Everyone's talking about the absolutely loaded defensive linemen in this draft class, but don't sleep on the blockers in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The group of offensive tackles is especially top-heavy, led by names like Jonah Williams, Dalton Risner, and Jawaan Taylor. Many have experience at multiple positions, which will make them more appealing to NFL clubs.
This is the fifth installment in a position-by-position breakdown of the rankings of prospects you need to know in the 2019 NFL Draft.
*Important note: These rankings are subject to change somewhat after the combine.
Franchise left / right tackles
1. Jonah Williams, Alabama
2. Dalton Risner, Kansas State
3. Jawaan Taylor, Florida
4. Andre Dillard, Washington State
I've firmly been on-board the Jonah Williams train for a long time now -- along with basically everyone else. His lack of traditional size and length for the tackle position doesn't worry me, because he's so fundamentally sound with all of his position-specific movements. He's plenty quick in his kick slide, fires his hands at the perfect time on almost every snap, keeps his feet moving once he locks on and is deceptively powerful. He's an efficient bull dozer as a run blocker too. The only hiccup I've noticed with him is "oversetting" to the outside which can leave him susceptible to an explosive inside move.
Risner is kinda/sorta the "lite" version of Williams. Experienced. Mobile. Mean streak. Fundamentals. His anchoring strength isn't as impressive. Same goes for his athleticism. Taylor, another right tackle, is a dancing panda with immense width, unreal power, and light feet for being 325-plus pounds. His hands get outside in some occasions, but he has the athleticism to recover and never stops his feet.
Dillard is a ridiculous pass protector. He's seemingly never stressed against speed, and his ability to sit down and anchor against bull rushes is significantly better than many other technicians from Washington State in the Mike Leach era. He reminds me of Terron Armstead. High praise.
5. Greg Little, Ole Miss
6. Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia
Little has all the talent in the world, and the size, girth, and length basically every team looks for in a 10-year stud at left tackle. You watch his film, and you see quarters and quarters of lockdown play on the left side. Then, two or three rough plays hit when he lunges and gets off balance, or is overwhelmed by power or a good counter move. With a little more strength and fine-tuning with his technique, Little can be a solid left tackle for a long time in the NFL.
Cajuste is fascinating because he has loads of experience in pass protection and looks like Tyron Smith. Height. Length. Chiseled frame. He's not a dynamic athlete for the position, and that shows when he faces smaller, faster edge rushers. He has no problems against power.
High-caliber project-y types
7. Chuma Edoga, USC
8. Kaleb McGary, Washington
9. William Sweet, North Carolina
Edoga is under 6-4 but has arms nearly 35-inches long. His height is not typical of NFL tackles. His arm length will be in the upper-echelon among NFL tackles. So he's a unique prospect. He needs to get stronger and add weight. No question about that. His supreme physical gifts could get him onto the field early in his career. Edoga glides in pass protection, and uses his length to his advantage often. He's a smooth mover when getting to the second level as a run blocker too.
McGary is a nasty, road-grader who's tall but plays with outstanding knee bend which helps him to not get out-leveraged. He's much more linearly explosive than he is laterally explosive, and that fact disallows him from getting into perfect position in pass protection on occasion. He can stop moving his feet in those instances, leading to quarterback pressure. He's a gifted, well-coached combo blocker in the run game and a true finisher. Don't need to worry about a lack of strength with McGary.
Street shows glimpses of Edoga's plus athleticism which gives him awesome mirroring power in pass protection. He rarely looks panicked as a pass blocker. He's a ways away from being strong enough to deal with NFL defensive ends or consistently move defenders in the run game. Plenty of talent with Street though.
Useful swing tackles / roster depth / intriguing developmental blockers
10. Dennis Daley, South Carolina
11. Isaiah Prince, Ohio State
12. Tytus Howard, Alabama State
13. Oli Udoh, Elon
14. David Edwards, Wisconsin
15. Max Scharping, Northern Illinois
16. Mitch Hyatt, Clemson
17. Bobby Evans, Oklahoma
Daley is adequately athletic and really knows how to use his hands to his advantage. Above-average run blocker too. Prince's grade was just below Daley's. Prince is a tad more athletic but not as polished with his hand and foot work. Howard has vice grips for hands, and if he's able to add weight at the NFL level without sacrificing his athleticism, he can be an awesome value find later in the draft. The same goes for Udoh from Elon. Tall, super long, and athletic. Needs more pop on contact.
The last four offensive tackle prospects went into the season with a good amount of hype. None lived up to it. Edwards has linear explosiveness but severely lacks as a whole when pass protecting. Scharping needs to be more consistent when firing his hands and has too wide of a kick slide. Hyatt is incredibly experienced and looks the part. He stops moving his feet in pass protection and lunges far too often. Evans has a decent amount of upper body strength but is a slow mover without refined hand work.
Interior Offensive Line
High-caliber guards or centers / instant starters
1. Terronne Prescod, NC State (guard)
2. Cody Ford, Oklahoma (guard)
3. Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State (center)
4. Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin (guard)
5. Chris Lindstrom, Boston College (guard)
6. Garrett Bradbury, NC State (center)
7. Erik McCoy, Texas A&M (center)
Ok, so you're not going to see Prescod nearly as high as I currently have him anywhere else on the internet or on TV. He didn't get a combine invite. I'm cool with all of that. At 6-5 and north of 330 pounds, he's not a dynamic athlete. However, Prescod does move laterally much better than most guards his size -- as evidenced by his effectiveness in NC State's zone-based blocking scheme -- he plays with significant power, boasts an outstanding anchor in pass protection, and has adequate awareness when dealing with delayed blitzes and stunts. He needs to ace his pro day. With him, think Brandon Brooks.
Ford played right tackle in 2018. I loved him at guard in 2017, and think he's best-suited for a move inside at the pro level. For the guard spot, he'd be considered an upper-tier athlete for the position, and he's a nasty mauler. Jenkins is my top center. Talk about a mauler...he had some heavyweight battles with stellar SEC defensive linemen over the years, and almost always matched their power with a colossally heavy anchor. While I'd rather have him move in straight lines than flow laterally down the line of scrimmage, Jenkins is a good athlete.
I have Jenkins, Benzschawel, and Lindstrom graded very closely at the moment. Benzschawel is a solid, well-rounded guard prospect. His height hurts him at times, and I'm concerned about him getting out-leveraged by short, powerful defensive tackles in the NFL. He's mobile, has a heavy anchor, and is a stellar combo blocker.
Lindstrom made an awesome decision by moving from tackle to guard in his senior year at Boston College, and he dominated in the ACC. He has tackle feet -- duh -- and demonstrated the point-of-attack power and mean streak needed to win inside in the run game. Lindstrom's fundamentally sound with his hands. Stunts don't confuse him either.
Bradbury has the most upside of any of the center prospects because, as a former tight end, he's crazy athletic for the center spot. Some reach blocks -- getting to the outside shoulder of a defensive lineman across a gap -- he put on film in college were unreal, blocks most NFL centers don't have the quickness and loose hips to accomplish. I'm just worried about his lack of anchoring, weight, and overall power. He has to make a sizable step in those related areas at the NFL level.
McCoy is another battler at center and has above-average athleticism for the position. Low center of gravity and great grip strength too. Counter moves get the better of him a little too often for my liking but with more strength, he can be a quality pivot for a long time.
Eventual decent starters / developmental backups
8. Nate Davis, Charlotte (guard)
9. Dru Samia, Oklahoma (guard)
10. Fred Johnson, Florida (guard)
11. Lamont Gaillard, Georgia (center)
12. Javon Patterson, Ole Miss (guard)
13. Connor McGovern, Penn State (guard)
14. Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama (center)
15. Ben Powers, Oklahoma (guard)
16. Michael Deiter, Wisconsin (guard)
As is the case in any tier, the prospects at the top are closer to the first designation and everyone below is on a sliding scale toward the second designation. So I think Davis is the closest to being an eventual decent starter and Deiter is the closest to being a developmental backup.
Davis played tackle at Charlotte but has the body of an NFL guard, loads of power, and surprising athleticism packed inside his sturdy frame. The first words in my notes on Samia are "gritty battler." He typically initiates contact and is under control. He really gets after it in the run game, but his movements can be clunky and his pad level isn't as necessarily low. Samia's hand work is slightly inconsistent too. In some instances, Johnson matched the power of Jawaan Taylor playing next to him at right guard on Florida's line. He leans into his blocks a little too often, and his hand placement isn't always ideal. He's a plus athlete for his massive size and has a sturdy anchor.
Gaillard is about as compact as they come at the center position, and his low center of gravity allows him to match the power of smaller, quicker defensive tackles. He really battles -- and moves people -- in the run game, especially when he can drive defenders downhill. The Georgia star is a good, not great athlete with decent length. The combine will be huge for him.
The rest -- McGovern through Deiter -- are experienced but limited athletes at guard who are fundamentally sound but lack anything resembling a trump card. All four of them play too high too often, struggle recovering if initially beat, and need more sand in their pants to anchor.