2020 NFL Draft at a glance
Better in 2020: QB, RB, WR, OT, CB, S
Worse in 2020: TE, OG, C, DL, EDGE, LB
|3||Jack Anderson||Texas Tech||6'4||320||JR|
|5||Netane Muti||Fresno State||6'3||308||rJR|
|10||Tommy Kraemer||Notre Dame||6'5||319||rJR|
Just missed: Sadarius Hutcherson (South Carolina) | 6'3/312
Potential riser: Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms (Missouri) | 6'4/330
Needs a leap: Jon Runyan (Michigan) | 6'5/310
Deep sleeper: John Molchon (Boise State) | 6'5/315
|4||Lloyd Cushenberry III||LSU||6'3||309||rJR|
|5||Darryl Williams||Mississippi State||6'2||310||rSR|
|8||Cohl Cabral||Arizona State||6'5||291||SR|
Just missed: Sean Pollard (Clemson) | 6'5/320
Potential riser: Keith Ismael (San Diego State) | 6'3/310
Needs a leap: T.J. McCoy (Louisville) | 6'1/305
Deep sleeper: Jordan Johnson (Central Florida) | 6'1/320
Top-10 Interior Linemen
1. C Tyler Biadasz (Wisconsin) | 6'2/318
The Badgers stole this Wisconsin native in recruiting. Though Biadasz had been named the state’s best senior defensive linemen, he wasn’t the cleanest projection to a starting role on that side of the ball in the FBS and therefore slipped through the cracks as a three-star recruit.
He received only one FBS offer, from the Badgers, who redshirted him in 2016. Wisconsin transitioned him to center despite the fact that Biadasz had never snapped a ball. As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Biadasz earned All-American honors.
In each of his first two seasons at the new position, Biadasz has drawn top-three PFF center grades in the nation. He posted an 86.7 PFF grade last fall despite battling nagging injuries. Garrett Bradbury was a TE and briefly a defensive linemen before NC State made him a guard and then a center, where he ultimately flourished. Biadasz likewise has proven to be a quick study.
Biadasz likely would have been a high second-round pick – perhaps going somewhere between 15-25 picks after Bradbury in April – had he entered the 2019 NFL Draft. Instead, he returns to campus as the undisputed top interior lineman in college football. Like Bradbury, Biadasz achieved technical mastery at his new position in a short period of time.
Biadasz fires out of his stance with speed, power and purpose. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of assignments and an innate understanding of responsibility, never fooled by blitzes, slants or stunts.
Biadasz gets to his target quicker than his target can diagnose, he latches on and doesn’t let go, he wins the leverage game, and his legs aren’t going to stop driving from there until the whistle blows. He clears out bodies on the second level.
Biadasz has a really good chance of cracking Round 1 if he tests as an above-average athlete, as expected. He's not on Bradbury's level in that area, but let's not nitpick. We’ve already seen Biadasz handle multiple NFL interior linemen the past few years as a green youngster. Odds are that he keeps improving.
2. C Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma) | 6'4/325
Like Biadasz, Humphrey was redshirted. Last year, as a rFR, Humphrey surrendered only one hit and didn’t allow a single sack. He ended the year as PFF’s No. 7 graded center.
Humphrey was playing on veteran Sooners team last fall with plenty of big personalities, but he still established himself as a leader on a line that included four NFL Draft picks in April – Cody Ford, Bobby Evans, Dru Samia and Ben Powers.
With those guys off to the pros, the spotlight turns to Humphrey. The youngster plays with supreme leverage and doesn’t make unforced errors. He was dominant throughout his debut campaign until he met up in the playoffs against man-child Quinnen Williams. You’ll forgive him for not dominating that matchup.
Humphrey also doesn’t have Bradbury’s athleticism – no center does – but he’s advanced beyond his years in technique, making adjustments, picking up the blitz and switching off his man.
Because of his build and play strength, Humphrey additionally offers the possibility of covering both guard positions in a pinch or evening transitioning to that position if his NFL team has a bigger need there. That kind of stuff reads like a throwaway line at the end of scouting reports, but it’s not. Pat Elflein’s ability to play guard, to use one example, is going to extend his starting window in the NFL. The more you can do, the less risky your draft evaluation becomes.
Humphrey has late-R1 ceiling with a floor of Day 2. And he still has three years of eligibility to play with if he doesn’t make a leap this fall.
3. OG Shane Lemieux (Oregon) | 6'4/317
The brutish Lemieux is a four-year starting left guard for the Ducks with 38 consecutive starts entering the fall. Lemieux has already taken 2,599 snaps, and in most of them has doled out a max serving of punishment.
Even more impressive than the long starting lineup tenure is the noticeable improvements he’s made every season. Lemieux earned a 54.7 PFF grade as a freshman in 2016, a 66.3 grade as a sophomore, and an 83.9 grade last fall. If he improves enough this fall to threaten 90.0, I think you’re going to hear Round 1 talk over the winter. There are a few things he needs to work on to get there.
Lemieux is a body-mover, a dark-alley guard. His work in the running game is outstanding, a mix of huge power and must-win mercilessness. He’s also not a stiff. Lemieux is a danger to linebackers when climbing to the second level. He’s not perfect in this phase – he gets stood up when he's in a hurry and sprints in high instead of coming in under control and loaded up – but he’s shown enough ability to win on the move to not be dismissed as a phone booth guard.
But Lemieux remains a work-in-progress in pass pro, and that can be seen in his PFF pass pro grade (79.0 last year, compared to 84.8 as a run blocker).
Whereas he’s a natural in the run game, Lemieux gets unnaturally wide in pass pro, ready to set his heavy anchor. But this works against him – he’s not going to lose the power battle to many interior linemen, so widening to double-down on that strength doesn’t make sense.
All it serves to do is freeze him in place, with less possibility of lateral movement to counteract pass-rushing moves. In addition to that, Lemieux’s hands lose their effectiveness the further they have to travel. Those mitts will control you in the run game, but when they’re used to jar and direct in pass pro, Lemieux can look tentative, as though unsure of whether he should sit back and play under control or say screw it and charge.
Lemieux is going to appeal to a power-run team that has an offensive line coach who trusts himself to teach the fundamentals. If Lemieux can acquire those in pass pro, he could develop into a Pro Bowl guard.
4. OG Ben Cleveland (Georgia) | 6'5/335
A heralded recruit, Cleveland impressed immediately with a 72.0 overall PFF grade as a part-time true frosh in 2017. He earned the starting RG job in 2018 and was awesome for a month – not allowing a single pressure – before breaking his left fibula.
Cleveland ended with an elite 90.9 pass-pro grade in that small sample. A former star baseball slugger, Cleveland’s hand/eye coordination and ability to move fluidly are the skills of a smaller man.
He’s a 335-pounder who fires out of his snap quickly and blasts fools with power. Cleveland is a bully who’s out for blood on the football field, perhaps the reason he chose the gridiron over the diamond.
At present, Cleveland is inexperienced (569 career snaps) and unrefined in his approach. As with teammate Andrew Thomas, Cleveland too often leans on his natural gifts and gives in to his desire to demoralize opponents with violence as opposed to merely securing his block and moving to the next play.
He needs to prove he’s healthy, and he needs to learn to play with more control and purpose. If he can refine his approach and improve his technique, the sky is the limit.
5. C Nick Harris (Washington) | 6'1/302
Harris’ play took off after he was shifted from guard to center in 2018. He finished last season with the second-lowest pressure rate allowed among returning Pac-12 interior lineman, per PFF. All this despite battling nagging ankle and knee injuries.
Harris doesn’t look like much – he’s built like a metal garbage dumpster outside an apartment complex – but he packs a lot of power into that boxy frame. Harris fires off the snap and uses his hands well, skills that play up his muscle-heavy play style.
As a sort of response to his athletic limitations and lack of length, Harris has compensated by always charging forward and being the aggressor. Often that works. But he can be given fits by clever players that use this style against him, allowing Harris to lead the interaction with the intention of countering him once he’s over-committed.
Forever leaning forward, Harris leaves himself open to getting clowned. I concede that I may be too high on Harris, that limitations Pac-12 defenders are unable to exploit will be picked on by quicker, smarter NFL interior defenders.
But Harris is a proven commodity who has the leg-driving firepower and the dine-in-Valhalla play style that appeals to me (as a former overachieving high school center). He might not have All-Pro ceiling, but I could see Harris starting in the NFL for a long time.