This is the sixth installment of my 2021 NFL Draft prospect rankings series, following quarterbacks, running backs, a two-parter on wide receivers (WR1-9 here, WR10-50 here), and tight ends. We'll be back next week with interior offensive line rankings.
Before we hop into the column, I want to encourage everyone to check out NFL Draft War Room with Thor & Lindsay, a live NBC Sports EDGE original Twitch show every Wednesday at 8 pm EST where I sit down with NFL agent Lindsay Crook and talk NFL Draft. This week's episode, Lindsay and I will be discussing offensive tackle rankings and pro day results.
1. Penei Sewell (Oregon) | 6'5/325
Comp: Trent Williams
The last time we saw Penei Sewell, in 2019, he’d just become the first-ever offensive sophomore to win the Outland Trophy (nation’s top interior lineman) and only the third player in school history to be named a unanimous first-team All-American (joining LaMichael James and Marcus Mariota).
Sewell finished that season as the top-graded offensive lineman in Pro Football Focus history (95.5). He ranked No. 3 in the country in pass-block grading (91.1) and led the nation in run-blocking grade (95.3) and big-time blocks (13). The year before, Sewell proved, as a true freshman, to be one of the Pac-12’s best offensive lineman.
Sewell missed six games during that 2018 campaign with a high-ankle sprain, and he opted out in 2020, so we haven’t seen him on the field as often as almost every other recent top-10 overall offensive line prospect. But the tape we do have is definitive: Sewell is the best offensive lineman I’ve evaluated in the five years I’ve been doing this.
An athletic freak with an enormous frame -- Sewell has weighed 350 pounds in the past but is probably best suited at his current 325 pounds -- Sewell combines thunderous, elephantine hand pop with the light feet and short-area pounce of a tiger.
Sewell uncoils like an industrial-sized loaded spring off the snap, with tremendous force and accuracy. Elite quickness gives Sewell a head-start in every rep. On wide-zone runs he can hit the edge-rusher’s outside shoulder with a jolt and shuffle his feet to put his body between his man and the ball with unheard of haste.
Like a shortstop with incredible range, Sewell’s quicks allow him to win down and seal blocks that other tackles wouldn’t even attempt, lacking the explosion and footwork. Extremely mobile and agile in general, Sewell is a head-hunter in the second level that sends linebackers and defensive backs flying.
It is true that Sewell isn’t quite as good in the pass game as the run game at the moment. This is mostly semantical. Sewell dominated in that facet at Oregon, allowing just one sack over 1,375 career snaps. As a 19-year-old 2019, his only full campaign, Sewell didn’t allow a pressure, hurry or QB hit in nine of his 13 starts.
Sewell sets up quickly in pass-pro with a sturdy, wide base. He invites his man try to run around him, a dead-end, mouse-taking-the-cheese maneuver -- Sewell is too quick and agile, he’ll shuffle you around a clean semi-circle of the quarterback, or, if you try an inside counter, turn your momentum against you, a well-timed punch sending you crashing to earth or spinning out of orbit.
The power Sewell generates from his uncoil is unavailable to him in pass pro, and, though he throws mean hands, Sewell’s technique can suffer when he isn’t allowed to be the bully. Against bull-rushing power, there were instances of Sewell getting caught playing too high, losing his leverage and getting walked back.
Surprising to see Superman without his cape, and this was one of the few kryptonite-instances you see Sewell defanged in the wild. This isn’t a power issue, it’s a technique issue. Sewell doesn’t have an elite anchor, but his pass-pro play strength is more than adequate. Instead, he loses to power when power wins inside leverage early, the only time you see any panic in Sewell, losing his feet and pad-level while desperately trying to re-assert dominance.
Sewell is still a baby -- he won’t turn 21 until his rookie season. His 2019 season, one of the most dominant we’ve ever seen, came as a greenhorn 19-year-old. He’s one of the most explosive, agile 325-pound-plus offensive linemen that we’ve ever seen enter the NFL.
And football runs in his blood, with his uncles Isaac Sopoaga and Richard Brown having played in the NFL, and all three of his brothers currently playing FBS ball (Noah, a linebacker, was a teammate at Oregon, while Gabriel is a LB at Nevada and Nephi is a DB at Utah).
Penei Sewell is a top-five overall prospect in the class.
2. Rashawn Slater (Northwestern) | 6'4/315
Comp: Zack Martin
Dominant as a junior in 2019 -- Penei Sewell is the only other tackle in this class outside of Slater that had a 90.0-plus PFF grade that year -- Slater opted-out in 2020 after a sterling three-year starting career at Northwestern. Over 787 snaps in 2019, Slater didn’t allow a sack, and only once did his man so much as touch the quarterback. Freakish athleticism in a big package runs in the family -- his father, Reggie Slater, was a 6-foot-7 power forward that played eight years in the NBA.
Picture an ideal tackle prospect that has been condensed into a smaller frame by a compactor -- that’s Slater. He’s 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, with his mass and muscles packed tight. At Northwestern’s pro day, he proved to be an elite athlete, as expected, finishing above the 95th percentile in the 40 (4.91), vertical (33’), shuttle (4.45), 10-yard split (1.68) and bench (33) -- ultimately finishing with a 9.74 (out of 10) RAS score (Slater ranked as the 30th-most athletic tackle out of 1,108 in Kent Lee Platte’s system from 1987 to 2021).
Slater measured in with 33-inch arms. He told reporters that NFL teams haven’t expressed concerns about his ability to stay at tackle. The only tackle at last year’s NFL Combine that measured with shorter arms was the 6-foot-6 Ben Bartch (32 ⅞”).
The lack of length didn’t hinder Slater in the Big 10 -- he started at right tackle in 2017-18 before shifting to the left side in 2019 -- but would make him one of the NFL’s most reach-disadvantaged tackles. Slater’s length is just about smack-dab average for league guards.
Because of what he’s proven at the college level, I’m ranking him at tackle, and hoping he gets an opportunity to start there. The dominance over a three-year sample speaks for itself, with Slater shutting down a procession of NFL edge rushers during that time (per PFF’s Austin Gayle, Slater allowed only two pressures over 80 pass-blocking snaps against Chase Young, Zack Baun, A.J. Epenesa and Kenny Willekes).
On the outside at tackle, Slater overcomes a lack of length with elite feet and ridiculous quickness. He’s a cork out of a champagne bottle off the snap, arriving like a hangover, with feet finer than the glass of a flute. Slater consistently has his hat on the right side with his vicious hooks dug deep and his cleats ripping up divots in the run game.
He’s not a mauler, but when Slater wins early position, as is almost always the case, he has you close to dead rights. Linebackers hate seeing him in the second level. Slater descends on them so quickly that if they haven’t diagnosed the play immediately, they’re toast -- there is no escape once Slater is on your doorstep ready to knock.
In pass protection, Slater’s combination of quick set, smooth feet, active/strong mitts and yogi’s core strength and balance tend to entirely mitigate his lack of length. He has a heavier anchor than expected when needed, dropping it on stunned power rushers that believed they had the answer to solving Northwestern’s stubby All-American. Still, going fire-on-fire with Slater inside is almost assuredly your best shot, since you aren’t going to beat him around the corner.
Slater also probably boasts the highest football IQ of any offensive lineman in this class, with eyes-in-his-earholes awareness on stunts and blitzes. This is an extremely unique thing to see on a collegiate offensive linemen’s tape -- you don’t see it every year. Quenton Nelson is a recent prospect that had awareness so high he appeared to be watching the game on All-22 and controlling himself like a video game. Slater’s like that.
Slater provides true five-position versatility, and will almost assuredly turn into a Pro Bowler at one of those spots. His length won’t get him into any unexpected problems inside, but I’d take him with the expectation I’m going to let him fail down the offensive line spectrum.
Slater would be a spectacular fit on a team like the Vikings, which needs multiple starting offensive lineman and has long-term pieces with the versatility to move if needed (Brian O'Neill to the left side, or Ezra Cleveland from guard to right tackle). An organization like that could audition Slater in camp at multiple spots and go with the configuration that makes the most sense after boots-on-the-ground experimentation.
3. Christian Darrisaw (Virginia Tech) | 6'5/314
Comp: Duane Brown
Arguably the best offensive lineman in the country last season, Darrisaw capped off a three-year starting career at left tackle in 2020 by posting a national-best 95.6 PFF grade while allowing zero hits or sacks on 293 pass-pro snaps. Darrisaw’s run-blocking (94.5 PFF grade) helped Virginia Tech finish in the top-10 of the FBS in rushing yards per game and elevate RB Khalil Herbert into a legitimate NFL prospect.
It was an incredible collegiate ride for a guy who was mostly recruited by FCS schools coming out of high school. Darisaw took the only Power 5 offer he received, spent a year at prep school post-graduation, and locked down the Hokies’ left tackle job for three years after that. You don't see that.
Darrisaw is a sub-sea-level-firing, low-man-wins hammer in the run game that refuses to lose the leverage game. If you watch Khalil Herbert’s tape, you’ll notice that runs to the left offer consistent free yards, not only re-setting the line of scrimmage backwards, but creating all kinds of cutback lanes in Virginia Tech’s zone scheme, some of which led to breezy run-on-the-beach explosive Herbert runs where he didn't exert himself much outside of that first cut and accelerator stomp.
Darrisaw is also extremely adept on the move upfield, keeping his head on a swivel and hunting with purpose. Because of his feet and movement, his accuracy rate hitting targets on the move is extremely high. Once Darrisaw makes contact with a linebacker, they’re moving backwards if they're lucky enough to keep their feet.
Darrisaw isn’t the tallest left tackle, but he’s a long-armed technician with electricity in his hands to keep you on the outside. Darrisaw plays with a nice strong foundation and is rarely seen teetered or over-extended. His oh-so-smooth feet and clean, under-control shuffles allow him to remain in front of his man from a power base, ready to uncork those puncher’s fists if the enemy's facemask gets too close to his chest.
Darrisaw saw freaky developmental jumps every year he was on campus, and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue improving. You can see the gains he made in every area, including penalties, where he went from six as a freshman to three combined in his final two years. Darrisaw was mythical in the ACC, rarely beaten, like The Mountain in Game of Thrones.
When he was, it was generally with outside speed when he was fooled or because of an unforced error in the run game, such as pulling up before the whistle. Some say that's a lack of finishing fire, but I'm willing to cut some slack for a guy that clearly made a conscientious effort to play with more discipline his last two years on campus before heading to the NFL. Darrisaw has no weakness that can’t be addressed by coaching, and thus must be rated as a top-3 tackle, even in a strong class like this one.
4. Teven Jenkins (Oklahoma State) | 6'7/320
Comp: Joe Thuney
In contrast to Oklahoma State’s finesse reputation on offense, Jenkins brought violence and bad intentions to the Pokes’ attack every game over his three-plus-year starting career. A brawling barroom bouncer that seeks to drop opponents, Jenkins gave up no sacks and only two hits over the last two years.
Jenkins sets up in pass-pro at desired depth with a wide, powerful base. He has dynamite in his hands, but Jenkins has the commendable discipline to not throw until his man breaches the edges of his reach. You don’t see him get out over his skis to land a blow, and when he connects, it’s generally a wind-stealer into the chest that creates distance and stalls or outright kills the enemy’s momentum.
Jenkins’ biggest weakness in pass-pro is something he can’t do anything about: For all the talk of Rashawn Slater’s lack of length, Slater, despite giving three inches to Jenkins, actually has the slightly longer reach (Jenkins’ arms were measured just under 33-inches).
While Jenkins’ outstanding hand usage allows him to play slightly longer than he is, stretched-out, long-levered edge rushers at the next level could give Jenkins issues. Those types, rare in the Big 12, create problems for Jenkins by putting their hands on him first, saving themselves the high-wattage pop of Jenkins’ punch while creating enough separation to try to take his outside shoulder en route to the quarterback.
It's a given that Jenkins will provide his team with one of the class’ best run-blockers (elite 93.6 PFF run-block grade last year). He’s a load moving forward, always coming with bad intentions. Jenkins planted Big 12 edge rushers in the dirt with the crazed dedication of your obsessive, green-thumbed aunt. Jenkins uses a forklift approach, torque and leverage, getting low, exploding through the hips at contact.
Once he’s got those powerful hands on you and sets the hook, you're coming into the boat. Jenkins’ upper-body strength, core balance and feet render recovery attempts from the enemy a long-shot. In OSU’s spread scheme, which thinned boxes, Jenkins proved to be a second-level killer, springing Chuba Hubbard home runs by taking linebackers' scalps with impunity.
Jenkins’ biggest issue outside of his arm-length at present is his brawling mindset. It’s turned him into the player he is, so we don’t want to discourage him too much, but when the aggression spills over into bloodlust, as has been the case before, Jenkins gets caught, as they say, with his pants down. In the run game, that manifests when Jenkins goes for the kill shot instead of the easy seal, losing control of his base by using his body as a projectile instead of a human wall.
Though primarily Oklahoma State’s starting right tackle the last three-plus years, Jenkins has collegiate snaps at left tackle and both guard spots. If I’m taking him, it’s as a right tackle, where his issues with length and speed around the edge won’t be as problematic. Jenkins will immediately improve any team’s run game while providing above-average pass protection long-term in that post.
5. Dillon Radunz (North Dakota State) | 6'6/301
Comp: Brian O’Neill
The Minnesota Golden Gophers have gotten plenty of heat -- justified, and from myself included -- for not offering Minnesota native QB Trey Lance (Marshall) a scholarship. The Gophs should also take heat for not securing his blind-side protector. Radunz, from Becker, Minn., received only two FBS offers, and only one from the P5 (Mizzou) before ultimately deciding to sign with NDSU. Lance and Radunz were the premier QB/LT combo in the FCS, and would have been in the FBS as well. Alas.
Radunz profiles as a zone tackle, with outstanding athleticism and limited play-strength. At NDSU’s pro day this month, Radunz submitted a 9.3 RAS (out of 10, remember), ranking as the 79th most-athletic tackle in Kent Lee Platte’s metrics since 1987 (out of 1,109 OT prospects). Radunz’s 7.26 second 3-cone drill ranks in the 99th percentile of all tackle prospects, while both his vertical and broad jumps are in the top-75 among all OT prospects since 1987.
Naturally, Radunz explodes off the line, hitting his target with accuracy and pop. Radunz plays with an edge moving forward as a run-blocker, belying his finesse profile, working to the whistle to de-cleat his opponent. Radunz fires out low, but he does have a breakable habit of overcompensating for lack of elite natural play strength by sometimes forgetting to keep a sturdy base as he hurls himself into a collision, a habit NFL defenders will pick up on and make him pay for if not corrected.
When he’s on in pass-pro, Radunz is under control, playing with outstanding balance, lateral agility and core strength. When he’s off, it’s because of user-errors. Radunz is at his best when he’s settled back into his hips from a nice, wide base. He invites edge defenders into his space and drowns them with length and strength in a grappling match. He’s at his worst when he starts popping up, with a thin base, when he tends to lose his balance from a well-timed club.
I love athletic tackles with a mean streak -- Radunz is most certainly my type. But while I fully expected him to make a star-turn in 2020, Radunz was unfortunately limited to only game due to NDSU’s season being moved to the spring. A jump-up in competition is coming for a guy that has fake-it-til-he-makes-it movement skills and Pro Bowl-upside -- if he patches the glitches, no sure thing.
6. Samuel Cosmi (Texas) | 6'7/310
Comp: Taylor Decker
Take 1: Many Texas recruits don’t match the hype. Samuel Cosmi, a lowly three-star prospect not ranked in the top-100 OTs in his class by the 247Sports composite, vastly exceeded his. A recruiting find of former HC Tom Herman out of Humble, Tex., Cosmi flipped from Houston to Texas when Herman’s offer stood at his new school (the only P5 offer Cosmi received). Cosmi packed on 30 pounds of bulk during a redshirt year and then earned Freshman All-American honors in 2018 as the starting right tackle. He was an All-Big 12 selection each of his last two years, including First-Team in 2020. Cosmi’s PFF grades improved from an eye-opening 79.7 in 2018 to an elite 90.8 last year.
Then Cosmi entered the draft process and proceeded to make an argument he’s one of the most-athletic tackles ever to enter the league, posting a 9.99 RAS score and finishing with the second-best athletic profile of any tackle entering the NFL since 1987. Cosmi's 40 (4.87), broad jump (9’9), short shuttle (4.39) and bench (36) all ranked top-15 all-time for tackles. We didn’t even need those results to know Cosmi moves like a tight end. And we know he has plenty of upper-body pop and a veteran's understanding of his assignment. What else do you want the guy to prove to call him a first-rounder?
Take 2: Cosmi is less than the sum of his parts and got away with patty-cake games in the Big 12 that won’t fly in the NFL. He’s a good athlete, sure, but he's stiff in the hips, a guy who loses power and balance in pass-pro by playing too high. He'll never be confused with a road-grader in the run game, either, more of a seal-off sort. And for a supposed elite athlete with high-end brute strength, why doesn’t Cosmi fire off the ball with more quickness and force? Why isn’t he automatic in the second level?
He may move like a tight end, but there are times he’s spending too much time looking for a target, or not connecting flush with one because he’s hunting too high and lurching down into contact, allowing defenders to change the strike zone on him in close quarters and steal his power post-collision. Cosmi’s habit of upright play is also his bugaboo in pass-pro, where rushers with agility can get him off-balance and crossed-up, and power rushers can drive him back if they're able to breach his reach (and at 33’ inch arms, Cosmi's not as long as his frame suggests).
The truth: As always, it’s in-between the two. Cosmi is a fabulous athlete with an ideal frame, good upper-body strength, and a strong sense for what he’s doing. But despite his vast improvement at Texas, Cosmi never started playing consistently low, likely because he can’t. Opponents erase Cosmi’s athletic and strength advantages when they win the leverage battle and get him on his heals. K'Lavon Chaisson, for one, was able to do so in the 2019 opener.
Cosmi’s lack of flexibility will hurt him in the NFL against star-caliber edge rushers, and in these instances his team may have to help him out with chips or an extra body. But he’s going to be too-much for lesser rushers to beat, and he’s reliably going to complete his assignment in the run game, maybe just not via Mortal Kombat decapitation, and perhaps not with quite as much move-block range as his athletic profile suggests he should be capable of.
7. Jalen Mayfield (Michigan) | 6'5/319
Comp: Dion Dawkins
In another reality, Mayfield may have had a Jedrick Wills-like rise in 2020, finally putting his tools together and dominating over a full season. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the talented-but-inconsistent Mayfield as much as we would have liked in 2020, as he opted back into the season but ultimately suffered a season-ending high-ankle sprain in his second game.
Mayfield is a people-mover in the run game, detonating off the snap as though his legs and hips were set to a cadence timer. Mayfield fires out with murder on his mind, striking with speed and big power that uncoils out of his hips on contact and sustains because of his fabulous leg drive -- those pistons will not stop until Jalen Mayfield hears a whistle. Believe that. He’s also a weapon on pulls and in the screen game.
Pass blocking is going to be more of an adventure early on at the next level. Mayfield is far more comfortable moving forward on the snap than settling back into a pass-pro base. He loses all sorts of power when he isn’t able to accelerate into contact, and is susceptible to getting walked back into the quarterback’s lap by power ends who get through his reach and into his chest.
Mayfield also got toasted by speed a few times in college in instances where he overcompensated for his average foot speed and lack of length by getting frustrated and trying to land a premature strike. In the moment, Mayfield can forget his length limitations with these early-throws, and it has the effect of pulling him up and forward, over his skis, at the moment his opponent is dipping low to snap off a clean corner.
With only 15 college starts, and only on the precipice of a potential level-up on the field, Mayfield presents plenty of risk. But luckily, even if he never improves in pass-protection on the edge, he projects as a stellar run-game hammer at guard. Mayfield is only 20, and he remains raw. His drafting team could take him with the idea he’ll start at guard in Year 1, and potentially kick to right tackle if needed in Year 2.
8. Liam Eichenberg (Notre Dame) | 6'6/305
Comp: Riley Reiff
Like Riley Reiff, Eichenberg is a sturdy scrapper that plays with excellent technique and know-how. Eichenberg, a former four-star recruit, was a 38-game starter at Notre Dame. He began his career playing with NFL stalwarts Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey and Ronnie Stanley.
Eichenberg isn’t as athletically-gifted as Stanley, nor as Herculean as Nelson, nor as lengthy as McGlinchey. But he makes it work in pass-pro as a technician with an advanced degree in depth and angles, forcing edge defenders into low-percentage predicaments. He’s a superb run-blocker, firing out low and quick to win at first contact and establish leverage, showing outstanding leg drive and a finishing instinct from there. This aspect of his game will translate, no problem.
Eichenberg profiles as a strong starting right tackle in the NFL. Speed rushers on the blind-side may give him fits. Because even though Eichenberg forces these players to take the long-path to beat him, they can steal home on him when Eichenberg loses his patience and over-extends beyond his skates to throw a lackluster punch, leaving the back door open without impediment or opening up inside-counter opportunities that’ll cross him up.
If he can clean up this bugaboo, which seems reasonable given the enthusiasm with which he took to technical aspects of his craft, he profiles as an above-average starting NFL tackle. Preferably on the right side.
9. James Hudson (Cincinnati) | 6'4/302
Comp: Charles Leno Jr.
A fascinating case of prospect-finding-position, Hudson began his career as a ballyhooed four-star defensive end at Michigan and ended it as an NFL-caliber left tackle at Cincinnati, transferring after his redshirt freshman season as the Wolverines themselves were transitioning Hudson to the other side of the ball.
Hudson popped off the screen during Cincy’s run to a New Year’s Day bowl this season, playing with intriguing agility and athleticism and an unmistakable surliness that dances close to the line of unnecessary violence and crossed that line once, in his last game, the Peach Bowl against Georgia, when Hudson blasted a defenseless corner (Tyson Cambell) after the whistle.
Hudson’s incredibly soft feet were what formerly made him a top edge-rushing recruit. They have turned him into a dangerous weapon in the run game, where he fires out of the chamber low ala his defensive days and is able to reach any block and execute, descending on linebackers with a sort of euphoric glee.
Those tap shoes may also give Hudson a shot to stick outside in the NFL -- even at left tackle if everything works out -- because you aren’t beating him with movement. Right now, James Hudson is either bested by power, or by James Hudson himself.
There are snaps he looks cumbersome and uncoordinated in his shuffle and mirror, where he goes rogue and wants to instigate a hand fight, not let his prey come to him when he’s under-control and balanced. With only 11 career starts, Hudson is a ball of clay. But he makes a lot of sense for zone teams that want ambulatory, second-level head-hunters at tackle.
10. Alex Leatherwood (Alabama) | 6'5/312
Comp: Cam Robinson
A five-star, top-five overall recruit coming out of high school, Leatherwood lived to to expectations in Tuscaloosa, capping a three-year starting career by winning the Outland Trophy (nation’s top lineman) and earning first-team AP All-American honors in 2020. He arrives in the NFL with potential four-position versatility, having extensive starting experience at both left tackle and right guard.
Leatherwood is a good athlete with a freakish 85 3/8" wingspan. This combination alone can stymie edge rushers, who find it difficult to get inside Leatherwood’s reach and into his chest or beat him around the corner with speed. In other words, Leatherwood has all the tools necessary to deal with either power or speed.
Leatherwood sets up at depth quickly and stays in front of his man in long, coordinated shuffles. Because of his length and agility, Leatherwood is very difficult to beat outside. But despite his pedigree, vast experience at the highest levels of college football competition and mantle full of trophies, Leatherwood arrives in the NFL with questions. He remains a finesse tackle that loses at the collision point too often.
Unlike Penei Sewell, who uncoils from his hips into contact and drives his feet, Leatherwood can be a tentative striker, stooping clumsily, feet stalling at impact. In pass-pro, the width he plays with allows edge rushers to knock him off balance with a club or counter. And Leatherwood’s hand usage unfortunately remains inconsistent, which has the effect of cleaving his prodigious length down to size.
Leatherwood is also a penalty machine (averaged 0.67 penalties per game over his final 30). A penalty machine that struggled mightily at the Senior Bowl and against the better speed rushers he faced in college (K’Lavon Chaisson, Azeez Ojulari, et al). He's also on the older side (will turn 23 as a rookie). With technical refinement and a more aggressive attitude, Leatherwood could be a steal. Without it, he’s sure to disappoint.
11. Brady Christensen (BYU) | 6'6/300
Comp: Eric Fisher
Christensen was one of the nation’s best tackles last season, leading a top-10 national offensive line that allowed QB Zach Wilson to rarely see pressure despite constantly hunting for deep shots. Christensen posted the best PFF grade of any tackle in the nation (96.0) and became BYU’s first consensus first-team All-American since Dennis Pitta in 2019.
Over his three-year starting career, on a tick over 1,400 pass-pro snaps, Christensen allowed only three sacks and two hurries, showing good technical acumen, with strong hands and soft feet working in concert. Christensen’s short arms lead to issues against long ends, and he gives away leverage when he starts playing high. He's also an older prospect, having served a two-year mission before his freshman season. But Christensen offers a potential early NFL starter at a sticker-price discount.
12. D'Ante Smith (East Carolina) | 6'5/294
Comp: George Fant
Smith was a four-year starter at ECU that was limited to one game due to an undisclosed injury last season. Due to his experience, quick feet, and enormous 85-inch wingspan, Smith holds strong developmental appeal as a potential starting left tackle on the draft-day cheap. As he showed at the Senior Bowl, Smith is most impressive in pass-pro, staying in front of his man with easy shuffles, and getting him locked outside with octopus arms.
But Smith lacks play strength and got rag-dolled by power ends at ECU, something he’s going to need to fix (to his credit, Smith appeared stronger at the point-of-attack in Mobile than his tape professed, either a sample-size aberration -- entirely possible -- or a sign his Achilles Heal may soon be strong enough to stop arrows).
Smith remains technically inconsistent in pass-pro, opening himself up to counters when he cheats with those long arms, Ahab tumbling off the boat attempting to spear a whale outside the length of his line.
I'm intrigued, but not enough to over-pay with this high of a risk profile -- I'll pay a small premium if I run a zone scheme and have the roster leeway to sink a year of development into a highly-mobile tackle with cellphone-reception reach. But I know, in so doing, that this is a fixer-upper that'll need to put in off-hours to add muscle.
13. Walker Little (Stanford) | 6'7/320
Comp: Luke Joeckel
The former top-10 overall recruit is the 2021 NFL Draft’s mystery man at tackle. Life comes at you fast (as if we needed to tell Foster Sarrell, Little's teammate and fellow top-10 overall recruit in 2017; Sarrell is ranked below, so low he's been deprived the respect of a write-up Little is about to receive).
Little retains his ideal frame and smooth technical prowess, two components that made him one of the country’s most sought-after recruits just a few years ago. But we haven’t seen Little since the 2019 season opener, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Little then decided to opt-out in 2020.
Little struggled with speed in the pass game and a lack of power in the run game earlier in his career, when high-end Pac-12 edge rushers circled on their calendar the opportunity to embarrass one of the most-hyped offensive linemen in Pac-12 history. Little is going to need to clean up his deficiencies, because his long frame and lack of drive power aren’t going to work inside at guard. He's a high-octane risk-reward proposition that could develop into a high-end starter or be escorted out of the league quickly.
14. Spencer Brown (Northern Iowa) | 6'8/314
Comp: Dennis Kelly
A towering three-year starter for Northern Iowa, Brown put on 90 pounds in Cedar Falls to make the leap from eight-man high school TE/DE to NFL-caliber offensive tackle prospect. Brown still moves like his tight end days, offering a length/movement/range Rubik's cube for the defense.
But Brown plays too high, sapping him of natural power and inviting bull-rushers into a foundation that isn’t always strong enough to absorb the blow. Brown is an intriguing prospect due to his length, mobility and dedication to improvement. All of that mitigates his floor a bit. But Brown has got a ways to go to become an above-average NFL starter.
Best of the rest...
15. Robert Hainsey (Notre Dame) | 6'4/302
16. Alaric Jackson (Iowa) | 6'6/318
17. Josh Ball (Marshall) | 6'8/350
18. Adrian Ealy (Oklahoma) | 6'6/328
19. Brenden Jaimes (Nebraska) | 6'5/300
20. Tommy Doyle (Miami OH) | 6'8/326
21. Landon Young (Kentucky) | 6'7/305
22. Dan Moore Jr. (Texas A&M) | 6'5/309
23. Cole Van Lanen (Wisconsin) | 6'5/312
24. Will Fries (Penn State) | 6'6/313
25. Drew Himmelman (Illinois State) | 6'9/315
26. Foster Sarell (Stanford) | 6'7/314
27. Greg Eiland (Mississippi State) | 6'8/335
28. Stone Forsythe (Florida) | 6'6/329
29. Grant Hermanns (Purdue) | 6'7/293
30. Syrus Tuitele (Fresno State) | 6'5/305
Check out the rest of Thor's 2021 NFL Draft work here: