liam Eichenberg is an experienced protector out of Notre Dame with the potential to make an impact at right tackle in the NFL. He's technically-gifted and plays with good core strength and body control. He struggles to redirect against inside counters at times, however.

D'Ante Smith is a talented sleeper with guard/tackle versatility. He has very strong hands and a good anchor with flexibility and strong redirection ability. He plays the game with a mean streak that coaches will look to embrace.

Walker Little is a former 5-Star recruit with terrific size and athleticism. He's agile and quick in short spaces but his kick slide can be slow and off-tempo which limits his projection at tackle. He may fail his way to guard, but his developmental profile is very intriguing.

James Hudson is a former defensive lineman that recently transitioned to offensive tackle and shows a ton of promise. His explosiveness translates and he plays with impressive footwork quickness. Technique obviously needs polishing and he shouldn't start until a season or two but the traits are remarkable.

Saturdays Are For The Scouts - Draft Preview Specials

I'll be back next week with the Wide Receiver and Tight End preview!

You can find me on Instagram for more film breakdown and analysis.

Back to the film room!

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