Line ‘em Up

Harry

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Tackles are typically the best of the offensive linemen. Often they may get their early playing time at guard. Sometimes they start at right tackle and move to left. I know someone on the board will post that’s outdated thinking and top rushers come from both sides. However look at who’s paid the most and note where LTs are ranked on a list of top tackles, left tackles usually dominate. So pure guards, while moving up in recent years are still ranked behind top tackles. This is a good year for offensive linemen. Still I’ve noted several players would be better at guard than tackle. The problem is there are never enough tackles so some players will be forced to play outside. The reason the offensive linemen selection won’t set first round records is this draft is so deep in “skilled positions.” So, offensive linemen are expected to drop. Good ones will still be there in rounds 2 & 3, maybe even later. BTW, Michigan and Boston College are always on this list. They have a history of producing special offensive linemen. Scouts pay attention to things like that.

Evan Neal is so good I’ve actually talked with people who feel he might be the first pick in the draft. An OT was the first pick the last time in 2013. He’s certainly the safest selection in this draft. He’s been relatively unbeatable. He’s played LT & RT with equal success. Prior to moving to tackle, he played well at guard. His agility is unreal for an athlete of his size. He’s an awesome drive blocker who clears running lanes. Many view him as the top run blocker in the draft. He is tough and highly competitive. He has occasional issues with speed rushers. He does have a tendency to lean and can actually take himself out of a play. He has legacy connections. He is a very alert player who is rarely penalized. He has good but not elite footwork.

Ikem Ekwonu is one of the best drive blocking, run blockers in college. He’s a road grader. He’s successful because he has an ideal frame with great strength and agility. He has that wrestling background all scouts like. He shows good footwork and outstanding balance. He capable of second level blocks and excels at hitting moving targets. He has a great motor and will stay engaged until the whistle blows. He’s a work in progress as a pass blocker, but the traits I’ve mentioned would indicate he has the tools. Still he needs polish on hand placement and lunging. He does anchor well and can absorb power rushes. He could potentially play immediately at guard and preferably with a run first team like Indy. He is very competitive and aggressive. This can cause him to get too aggressive pass blocking and take himself out of a play. He is truly a mean dude. He has Pro Bowl potential. His name means “my effort will not go in vain.” I don’t do comparisons but he reminds some of Dobler.

Charles Cross is adept at pass blocking. He’s the whole package with speed, size, agility and burst. He allowed only 16 pressures on 719 pass-blocking plays in 2021. He’s has very polished technique so he should transition rapidly. He’s quite coachable but has a nasty streak in the game. He likes to punish his targets. He is intensely competitive. Cross has good game smarts and is exceptional at picking up blitzes and stunts, like pass offs. He maintains excellent balance and is adept at swallowing up impact rushers without losing significant ground. Coaching changes forced him to transition from a run based offense to an air attack. At this point he’s a much better pass blocker, but he can still get beaten by looping speed rushers. He learns quickly though. He figures to be pursued by a pass dominant team.

Kenyon Green played guard and tackle in college. He has good balance and agility. He has excellent football IQ and recognizes stunts and blitzes. He an excellent athlete with burst and bend. He uses that consistent, exceptionally low bend to maintain good leverage. When at tackle he can mirror and slide taking an appropriately wide stance. Green struggles with speed rushers. He a decent run blocker who moves his target when he hits it with a powerful, initial punch. He has surprisingly long legs and get good extension when he engages. He’s very strong and swallows up bull rushers. He also effective at trap blocking. He was mostly used as a run blocker but he pass blocked effectively at guard. He tends to lunge at times and will take himself out of plays. Does not have a nasty streak. He’s likely solid at tackle, but a Pro Bowl guard

Nicholas Petit-Frere has talent but puzzling inconsistency. He’s very fluid and can cover considerable ground. He’s good at mirroring and physically tying up rushers. He’s very quick and is rarely penalized. He doesn’t have an elite span, but he has the balance and strength to anchor effectively. He’s sound at run blocking showing good burst to gain advantage. His balance is solid on the run and he mostly hits what he aims at. He has quick feet and can rebalances when engaged. He’s played both LT & RT. He has an occasional tendency to lean and can be knocked off balance. He gets lost in space sometimes and can be fooled by outside fakes that roll to the inside. He is not fully developed and has attractive upside.

Trevor Penning might be more highly ranked if he’d faced tougher competition, though a few see him near the top of this class anyway. He looked good in the few major school games he played. As it is he needs work on technique but has outstanding potential. He also has a major mean streak and can be tough. He can get overly aggressive and be penalized. Better technique should help. He is big, strong and very fast. His weight room numbers are legendary. If he hits you, he’ll impact you. He is quick out of his stance and has a nice kick slide. Coupled with his long arms, it’s challenging to loop around him. However, he needs to get better at sustaining blocks. Like all tall tackles he can get too upright. He is less agile then and can whiff on a block. Oddly small, fast rushers seem to give him more trouble than big bodied ones. Penning can get fooled by stunts. He’s a bit of a project but a high reward case.

Bernhard Raimann played against a lower level of competition. In a year of great diversity a tackle from Austria still stands out. He did an excellent job of pass blocking. A former TE, he exhibits good agility. He’s a powerful drive blocker with good burst. He can adjust laterally. Raimann is effective sealing off rushing lanes. He has surprisingly good strength for his frame. He can anchor but he’s only ordinary, not elite. He has a good motor and finishes the play. When he does not make his bend he can be bull rushed. He also lurches allowing strong rushers to push him aside. Raimann doesn’t seem to have a nasty streak. As a tackle he’s a major project. He looks better to me as a guard.

Daniel Faalele is likely the most fascinating guy on this list. Since he’s 6’9” and weighs 380, I’m not certain Murray field vision wouldn’t be blocked by him. Only 5 years of football experience (from Australia) means he’s got much to learn. He also sat out 2020. He’s very coachable and should be a staring tackle for years to come once he gets established. If he just anchored, going around him would slow a rusher. He has long arms and huge hands. His hand size is 4XL. Combined with his strength he often simply knocks rushers off balance. A former basketball player, he’s surprisingly balanced and quick. As a run blocker he is aggressive, but doesn’t always take good angles. His size helps him seal the edge. He has long arms added to his height, which makes it hard for rushers to grip and pull him aside. He gets beaten by speed rushers, polished moves and doesn’t always recognize blitzes. He has trouble getting low because of his height. He doesn’t display that nasty streak I like. It’s scary to think how good this guy could be if he fulfills his potential.

Zion Johnson is a solid guard who needs to learn better passP blocking. Speed rushers eat him alive even with his long reach. His best skill is run blocking and he excels at pulling. He is capable of getting to the second level to block. He has good hands and is hard to shed. He has a natural bend and exemplifies good leverage. He recognizes blitzes and stunts, readjusting his feet well. He has good balance with sufficient strength to absorb bull rushes. He does have a tendency to lunge and when he does he can be knocked off balance. His lateral movement is limited and he doesn’t always respond quickly enough to reset.

Jaxson Kirkland is yet another decent pass protector, though Hutchinson destroyed him in their meeting. He has good feet and displays good balance, but he lacks elite quickness. Kirkland has a long, lean body, but his strength is concentrated in his lower body. He’s very quick when anchoring using his lower body strength for torque. His long legs allow him to set a wide base. He maintains good leg drive. Kirkland has good hands making him hard to shred. He has a great motor and plays with very high energy. He probably fits better as a guard or perhaps right tackle. He’s not an elite athlete. He is not a great blocker on the move. He can be stiff in space and whiff entirely. So far he’s made it by overcoming his limitations. That will be harder to do in the NFL.

Kellen Diesch does a fine job in pass protection. However, he only played one full season. Texas couldn’t figure him out so he transfer to ASU, slamming into 2020. Finally played a real season in 2021 and showed impressive talent, giving up only 2 sacks. He’s light for a tackle but has the frame to add muscle. He is, however, strong. He’s also quick and agile with good footwork. He has good burst and is quick off the snap. He excelled at screens, maintaining balance and executing second level blocks. In pass blocking he bends well and sets up with a wide, balanced stance. He has good football IQ. His light frame makes him susceptible to speed rushers. He is not a sound drive blocker but adding size will help. He needs to also improve technique as he’s too easily shed.

Max Mitchell needs to show his performance against a lower level of competition could be sustained against the big boys. To do so he must build more strength. He’s shown quick hands and feet. He’s been good on the move whether pulling or targeting second level blocks. Doesn’t always stays squared off and can be spun out of position. When he’s able to mirror he’s far more effective. When he concentrates he displays good positioning. Mitchell exhibits good football IQ identifying stunts and blitzes. He lacks the nasty gene. He has that tendency to lean which makes him easier to knock off balance.

Darian Kinnard is massive and absorbs rushers. Just looping around him slows the rush. He is surprisingly fast with quick feet. In run blocking he’s capable of getting to the second level. He also uses this quickness to adjust to blitzes and stunts. He mirrors well and has a powerful punch. He has strong hands and is hard to shed. He does need to improve his hand placement. He can be very aggressive and tenacious. He is a solid anchor when he chooses his position well, but sometimes he engages before he establishes himself. Kinnard is a bit of a prospect but a patient team could win big in a couple of years.

Sean Rhyan is valuable because he’s a solid run blocker who only allowed 1 sack this season. Good strength and balance, he excelled in field events as well as football. These skills have helped him develop a powerful punch. Regarding run blocking he understands leverage and stays low when engaging; a definite knee bender. He’s especially effective in short yardage. A sound drive blocker, his balance is sufficient to allow him to make second level blocks and beyond. He blocks well on the move, hitting the vast majority of his targets. He has that mean streak I like on the O-line. His short arms ian be an issue against a speed rusher. Occasionally he misses completely. As a pass blocker he sometimes straightens up too much and gives up leverage. He also compromises himself with poor hand placement. He may have a concentration issue as he’s sometimes slow off the snap. Rhyan struggles with long armed players. He may have a brighter future at guard.

Thayer Munford is most serviceable as a pass blocker. He gets by on speed and agility rather than power, though he anchors okay. His agility let’s him play well in space and hit targets on the move. When he hits the target, he usually moves it. However, his best run blocking is short yardage, since he stays low coming out of his stance. Once he gets moving he can get to straight up and lose leverage. When he engages he can get flat footed and be knocked off balance. A team player, he volunteered to move inside to guard to allow OSU to get its best linemen on the field.

Jamaree Salyer his length likely restricts him to guard, though he has tackle experience and could serve as a backup. He’s a fine drive blocker who may have concerns about endurance. When at the top of his game he’s one of the best run blockers in this draft. He’s big bodied and his pure size helps him anchor. He does, however, need significant work on pass blocking technique. He suffered a major foot injury which could drop his position with some teams. I didn’t see him play nasty. He’d be more popular if there were more run first teams.

Lecitus Smith is a solid primarily run blocking guard who finally has started to show some pass blocking aptitude. He’s been slow learning to corral speed rushers but may be catching on. He’s a solid athlete with good burst. He’s outstanding in space and can block effectively on the move. He has a good base and can effectively anchor. Add in his strong leg drive and it’s apparent why it’s hard to move him out of the way. Some rushers have been successful handling Smith by manipulating angles, especially rushers with great reach. Believe it or not he’s an accomplished chef.



Centers (most can play guard)

Tyler Linderbaum is a true athlete who some rate as among the top 10 players in the draft. He’s a perpetual motion machine who’s fast and smooth. He frequently delivers second level blocks. He plays to the whistle and finishes blocks . He has that valued wrestling background. His frame should allow him to add even more muscle. He’s a smart player who readily diagnoses stunts and blitzes. He often takes out more than one rusher. He’s a solid anchor in pass protection. He is unusually strong. He displays exceptional footwork to maintain balance. He very good at absorbing bull rushers. Unlike the guys who snap for the Cards, he rarely has a bad exchange, though primarily under center action.

Dehnovan West shows good technical skills. He seals his edges well and is a skilled trap blocker. He studies defenses and identifies blitzes and stunts consistently. He could be effective as a guards as well due to fluidity and balance. He anchors well and knows how to absorb bull rushers. His punch is decent at college level but he will need to add force to be NFL effective. He allows himself to get to upright giving up leverage. He needs to focus power better when drive blocking but can hit second level targets on the move.

Jarrett Patterson displays good strength and balance to anchor. He’s a decent blocker on the move for screens. He’s fairly long, so he has a good blocking radius. He’s solid picking up stunts and blitzes. Not a great athlete, second level blocks often elude him. When he encounters longer defenders he can get shed. He’s not especially agile and has trouble in traffic. The result is he sometimes ends up off balance.





















 

Krangodnzr

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If the Cardinals could snag Ekwonu.

That dude is a straight killer. He could go toe to toe with Donald in a year or two and win. So strong and so tough.

Easily one of my favorite players in the draft.
 

football karma

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Linderbaum is a guy to watch and a guy the Cardinals shouldn't pass on if available.
in the FWIW category: i see him falling into the 20s in various mock drafts.

the fact that Harry says he could play guard as well sure seems like a good pick: starts at guard, slides to center in 2023.
 

AZman5103

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To me its Edge or CB if there is a guy there that STARTS in 2022. If not I'm going O-Line all day. I wouldn't care if we went O-Line in the first 2 rounds.

IMO we should be looking to replace DJ and our RG. Pugh can restructure and stay with Beachum and Hudson.
 

Krangodnzr

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To me its Edge or CB if there is a guy there that STARTS in 2022. If not I'm going O-Line all day. I wouldn't care if we went O-Line in the first 2 rounds.

IMO we should be looking to replace DJ and our RG. Pugh can restructure and stay with Beachum and Hudson.
I want an edge player too, but if Ekwonu was there, he has the potential to neutralize a great interior DL. That makes Murray a lot more effective.
 

Krangodnzr

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Well he's an NC ST guy & so is Keim so.........you may get your wish?
Ekwonu will be LONG gone by the time the Cardinals select. Dude straight dominated DL physically last year, and should be able to step in and dominate average NFL lineman immediately.

Guys like him are pretty easy projections: Massive, strong, and good feet = high floor and high ceiling.
 

Chopper0080

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It will be interesting to see which players are available when we pick. Kenyon Green would be a nice add. Zion also a good player but is a little more limited. Probably a better option if we traded back in round 1 or to the top of round 2. Linderbaum is really good.

I think Ekwonu, Neal and Cross will all be gone. If one of them lingers, I believe each of them would be worth making a small move up for. Similar situation to the Wirfs/Wills/Thomas/Becton year.

A lot of this depends on how we view our line moving forward. Humphries and Pugh both have contract situations that need to be adjusted. There is a chance one could go, both could go or both could be extended. It is tough to tell right now especially when we do not have much behind either of those two players. If both are back it will be a tough sell to fans to take another first round player to sit behind an average vet. RG is open.
 
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