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September 11, 2022 vs Pittsburgh Steelers

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Offensive Line Draft Talk Thread


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It would be justified for the Bengals to get roundly criticized if they took Chase at #5 and then failed to follow that pick up in the second and/or 3rd rounds with a top notch offensive Guard or Tackle/Guard.  That said taking Chase at #5 and then following that pick up with Leatherwood or Cosmi or Radunz and Davis or Humphrey in rounds 2 and 3 should not be grounds for disqualification from play in the NFL.

An ultimately if the Bengals pull this off correctly, these guys are going to look pretty stupid when the Bengals are playing for the Lombardi trophy in 2 years.

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Bob McGinn's insider scouts grades/comments on TE/WR is up at The Athletic....




Editor’s note: This is the 37th year Bob McGinn has written an NFL Draft Series. Previously, it appeared in the Green Bay Press-Gazette (1985-91), the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (1992-2017) and BobMcGinnFootball.com (2018-19). Through 2014, scouts often were quoted by name. The series reluctantly adopted an all-anonymous format in 2015 at the request of most scouts. This will be a nine-part series, starting with receivers and tight ends.

The NFL Draft is one thing, a football career quite another.

Suffice it to say that it has been a long time since two can’t-miss prospects such as Ja’Marr Chase and Kyle Pitts have surfaced at wide receiver and tight end, respectively, in the same draft.

Scouts are a notoriously independent lot. They spend their existence differentiating one player from another, stating if not arguing their opinions and participating in what ultimately becomes a team’s draft ratings. But when it comes to Chase and Pitts, you can’t find a dissenting voice.

“So glaringly amazing” was how one veteran of 20 scouting years described Pitts, the junior from Florida. Chase, who played at LSU for two seasons before opting out in 2020, is a “modern-day Sterling Sharpe,” according to another.

They both played in the Southeastern Conference, as did all five of the top-rated wide receivers.

“If you perform in big games in the SEC, you’re going to play well in the NFL,” said one personnel evaluator. “The fan level. The interest that you draw. How to handle the public. All those things carry over to the NFL as far as you handle yourself. Some of them are going to fail, but it gives them a better chance, for sure.”

Chase and Pitts both were unanimous choices at their positions in my poll of 16 evaluators over the past three weeks. That hasn’t happened at wide receiver since 2007, when Calvin Johnson came out of Georgia Tech to claim the unanimous vote of 18 scouts. From 2008 to 2020, the only wideout that came within one of vote of unanimity was Michael Crabtree in 2009.

“Chase is one of the best wide receivers in the last 10 years,” said a longtime scout. “He’s as strong as one of those big tight ends. He just goes and takes the ball away. He can take an underneath ball and go 80 yards. He can just run right by you and catch it 60 yards downfield. He’s built like a fullback almost, but can run like a wide receiver. He’s as good as it gets.”

A.J. Smith, the former general manager of the San Diego Chargers, in 2007 labeled Johnson, aka “Megatron,” as “one of the easiest picks of all time. Who’s the one guy you’re betting the house on will be a performer, won’t embarrass you, won’t get the money and run south? This is the one guy.”

Saddled with the forlorn franchise in Detroit, Johnson walked away after nine seasons with a career that led (in February) to his first-ballot enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Chase seemed to be a no-brainer of a response when scouts were asked to name their top five wide receivers. A first-place vote was worth five points, a second was worth four and so on.

Following Chase, who earned the maximum 80 points from the 16 voters, were: Jaylen Waddle (53), DeVonta Smith (52), Elijah Moore (18), Kadarius Toney (11), Rashod Bateman (11), Rondale Moore (eight), Terrace Marshall (five), Dyami Brown (one) and Amari Rodgers (one).

“Man, it was one of the more impressive pro days I’ve ever seen,” one scout said after attending Chase’s workout on March 31 in Baton Rouge. “Everything looked easy. He was strong. He was fast. I don’t think he sweated the whole workout.

“He jumped 41 (inches) on the vertical, and I think he could have done 43. He ran 3.99 on the short shuttle. Did one rep. I don’t know if he tried real hard. I had 4.38 (in the 40). And he caught the ball really well.”

“I see a smart football player,” said an AFC scout. “That offense they had under (offensive coordinator Joe) Brady the last time he played was an NFL offense. They used him outside, they used him inside. You saw no limitations on what he could do.”

Besides the talent of Chase and the presence of two first-round choices from Alabama, Waddle and Smith, this class of wide receivers is distinguished by its lack of size. If a team looking for a slot receiver can’t come up with one this season, chalk it up to lousy scouting.

Five of the top 10 wideouts measured under 5-foot-10: Waddle, Elijah Moore, Rondale Moore, Rodgers and D’Wayne Eskridge. That equals the number from the last 10 drafts: Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (5-foot-9½, 168) in 2019, Phillip Dorsett (5-foot-9½, 184 pounds) in 2015, Brandin Cooks (5-foot-9½, 187) in 2014, Tavon Austin (5-foot-8 ½, 173) in 2013 and Jerrel Jernigan (5-foot-9, 185) in 2011.

Dorsett, Austin and Jernigan were deep disappointments, but some others on the short end of 5-foot-10 have made big splashes. That list includes Tyreek Hill (5-foot-8, 184) and T.Y. Hilton (5-foot-9½, 181). Standing an even 5-foot-10 were Antonio Brown and Tyler Lockett.

“It’s a slot draft,” said another AFC scout. “Historically, yeah, you take them in the third or fourth rounds, but they’re going more in the second now. Waddle’s going in the first. Coordinators are so creative with those guys now.”

At the same time, it’s a rare off year for those preferring Calvin Johnson-like dimensions. There isn’t a top-10 wideout at 6-foot-3 or taller after 23 at that height or taller were slotted in the top 10 over the last 10 drafts.

“The evolution of this game has happened so much right before our guys,” another executive in personnel said. “These slot receivers, from 155 pounds up to 215, are productive, skilled, talented. Every school in the country has three- and four-receiver packages. The truth is, for every good lineman, there’s six wideouts. It is so crazy.”

Meanwhile, an AFC scout turned up his nose when assessing the crop of tight ends.

“There’s the guy at Florida (Pitts) and then a huge gap,” he said. “Then there’s the guy at Penn State (Pat Freiermuth) and another gap. Then it’s a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.”

Pitts collected every first-place vote in the poll that asked the personnel men to identify their four best tight ends. Pitts and his 64 points were followed by Freiermuth (40), Tommy Tremble (19), Hunter Long (18), Brevin Jordan (16), John Bates (one), Noah Gray (one) and Tre McKitty (one).

The last unanimous pick at tight end was Eric Ebron. The Lions drafted Ebron in 2014 just as they did Brandon Pettigrew in 2009, another unanimous choice.

We’d have to travel back 15 years to pinpoint a tight end (Vernon Davis) that has created a stir like Pitts. My poll had 21 scouts participating in 2006, and Davis got the call from all 21 in a class that included Marcedes Lewis. Davis’ combine workout — 4.38 40, vertical of 42 inches, broad jump of 10-8, 33 reps on the bench — was the best witnessed from a tight end.

“There’s absolutely nothing not to like about this guy,” former Bears GM Jerry Angelo said then. “(Kellen) Winslow II, (Tony) Gonzalez, (Jeremy) Shockey had pretty good speed when they came out, but nobody put up these kinds of numbers. Nobody.”

After playing 14 seasons, Davis finished tied for 10th in receptions by a tight end with 583. His average yards per catch of 13.0 is better than the other nine, indicating how dangerous he was.

Pitts might not be as explosively sudden as Davis, but he was far more versatile and fluent in his assignments, a smoother athlete and a better blocker. Three scouts with 20-plus years in the league all said they had never evaluated a tight end better than Pitts.

“People say, ‘He’s a tight end. They can’t change a game,’” said one longtime executive. “This guy can. I graded Tony Gonzalez, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow II. Especially with the way football is played nowadays, he is just rare. He is a game-changer.”

Perhaps the active player most comparable to Pitts would be the Raiders’ Darren Waller. He had almost identical size (6-foot-6, 240), speed (4.45) and other workout numbers before the Ravens drafted him in the sixth round as a wide receiver in 2015. Since converting to tight end, Waller has posted two gigantic seasons.

“Waller is what you envision when you draft (Pitts),” said an AFC executive. “That’s kind of the floor that you envision.”

If Pitts’ new team frequently detaches him from the formation rather than confining him to a traditional “Y” tight end role, he and Chase certainly should be in the hunt for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

1. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU (6-foot-0½, 201 pounds, 4.34 40, Round 1 draft grade): Played alongside Justin Jefferson, who went No. 22 to the Vikings in the 2020 draft and had a tremendous rookie season (88 catches, 1,400 yards, seven touchdowns).

“Justin Jefferson ripped up the league this year, but you didn’t even recognize him when you watched LSU,” one scout said alluding to Chase’s phenomenal season in 2019. “Chase was an NFL football player as an 18-year-old. Plays mature. Looks like a guy ready to come in and anchor a passing game, even with the occasional wart. Even if you knock him off his route, he has the strength to get back on schedule.”

The third-year junior from Harvey, La., led all receivers in the 20-yard shuttle (3.99). Will the Bengals select Chase at No. 5, reuniting him with quarterback Joe Burrow?

“If he got tied up with Burrow again, I think he’d have a hell of a career,” a second scout said. “If he goes someplace where they don’t have a quarterback, he’ll struggle. With wide receivers, it’s all about the mindset and the quarterback. He runs with power. He has great quickness. He makes things look easy, and because of it, he’s deceptively quick and fast.”

Part-time starter as a true freshman in 2018, started all 14 games for the national champions in ’19 and opted out of ’20.

“People were a little worried what he would run and what he was going to test,” a third scout said. “Then all his tests and numbers were very good. He just sort of pushes through people. He’s 20 or 30 pounds bigger than DeVonta Smith.”

Finished with 107 receptions for 2,093 yards (19.6) and 23 touchdowns.

“How can you bypass him?” a fourth scout said. “He’s a great player? Sterling Sharpe (5-foot-11½, 207) was a strong guy. There were very few people out there as powerful as Sharpe. This guy’s smoother and more explosive. He ran right by (Alabama’s) Patrick Surtain.”

2. DeVonta Smith, Alabama (6-foot-0, 170, no 40, Round 1): It’s difficult to find a current receiver or one from the past with Smith’s unusual dimensions.

“When (Henry) Ruggs and (Jerry) Jeudy came out last year, I said the best football player was Smith,” said one scout. “Those guys went top 15, but now I don’t know if DeVonta will go top 15 when push comes to shove because he’s 170 pounds. He is rail-thin. Bama was 21 points better than everybody they played. It was a perfect world, and I think life will be a little tougher than what it was this past year.”

Elected not to run the 40 at pro day. Best estimates would be in the 4.4s.

“I don’t worry about his size,” another scout said. “We got (small) guys up here that kick everybody’s butt. Guys are 190, 200 on pro day and they’ll play at 185, 179. They get up here, their diet changes. The way the rules have changed, especially at receiver, those guys aren’t getting heavy collisions anymore. It’s 7-on-7 ball half the time.”

Smith won the most recent Heisman Trophy in lopsided fashion after his 117-reception, 23-touchdown senior season.

“If you were just picking people to play football in the backyard, he’d be the first pick every year,” a third scout said. “He is skinny, but he’s so good. He is strong. Every year he just improved.”

The Amite, La., native finished with 235 receptions for 3,965 yards (16.9 average) and 46 touchdowns.

“He is really a smooth, fluid athlete,” said a fourth scout. “It’s almost effortless. He’s tiny at 170, but he doesn’t get knocked around. He doesn’t get rerouted against press coverage.”

3. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (5-foot-9½, 180, no 40, Round 1): He’s the premier kick returner in the draft and a dangerous threat from the slot.

“He’s got like eight eyeballs,” said one scout. “He’s got eyes all the way around his head. He’s video game-like, he’s so decisive. You push the little button on your video game and the guy breaks left, right or vertically. Devin Hester was really good, but with him, you didn’t know what you were going to do with him on offense. This guy, you can definitely utilize him on offense.”

Several teams remain concerned about the ankle he had operated on midseason. Third-year junior from Houston posted a total of 106 receptions for 1,999 yards (18.9 average) and 17 touchdowns.

“I think he could play outside,” said a third scout. “To his advantage, you can move him all over the place. He’s a little guy who plays big down the field. His speed is game-changing.”

4. Elijah Moore, Ole Miss (5-foot-9½, 178, 4.35, Round 1 or 2): Third-year junior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., posted the fastest 3-cone (6.67) of the leading WRs.

“He’s my favorite player not named Ja’Marr Chase,” one scout said. “My way-too-crazy comparison for him was Antonio Brown. That’s honestly who I think he can be like. I would consider taking him at the end of the first (round). With the size, some people think he can only be a slot receiver. I think he can play inside and outside. He plays really fast. He’s strong.”

His 17 reps on the bench press almost doubled Kadarius Toney’s total (nine). The top three wideouts didn’t lift.

“The (Alabama) guys got all the attention, but this guy isn’t far behind,” said another scout. “He’s a good little player. Fun to watch.”

Started 24 of 32 games over three seasons, catching 189 passes for 2,441 yards (12.9 average) and 16 touchdowns.

“You can find homes for these guys,” said a third scout. “No, I don’t think he’s too small. I just don’t know if he’s special. When I see a small guy, I’ve got to go back to Roscoe Parrish, who athletically was just so dynamic.”

Said a fourth scout: “He’s not explosive (speed-wise), but he has such pace on his routes and stop-start quickness that he gets everybody off balance. Ball skills are natural, fluid. He’s slick with his run after catch. Love him as a player.”

5. Kadarius Toney, Florida (5-foot-11½, 193, 4.37, Round 1 or 2): Played some running back, some wide receiver, some Wildcat quarterback and returned kicks during his first three largely unproductive seasons in Gainesville.

“He wasn’t even rated, but I liked him from the beginning of the (2020) season,” one scout said. “He had some issues as a junior, but he is a tremendous player.”

Was involved in a pair of off-field incidents involving guns in 2018. Some teams are concerned that his interest in the music industry — he has produced some of his own rap music — might be greater than it is for football.

“He is a passionate rap artist,” said another scout. “On green-yellow-red, he’s a yellow … that dude’s explosive. He’s got 10-yard acceleration like (Tyreek) Hill.”

The Mobile, Ala., native broke out as a receiver in 2020. Finished with 120 receptions for 1,490 yards (12.4 average) and 12 touchdowns.

“We would never draft him, but he’s a matchup nightmare for a defense as a slot,” said a third scout. “He’s got excellent ball skills and feel for the position. He’s strong and competitive with the ball in his hands. In the right system, that takes huge advantage of the slot wide receiver, he offers a lot.”

Said a fourth scout: “If I’m looking at him through the eyes of a quarterback, I think he’s kind of hard to read. He does so much shake and bake that you don’t know if he’s going left, right or sitting down. Not to take away from his creativity, but to play within a scheme, you’ve got to stay within your own area with your route. This guy is a little all over the map. His thing is just the change of direction. He is so skilled.”

6. Rashod Bateman, Minnesota (6-foot-0½, 190, 4.45, Round 2): Named MVP of the Gophers’ 11-2 team in 2019 before playing five games without distinction in 2020 and then opting out of the final three games.

“Tale of two seasons,” said one scout. “He was really good last year, but his film this year was awful. The kid kind of totally tanked it. Came into this season overweight and played out of shape.”

Third-year junior with 33-inch arms.

“This year they played him a lot more in the slot, and coming across the middle he didn’t look that confident,” said a second scout. “Last year he attacked it better. He’s a little leggy. He’s not that twitchy, but he can still get some separation. The speed was the biggest issue with him, but he showed enough. His pro day was pretty damn good. If he can go into a place where he isn’t the guy, that would be perfect for him. He could grow into one.”

An exceptional basketball player, Bateman turned down chances to play for major-college programs out of high school in Tifton, Ga.

“He’s got a high drop rate,” said a third scout. “He’s not going to catch across the middle. He’s a man-beater underneath. You don’t see the top receiver traits in this guy.”

Finished with 147 receptions for 2,395 yards(16.3 average) and 19 touchdowns.

7. Rondale Moore, Purdue (5-foot-7, 181, 4.31, Round 2): Led FBS in receptions with 114 as a freshman before hamstring injuries cost him eight games in 2019 and three more in ’20.

“Very quick, very fast, very smart,” said one scout. “Graduated in 2½ years in business sales management. Very confident in his ability. Great on the board explaining their system. Has a history of hamstring (injuries). Whether that shows up at the next level, we’ll see.”

Terrific on pro day with a blistering 40, a 42½-inch vertical jump that led all receivers and a 3-cone of 6.67.

“He’s built so thick lower (body),” said another scout. “You think most small, fast guys are like sports cars that get dinged up all the time. Those guys are tightly wound and so narrow. This guy is built. (Durability) won’t be an issue.”

The New Albany, Ind., native finished with 178 receptions for 1,915 yards (10.8 average) and 14 touchdowns.

“He’s an explosive, fast, competitive guy that catches the ball really well,” said a third scout. “Would have liked to see him play more football. There will be a little hesitation to go there (first round). I see him more 30 to 40.”

8. Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU (6-foot-2½, 205, 4.40, Round 2): Third-year junior operated in the shadows of Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson before becoming the lead dog in 2020.

“He’s got a chance to be like a Brandon Marshall-type player,” one scout said. “He can get vertical. Big target. Needs to work on contested catches. He had a few drops this year but hasn’t had them in the past.”

Has undergone surgery on his leg and foot. Medical reports might play a major role in where he falls in the draft.

“The biggest issue I have with him is he’s not as competitive or fiery as Jefferson and Chase,” a second scout said. “He’s tall, and he can actually run routes and bend for a big guy. Really athletic, but he just drops the ball. He dropped the ball at his pro day.”

Third-year junior from Bossier City, La., posted an impressive vertical jump of 39 and 19 reps on the bench.

“He’s got size and he can run,” said a third scout. “He’s got a lot of potential to be a lot better. It’s hard to say he’s under the radar, but in terms of what he could be, you’d get a really good bargain in Day 2 or 3. He could be a good No. 3 (receiver) and could develop into a No. 1.”

Caught 106 passes for 1,594 yards (15.0 average) and 23 touchdowns.

9. Amari Rodgers, Clemson (5-foot-9½, 212, 4.51, Round 2 or 3): Compared by one scout to former Packer Randall Cobb.

“He’s that type of slot receiver,” he said. “Not great speed, but exceptional quickness. He’s tough and confident. He’s the son of a coach.”

That would be Tee Martin, the Steelers’ fifth-round pick in 1998 as a quarterback and now Ravens assistant coach who threw 16 passes in his brief NFL career. Rodgers made a startling recovery from ACL surgery in spring 2019, returning in time to play 14 of 15 games.

“This guy’s just as good as those Alabama guys,” said a second scout. “He’s built like a running back. Just a good football player. He separates easy at any level. He makes some big-time plays, then he’s got a lot of concentration drops. Plays faster than that (4.51).”

The Knoxville, Tenn., native started three of four seasons, finishing with 181 receptions for 2,144 yards (11.8 average) and 15 touchdowns.

“He reminded me of Christian Kirk,” a third scout said. “Really mature, really smart. He’s not going to be Tyreek Hill. He doesn’t have that type of athletic ability. He’s not freaky fast. Whatever he’s going to be, he’ll be that pretty early in his rookie year. I think it’s a good investment, especially at that position, because so many of them fail for reasons outside of (their) ability.”

10. D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan (5-foot-9, 190, 4.39, Round 2 or 3): One of the leading prospects from the Mid-American Conference.

“There’s always a really good MAC player, and I think he’s one,” one scout said. “A couple years ago (2019), Pittsburgh got Diontae Johnson (Toledo) in the third round. Scotty Miller was one that got some buzz late (2019, sixth round). I think people respect the really good MAC players even though it’s not Power 5. Eskridge impressed me at the Senior Bowl. He has a skill set that says he will make it.”

Bounced between wide receiver and cornerback until 2020.

“He’s like a classic track guy playing receiver as far as the routes and the straight-line (speed) and doesn’t quite know what he’s doing,” said a second scout. “Not the track mentality of toughness. He shows that side of it. He’s a gunner, too, and he does that really well. He is sudden and fast in open space, but I just don’t think he really knows how to play football that well. He’s like a backup gadget-type player.”

The Bluffton, Ind., native finished with 122 receptions for 2,260 yards (18.5 average) and 15 touchdowns.

11. Dyami Brown, North Carolina (6-foot-0½, 189, 4.44, Round 2 or 3): Third-year junior.

“I thought he was just a speed guy who went deep, but he’s a hell of a lot better than that,” said one scout. “There’s a guy somebody could really hit on. He’s got really good hands. He’ll catch in the middle. He can go deep. He just kind of eases by you. He’s smooth as silk. He can make the hard-angle cuts.”

Started 30 of 34 games, posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

“He’s a vertical X deep receiver,” another scout said. “His route-running needs a lot of work.”

The Charlotte native finished his career with 123 receptions for 2,306 yards (18.7 average) and 21 touchdowns.

“Build-up speed in a straight line,” said a third scout. “He’s not quick off the ball. His hands are not good at all. Just not a natural football player. It’s not just running by people in the NFL.”

12. Nico Collins, Michigan (6-foot-4, 215, 4.45, Round 3): Biggest of the top 15 wideouts.

“He’s gone through a tremendous maturation process,” said one scout. “The product he is right now, he’s a pro. His commitment level is really strong. He’ll do all the things necessary to maximize who he is. He’s more like a third-round pick, but he can end up being a good No. 2 receiver.”

Failed to catch even 40 passes as a starter in 2018 and ’19 before opting out in 2020.

“He comes out and runs a 4.4, yet when he played, they passed the ball to No. 8 (Ronnie Bell) all the time,” said a second scout. “Bell looked like the best one by far, and they ran Collins on just some up-the-field routes. If he’s that good, why didn’t the coaches try to get the ball to him?”

The Birmingham, Ala., native finished with merely 78 receptions for 1,388 yards (17.8 average) and 13 touchdowns. Has the longest arms (34⅛ inches) among the wideouts.

“His Senior Bowl was average, but he looked pretty damn good at pro day,” said a third scout. “He has natural hands.”

13. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State (5-foot-11, 194, 4.49, Round 3): Appeared to be a sure-fire first-round draft choice after an 86-catch, 1,491-yard, 12-TD season in 2018. Then he blew out his ACL in November 2019, and it has been a struggle since.

“Watching him work out (at pro day), I’m concerned because he isn’t a dynamic athlete,” one scout said. “Nothing he did wrong. There just wasn’t a lot of juice. Fourth round.”

Bounced back in time to play 10 games in 2020 but missed a game late after spraining the same right knee.

“He knows how to play,” said a second scout. “He has good feel. He just doesn’t have a lot of quickness or burst. He’s one of those guys, he can really make plays in a crowd, but he’s always in a crowd. That’s his problem. He just cannot separate from people. His physical gifts are not there.”

The Fort Worth, Texas, native finished with 205 receptions for 3,434 yards (16.8 average) and 26 touchdowns.

14. Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC (5-foot-11½, 197, 4.60, Round 3 or 4): Declared a year early after starting 23 of 31 games in three seasons.

“Pro’s pro, A-plus intangibles,” said one scout. “He can play the slot. Helps you as a punt returner. Third round.”

Intelligent kid who led the position on the bench press with 20 reps.

“I like how physical he is, how smart he is,” said a second scout. “He’s going to get open. He’s just going to be a very steady, dependable guy.”

Anaheim Hills, Calif., native finished his career with 178 receptions for 2,270 yards (12.8 average) and 16 touchdowns. His 40 time was disappointing.

“His speed didn’t surprise me at all,” a third scout said. “That’s the way he plays. Like there’s nothing there. Average at everything. He’s just a guy.”

Other top receivers: Tutu Atwell, Louisville; Anthony Schwartz, Auburn; Marquez Stevenson, Houston; Simi Fehoko, Stanford; Seth Williams, Auburn; Frank Darby, Arizona State; Trevon Grimes, Florida; Josh Palmer, Tennessee; Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville; Jacob Harris, Central Florida; Tamorrion Terry, Florida State; Jaelon Darden, North Texas; Dazz Newsome, North Carolina; Cornell Powell, Clemson; Cedric Johnson, South Dakota State; Demetric Felton, UCLA.

Ranking the tight ends

1. Kyle Pitts, Florida (6-foot-5½, 245, 4.43, Round 1): Backed up in 2018, catching three passes in 11 games. Had a strong sophomore season and a 12-touchdown junior year in eight games.

“I don’t need to see the workout — this is the best player in the draft,” said one 20-year scouting veteran. “He’s the most gifted tight end I’ve scouted. (Travis) Kelce and others have developed into really good players, but just as far as coming out, you have to back to Vernon Davis (in 2006). He was more of a big, fast, straight-line guy. Stiff. Or Kellen Winslow II. This guy is much more talented than those guys.

“Playmaker, catches the ball over people and he’ll give effort as a blocker. You don’t want him doing that, but he tries to get on people. He’ll fight you.”

Another scout said Pitts was the best blocking tight end in the draft.

“In ’19, he blocked like crap,” a third scout said. “This year, he defied all the odds, gained some weight and blocked his ass off. Low-maintenance, loves football. I think he had zero drops this year. More fluid than Vernon Davis.”

The Philadelphia native finished with 100 receptions for 1,492 yards (14.9 average) and 19 touchdowns.

“He’s a very talented guy, but it’s not like we’ve never seen this guy before,” said a fourth scout. “Greg Olsen ran 4.44 at 6-foot-5, 250-plus and he’ll be a Hall of Famer. Jimmy Graham. We’ve seen that blend of freakish athlete at tight end. A lot of them have been outside the first round. Look at George Kittle. ‘Gronk’ (Rob Gronkowski). Kelce. (Darren) Waller. (Zach) Ertz. Even Jared Cook, Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas had nice Pro Bowl-level stretches and mismatch speed/athleticism as Day 3 picks.”

2. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State (6-foot-5, 251, no 40, Round 2): Declared a year early after his third season was ended after four games by a shoulder injury.

“He’s a willing blocker, but he doesn’t really get it done,” said one scout. “He’s a get-in-the-way, tie-you-up blocker. Really good route runner with natural hands. He’s got no twitch, though. He just uses that size to win the matchups.”

Caught 92 passes for 1,185 yards (12.9 average) and 16 touchdowns.

“He is a conventional tight end,” a second scout said. “Not many people want a conventional tight end. He can catch the ball and has good enough speed. He’ll get open.”

His speed remains a mystery after he chose to do position drills at his pro day but none of the physical tests.

“Probably didn’t run because he’s not fast,” a third scout said.

Hails from an athletic family in Merrimac, Mass.

“He’d fall between Heath Miller and the kid who got drafted by the Bengals (in 2019), Drew Sample,” said a fourth scout. “He’ll be a starter. He’ll be a good, solid player. I don’t know if he’ll ever go to a Pro Bowl. There’s no wow to Freiermuth.”

3. Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame (6-foot-3½, 241, 4.65, Round 3): Redshirted in 2018, mostly started in 2019 and ’20 then bypassed his final two seasons of eligibility.

“They threw the ball to the freshman (Michael Mayer) they think will be the next (Rob) Gronkowski,” said one scout. “I think that’s why he came out. I don’t think they used Tremble as much as they should have.”

The John Creek, Ga., native caught 35 passes for 401 yards (11.5 average) and four TDs.

“He’s a feisty blocker,” said another scout. “High effort. He has that sneaky power to him. He’s had limited production, but that’s not on his end. His hands were all right. You’re betting on the come with his route running and that the athlete will take over. He looked real good running routes at (his) pro day.”

His father, Greg, played 11 games as a safety for the Eagles and Cowboys in 1995. Tommy Tremble also has played fullback, a la Josiah Deguara, the Packers’ third-round draft choice last year.

“Tremble has much more strength and physicality (than Deguara) as a blocker,” said a third scout. “He’s faster. Deguara is a little bit more fluid as an athlete and was a more reliable receiver.”

4. Brevin Jordan, Miami (6-foot-2½, 247, 4.66, Round 3 or 4): Third-year junior, three-year starter.

“If Pitts wasn’t in the draft, Jordan would be the most talented, athletic-type guy,” said one scout. “He can be that move-around guy. He’d never have to leave the field. He tries, too, as a blocker. He works at it. He’s very intriguing.”

The Las Vegas native caught 105 passes for 1,358 yards (12.9 average) and 13 touchdowns. Missed games each season with assorted injuries.

“There’s an incredible upside on his long-term playing career,” said a second scout. “He’s just starting to grow into the position.”

Disappointing 40 reduced his chances for a Day 2 selection.

“He ran OK,” said a third scout. “He’s not running away from the Fred Warners, the Darius Leonards. Good little college player. I just think you’ve got to manufacture that guy getting open.”

5. Hunter Long, Boston College (6-foot-5, 254, 4.71, Round 4): Paced FBS tight ends in 2020 with 57 receptions.

“More of a ‘Y’ who can do the ‘F’ role,” said one scout. “In-line, he’d be a good receiver. The guy can win in the seam. He’ll have a hard time beating the better ’backers in man coverage. He can push to be a starter in ‘12’ personnel in his first year. You’re getting a good, well-rounded, No. 2 tight end.”

Said a second scout: “He’s a lot like Freiermuth. Just a slight step down. He’s a ‘Y’ tight end that’s good at everything. Those guys are hard to find.”

Long hails from Exeter, N.H.

“Just a paint-by-numbers route runner,” a third scout said. “Run out, turnaround-type guy.”

6. Tre’ McKitty, Georgia (6-foot-4, 243, 4.71, Round 4 or 5): Had the biggest hands (10¾) and the most reps on the bench press (23) among the tight ends.

“He’s a little bit of a project who has a lot of upside,” said one scout. “He’s not a freakish athlete, but you see enough traits in there. Nice (catching) radius, big hands. He competed as a blocker.”

The Wesley Chapel, Fla., native spent three seasons at Florida State, starting 19 of 24 games in 2018 and ’19 before transferring. Had just six catches for the Bulldogs, giving him 56 in all for 628 yards (11.2 average) and three touchdowns.

“He wasn’t used well enough at Georgia,” a second scout said. “Athletically, it looks like he belongs. He’s going to need some work. He’s more of a receiving tight end than an in-line blocker.”

Other top tight ends: Kenny Yeboah, Mississippi; Noah Gray, Duke; Quintin Morris, Bowling Green; Luke Farrell, Ohio State; John Bates, Boise State; Nick Eubanks, Michigan; Zach Davidson, Central Missouri State; Kylen Granson, Southern Methodist; Shaun Beyer, Iowa; Pro Wells, Texas Christian; Tony Poljan, Virginia; Matt Bushman, Brigham Young; Jack Stoll, Nebraska; Briley Moore, Kansas State.

The Skinny

Unsung hero

Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio State: Three-year starter on excellent teams in which the tight end wasn’t much of the passing game. Had just 12 receptions in his final two seasons despite starting 22 games. Enhanced his chances for a late-round selection with a functional 40 (4.81) and solid jumps.

“He’s a pro in every way,” said one scout. “He’s not a throwaway athlete as a ‘Y.’”

Scouts’ nightmare

Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State: As Day 3 of the draft moves along, decision-makers will gaze at Terry’s card and his height, weight and speed (6-foot-2½, 207, 4.44) and wonder if he’s worth a shot. Terry had a 1,000-yard season in 2019 after hauling in a host of long bombs. Still, there are distinct questions regarding his ability to handle an NFL system and run an advanced route tree.

Scout to remember

Tom Modrak: A Pittsburgh native, Modrak spent almost 40 years as an NFL personnel man. After 20 seasons with the Steelers, he moved on to become general manager of the Eagles. Within three years, he lost his job in a power grab by coach Andy Reid, then moved on to serve as the Bills’ vice president of college scouting from 2001-11. Modrak was executive director of the BLESTO scouting combine in 2017 when he died of a rare neurological disorder. He was 74. His friendliness was renowned in scouting circles.

Quote to note

AFC scout: “None of these guys really block. The blocking tight end, that day has died. Today, it’s get in the way. They’re not blocking any defensive linemen. They’re just getting in the way.”



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40 minutes ago, AMPHAR said:

Never let details get in the way of a "HOT TAKE".   The play that injured Burrow can't be prevented by All-Pro lineman.     Defenders at the legs of QBs happens often in the NFL.



True.  But also true is that the better the line, the fewer times defenders get near your QB, so you lessen the chances of that freak injury happening.  

Just saying “strange things happen” ignores statistics, probability, and reason.  

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Bruce Feldman's annual coach confidential (quotes from annoynmous coaches and scouts just dropped as well on The Athletic). It's long - I am gonna skip the QB and LB stuff and paste the portions on WR/TE, D-line and the brief notes he had on two o-line (Sewell and Slater):

NFL Draft confidential: 'People say he's not athletic.' Coaches discuss Mac Jones' rise, Justin Fields shade, and sleepers galore – The Athletic



Is Kyle Pitts the biggest no-brainer in the draft?

QB Coach No. 1: Pitts is a unicorn. It’s rare to get a guy that freaky that size that didn’t flip to defensive end. It’s easier to rush the quarterback than play tight end. He’s (Raiders tight end) Darren Waller but a little more natural. He’s got great hand-eye coordination; great length. He didn’t have a drop last year. Only four of his catches didn’t go for a touchdown or first down. What I really love is he didn’t have to play last year and he still would be a top-10 pick, and that they’re down 20 vs Bama, and he’s playing his ass off, trying to get them back into it, and he does. That stuff spoke a lot.

QB Coach No. 2: Aw, man, he is special. He has good character; he’s a tough kid. Everything he did at pro day, it was like, ‘Good God!’ That guy changes the game for your offense with how people have to play you. …This guy is more athletic and faster than (Travis) Kelce. This guy comes into the league and he’s gonna be way better than anybody else.

WR Coach No. 3: He’s ridiculous, man. Holy crap. To be that big and that fast and that skilled — wow.

Ja’Marr Chase is best in a top-heavy receiver class and would’ve gone first among WRs last year if he declared, too, per sources.

QB Coach 1: I think it’s not close among these receivers. Chase is way better than the rest of them, and it’s a good class. He’s like a much faster Anquan Boldin.

WR Coach No. 1: He plays much bigger than he is. I don’t know if it’s a knock, but I’m not sure his ball skills are elite, but he has so many other elite traits.

He’s a grown man with the ball in his hands. He runs some out routes so smooth. He matches his lower body with his upper body, and that takes a long time. He’s really able to drop his hips. I love DeVonta Smith, but he’s 31 pounds lighter than Chase.

WR Coach No. 2: Ja’Marr is super competitive and is so much stronger, so much more physical than the other top guys in this group. His pro day sealed it for me. I didn’t think he would run as fast as he did, but he was so smooth. He maximized that time off; a lot of these guys that opted out didn’t. But he’s definitely not a finished product. He doesn’t do a great job getting off press. He was playing X a lot. In this league, he ain’t gonna be able to muscle all these guys around like he did a lot of guys in the SEC.

DeVonta Smith is 170 pounds: Do you see Marvin Harrison? How does Jaylen Waddle hold up with the top of the receiving corps?

WR Coach No. 1: DeVonta has unbelievable hand-eye coordination and body control with elite ball skills. It’s so natural. He’s instinctual as ****. He feels it and he knows where the spots are. He’s gonna be a good player and be solid and will play every position. He studies; he loves it. I am concerned about him only being 170 pounds, though. It’s the world we live in, man. Big guys beat up little guys. When you take a shot from the side from these monsters, that’s when you get AC issues and collarbone issues. He’s tough as ****. He will bite your face off. He’s gonna try. He won’t back down, but is he gonna win the battle?

Waddle is a game-changer. He’s way rawer than DeVonta. He’s absolutely explosive and elite with the ball in his hands.

WR Coach No. 4: DeVonta’s faster than you think and he’s quicker than you think and he can really catch. With smaller guys you worry about how they’ll adjust to guys getting pushed off their spot and can they make a tough grab. If they do, then it lightens your concern about their size. He’s learned a lot of concepts because they’ve taught him a lot. He’s the best route runner in the draft. Sark had those guys running pro stuff.

Waddle has similar burst to Tyreek Hill. He has that same type of explosion and movement.

WR Coach No. 3: I love Smith, but he is so skinny — if you can get past the skinny, he’s a legit No. 1 receiver. This kid … whatever he wants to do, he does. They had him jump in at cornerback and they said he knew the defense as good as anybody on the team.

I think Waddle is a faster version of Peter Warrick. He is so dynamic with the ball in his hands and is such a dangerous returner. I think he could be Devin Hester as a return guy. But he’s a better receiver than Hester. He was awesome in his interview. He really has an infectious personality.

WR Coach No. 2: Waddle is different now. He’s like Tyreek Hill in a lot of ways. He’s so fast — he’s different fast. Henry Ruggs is really fast, but he was more of a straight-line guy. I think (Waddle) could play really any spot; he can play X, Z, slot, in the backfield.”

Who rates, and who doesn’t, among the remaining wideouts


WR Coach No. 1: He’s right there as a pure route runner with DeVonta. He’s smooth. I just wish he ran a little faster.

WR Coach No. 2: He looked like a different guy this year. The ’19 Bateman was a lot better than the ’20 Bateman. He had concentration lapses. His routes were crisper in 2019; maybe some of that had to do with the new offense; he just wasn’t as polished.

WR Coach No. 3: The 2020 tape doesn’t wow you, but with the 2019 tape, you see something else. Which one are you getting? I think he’s the biggest wild card in this group.


WR Coach No. 2: You see him on film split guys at Mizzou and at Mississippi. State. He was also a lot thicker than I thought he’d be at pro day. He can bend; catch low balls and stay in stride. He made those young quarterbacks look a little better last year.


WR Coach No. 1: They tell you his ball skills are phenomenal. I don’t know what to believe on that one. Are they good enough? Yes. I don’t know if he’s an every-down player. I worry about his whole focus. He will be on “SportsCenter” and the whole deal, and then it’ll be, “Where did he go?”

WR Coach No. 3: I liked his personality. He’s got a little Marshawn Lynch quality where he knows who he is and he’s not gonna fake it. He’s talented but really is a one-year guy.


WR Coach No. 1: I liked him a lot when he was young at Purdue in his first year. He’s game-changing fast, but his ball skills are fine, not great. He will struggle against a guy covering him, but his play speed is elite.

WR Coach No. 3: He’s super short. Slot only, but he is so dynamic. He’s been hurt for two years in a row; can he handle 16 (now 17) games plus preseason? He’s smart with a businesslike approach, but you worry about the durability issues. Got a chance to be a steal if you can keep healthy.


WR Coach No. 1: I liked him. He can do a lot of stuff. Is a good kid, tough. They really had no route tree there and were just going as fast as they can. He was impressive in interviews; really candid. Was mature.


WR Coach No. 3: There’s no doubt he’s talented, but there’s something missing there.

WR Coach No. 5: He probably should be a first-round talent, but he’s so inconsistent. Has bad body language. When it’s going good, he’s making plays all over the place, but when it’s going bad, he won’t block; he gets just really casual. He will make some great catches but will drop some easy ones. And he played in an offense where it was just gos, hitches and slants, and that’s it.

WR Coach No. 2: That system doesn’t help him. When he played (South Carolina) JayCee Horn gave it to him, but I kinda like him. His change of direction tests weren’t good, and that shows up on film and that makes some people leery, but with the contested balls he’s a lot like Mike Williams, and he is good after the catch.


WR Coach No. 1: He’s got a long way to go. That offense that he played in is so different. I do think he can do it and make up for it, but it’s gonna take him some time. I also think he’s big enough to help you on special teams.

WR Coach No. 3: He has inconsistent hands; but catches more deep balls than anybody. He gets on top of guys. He eats their cushion fast; he’s got subtleness to his routes. Everybody knows he’s going deep and he still gets by guys. I was hoping he’d be a little bigger.


WR Coach No. 2: His pro-day tests have me messed up because I didn’t not like his film. His pro day was good (clocking a 4.42 40 with a 37.5-inch vertical at 6 feet 4, 215 pounds). He doesn’t look or play explosive like that. It’s hard to find big men that move like that.

WR Coach No. 3: He’s a freak but not consistent. There ain’t many big guys this year. If you need a big X, he’s gotta be in your talk; the big thing with him is he’s got to clean up his routes and sink his hips and be under control at the top of his routes. But you keep in mind that he didn’t play with a good quarterback. I don’t see him making it out of the second round.


WR Coach No. 2: I think he can actually play in the backfield. He has legit size. He’s a lot like (Saints running back) Ty Montgomery. He’s a north-south runner; very little wasted motion; I think his skills translate to the NFL game well.

WR Coach No. 3: He was outstanding in our interview. He’s a coach’s kid so you’d expect him to do well, but he was off the charts.


WR Coach No. 1: He’s a big receiver who is starting to figure out how to use his body. He has pretty good awareness. He can feel where the DB is on him. He has the right makeup. He stayed in there and played through what was a pretty toxic situation and with really shaky quarterback play.

WR Coach No. 3: He’s just a good player. You see him run a lot of the routes you’d see him run on Sunday, but he wasn’t really a dynamic workout guy. I think coaches probably like him more than personnel guys probably do. He’s beating press coverage and he does little things in his routes well that you notice; strong hands; high-points the ball. There’s a lot of stuff that you don’t have to teach because he already does it.

WR Coach No. 2: He gave it to (Alabama’s Patrick) Surtain. I think he’s gonna be a better pro than he was in college. He played in a program that was really hurting at quarterback. He doesn’t wow you with anything, but he’s just really good at everything.





Scout No. 1 on Oregon OL Penei Sewell: I think (Giants No. 4 overall pick in 2020) Andrew Thomas was better; Jedrick Wills (No. 10 to the Browns in 2020) was too. Sewell does not have great length. He can play everywhere but center and might be able to do that too. I think he can be an elite guard, not a great tackle.

Scout No. 2 on Northwestern OL Rashawn Slater: He has terrific feet. He’s good with his hands. I think he’s the most technically sound of the O-linemen. He doesn’t have the same physicality of Sewell, but I think he’s probably a safer pick and is more polished at this point.





Defensive Coach No. 1: He reminds me a lot of Bradley Chubb. He doesn’t play the run as good as Chubb but rushes the passer as well. Phillips is a freaky athlete and I think he could be 280 tomorrow. Did well in his interviews. He was not bashful; I thought he was mature; sounded like he’s figured it out. He didn’t shy away from the questions people have about him. He attacked it all head-on.


Defensive Coach No. 1: You just don’t find defensive ends who can run a 4.35. He is such a freak athlete. I know he didn’t have any sacks last year, but he was still really disruptive. He does things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. You watch their Indiana game, and he hit the quarterback like 10 times. He’s not soft. I think he’s way better than Yetur Gross-Matos (who went to Carolina at No. 38 last year). He’s got a way higher ceiling.

Defensive Coach No. 2: I was at the pro day. He is a freak. The measurables are so good. His get-off is so good, and he is so fast going straight ahead. He’s a tough eval, but when you watched him do the linebacker drills, he was really stiff. I think he’s a 4-3 end; I didn’t think he could be a 3-4 outside linebacker. I don’t think he’s flexible. He is very tight-hipped. …He could become a 15-sack guy or he could just as easily be out of the league in three years.


Defensive Coach No. 3: He’s gonna be a good player. He’s long, rangy, athletic, but kinda raw. He’s a good all-around player; but not a freak pass rusher or special athlete in coverage. To me, he’s a pro-style 3-4 outside linebacker.

Scout No. 2: He’s got some moves and he’s been well-coached. I think he’s a little stiff. He doesn’t have the upside of Phillips.


Defensive Coach No. 1: He has a lot further way to go than Phillips. This kid is really raw. But he’s so long, and you just can’t find those guys with his kind of length and frame, and he ran mid-4.6s at his pro day, which was really impressive. He is like (Ravens defensive end) Calais Campbell. In a couple years, he could be really special.

Scout No. 2: They moved him around in 2019 and he made a lot of plays. He plays too high and you know how raw he is, but everyone there raves about the kid.


Defensive Coach No. 1: He’s a very good athlete, but I thought he plays kinda small; not physical.

Scout No. 2: Paye is very explosive and has crazy workout numbers, but he’s still pretty raw and figuring things out.


Scout No. 1: He’s a little stiff. He’s not another Quinnen Williams, but he can be disruptive and he has some upside. He will get over-drafted because it’s such a bad year for interior linemen.



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5 hours ago, COB said:

True.  But also true is that the better the line, the fewer times defenders get near your QB, so you lessen the chances of that freak injury happening.  

Just saying “strange things happen” ignores statistics, probability, and reason.  

I never been a believer in there's only 1 right answer for the Bengals at No. 5 in this draft.   The stat that's being ignored is Xavier, RR, and Spain weren't on the field with Burrow when the high number sacks, pressures, and hits were accumulated on Burrow. 

A strong argument can be made IF you could turn back time and have those 3 start last year the O-line perception is completely different.    Then your just talking about improving and building  long term vs. saving the line.


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Here's the McGinn Insider's piece on o-line. This is um...illuminating as to Sewell, in any event...




Editor’s note: This is the 37th year Bob McGinn has written an NFL Draft Series. Previously, it appeared in the Green Bay Press-Gazette (1985-91), the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (1992-2017) and BobMcGinnFootball.com (2018-19). Through 2014, scouts often were quoted by name. The series reluctantly adopted an all-anonymous format in 2015 at the request of most scouts. This will be a nine-part series.

In the mid-1990s, a flotilla of franchise left tackles bound for Canton entered the NFL and forever altered the perception of what a great offensive lineman looked like.

Is it fair for top draft prospect Penei Sewell to be compared with Willie Roaf, Tony Boselli, Jonathan Ogden, Orlando Pace and Walter Jones?

Well, the Oregon underclassman probably will be selected with a single-digit draft slot next week just as those five were from 1993 to 1997. The team that chooses Sewell privately will be thinking he’s capable of a Hall of Fame career, and Sewell probably does, too.

“Nobody can do what I do in this draft in the offensive tackle rooms,” Sewell said earlier in the month. “I bring something totally different to the table. And I think people know that.”

Some personnel individuals are skeptical. Even if the pandemic-related limitations weren’t handcuffing teams as they gather information on prospects, a fair number of scouts still would have seen this as a thin draft. Tackle is one of the deepest positions, but is Sewell atop most tackle boards mostly by default?

“I believe there will be a lot of disappointment (at tackle),” an experienced NFL decision-maker said. “I don’t buy that he’s a great one. Your options aren’t great this year. The upside with him is better than the upside with the rest. There is a floor with him that’s concerning.”

When 17 scouts were asked to name the most overrated offensive lineman in the draft, Sewell and Texas tackle Samuel Cosmi led the way with four votes each. Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood and Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield were next in line with two. Notre Dame’s Aaron Banks, Northern Iowa’s Spencer Brown, Alabama’s Landon Dickerson and Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey each received one vote, and Stanford’s Walker Little and Tennessee’s Trey Smith split the final vote.

At the same time, Sewell certainly is deserving of entering the draft as the No. 1 offensive lineman. When those 17 scouts ranked their six top linemen in order regardless of position, Sewell garnered 13 first-place votes compared to three for Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater and one for USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker.

With a first-place vote worth six points, a second worth five and so on, the point totals were Sewell (93), Slater (84), Vera-Tucker (52), Christian Darrisaw (50), Teven Jenkins (17), Dickerson (13), Jackson Carman (eight), Liam Eichenberg (six), Cosmi (six), Leatherwood (five), Little (five), Banks (four), Mayfield (four), Dillon Radunz (four), Dan Moore (two), Trey Smith (two), Wyatt Davis (one) and Drew Dalman (one).

Still, it’s difficult to come across an evaluator who is prepared to go all-in on Sewell due in part to the fact he opted out of the 2020 season, leaving him with a collegiate résumé of merely 21 games. He won’t be 21 until October.

“Sewell is super talented,” an AFC executive said. “Movement, bend, length. But you haven’t seen him in a year, and he’s a young, young player.

“The depth of the tackle group is better than the top end of it. The best value is 20 to 40; the guy you get at 36 won’t be much different than the guy you get at 21. It’s a deep group.”

The record for most offensive linemen taken in the first round is nine in 2013. With most positions on defense weaker than normal, some teams think that record could be broken if there’s a run on offensive linemen.

“I have 11 tackles with first-round potential,” an AFC scout said. “Nine for sure.”

So let’s say you’re the Bengals. You own the No. 5 pick, young Joe Burrow is your quarterback and perhaps with no player on defense rated that high, Sewell would appear to be someone under heavy consideration.

The naysayers would argue that the Bengals might be better off trying to trade the pick or possibly taking tight end Kyle Pitts or wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Sewell, they would say, will disappoint.

“I put the tape on expecting to see Jonathan Ogden or Joe Thomas or Walter Jones or Orlando Pace, and I didn’t see it,” one longtime scout said. “But he’s going high because there’s nobody else.”

Sewell might surprise. More than likely, though, he won’t sniff the enshrinement ceremony in Canton.

Nonetheless, Sewell didn’t fare badly at all when roll was called of the first offensive lineman selected in the past 15 drafts. The 1990s offered the crème de la crème at tackle.

The drafts from 2006 to 2020 demonstrated that if Sewell is in fact the first offensive lineman to be selected, his new team should feel confident of his future. An AFC evaluator with many years in scouting recently agreed to assess Sewell as a prospect compared to how he rated those linemen who were the first off the board in the past 15 years. The results: The scout ranked Sewell as a better prospect than nine of the 15.

“You’d be really happy with having Sewell,” the executive said after completing the exercise. “He will trend toward being a Pro Bowl-level player if not competing to be one of the best tackles in the league and if not the best just off those comparisons.”

These are the nine top players, all tackles, rated beneath Sewell as prospects by the personnel man, who scouted them all: Jake Long (No. 1 pick, 2008), Jason Smith (No. 2, 2009), Matt Kalil (No. 4, 2012), Eric Fisher (No. 1, 2013), Greg Robinson (No. 2, 2014), Ronnie Stanley (No. 6, 2016), Garret Bolles (No. 20, 2017), Jonah Williams (No. 11, 2019) and Andrew Thomas (No. 4, 2020).

Here are the six players that he had rated higher than Sewell: tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson (No. 4, 2006), tackle Joe Thomas (No. 3, 2007), tackle Trent Williams (No. 4, 2010), tackle Tyron Smith (No. 9, 2011), guard Brandon Scherff (No. 5, 2015) and guard Quenton Nelson (No. 6, 2018).

Of the nine players rated beneath Sewell, four have made the Pro Bowl: Long (four), Kalil (one), Fisher (two) and Stanley (one).

Of the six rated ahead of Sewell, all six made the Pro Bowl: Ferguson (three), Thomas (10), Williams (eight), Tyron Smith (seven), Scherff (four) and Nelson (three).

“Sewell isn’t a generational player, but he’s close to it,” said the scout. “I think he’ll be a really good starting left tackle in the NFL. I don’t see the generational player that people talk about just from a technique standpoint and his overall play.

“You expect more out of him than what you see. But he has the size, the feet and the athleticism. He just needs some refinement.”

. Penei Sewell, Oregon (6-foot-5, 331 pounds, 5.09 40 time, Round 1 draft projection): Top-rated offensive lineman in the draft.

“He’s a good player, not a great player,” one scout said. “The guy’s young. He didn’t play this year. He has incredible body control and balance. Athletically, he can do anything. He’s got power. He’s 330. He needs lower pad level and technique work. He’s got enough to be a legit starter.”

Opted out of the 2020 season. Hailing from Malaeimi, American Samoa, he started seven games as a true freshman in 2018 before missing six games due to an ankle injury that required surgery. Then he started 13 of 14 games in 2019. Will turn 21 in October.

“Honestly, as big as he is, he’s still not fully developed,” said a second scout. “I mean that in a good way. He still has room to get bigger and stronger. When you’re picking that high, that’s kind of what you want.”

Said a third scout: “A bit overrated. He is a naturally thick, big-framed tackle. His workout was actually better than he played. I didn’t think he was super explosive. He covered people up with his size, and he would gouge somebody just because he was bigger than them. And name one pass rusher he actually played against in the Pac-12 who’s on a draft board?”

Arm length (33¼ inches) is short for a prospect of his stature. His hands are a large 10⅜ inches. Managed 30 reps on the bench press, but his vertical jump was a modest 28 inches.

“Every time I circle back and watch him, I just don’t see it,” a fourth scout said. “He’s not that gifted with his feet. He doesn’t really play that physical or strong. He can get in the way, but he’s not a really good finisher, and his balance isn’t that great. His technique is off. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

2. Rashawn Slater, Northwestern (6-foot-4, 304, 4.91, Round 1): Slater was the Wildcats’ finest offensive lineman since tackle Chris Hinton, the seven-time Pro Bowler who was the No. 4 pick in 1983.

“His pro day workout was unbelievable,” said one scout. “Just extremely quick, extremely powerful.”

Logged 33 reps on the bench press and ran an exceptional 40.

“The underwhelming thing about him is his size and the way he looks,” a second scout said. “He’s built more like an inside player than a tackle, but he is really good. I hardly have any negatives. He’s athletic, strong for his size, super smart. He’s a technician. I thought he could play all five positions.”

Slater has his mind set on playing tackle in the NFL. He started at right tackle for Northwestern in 2017 and ’18 and at left tackle in ’19 before opting out of ’20.

“He’s only got 33-inch arms,” a third scout said. “Therefore, that will lead some people to say, ‘OK, he’s only a guard.’ In the NFL today, (tackles) have to have 34-inch arms. That inch may make a difference, but I still think he can play tackle. He has wonderful athletic skills, balance and control in his play.”

Slater, from Sugar Land, Texas, surpassed Sewell in the vertical jump (33), broad jump (9-4) and bench (33).

“He doesn’t have that Alpha dog (mentality),” said a fourth scout. “He doesn’t look tough, but he flashes it. I think he’ll succeed the best on the inside.”

3. Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech (6-foot-4½, 322, no 40, Round 1): His arm length (34¼ inches) was the longest of the top 10 tackles.

“He can pass block,” said one scout. “He’s a tough-ass, competitive kid. He’s not a road-grader type for the run, but he’s a good athlete.”

Third-year junior from Upper Marlboro, Md., started 35 games at LT.

“I saw a guy who played tough and with good angles, but I didn’t see him dominate in the run game,” another scout said. “You put him against a guy like Kenny Clark in Green Bay, I don’t think he can block (him). I really don’t. I have him in the third round.”

A third scout said Darrisaw was “up there sort of by default. He’s definitely overrated.”

His style of play was described as “so casual” by a fourth scout. Said a fifth: “Super light on his feet. Just effortless with everything he does. That kind of plays into his negatives a little bit. It’s always been easy for him. Does this guy have the drive, the competitiveness? Part of it is it’s easy for him. Part of it is get your ass moving. He has every bit as much talent as the top guys. It’s if you can marry yourself to the kid.”

4. Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State (6-foot-6, 317, 5.01, Round 1 or 2): Hailing from Topeka, Kan., Jenkins redshirted in 2016, started three of 12 games in ’17 and all 32 games from 2018 through ’20.

“He’s strong, has good stature,” said one scout. “I’m worried about his arm length (33½ inches) a little, but worst-case (scenario) is he can flex inside and be a good guard. He can be a starting right tackle or right guard in Year 1. Moves a little better than Robert Hunt with the Dolphins. Not as violent as Robert Hunt, but I thought (Jenkins) played smart and with good angles in the run game.”

Shared the lead among tackles on the bench press with 36 reps.

“This year, he played mean,” said a second scout. “In 2019, there were times you scratched your head and said, ‘What the hell are you doing, man? Get after it.’ He’s got kind of a soft personality, but if you watch the 2020 film, he’s not soft. Talent-wise, it’s there.”

His starts included 26 at right tackle, seven at left tackle and two at right guard.

“He can’t take hard coaching, but he’s very smart and has a mauler’s mentality,” a third scout said. “He’s a 20-to-40 (draft) guy. He’s got size. Plays nasty. He gets a little inconsistent, but not bad.”

5. Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame (6-foot-6, 306, no 40, Round 1 or 2): From Cleveland, Eichenberg was a three-year starter at left tackle after redshirting in 2016 and backing up Mike McGlinchey (now starting for the 49ers) in ’17.

“I don’t think you miss on him,” said one scout. “These other guys (tackles), I think you can miss on them.”

Looking to follow McGlinchey, Ronnie Stanley and Zack Martin as successive Irish left tackles drafted in the first round.

“(I) like him,” said a second scout. “All he does is win his battles. He’s efficient, steady, dependable, prideful. He is technically sound.”

Might be forced to move to guard because of short arms (32⅜ inches).

“He’s a steady Eddie,” a third scout said. “It never looked like he was out of his league with anything. He always did his thing. He showed enough athletic ability.”

“Is he ever going to be a Pro Bowler?” asked a fourth scout. “Probably not. But I think he’s going to be a really good pro for a long time. He’s a really good second-round pick. I’m not sure he couldn’t play every position. He’s not a dynamic left-tackle athlete. I’d rather have him at right tackle, but he can play left tackle. He doesn’t do anything great, but he does everything really well. His level of consistency improved this year.”

6. Samuel Cosmi, Texas (6-foot-6, 314, 4.87, Round 2): Blew out pro day. His 40 time, bench-press reps (36) and short shuttle time (4.39) either tied or led the efforts of the other leading tackles.

“Had a really impressive workout,” said one scout. “He’s a big, strong dude. I didn’t see that on tape all the time.”

From Humble, Texas, Cosmi redshirted in 2017, started 13 games at right tackle in ’18 and 21 games combined at left tackle in 2019 and ’20.

“He is a good athlete, and he has some feet,” said a second scout. “Athletic zone type. Needs to play stronger and be more physical. He reminded me of that Jonah Williams guy.”

Arms measured in as 33 inches, hands were 10¼.

“His workout numbers do not indicate at all what kind of player he is,” said a third personnel man. “Just a stiff-hipped guy. Everything has to be in line. He just can’t adjust, he can’t position. He just doesn’t have good coordination with his feet and his hips to adjust to (movement). He’s always on the ground because he gets snatched. He’s so top-heavy.”

“He’s a typical spread (offense) tackle,” a fourth scout added. “He looks the part and tests the part, but his play is just OK.”

7. Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (6-foot-4½, 312, 5.01, Round 2): From Pensacola, Fla., Leatherwood started 41 of 48 games over four seasons.

“I think he’s got to be a right tackle or a guard,” said one scout. “Big, powerful man. Moved well for a big guy. He worked out better than I thought. There’s some similarities between him and Andrus Peat, thick-boned guys who could play tackle but are really good guards.”

Played 44 snaps in the 2017 national title game when left tackle Jonah Williams was injured. Started at right guard in 2018 and at left tackle the past two years.

“He’ll play,” a second scout said. “You love his length (34-inch arms) … but he doesn’t play that strong and doesn’t have a lot of grit to him. He just kind of does everything OK, OK, OK, nothing elite. Someone may fall in love with him just because it’s an Alabama offensive lineman. Every year they don’t do anything, but every year we keep taking ’em. He falls in line with a lot of those ’Bama guys of the past.”

Led the tackles in the vertical jump (34½) and broad jump (9-10).

“They say he’s smart, but during games he seems to lose concentration and has all these penalties,” another scout said. “More talented than Jonah Williams. Really a nice athlete.”

8. Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State (6-foot-5½, 301, 5.16, Round 2): Recruited as a defensive end out of Becker, Minn., he moved to offense and redshirted in 2016 before suffering a torn ACL on the 15th play of the 2017 season. Started 31 consecutive games at left tackle in 2018 and ’19, all North Dakota State victories.

“Talented left tackle,” said one scout. “Only played one game this year. What helped him was he showed up at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and was one of the more consistent offensive linemen all week.”

The Bison played just one game in 2020 because of the pandemic. He was named “best practice player” in Mobile.

“Wish he were a little thicker, stronger,” another scout said. “He’s got a chance to be a starter.”

Often compared to Green Bay OT/G Billy Turner, the 67th player selected in 2014 and the Bison’s highest-drafted offensive lineman.

“He’s better than Turner,” said a third scout. “High character. Got a little nasty demeanor to him. He’s got room to put strength on. He loves to practice football. Longer defenders give him some problems around the edge. He’s got a degree of tightness in his lower body that really hurts him.”

Arm length (34 inches) was fine, but his hands measured just 9 inches, the smallest of the tackles.

9. Jalen Mayfield, Michigan (6-foot-5, 326, 5.38, Round 2): Hurt himself with a mediocre workout at pro day.

“He’s got no lower body, which scares me,” said one scout. “I didn’t like the (pro day). Never saw him explode. I thought he played more athletic than what he tested. He quickly makes contact, which he has to do because of the short arms (32⅝ inches). I didn’t think he was consistent with his leverage. He more or less used his upper body to steer guys and wall ’em off rather than nasty-drive ’em out.”

Third-year junior from Grand Rapids, Mich., played sparingly off the bench at left tackle in 2018 before starting 15 games at right tackle in 2019 and ’20. Declared for the draft after his second game last season.

“The longer I kept watching him, I thought this guy can be a really good guard,” a second scout said. “Somebody will try to make him a tackle. I’m not sure somebody won’t try to make him a left tackle because he has enough athletic ability. He’s got great bend. He did the pulling and the movement stuff in space really (well). I thought he played pretty smart.”

10. Walker Little, Stanford (6-foot-7½, 313, 5.26, Round 3): Suffered a season-ending knee injury in Game 1 of the 2019 season, then opted out of ’20.

“Well, the guy’s played two games (actually one) in two years,” said one scout. “Does he have talent? Yes. … I don’t think the knee is good, but he’s going top 100.”

Originally from Houston, Little started six games at left tackle as a true freshman in 2017 and 12 more in ’18.

“Massive,” a second scout said. “Got a lot of length (33¾-inch arms). Short-area guy. Needs a bumper on the inside. Needs help. But as a right tackle, he might have a chance to develop into a solid starter.”

His workout was merely average. It’s entirely a projection based off tape from two years ago.

“He has nice feet and nice movement,” said a third scout. “He just hasn’t played in two years.”

11. Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa (6-foot-8½, 311, 4.91, Round 3): Didn’t play in 2020 after UNI postponed its season until the spring. Impressed at the Senior Bowl and pro day in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

“He tested off the charts,” one scout said. “He’s raw, long, athletic. He just lacks a little strength and power, which is weird because he’s off the charts with squats and the bench (29). He can get to the second level. He struggles to stay under control, but he can get there.”

Played five sports at high school in Lenox, Iowa. Redshirted in 2016, suffered a season-ending knee injury after five games in ’17 and started for two years at right tackle.

“He’s a poor man’s Nate Solder,” a second scout said. “He still needs to grow into his body. He needs to get stronger. He was a tight end (in high school). He’s got a lot of upside. If you’re going to count on him too early, you might be disappointed.”

His 6.96 time in the 3-cone drill was far better than any other offensive lineman in the draft.

“He’s too big,” groused a third scout. “He’s like that (Dan) Skipper from Arkansas.”

12. Larry Borom, Missouri (6-foot-5, 322, 5.14, Round 3): He’s a fourth-year junior originally from Detroit.

“They were surprised he came out,” said one scout. “Really light on his feet. He’s a big, good athlete. Still got some rawness to him. That said, he’s definitely got starting right-tackle upside. I’d be shocked if he’s still on the board once the third round is over.”

His 19 starts at Missouri included 16 at right tackle.

“A basketball player who made the switch to football,” said a second scout. “Originally played guard, but they switched him to tackle when somebody got hurt. He’s got great feet, and he wants to get his weight under control. He was like 360 (pounds) at one point. Third round.”

“He’s a low-end starter,” a third scout said. “He’s not always urgent, but he’s a big guy who can pass protect. Good player.”

Other top tackles: Dan Moore, Texas A&M; Stone Forsythe, Florida; James Hudson, Cincinnati; D’Ante Smith, East Carolina; Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan; Landon Young, Kentucky; Brenden Jaimes, Nebraska; Tommy Doyle, Miami (Ohio); Larnel Coleman, Massachusetts; Alaric Jackson, Iowa; Adrian Ealy, Oklahoma; Josh Ball, Marshall; Drew Himmelman, Illinois State.



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The Guards/Centers portion of the piece:



Ranking the guards

1. Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC (6-foot-4½, 308, 5.12, Round 1): Fourth-year junior from Oakland.

“He’s a Pro Bowl-level guard and a functional right tackle,” one scout said. “He can bend. He’s quick. He’s got lateral agility. He’s physical. He’s got strength. I was impressed.”

Arms measured just 32⅛ inches, perhaps moving him inside as a pro.

“But I see him as a left tackle,” said another scout. “He looks like a left tackle. He moves like a left tackle. He’s talented, man. At guard, he shows the bend and quickness, and he shows some nasty. This is a guy who’s on the rise.”

Played guard his first two seasons in 2018 and ’19 before starting the Trojans’ abbreviated six-game season in 2020 at left tackle.

“He’s quick and sudden with his hands,” said a third scout. “He’s got balance, he’s got slide. He could start at multiple positions.”

Shared the bench-press lead among the top guards with 32 reps.

2. Jackson Carman, Clemson (6-foot-5, 322, no 40, Round 2 or 3): His draft status is in flux after he underwent back surgery in January. Rated the best prospect in Ohio (he’s from Fairfield) in the 2018 recruiting class.

“I think he’s been reading his press clippings,” said one scout. “He doesn’t work to finish. He’ll work in pass pro a little bit. He does do that pretty well.”

Played as a reserve in 2018 before starting 27 games at left tackle protecting Trevor Lawrence’s back side the past two seasons.

“He’s talented enough (to be drafted high), but I don’t think his play warrants it,” said another scout. “His issue is focus. I can’t see him coming in and starting.”

3. Aaron Banks, Notre Dame (6-foot-5½, 325, 5.34, Round 2 or 3): Three-year starter from Alameda, Calif.

“He’s big, nimble, productive, quick,” said one scout. “He can position and jolt guys. He tries to finish. He’s good enough when he gets out in space. He anchors in pass pro and is quick with his punch. He’s damn good. I wouldn’t expect a guy that big to run faster than he did (5.34).”

Made 30 starts at left guard before declaring a year early.

“They were recruiting him to come back and play left tackle,” another scout said. “I didn’t think he had the feet for that. He’s a big, powerful guard. His feet were a little sloppy in space. Did struggle at the second level moving laterally. If you got him on a straight line, he could logo some guys. Any change-of-direction stuff, he’d struggle.”

Much better fit for a power-gap scheme than a wide zone run game.

“I think he’s vastly overrated,” said a third scout. “He’s stiff, feet weren’t good enough. Has weight issues.”

4. Kendrick Green, Illinois (6-foot-2, 305, 4.88, Round 2 or 3): Played defensive tackle as a redshirt freshman before moving to offense in 2018 and starting for three years.

“That’s the workout wonder guy,” one scout said. “He doesn’t play to his numbers. He is very athletic. Somebody will take him in the fourth (round).”

Paced guards in the 40, the vertical jump (35½) and the broad jump (9-11).

“Very physical,” said another scout. “Has good foot quickness. Very strong. Like the strongest guy on the team. He’ll be one of those serviceable starters.”

The Peoria, Ill., native started 29 games at left guard and four more at center.

“As a center, he can reach a 3-technique,” said a third scout. “Most of the time, he will snap and step at the same time. Almost nobody does that anymore. He’ll get to the second level and block people. He’s dominant as an athlete. He’s not the anchor type that can move the line of scrimmage.”

Has problems staying connected with his foes because of short arms (32¼ inches).

“I liked him at center, but he could play all three inside spots,” said a fourth scout. “I could see him as a starting center eventually. He was better vs. speed than power, but he can hold his own.”

5. Trey Smith, Tennessee (6-foot-5½, 321, 5.11, Rounds 2 through 5): “Is he going to pass medically?”

In the words of one scout, that’s the question hanging over Smith since he was diagnosed in February 2018 with blood clots in his lungs. He missed the last five games of that season when the clots reappeared, then was restricted in practice in 2019 and ’20.

“If he can overcome the blood-clot issue, you’ve got yourself a starting right guard who can play on a Pro Bowl level,” said another scout. “The toughness he played with reminded me of Kelechi Osemele. He’s not as long as Kelechi, but that size, that violence and that power reminded me of him.”

A five-star recruit out of Jackson, Tenn., Smith was a two-time Tennessee Mr. Football.

“He just hasn’t practiced,” said a third scout. “His play has really fallen off the last two years.”

His solid pro day included 32 reps on the bench.

“He’s a great kid,” said a fourth scout. “He started at left tackle as a freshman, which is crazy. He’s a big, stiff, super tough guy. He will step on your soul. But his balance is bad. He’s on the ground all the time. He’s got everything you want intangibly.”

Smith’s 41 career starts included 23 at left guard, 10 at left tackle and eight at right guard.

6. Brady Christensen, Brigham Young (6-foot-5, 302, 4.89, Round 3): His draft prospects gained some traction March 26 when the throng of scouts in Provo to watch quarterback Zach Wilson throw also saw Christensen’s superb workout.

“I think he moved up the draft board because he had a really good pro day and played well this year,” said one scout. “He ran a 4.9 (40) and benched 30 (reps). Had a really good workout athletically.”

The workout included shuttle-run times that were the fastest by guards.

“He had the big workout, but you don’t see (his) athletic ability on the field,” another scout said. “He is strictly an in-line guy who can’t adjust. No bend. Slow and wide with his hands, so guys get into his chest. Gives you good enough effort.”

From Bountiful, Utah, Christensen started all 38 games at left tackle the past three seasons, but arm length (32¼) might portend a shift inside. Went on a two-year mission to New Zealand before enrolling, so he’ll be 25 in September.

“Short-armed, played like it,” a third scout said. “I moved him to guard. In a zone-dominant offense, he could develop into a potentially solid starter. He looks light. Quick feet.”

7. Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame (6-foot-4½, 306, 5.23, Round 3 or 4): One of four Fighting Irish offensive linemen expected to be drafted.

“You think of Pittsburgh tough (Hainsey is from Monroeville, a Pittsburgh suburb), that’s what he is,” said one scout. “At the end of the day, he wins ugly. He doesn’t really move guys, but he wins with a stalemate. He needs to make contact first. High-effort technician. He’s going to play like 10 years. Coaches will love him. Once he’s in the building, it’s going to be tough to get him out.”

Strictly a right tackle in South Bend, Ind., starting 34 games for Notre Dame.

“He showed tremendous versatility coming to the Senior Bowl and playing center and guard,” said a second scout. “This guy’s going to start for somebody as an inside player. You don’t want to like him because of the way he looks. But man, you talk about a guy who knows how to play football. … I think he’ll end up being a really good starting center.”

8. Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (6-foot-3½, 315, no 40, Round 3 or 4): He declined an invitation from the NFL to attend the draft.

“That was smart,” said one scout. “He was a media-buzz guy for a long time. I think the media was even told to chill out on this guy.”

Bellflower, Calif., native was a two-time All-American after making 22 starts at right guard in 2019 and ’20.

“He kind of is what he is,” said a second scout. “I don’t feel he necessarily slipped (in 2020). Just maybe was overrated in some people’s eyes. Mid-rounds.”

Hard-nosed, power guard with long arms (33⅞).

“In 2019, he corkscrewed guys,” said another scout. “This year, man, he looked unathletic. He’s a worker, he’s a pro, but it’s hard to get on the table for him. And if he’s not starting at guard, he can’t play another position.”

Other top guards: Deonte Brown, Alabama; Ben Cleveland, Georgia; Kayode Awosika, Buffalo; Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame; Jack Anderson, Texas Tech; Royce Newman, Mississippi; Sadarius Hutcherson, South Carolina; William Sherman, Colorado; David Moore, Grambling; Will Fries, Penn State; Jared Hocker, Texas A&M; Dareuan Parker, Mississippi State.

Ranking the Centers

1. Landon Dickerson, Alabama (6-foot-5½, 333, no 40, Round 2 or 3): By now, his injury history is known to many: right ACL, right ankle surgery, left ankle surgery, left ACL. All three of his seasons at Florida State were cut short, as was the last of his two for the Crimson Tide.

“If you’re trying to re-establish a culture, he’s everything you want as a person,” said one scout. “He’s real. He’s just nasty. Only problem is the multiple surgeries he’s had.”

His second ACL injury occurred in December during the SEC Championship Game.

“He’s an oversized man in the middle,” said a second scout. “He’s got a lot of intangibles and leadership, toughness and all that. But he’s had three season-ending injuries in four years. For teams that run a wide-zone scheme, he’s really not a fit.”

His 37 starts include 20 at center, 15 at guard and two at tackle.

“Not a good athlete, on the ground a lot,” a third scout said. “I don’t like his stiffness. I don’t like this and that. But he’s a guy I want on my team. He’s my type of guy even when I look at him as an athlete. Fortunately, you’re not going to be able to work the guy out.”

Dickerson’s athletic testing presumably would have been less than stellar.

“It’s a wonderful story … but he’s not that good,” a fourth scout said. “He’s been hurt his whole life, and he’s limited athletically. Does the guy have any talent? No. Just a guy.”

2. Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma (6-foot-4, 302, 5.10, Round 2 or 3): Redshirted in 2017 before starting a total 37 games at center over the past three years.

“He’s a better fit than Dickerson for those teams that want more agility,” said one scout. “He’s a left-handed snapper, which five to 10 years ago was problematic because people were taking a snap under center. Now that everybody’s in the shotgun it doesn’t matter. If you draft him in the second or third round, you’d probably feel pretty decent about it.”

Helped himself on pro day with a respectable 40, a vertical jump of 33 inches and a 9-4 broad jump that paced the centers.

“I thought he was a better player than athlete, but his athleticism is deceptive,” said a second scout. “Watching him in person, he is a good athlete. He was a wrestler, and he plays like it. He has some limitations playing in space, but in a gap scheme, he’ll be good. He’s one of those old-school maulers who plays in a short area.”

Humphrey’s arms and hands were an inch shorter than Dickerson’s.

Added a third scout: “I’m not a big fan. I just thought he was a marginal athlete. He and the ’Bama center were kind of in the same boat. I just thought he was an average player.”

3. Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater (6-foot-3, 325, 4.99, Round 2 through 4): Leading prospect in the draft from the NCAA Division III ranks.

“He’s a Division III lineman who showed up at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and actually earned his keep there,” one scout said. “He got himself drafted in probably the third to fifth round. It’s an amazing story.”

From Hartford, Wis., Meinerz backed up for Whitewater, a small-college dynasty, as a freshman, started all 29 games at left guard in 2018 and ’19 and was idle in 2020 when the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which hasn’t had a player drafted since 2007, elected not to play.

“Oh, my,” said another scout. “I’ve heard people talk about him at every level of this draft, from the second round to free agent. He’s a really interesting player, there’s no doubt. He plays the game exactly how you want it played from an effort standpoint. You just want to see a lot more control. I could see somebody taking him in the second. I’ve got to go third on him.”

Shared the bench-press high among centers with 33 and had the longest arms (33⅝). Although center was foreign to him before showing up at Mobile, he worked there all week and now more teams appear to be evaluating him as a center.

“He’s getting pushed way up grade-wise because of the Senior Bowl,” said a third scout. “I think the college film is a concern. The grit, the determination, all that stuff checks out. There will be a lot of growing pains with him. But you have to love his strength and toughness. I’d be shocked if he went (top 50).”

4. Josh Myers, Ohio State (6-foot-5, 310, no 40, Round 3 or 4): Played mostly guard in high school (in Miamisburg, Ohio) and in his first two seasons for the Buckeyes before starting all 21 games at center in 2019 and ’20.

“He will be a starter,” one scout said. “The center position is smart, tough, reliable, and he’s all of those things. He’s a solid player across the board. No flash to him, but he’ll be a reliable player.”

Underwent turf toe surgery in January.

“He gets knocked back every once in a while, but all in all, he’s a good prospect,” said another scout. “Loves the game of football. Good with his snaps. He’s got size. He’s a technician. He knows how to turn guys.”

Has short arms (32 inches).

“Very limited,” a third scout said. “Slow. Not flexible at all. Top heavy. Limited-type backup.”

5. Drew Dalman, Stanford (6-foot-3½, 299, 5.05, Round 3 or 4): The fourth-year junior from Salinas, Calif., made 22 starts from 2018 through 2020, including 20 at center and two at right guard.

“He’s a better player than Nick Harris when he came out of Washington last year,” one scout said. “Really good hands. Really good at the second level. His bugaboo will be short arms. He’ll wind up being a starter.”

Arms measured in at 32 inches. His hands (10½), however, were the largest among centers. At pro day, his shuttle runs and bench-press numbers were outstanding.

“He’s a Nick Hardwick-type player,” a second scout said. “Undersized, but really athletic.”

Father, Chris, started 64 games at center and guard for the San Francisco 49ers from 1994 to 1999.

“Small and quick, but not Jason Kelce-quick,” a third scout said. “He’s a good athlete. Great athlete? Nah. I think he’s going to have some problems. Good luck playing (against) Baltimore. Those 3-4 teams will put a heavy nose over him.”

Other top centers: Drake Jackson, Kentucky; Michael Menet, Penn State; Jimmy Morrissey, Pittsburgh; Trey Hill, Georgia; Ryan McCollum, Texas A&M.

The Skinny
Unsung hero

Larnel Coleman, T, UMass: His arm length of 35½ inches, longest in this class of offensive linemen, earned him a double take from teams. He has good size (6-foot-6, 307 pounds), plays smart and has good athletic ability. A defensive lineman upon enrolling at UMass, he converted to left tackle on offense. He also has good leadership ability.

Scouts’ nightmare

Deonte Brown, G, Alabama: There’s a lot to like about Brown, a 26-game starter at guard over the past three seasons. He was an absolute load folding behind center on the Crimson Tide’s gap-scheme plays. In January, he showed up at the Senior Bowl weighing 364. He was 20 pounds less at pro day, but his 40 time of 5.57 was unsatisfactory.

Scout to remember

Ron Hughes: He directed the Lions’ personnel department for 17 years before Matt Millen arrived as general manager in 2001 and pushed him out the door. A decade earlier, Hughes had hired Kevin Colbert as a pro scout in Detroit. Colbert, then the GM of the Steelers, returned the favor by hiring Hughes as his scouting director, a position he held until his retirement in 2015. Just like Ron Wolf’s drafting system has been used by his protégés across the league, Hughes’ own drafting system remains in effect in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. Hughes, who maintained his residence in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., died in 2019. He was 75.



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That all seems pretty consistent with what we’ve been hearing. OL eval’s are all over the place; class depth is very good; Sewell is also likely to be very good but the “generational” talk is probably hyperbole. I’m encouraged by the number of tackles here who get tagged with “best as a RT or RG” since that’s where the Bengals’ biggest need is.

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1 hour ago, HoosierCat said:

That all seems pretty consistent with what we’ve been hearing. OL eval’s are all over the place; class depth is very good; Sewell is also likely to be very good but the “generational” talk is probably hyperbole. I’m encouraged by the number of tackles here who get tagged with “best as a RT or RG” since that’s where the Bengals’ biggest need is.

Frankly, this board and its analysis of this process since January has been pretty on point. We’ve properly ID’d the depth of the draft and also that Sewell may not have been a generational prospect and therefore a lock to go with the bengals pick at 5. And we generally came to that conclusion pretty early. 

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By the way, TJ, the Eichenberg notes from the scouts were more of what I had in mind. Does it put you more at ease about him? Because I think he would be my favorite for the Bengals at 38 even ahead of Leatherwood. 

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 Based on those comments above Leatherwood be my target over Eichenberg but both would be good picks.

The summary sounds like both are safe picks for starting roles.  G or RT. Leatherwood longer and more athletic. 

In order to nail the pick after going Chase I would hope for a RT prospect longer term. 

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He does, but the Notre Dame guys are exceptionally well coached on line and Eichenberg's arms probably have him at G mostly anyway - pretty sure he could slot into RG immediately next to Reiff and we are solid. I wouldn't hate Leatherwood either, obviously, but do like the program Eichenberg comes from in terms of impact in the NFL at his position. 

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3 hours ago, membengal said:

By the way, TJ, the Eichenberg notes from the scouts were more of what I had in mind. Does it put you more at ease about him? Because I think he would be my favorite for the Bengals at 38 even ahead of Leatherwood. 

thanks for that long doc.......

I'd still rather have Jenkins, Cosmi, Leatherwood, or Humphrey (pending info below) over Eichenberg

I know some folks see Humphrey as a third rounder, but I personally expect him to go in r2, so I am ok taking him at 38, and I definitely dont see him as a reach.  He starts at ORG (possibly even OLG depending on how things go, tho OLG seems set with XSF and Spain) for now, and heir apparent to Hopkins at OC

I did not know Humphrey snapped left handed.....is that a dealbreaker for New Guy?

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If Spencer Brown lasts until the third, I'd take him.  Very high ceiling, needs professional level coaching and a strength program.  If he pans out you have a good starting tackle, not that easy to come by in the third round.  

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