That is the seventh installment of my 2021 NFL Draft prospect rankings sequence, following quarterbacks, operating backs, a two-parter on extensive receivers (WR1-9 right here, WR10-50 right here), tight ends and offensive tackles.
My colleague Eric Froton is dealing with our inside line of defense and edge rusher reviews — you will see his rankings and evaluation on each over the seven days. I will be again subsequent week with my linebacker rankings (my iDL and EDGE rankings will drop in April) — and I also needs to point out I’ve a seven-round mock draft scheduled quickly.
Earlier than we hop into the column, need to encourage you to take a look at NFL Draft Conflict Room with Thor & Lindsay if you have not seen it. Conflict Room is a stay NBC Sports activities EDGE authentic Twitch present each Wednesday at 8 pm EST the place I sit down with NFL agent Lindsay Criminal and discuss NFL Draft. This week’s episode, Lindsay and I are doing a stay mock draft. We’ll additionally reply your questions stay!
1. Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC) | 6’4/300
Comp: Will Hernandez
Vera-Tucker was a two-year starter that gained USC’s offensive lineman of the 12 months award in 2019 because the beginning left guard over first-round LT Austin Jackson. Vera-Tucker returned in 2020 to switch Jackson at left deal with and earn first-team All-Pac 12 honors and win the Morris Trophy (Pac-12’s greatest offensive and defensive linemen as chosen by opposing gamers; Penei Sewell gained the award in 2019).
I used to be extraordinarily impressed with Vera-Tucker’s capability to seamlessly transition to left deal with final season following an offseason he didn’t assume he was even going to be enjoying. The Pac-12 first canceled its season, inflicting Vera-Tucker to opt-out, however he in the end modified his thoughts after his convention did with assist from heavy re-recruitment from USC’s teaching workers. With out query the choice made Vera-Tucker cash.
“He was proper in that first spherical, excessive second-round class previous to the season,” Trojans HC Clay Helton mentioned. “And I actually felt (it could assist) if he had yet one more 12 months of starter tape and will actually present his athletic capability that we knew he had as a result of we knew him in highschool and have been capable of work with him. However to have the ability to present groups he’s as athletic as might be at deal with and is usually a premier inside participant as nicely — to have these two spots of tape, we simply thought it could up his worth.”
Helton was proper. Vera-Tucker seemed like a pure instantly at his new publish, exhibiting a veteran’s understanding of angles and a coach’s understanding of assignments and in-play changes. Throughout the common season, Vera-Tucker not often seemed panicked, and he acquired loads of blind-side pass-sets in USC’s Air Raid system.
Vera-Tucker allowed just one stress and one sack over 99 pass-sets throughout the Trojans’ five-game Pac-12 schedule. “I feel it raised my inventory so much,” Vera-Tucker mentioned of being allowed to play left deal with in 2020 for the primary time since highschool.
“…[O]n the within of the O-line, guys are so much heavier and generally stronger,” Vera-Tucker continued. “They usually’re in your face so much faster, whether or not it’s run recreation or cross (safety). On the sting, I really feel like you must be much more affected person at left deal with. You need to research guys a little bit extra. Guys generally have extra instruments of their arsenal on the subject of cross rush. It’s two utterly totally different positions. I’m glad I performed left deal with as a result of now I really feel I can play both one.”
The larger the physique, the upper the diploma of issue to realize coordination. Vera-Tucker is that uncommon large man with elite, pop-up doll steadiness, dishing and absorbing huge blows whereas remaining completely steady in basis, squared, weight evenly distributed. In these valuable seconds post-collision, his legs preserve driving as he slides into place to seal you off. Vera-Tucker performs low and doesn’t lose the leverage recreation.
In pass-pro, Vera-Tucker’s arms and toes had been the trump card that allowed him to mitigate his lack of size. Enjoying a affected person angle recreation, Vera-Tucker doesn’t commit unforced errors.
He easily shuffles to remain in entrance of his man, and he throws crisp, correct punches that land to maintain his man on the surface. Solely two issues give him subject on the sting: upper-tier size and energy, two trump playing cards his mind and method can’t overcome.
Vera-Tucker will get enough push within the run recreation as a result of he performs so low and arrives with such power, jarring his man’s basis after which torquing him up onto his heels, the place Vera-Tucker’s leg drive finishes him off.
That energy isn’t accessible to him in pass-pro, and energy rushers with sufficient muscle can push Vera-Tucker’s boat up the canal to the quarterback even when his anchor’s down.
Just one man did this to Vera-Tucker at left deal with in faculty, stud Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, on this previous 12 months’s Pac-12 Championship recreation. Up till then, via 5 video games at LT in 2020, Vera-Tucker had allowed solely two pressures, two sacks, no hits and no hurries.
In opposition to the Geese, Vera-Tucker was lit up for six pressures, two sacks, two hits and two hurries. Thibodeaux was the clearly superior athlete, exposing Vera-Tucker’s lack of size and elite foot velocity and utilizing him like a turnstile.
That is my concern with enjoying Vera-Tucker outdoors within the NFL, the place extra Thibodeaux-esque monsters await. Whereas Vera-Tucker gave up two sacks and 6 pressures within the Oregon recreation alone, he allowed just one sack and eight pressures over 670 profession pass-blocking snaps at guard previous to 2020.
Vera-Tucker’s eye-opening 2020 marketing campaign confirmed that he may doubtlessly deal with deal with duties on the subsequent degree. I see him as a high-floor, high-ceiling guard with the positional versatility to swing outdoors and assist if wanted.
2. Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma) | 6’4/312
Comp: Maurkice Pouncey
Humphrey, the son of three-time Division II All-American wrestler Chad Humphrey, was a three-year starter in Norman that earned Freshman All-American honors in 2018 whereas serving to the Sooners win the Joe Moore Award because the nation’s prime offensive line.
In Humphrey’s swan track as a redshirt junior in 2020, he earned third-team All-American honors (his second-straight All-America lodging), the Massive 12 Offensive Lineman of the Yr award (Humphrey was additionally the co-winner of this award in 2019), and first-team all-conference.
Like his father, Humphrey grew up wrestling. Creed completed as Oklahoma’s state runner-up within the heavyweight division as a highschool junior. He gave up wrestling and turned his consideration to soccer full-time in faculty. Following a redshirt season, Humphrey grew to become the fulcrum of Lincoln Riley’s high-powered assault on the pivot.
There, you would see the talents that made Humphrey a wrestling star. A grizzly bear-strong grappler that latches on and doesn’t let go, Humphrey can be a whip-smart participant that was in cost accountable for the road calls at OU. He was a two-time captain that drew work-ethic and management raves from coaches and teammates.
Humphrey completed as a top-10 graded PFF heart in two of his three beginning campaigns. His off-year, a snakebitten 2019 marketing campaign, began by lacking all of spring apply with a hand damage and ended early with a knee damage.
Humphrey performs with unmistakable depth, however at all times inside himself and below management, with technical acumen you must work lots of of hours on the sphere and lots of of hours off it within the movie room to realize. I
n the run recreation, Humphrey’s predominant aims are arriving with power and profitable place early to seal his opponent from the play-side of the sphere.
Humphrey will not be a mauler that drives nostril tackles 10 yards backwards, however he’s proved adept at erasing his man from the play by getting him turned such in order that he will have to interrupt freed from Humphrey’s grip and combat throughout Humphrey’s helmet to have any shot on the ball-carrier, by which level the ball-carrier is long-gone.
Humphrey is efficient within the second-level for related causes, erasing pursuit angles from his man by profitable early place. Humphrey’s vice-grip arms, little doubt honed over years on the wrestling matts, turn out to be useful in pass-pro, the place he throws imply arms however doesn’t over-extend.
Opponents can get into Humphrey’s pads and transfer him again a little bit — that is the place Humphrey’s lack of attain is available in — however Humphrey’s capability to drop his anchor and stand his floor in a grappling match, ala the wrestling mat, make him tough to simply shed.
Over 1,297 profession pass-pro reps in OU’s pass-happy system — spanning the beginning seasons of Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts and Spencer Rattler — Humphrey by no means gave up even singular sack. However bodily gifted inside gamers like Quinnen Williams and Bravvion Roy gave him matches, as a result of a little bit of hip stiffness causes Humphrey to play excessive.
However Humphrey isn’t restricted as an athlete — he proved that a lot at his professional day exercise. Humphrey examined because the most-athletic heart to enter the league since 1987, in keeping with Kent Lee Platte’s RAS system. Humphrey completed within the size-adjusted top-50 traditionally at his place within the 20-yard break up (2.9), vertical (33 inches), broad bounce (112 inches), brief shuttle (4.49) and 3-cone (7.5).
Humphrey will probably want a little bit assist in circumstances the place his method, energy and brains can’t compensate for a bodily drawback. Fortuitously, these situations are uncommon, and Humphrey is, normally, a particularly dependable pivot. I’m undecided that he’s bodily gifted sufficient to turn out to be an All-Professional, however Creed Humphrey goes to start out from Day 1 and be a mainstay in NFL lineups for the subsequent decade as an above-average starter. Ideally in a spot/energy scheme.
3. Landon Dickerson (Alabama) | 6’6/326
Comp: Frank Ragnow
Dickerson arrived at Alabama through switch from Florida State, the place he’d turn out to be the primary true freshmen offensive lineman to start out a house opener in additional than three a long time.
However Dickerson’s time in Tallahassee soured, partially resulting from three-consecutive season-ending accidents, and partially resulting from Jimbo Fisher’s defection to Texas A&M (Dickerson escaped within the nick of time — Florida State had arguably the Energy 5’s worst offensive line play over the past 4 years).
At Florida State, the five-star Dickerson largely performed guard, additionally moonlighting at each deal with positions, exhibiting off his versatility. At Alabama, Dickerson started 2019 because the beginning proper guard earlier than kicking inside to heart, the place he remained till tearing his ACL within the SEC title recreation in opposition to Florida in December.
Dickerson gained the Rimington Trophy (nation’s greatest heart) and was named a first-team All-American in 2020. However should you’re counting at house, that ACL tear was his fourth season-ending damage in 5 faculty seasons.
Effectively, not technically, I suppose. Dickerson determined to swimsuit up in his pads for the nationwide title recreation the subsequent month anyway — after which talked his means onto the sphere to make the ultimate snaps as Alabama kneeled the clock out. Some of the random chills-inspiring moments of the previous faculty soccer season.
Dickerson has a large, rangy body for the inside — extra of a prototypical proper deal with construct. He’s a bodily power of a pivot with a cruise ship anchor.
Dickerson’s mixture of size, energy and Mike Tyson punching energy makes it very exhausting to breach gaps on both facet of him on the best way to the quarterback. In 871 pass-blocking snaps over the past three seasons, Dickerson allowed just one sack and eight hurries.
Dickerson shines within the run recreation — notably in 2020, the place he was outright dominant clearing holes up-the-middle for Najee Harris — as a result of Dickerson is an animal in a telephone sales space.
He brings a large load for a middle that almost all defensive tackles aren’t used to, however will get low sufficient to spring additional energy via his hips on contact and forklift his foe onto his heals for simple shifting. It goes with out saying that Dickerson’s legs churn via the echo of the whistle.
Dickerson was PFF’s top-graded run-blocking heart final season. Amongst all offensive linemen, Dickerson ranked No. 5 (the primary three names on the checklist: Brady Christensen, Christian Darrisaw and Teven Jenkens, all of whom can be off the board by the top of Day 2… and presumably Spherical 2).
Dickerson is an thrilling inside prospect with respectable three-position beginning versatility (and even sufficient versatility to play both deal with place in a pinch if wanted). He’s very constant, and he’ll be a group chief from early-on in his profession.
An absence of athleticism limits him to hole/energy schemes (and can be the rationale he isn’t a deal with anymore and possibly should not man that publish within the NFL). Groups must be comfy with Dickerson’s medicals and pray HIS physique doesn’t betray him. Dickerson tore two ACLs in faculty, together with struggling two separate season-ending ankle accidents.
4. Quinn Meinerz (Wisconsin-Whitewater) | 6’3/320
Comp: Nate Davis
Meinerz has had controversial essentially the most dominant pre-draft means of any prospect within the 2021 NFL Draft to catapult from little-known D-III guard to Day 2 hopeful.
The ascendence is all of the extra unbelievable contemplating Meinerz, a first-team D-III All-American in 2019, began for less than two years at UW-Whitewater and had his 2020 season canceled resulting from COVID-19 considerations.
Meinerz’s magical run started on the Senior Bowl (credit score Jim Nagy and his workers for the discover). Meinerz spent that week dominating big-name Energy 5 defensive linemen one-on-one in drills, incomes the Senior Bowl’s offensive lineman of the week award for his squad and drawing superlatives from NFL draft scouts in attendance.
Extremely, Meinerz competed via a damaged hand that week. This was no shock to those who knew him. The toughness speaks for itself.
However it was Meinerz’s drive to excel that was evoked for me in Cell. After Meinerz’s 2020 season was canceled, should you would have polled 100 NFL scouts, I wager half or much less would have predicted Meinerz will get drafted.
Meinerz may have spent the autumn feeling sorry for himself, assuming he was going to be bypassed by the big all-star video games and neglected by the NFL.
As an alternative, he labored out like a banshee. Meinerz’s Chris McCandless-meets-Heavyweights-meets-McGyver exercise routine is the stuff of folklore. Each summer time, when UW-Whitewater’s spring checks concluded, Meinerz would drive into the Canadian wilderness to his uncle Tim Meinerz’s fishing camp in Alberta.
There, Meinerz would break up his time working on the camp and figuring out with any provides that occurred to be mendacity round. Timber grew to become defensive linemen, piles of wooden grew to become squatting weights, and big gasoline cans grew to become his operating companions.
Meinerz began coaching to turn out to be a middle in his yard in Wisconsin throughout his off-time, as a result of, as he advised Nate Burleson on Good Morning Soccer, he believed exhibiting the NFL extra versatility would improve his odds of constructing it.
So Meinerz jerry-rigged a pizza paddle to a rubbish can and tried to hit the thin a part of the paddle flush together with his shotgun snaps. If he missed the can, he needed to run additional to retrieve the ball. He taped himself doing this after which studied the tape for hours to hone his accuracy.
Meinerz was referred to as a “Senior Bowl Riser” by everybody that wrote such a column. He entered his professional day exercise not as an unknown curiosity, however as arguably the draft’s greatest riser.
This was a brand new place for Quinn Meinerz. The media confirmed up understanding who he was, particularly to look at him and communicate with him. With all 32 NFL groups available to look at, together with high-level decision-makers like Washington GM Marty Hurney and San Francisco 49ers assistant director of faculty scouting Tariq Ahmad, Meinerz placed on a present, submitting a RAS athletic profile that ranked No. 2 amongst all facilities since 1987 (solely the aforementioned Creed Humphrey examined higher).
Meinerz’s showings within the 40 (4.99), 20-yard break up (2.88), vertical (32 inches) and broad bounce (9-feet-3-inches) ranked top-35 all-time size-adjusted amongst facilities within the RAS system. Meinerz’s exercise could have been much more spectacular if he hadn’t needed to pull out of the bench press resulting from his damaged hand.
Meinerz is a low-firing, explosive, downhill run-blocker. He hits his goal flush, latching his vicious hooks in, and his leg drive from there may very well be proven in offensive line seminars (why do you assume Meinerz ran across the Canadian wilderness with these jugs of gasoline each summer time?). Meinerz is a kind of linemen who takes it personally if his man ends a run-block rep on his toes.
Meinerz largely bought by on measurement, athleticism and highly effective, energetic arms in pass-pro in faculty. That was sufficient. It was good to see in Cell that, technically talking, Meinerz appeared to have ironed out some sloppiness together with his footwork at Whitewater that led to some pointless steadiness points on tape.
Continued fine-tuning of Meinerz’s footwork and units are going to make it tough to beat him with velocity and counters on the subsequent degree. We already know that it’s going to be uncommon to see this former wrestler overwhelmed by energy.
He could also be leaping up three ranges of soccer, however Quinn Meinerz arrives within the NFL with grown-man energy, freak athleticism he labored doggedly for, and an insatiable want to enhance that, particularly to involved camp-goers in rural Alberta the previous few summers, borders on maniacal.
Gamers with this a lot talent, bodily expertise and want don’t fail. Spherical 2 prospect for me.
5. Wyatt Davis (Ohio State) | 6’3/315
Comp: Trai Turner
Wyatt Davis, a two-plus 12 months starter at Ohio State, says that his solely remorse on the day he’s drafted is that he gained’t be capable of share the second together with his late grandfather, Inexperienced Bay Packers’ Corridor of Fame defensive linemen Willie Davis. Soccer runs in Wyatt Davis’ blood.
His father, Duane, had a collegiate soccer profession at Missouri derailed by accidents however audibled into performing. Duane went onto star as “Alvin Mack” within the iconic faculty soccer film “The Program” (he was additionally within the criminally-underrated faculty soccer comedy “Mandatory Roughness”, in addition to “Underneath Siege” and “Beetlejuice”).
Not solely that, however Wyatt Davis’ brother David was a DT at Washington State and Cal (like his father, David’s faculty profession was hampered by accidents). His household is used to the highlight, and so is Wyatt Davis.
He was a consensus five-star prospect and top-25 general nationwide recruit popping out of highschool, the highest offensive guard within the nation. Davis selected Ohio State over affords from all of the blue-bloods.
After a redshirt 12 months in 2017, Davis appeared in each recreation in 2018 and began the final two earlier than coming into the beginning lineup full-time. He was named first-team AP All-American and first-team all-conference in each 2019 and 2020.
When Davis talks about his personal recreation, he at all times focuses on his dedication to craft and method. That was a staple of his recruiting profile that carried over onto the collegiate gridiron. A plus athlete that performs with excellent steadiness and nice knee bend, Davis persistently wins the leverage recreation whereas at all times remaining in management, dictating interactions.
Davis will get excellent push within the run recreation by exploding via contact right into a divot-spitting leg drive that will get 300-pound nostril tackles shifting backwards urgently like they simply unintentionally walked right into a scorching yoga studio.
Davis’ reps within the second degree are inconsistent — he tends to both divorce linebackers or defensive backs from their equilibrium, whiff altogether, or wander round in search of work. There’s room to develop right here, however we should always concede that Davis could not have the upper-tier mobility to enchantment to zone groups.
Davis’ technical prowess shines via in pass-pro. He units up shortly with a sturdy base, protecting enemies throughout the moat together with his bridge-like arms and cannon-ball taking pictures fists. The ability, velocity and clockwork effectivity of Davis’ handwork on this section is one thing to behold — pop, pop, pop.
Davis was inconceivable for collegiate defenders to beat man-up within the cross rush, and I imply that actually. Davis’ first two years on campus, in 585 pass-pro reps, he allowed one sack and nil hits.
Final 12 months, in 280 pass-pro reps, Davis seemingly regressed to 3 sacks and one hit allowed on 280 pass-pro reps. However every of these situations got here on a blitz or stunt pickup, not a heads-up interplay.
I’m completely keen to chop him a little bit slack right here: Ohio State as a group was hit closely by COVID-19 in 2020, and the offensive line as a unit was ravaged as a lot as any unit. Miscommunications amongst Ohio State offensive linemen was the expectation, some video games.
Issues bought so unhealthy that in opposition to Michigan State, Davis was certainly one of solely two energetic OL starters who hadn’t come down with COVID — after which Davis bought knocked out early with an damage. The Buckeyes had been shuffling our bodies on the offensive line all season.
However I can’t reduce full slack: Davis does not get overwhelmed by energy, however he might be schooled by motion. Within the NFL, he’ll must get higher at shifting his consideration to blitzers shortly sufficient to blast them as they attempt to knife via the hole; Davis’ toes will not be fast sufficient to bail him out last-second if he doesn’t acknowledge the scenario instantly.
Davis is on the slightly-smaller facet, and he isn’t an elite athlete. He additionally was ceaselessly nicked-up in faculty. In 2020, Davis was helped off the sphere prematurely in three of Ohio State’s eight video games — the primary two occasions (together with the Michigan State damage) didn’t preserve him off the sphere longer, however Davis ended the nationwide title recreation in opposition to Alabama on crutches after sustaining a knee damage, not the primary he’d suffered in Columbus.
There is a little bit of danger within the profile, however Davis checks each single field and has proved it on the highest degree. I would be very comfy focusing on him on Day 2 to plug a direct beginning gap at guard.
6. Aaron Banks (Notre Dame) | 6’5/338
Comp: David DeCastro
Banks was a three-year starter in South Bend who endeared himself to coaches, teammates and scouts with surly play and a excessive soccer IQ.
A technician in cross professional, Banks lets his size and width work for him, sitting again into his hips and letting his man come to him. He has dynamite in his arms, blasting a cost into opponents who breach his attain. Like a pre-game walk-through drill, Banks at all times instantly resets his arms in a single fluid movement, prepared for an additional pop.
Due to his size and energy, Banks is ready to flip energy rushers into kittens. When you don’t have one other push-rushing weapon outdoors of the bull rush, put together to take 4 quarters off. Even in uncommon situations of a mistimed punch, Banks doesn’t get overextended or off-balance, making it tough to get into his pads.
Banks exhibits related energy and steadiness within the run recreation, firing shortly off the ball and getting constant preliminary motion to and thru the collision level. A heady participant who doesn’t take performs off, one hallmark of Banks’ movie was his want to search for work. Within the passing recreation, for example, he’ll cost over and broadside the person you are engaged with if he’s discovered himself with out a dance associate.
A restricted athlete with common foot velocity for his place, Banks isn’t as expert on the transfer. Enjoying in area outdoors of a telephone sales space is the one time you see Banks lose his method outright, lunging and reaching to compensate for his lack of agility. He is a two-way guard that is an excellent match for a spot/energy scheme.
7. Trey Smith (Tennessee) | 6’5/331
Comp: Kelechi Osemele
It’s actually cool to see Trey Smith on this draft class. That wasn’t at all times assured. Some of the ballyhooed recruits within the historical past of Tennessee soccer, a two-time Tennessee Mr. Soccer, Smith was a consensus top-5 general prospect within the 2017 class.
Smith grew to become a four-year starter, and a three-time All-SEC decide, however he by no means took over 760 snaps in a season. Smith labored his means into the lineup as a freshman, had his profession interrupted by a blood clot subject in his lungs as a sophomore, after which Tennessee’s season was shortened by COVID in 2020.
That Smith overcame the lung subject to get right here is unbelievable. And that he elected to play in 2020, regardless of being in a high-risk class resulting from his situation, is note-worthy within the eval. As different star gamers had been opting out, Smith desperately needed to play, stating he had issues to “repair with a purpose to get at the next degree.”
Smith performed via the season with out subject and hasn’t had one which we all know of together with his lungs since 2018. However that’s an space every group’s particular person medical staffs must sign-off on earlier than Smith’s magnetic placard is located onto the draft board.
Tennessee took a while discovering the most effective spot for his or her prodigious expertise, giving Smith cups of espresso at left deal with and every guard spot as they contemplated. Smith’s 2018 season at left deal with (62.9 PFF grade) — additionally the 12 months in the end ruined by the revelation of his lung situation — satisfied the Vols to completely transfer him inside, a sage determination.
Smith misplaced 40 kilos to gear up for that transition, and his play took off from there. Over the previous two seasons, in 754 pass-pro reps, Smith allowed just one sack and 4 hits.
Smith is a first-guy-off-the-bus trying guard, with a large, rangy construct. His size was the rationale he was first thought-of as a deal with out of the prep ranks, and why the Vols in the end gave him a full season outdoors.
Smith’s size fits him nicely in cross safety on the within, the place he is capable of shut down energy rushers with ease by stalling their engines on the surface with a punch so vicious it shorts out circuits.
Smith brings a semi-truck load ahead within the run recreation, exhibiting spectacular drive energy as soon as he’s engaged. However he’s inconsistent on this section, vacillating between forklifting opponents on the collision level onto a conveyor belt to simply transfer them backwards, and lurching downward into contact, permitting his opponent to get below his pads and ghost him like a one-night stand.
In cross safety, rushers with velocity and twitch give Smith essentially the most points. As a result of whereas Smith can stall energy all day — and ship smaller defenders flying together with his arms alone — his heavy toes can get caught in quicksand in opposition to counter-moves, teetering the massive fella off steadiness.
Smith’s lack of lateral agility on tape was considerably belied by his professional day exercise, the place Smith examined as a 9.91 RAS athlete. Smith’s 7.43 second 3-cone drill ranked thirty seventh amongst 901 guards in Kent Lee Platte’s system since 1987. Technical enhancements may result in respectable on-field good points in pass-pro if Smith can show the idea of his agility in on-field situations.
Assuming Smith is cleared medically, he makes a ton of sense for a spot/energy group trying to find a long-term starter at guard. Smith’s heavy toes cap his ceiling, and guarantee he’ll by no means be tried at deal with once more, however he’s improved every of the previous two seasons since shifting inside and has extra enchancment to go if he polishes his technical foibles.
I wouldn’t wager in opposition to him. Along with first-team all-SEC honors final fall, Smith gained the Jason Witten Award for management on the sphere and neighborhood service off the sphere and the Fritz Pollard Trophy for extraordinary braveness and neighborhood values.
Smith has slayed sufficient dragons off the sphere in his non-public world to imagine he’ll have maintain a laser-focus on his deficiencies till he corrects them. Let’s simply hope Smith’s physique permits for a prolonged NFL profession.
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8. Jackson Carman (Clemson) | 6’5/345
Comp: Brandon Brooks
Carman spent the previous two seasons defending the blindside of Trevor Lawrence, taking on the publish from long-time program mainstay Mitch Hyatt. Throughout Clemson’s most up-to-date playoff run in 2020, Carman was named a second-team All-American.
Carman at all times arrange store shortly and with a large base at Clemson, presenting an obstruction as large because the caught Suez Canal boat for edge rushers to should motor round to the touch Soccer Jesus.
Carman made certain, on this base, to at all times stay sq., together with his toes greater than shoulder-width aside. From an influence base, Carman fires thunderous arms.
On the perimeter, his subject is with velocity. And it is because of this that I consider Carman is headed inside on the subsequent degree. Stud athletes could make Carman look stationary and foolish, as a result of, although Carman supplies a constructing to run round, he tends to maneuver like one making an attempt to regulate to quick-twitch motion briefly quarters. These are the moments you are likely to see Carman both plant himself within the floor or twist his personal ankles into knots.
However you must love what Carman brings within the run recreation. He is a #mauler, packing huge energy, dislodging a minimum of of a fraction of the opponent’s cleats from the grime on influence. With stunning bend for a participant his measurement, Carman will get low and explodes from his thick trunk via contact.
You higher not let Carman set his hooks, since you’re going backwards or into the grime if he does. Carman’s distinctive work within the run recreation might be seen on the tape, in fact, in Clemson’s run-calling tendencies, and, certainly, in Travis Etienne’s very stat line.
Right here’s an unbelievable stat that I first shared in my RB rankings: Clemson RB Travis Etienne averaged 6.7 YPC on 84 carries to the left facet final 12 months operating behind Carman the Colossus. On 82 makes an attempt to the suitable facet, Etienne averaged 4.4 YPC. That is an objectively wild effectivity discrepancy for a possible Spherical 1 decide at operating again. And it in fact speaks glowingly to Carman’s worth on this side.
Carman’s lack of foot velocity and agility make him a no-go on the left facet within the NFL. I consider he’s higher suited to protect than deal with for causes dovetailing out of the identical thesis.
On the inside, Carman’s strengths will play up, whereas his weaknesses can be mitigated or outright masked. With Day 1 beginning traits on the within — certain to charge-up any gap-team’s run recreation instantly — Jackson Carman is a Day 2 upside-play with endurance.
9. Ben Cleveland (Georgia) | 6’6/343
Comp: Jeremiah Poutasi
A four-star prospect and consensus top-150 recruit popping out of highschool, Cleveland redshirted his first 12 months in Athens after which went on to start out 5, six, seven, and, in 2020, 9 video games (a leg fracture shortened his sophomore season, and an educational suspension likewise to his junior marketing campaign).
Cleveland capped his profession by incomes third-team All-American and first-team All-SEC lodging in 2020. Cleveland is a sensational north/south athlete for his measurement with fluidity — he was once a star baseball participant! His 9.63 RAS output from Georgia’s professional day exercise was eye-opening, however it requires contextual clarification.
Cleveland recorded a 40-yard sprint of 5.05 with a 20-yard break up of two.91 seconds, absurd showings for a 343-pounder (Cleveland hilariously wanted a postseason workout-prep mini-diet to drop greater than 10 kilos to that weight).
However Cleveland’s short-shuttle was poor — beneath the Fortieth-percentile, even size-adjusted — and he skipped the 3-cone (there isn’t any penalty for skipping or being pressured out of particular checks within the RAS or SPARQ techniques, a difficulty we should always all tackle when we have now extra time).
Cleveland’s David Blayne act throughout these two checks was good by he and his reps, and in addition very telling. It’s humorous how typically testing and testing choices jive with what you have seen on tape.
Cleveland is a wide ranging north/measurement blocker within the run recreation, getting off the snap with a velocity that ought to be unlawful at his measurement. He brings herculean energy on the collision level, searching for violence, at all times violence.
Cleveland seeks to embarrass each defender he will get onto their heels by getting them onto their backs. This child craves pancakes. Not everybody does. Cleveland is a tone-setter on this means.
However Cleveland’s toes get heavy and sleepy when he isn’t shifting ahead. He struggles to vary instructions in pass-protection. Cleveland isn’t versatile sufficient to totally settle into his hips with correct knee mattress, so that you are likely to see him enjoying upright.
Regardless of the poor method, Cleveland was capable of persistently shut down energy within the SEC, and he’ll probably preserve doing that within the NFL. However motion and velocity may at all times be some degree of bugaboo in pass-protection on the subsequent degree.
I cherished watching Cleveland. He’s a well-seasoned vet from a blue-blood that performs with ardour, know-how, and Babe Ruthian energy. He’s solely a match for hole/energy groups — if I ran a zone offense, he wouldn’t rank excessive sufficient on my board to warrant a magnetic placard. However a group with a power-run ethos goes to fall in love with the child, and I think about its fanbase will shortly come to in type.
10. Deonte Brown (Alabama) | 6’3/364
Comp: Solomon Kindley
A 24-game starter at Alabama, Brown ended up profitable two nationwide titles in Tuscaloosa, the primary as a redshirt reserve and special-teamer in 2017, and once more in 2020 because the beginning left guard on one of the dominant offenses the game has ever seen.
Brown is a large power within the run recreation. Three issues bounce off the display on this section: the sheer measurement, the uncooked energy, and the faucet footwear for a grizzly bear. Brown started as a beginning proper guard for Alabama earlier than kicking to the left facet, and what he confirmed at each posts was a dominant, devastating model of drive-blocking soccer.
Pity the idiot that ended up the incorrect facet of an project calling for a double-team from Brown and Landon Dickerson. Two wrecking balls. Preaching to the choir on anybody that’s watched Najee Harris’ cut-ups — Alabama reset the road of scrimmage for him every carry, with Brown performing as a squared-up, low-to-the-ground, 364-pound bundle of dynamite that cleared holes within the sides of mountains for Harris to choo-choo via.
Brown’s wide-body/wide-stance power-game and talent to sink again in his hips tends to disarm energy within the passing recreation. The well-known instance is his work in opposition to Auburn stud DT Derrick Brown, a top-10 NFL draft decide. Derrick Brown, a high-wattage energy inside lineman, largely had his lights shut off by Deonte Brown.
Brown comes with ample expertise at each guard spots on the highest ranges of faculty soccer, the place he proved to be one of many nation’s elite run-blocking guards. However size and motion limitations are likely to get him uncovered in pass-protection in opposition to longer, springier inside gamers.
This isn’t an space that may enhance within the NFL, however his group drafts him understanding Brown shouldn’t be left on islands in opposition to gamers like this. It additionally is aware of it’s getting one of many extra fearsome road-clearing hole/energy run-blockers within the 2021 draft.
11. Josh Myers (Ohio State) | 6’5/312
Comp: Tyler Biadasz
Myers was a two-year starter in Columbus at heart after serving as a backup guard earlier in his profession. Athletics run within the household. His father and brother are each former offensive linemen at Kentucky, and his mom is within the Dayton athletics corridor of fame as a basketball participant.
Myers is a great participant that made all of Ohio State’s line calls. He’s an actual asset within the operating recreation, the place Myers performs the angles, arrives with unhealthy intentions, and works exhausting shuffling his toes after influence to ascertain play-side positioning and supremacy. When he misses, it’s as a result of he’s coming in excessive and making an attempt to make use of his physique like a kamikaze, not a sealant.
In cross safety, Myers affords size, throws highly effective arms, and performs angles like he does within the run recreation. However he performs too excessive, with a base that may get too slender, resulting in steadiness points in opposition to motion, and a drawback in shuffle size and fluidity that may get him roasted by velocity.
Extra troublingly, for an inside participant with size and hand energy, Myers additionally isn’t computerized in opposition to energy, generally permitting bull rushers to breach his halo and get into his chest, the place he turns into a constructing with too slender a basis to face up to a tsunami. These points led to 6 sacks allowed and 27 whole pressures since 2019, in keeping with PFF.
Myers’ particular points could also be tough to utterly reconcile because of the hip stiffness, which is not going away. His drafting group will probably have to just accept a possible long-term starter with a capped ceiling.
12. Kendrick Inexperienced (Illinois) | 6’3/300
Comp: Cody Whitehair
Like the inside model of OT James Hudson on this class, Inexperienced was a ballyhooed prep defensive lineman that in the end shifted to the opposite facet of the ball a 12 months into his faculty profession. Inexperienced grew to become a 33-game starter on the offensive line, 29 at left guard and 4 at heart when accidents pressured him to shift on brief discover (he acquitted himself nicely). Like Hudson, Inexperienced’s play took off this fall.
Harkening again to his line of defense days, Inexperienced fires fast and low off the snap, establishing early dominance by attaining first contact and stealing leverage. Constructed squatty and low-to-the-earth, Inexperienced glides shortly to the second degree however stays inconsistent discovering work instantly and squaring up shifting targets when he does.
Inexperienced units up shortly again into his hips in pass-protection. A former wrestler, he is aware of how one can use his arms at distance, and he is aware of how one can win a grappling match in shut quarters. Energy is what provides him points.
Whereas Inexperienced performs with stable steadiness and acceptable core energy, he merely doesn’t have the girth and muscle to go fire-on-fire with high-end bull rushers. And since Inexperienced lacks size, he could by no means be capable of utterly mitigate the difficulty, as inside gamers with wingspan benefits can get into his pads.
Inexperienced supplies three-position beginning inside versatility on the subsequent degree. Due to his points with energy, Inexperienced is best suited to a zone scheme, the place he may begin early at both guard or heart.
13. Jaylon Moore (Western Michigan) | 6’4/311
Comp: Rodger Saffold
It’s at all times an exquisite factor when collegiate prospects lastly discover their true-calling place. That occurred for Jaylon Moore, who grew to become a three-year starter at left deal with for Western Michigan after signing with the Broncos as a decent finish and training at defensive finish throughout his redshirt 12 months after he confirmed as much as campus 25 kilos heavier than when he signed.
Moore, who earned second-team All-MAC honors in each 2019 and 2020, examined as an 8.76 RAS athlete as a guard at his professional day, exhibiting out higher than the size-adjusted eightieth percentile within the bench (27), vertical (30.5 inches) and broad (8 toes, 10 inches), whereas mainly checking in above-average in each different metric. Apparently, Moore’s RAS drops to a 7.45 when scored as a deal with.
Talking of that, Moore in fact doesn’t have prototypical deal with peak, however he does include ropey 82-inch arms and large 11-inch arms. Western Michigan throws loads, which supplied Moore with 1,129 pass-pro reps on the blind facet in faculty. Precious expertise, sure, however he did permit seven sacks and 28 pressures over that point to a low-level of competitors.
Moore’s athleticism is obvious on movie, a clean, rhythmic mover that explodes out of his stance within the run recreation and units up store shortly in pass-pro. Moore’s fast set-up, Stretch Armstrong arms and enough agility largely allowed him to carry courtroom within the MAC.
However Moore lacks the kind of anchor you’d must compensate for the brief, skinny construct, even with these arms and a heavy punch. And he will get caught by velocity outdoors greater than he should, largely as a result of he will get caught enjoying too excessive, shedding the ultimate angle too late within the recreation to regulate.
Within the run recreation, Moore’s athleticism permits him to succeed in any goal on schedule. He seals off opponents however doesn’t create a ton of motion. However Moore can pull and act as a hard-charging lead blocker like a bull raging via Pamplona.
I feel this collegiate deal with is heading inside on the subsequent degree, the place Moore will present zone groups with a protracted, ambulatory weapon within the run recreation.
14. Jack Anderson (Texas Tech) | 6’4/309
Comp: Ben Powers
A four-star recruit ranked No. 77 general within the 247Sports composite popping out of highschool, Anderson surprisingly turned down a procession of blue-bloods to remain house and play for Texas Tech. Anderson began from his freshman 12 months on in highschool. He pulled the identical trick in faculty, a four-year starter that flashed instantly, incomes Freshman All-American honors.
Anderson is a measurement/energy guard that performs imply and rugged whereas staying below management. Anderson’s energy, size and predilection to scrap give him a military’s arsenal within the run recreation.
He’s not essentially fast out of his stance, however Anderson tends to succeed in targets with stunning velocity, consuming up grass by taking pictures ahead with lengthy strides and placing each as soon as of childhood trauma into the collision level.
When Anderson performs below management on this section — scrappy not possessed — he tends to maneuver opponents backwards with highly effective, indefatigable leg drive.
When Anderson doesn’t — it’s exhausting to inform from movie with out context in these circumstances if he’s misplaced management of his feelings or simply misplaced his urge for food for method — he arrives out-of-control, murderous, shoulders angled haphazardly. He tends to not hit targets flush in these circumstances, protecting defenders within the play after they ricochet off him.
Anderson has extra points in cross safety than within the run recreation partially as a result of he’s a restricted athlete, and partially as a result of he loses his energy when he isn’t allowed to return ahead. Anderson performs too excessive, and with inconsistent arms, concurrently permitting energy participant into his private area and constricting his already compromised lateral agility.
Anderson gave up three sacks and 7 pressures in 459 pass-pro reps final 12 months, worse than you’d prefer to see for a 22-year-old four-year starter that initiatives as a middle-round NFL Draft prospect on the inside.
Nonetheless, Anderson supplies loads of enchantment for power-running hole groups. Assuming, in fact, that his medicals try after Anderson’s 2019 marketing campaign was wrecked by a season-ending September shoulder damage.
15. Michael Menet (Penn State) | 6’4/306
Comp: Brian Allen
Menet was a three-year starter and two-time captain at Penn State who earned All-Massive Ten honors as a junior and senior. He is your prototypical high-floor, low-ceiling inside prospect.
Menet is a fitness center rat that performs with excellent method, at all times from a steady basis. He makes use of his arms effectively, setting the hooks within the run recreation, or punching and resetting in stunning rhythm in cross safety.
Menet’s a restricted athlete for certain, however he will get off the snap shortly sufficient all the identical as a result of he’s timed out and partitioned his actions over tens of hundreds of reps, Malcolm Gladwell.
However Menet’s bodily limitations cleave a number of flooring off of his NFL ceiling. For a taller pivot, he has brief arms. Even with hand utilization that has clearly been honed over lots of of hours of shadow-boxing, he’s merely no match for longer, stronger pivots that may get into his pads.
And whereas Menet admirably performs the angles, his heavy toes get caught within the mud in opposition to quick-twitch movers when he’s shifting backwards. Coming ahead within the run recreation, Menet loses cell reception the second he leaves the consolation of his telephone sales space, clomping via the second degree like a misplaced polar bear in a blizzard.
Menet can’t do something about his weaknesses — no quantity of exhausting work will appropriate them. However this child goes to deliver his exhausting hat to apply daily, and his bodily limitations aren’t acute sufficient to disqualify a beginning NFL future. I feel he will get there, however don’t anticipate greater than a steady-eddy kind.
Better of the remainder…
16. Sadarius Hutcherson (South Carolina) | 6’4/320
17. Royce Newman (Mississippi) | 6’5/306
18. David Moore (Grambling State) | 6’2/350
19. Drake Jackson (Kentucky) | 6’2/290
20. Drew Dalman (Stanford) | 6’3/286
21. Will Sherman (Colorado) | 6’4/310
22. Kayode Awosika (Buffalo) | 6’5/285
23. Tommy Kraemer (Notre Dame) | 6’6/319
24. Larry Borom (Missouri) | 6’6/340
25. Trey Hill (Georgia) | 6’3/330
26. Robert Jones (Center Tennessee State) | 6’4/319
27. Jimmy Morrissey (Pittsburgh) | 6’3/300
28. Carson Inexperienced (Texas A&M) | 6’6/319
29. Matt Farniok (Nebraska) | 6’5/330
30. Jake Curhan (California) | 6’5/323
Try the remainder of Thor’s 2021 NFL Draft work right here: