Bring The Beef
By: Robert Craft
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
The 2021 NFL Draft’s offensive line class has depth and volume at the position.
The O-line class’s first three rounds are even better than the studs from a year ago.
All the players below are expected to be Top-50 picks, they include both tackles and interior blockers. Protecting franchise quarterbacks from harm is worth these big guy’s weight in gold.
This class features several first round prospects that are versatile enough to play as interior or bookend protectors in the NFL.
1.Penei Sewell, OT, 6-6, 325, Oregon; Sewell opted out the shortened Pac-12 season and is a better prospect than the four tackles who were high first rounders last April (2020 NFL Draft – Andrew Thomas, Jerdick Willis, Mekhi Becton and Tristian Wirfs).
Sewell is an excellent athlete with real quickness on the edge. He pops out of his stance, gets his hands into the chest of defenders and has quick feet for speedy end or LB blitzes.
He is dangerous when he slips to the second level and gets nasty with bullying linebackers and defensive backs. Top 10 selection easily.
- Rashawn Slater, OT/G/C, 6-3, 306 Northwestern; Slater is a quick and agile athlete.
Given his lack of height and length, he might be a better fit on the inside line at guard or center. Watching the 2019 tape versus Ohio State’s Chase Young (NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year), Slater did not give up a sack, a quarterback hit, or even a hurry. Top 15 selection
- Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/G, 6-4, 315, USC; Vera-Tucker has versatility playing to left guard in 2019 and left tackle in 2020.
Vera Tucker is an easy mover with athleticism, quickness and agility. He can glide next to speed rushers with ease.
He is a natural knee bender, who maintains great leverage while avoiding bending at the waist. He does a nice job of scrapping and keeping his hands fighting to sustain blocks. Top 20 selection
- Christian Darrisaw, OT, 6-5, 314, Virginia Tech; Darrisaw has good size that fits his mean streak well.
He shows efficient slide quickness in pass protection as well as being a bulldozer in the run game. While he shows the ability to manhandle defenders, he tends to take plays off.
Darrisaw needs to become a more consistent and disciplined finisher and improve his hand engagement. Mid to late 1st round
- Teven Jenkins, OT, 6-6, 320, Oklahoma State; Jenkins opted out in late November after suffering a lower back injury.
His Pro Day physical will be important for his draft position. Jenkins is a big edge protector who is extremely strong at the point of contact.
He doesn’t relinquish any engaged block until he either pancakes his opponent or removes them completely from the play. He has a nice, fluid, side to side kick slide and easily mirror’s edge rushers. Mid to late 1st
- Liam Eichenberg, OT, 6-5, 305, Notre Dame; Eichenberg is not viewed as the same caliber of athlete as the top 5 on my list, but he has NFL measurables and impeccable fundamental blocking skills make him a solid bookend offensive tackle.
Eichenberg has to expand his use of angles to defend speed rushers. He has accurate hand strikes and a demeanor to offset his lack of lateral mobility. Late 1st early 2nd,
- Sam Cosmi, OT, 6-6, 295, Texas; Cosmi is raw undisciplined talent that needs development, but athletically he is a freak, about on par with our top 5s ability.
Cosmi blocks with quickness and urgency in pass protection, usually marrying his eyes with his hands and maintaining a square base. Cosmi needs to get bigger and stronger to compete at the next level. Late 1st early 2nd
The 2021 NFL offensive line draft class has impact players at guard, tackle and center; the offensive line is one of the positions that stand out as a strength in this year’s draft.