Summer Scouting: Top 5 Offensive Linemen
1. Evan Neal
Complete disclosure before I extol the virtues of Alabama’s new left tackle, I am somewhat uncomfortable having Neal atop my offensive lineman rankings. Yet to take a down at the most important spot on the line, Neal still needs plenty of development work. He can over reach and get sloppy with technique leading to him spending time on the deck. However, he is versatile, having played downs at guard and tackle and is an athletic freak. Neal has the physical upside and traits to be a dominant tackle at the next level. The signs point to that being the case in 2021, but there does remain work to do.
Best Trait: Athleticism
2. Kenyon Green
Texas A&M get another offensive player in their respective top 5 rankings. This time it is offensive lineman Kenyon Green. Having been a guard in the last two years, 2021 will be a huge year for Green as he seeks to prove he can be effective on the outside of the offensive line. While Green may be undersized ever so slightly for the tackle spot he makes up for it in power. He has excellent drive through the lover half of his body and is very strong in the run game where his hard work has helped Isaiah Spiller be so successful. If he proves he can hang at tackle then his stock will soar further.
Best Trait: Lower body power
3. Tyler Linderbaum
Following on from the likes of Tristen Wirfs, Brandon Scherff and Bryan Bulaga, Tyler Linderbaum should be the next early round offensive lineman taken out of Iowa. At 6’3, Linderbaum can sometimes lose leverage battles but those are few and far between. Where he excels is in physicality and having the nimbleness to get to the second level or pull and block wide lines for the running game. Linderbaum conceded no sacks last year and a fantastic PFF grade of 91.5. Another solid showing and he should be the first center off the board with ease.
Best Trait: Toughness
4. Jaxson Kirkland
If you are a team searching for a longer offensive tackle then you will want to take a look at Washington Huskies’ tape. In left tackle Jaxson Kirkland they have one of the top players at the position. Although he only showcased that ability over four games last year, you would be hard pushed to bet against him improving in 2021. While he could serve to bulk up his 295lbs frame, he stonewalls opposing rushers with ease. Light on his feet for a man of his size, his biggest worry is wide-9 rushers who are often more of a problem for bigger tackles. Kirkland’s arm length should go some way to allay those fears.
Best Trait: Impact absorption
5. Ikem Ekwonu
On the face of it NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu has plenty of work to do as a left tackle. Last season he allowed seven sacks and five QB hits. That resulted in a disappointing pass blocking grade of 55.3. However, the tape tells a fuller picture of what Ekwonu can do. He is a fast and physical blocker who lays the foundation in the running game. He has heavy hands with one blow having the ability to knock a blocker off his feet. If he can become a more rounded prospect the NC State product has a high ceiling.
Best Trait: Heavy Hands
FCS Prospect to Watch: Trevor Penning
As a run blocker, Penning shows impressive power to raise anchors and create movement backward. In equal measure, he displays intelligent directional blocking to seal off defenders and open holes for his running back. While the footwork is strong, his upper body technique can improve. There’s a tendency to lunge into contact by folding at the waist. The balance can be compromised by some lapses in leverage and pad level.
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com