The NFL Draft is just around the corner. With the New York Jets in the market for offensive linemen, here is a breakdown of my top available prospects. I included a film grade for each, derived from watching at least three games and giving them a grade out of 100 that factored in things like hand use, footwork, bend, technique, physicality, and effort. Follow me on Twitter and check back over the next two weeks where I’ll have additional offensive line analysis for potential Jets picks.
The Top 5
1) Brandon Scherff, Iowa (6’5″, 319) Film Grade: 86
I had a lot to say about Scherff on Twitter in the months leading up the draft. At that point, I just didn’t get what the pundits were seeing that made him the sure fire best OL prospect. Scherff’s 2014 tape is nowhere near as good as his 2013 tape. After reading about his 2014 knee injury, it made sense. Even watching his 2014 tape, it was clear to me that he has the tools to be the top OL in this draft, but I was disappointed with his inability to finish and stay with blocks. The knee injury had to be the cause of this shortcoming, because Scherff finished blocks and played with “block to the whistle” type effort in 2013. I don’t see this being a long term issue and Scherff should be a Pro Bowl caliber player at the next level. He isn’t as dominant of a college player as Zach Martin was, but similar to Martin, he is extremely well rounded. He should experience similar success as all signs point to a move to guard.
2) Andrus Peat, Stanford (6’7″, 313) Film Grade: 84
Recently, Stanford Offensive Lineman have been a little overrated heading into the draft. Andrus Peat appears to be the exact opposite this year. Despite very little fanfare, Peat is the best pure tackle prospect. He plays with excellent knee bend and regularly generates power through his hips. He also has the best kickslide in this draft. He reminds me a lot of D’Brickashaw Ferguson from a technical standpoint. I would like to see him get a little more consistent particularly in run blocking as he’s often happy to be a positional blocker instead of a finisher. Ultimately, Peat has the tools to be a perennial Pro Bowler if he can get more consistent and continues to ascend. (#70 below).
3) La’el Collins, LSU (6’4″, 305) Film Grade: 82
Revealing a little bias, Collins is my favorite lineman in this draft. I love the way he plays the game. He is easily the most physical offensive lineman that I’ve scouted in the last three years. When you read scouting reports, people will often call linemen “Road graters” or “Maulers”. These are clichéd terms that people use when they don’t know what to say about offensive linemen. The term actually rings true for Collins. He finishes blocks in the run game and has more pancakes than an IHOP. Because of this style, he can be a bit of a leaner. This is something that can hurt a lineman in the NFL if their style of play isn’t adjusted slightly. In the pass game, I see a little bit more of a need for improvement especially when it comes to hand usage. He also has a tendency to stop his feet on contact and has gotten beat on stunts and twists a number of times. Collins is one of those linemen that is very difficult to scout because he was pretty dominant in college but has some flaws that will hurt him at the next level. He does have positional versatility though and could be a potential stud at guard or right tackle if he improves balance and footwork.
4) DJ Humphries, Florida (6’5″, 307) Film Grade: 82
Humphries is a well rounded offensive lineman who is equally as good a pass blocker as he is a run blocker despite some technical flaws. If La’el Collins wasn’t in this draft, Humphries would be the most physical prospect by far. All you have to do is watch his tape against LSU for proof. Despite his nasty demeanor, he also is one of the more natural athletes at his position and is very good run blocking on the second level. The biggest area he needs to improve is his punch which can be incredibly erratic. One of the major concerns scouts seem to have with him is his inability to gain weight throughout his college career.
5) Ereck Flowers, Miami (6’6″, 329) Film Grade: 79
Flowers might be the strongest lineman in the entire draft. Not only did he have the high bench press mark at the combine, but his incredible strength shows up on tape, especially in the run game. He crushed Randy Gregory a few times in the Nebraska game. While his pass protection is solid for the most part, there are some technical issues that will be difficult to fix. He often struggles with his lateral footwork and has wide hand placement that sometimes allows defenders to get their hands inside first. Flowers may be in for a move to guard or right tackle where he has a lot more potential.
6) Cameron Erving, Florida State (6’5″, 313) Film Grade: 78
Erving is a versatile and highly intelligent offensive lineman as he played both left tackle and center last year for the Noles. He was very serviceable at center and has a chance to develop into one of the better ones in the league if the team that drafts him plays him there. At 6’5″ though he may end up at guard or tackle.
7) Laken Tomlinson, Duke (6’3″, 323) Film Grade: 78
Tomlinson opened my eyes at the Senior Bowl when he was doing really well in one on ones against the likes of Danny Shelton. He is a big guard who anchored Duke’s line for four years. He is not the greatest athlete and he does have some bend issues, but he consistently gets movement, particularly at the first level. He’s also stout in pass protection and incredibly smart as I didn’t see him get fooled by stunts or blitzes once on tape. (#77 below).
8) Jake Fisher, Oregon (6’6″, 306) Film Grade: 76
An extremely athletic prospect who has a lot of potential. He has a lot of the same issues Kyle Long had coming out of Oregon, but also shares his potential. Fisher needs to improve his hand use and pad level, but his footwork is one of the best in this class. I would love to see him add more physicality to his game.
9) Donovan Smith, Penn State (6’6″, 338) Film Grade: 73
Smith has been getting some hype recently since getting an invite to attend the NFL Draft. Although Smith has a lower film grade then some other prospects, he has big time potential especially if he is moved inside to guard. Smith has a lot of things to work on, but he could be a Pro Bowler if he puts it together. The biggest issue is some lazy tendencies you see on film. Despite some struggles to control weight, Smith has some pretty ridiculous measurables. A little bit of a risk, but the reward can be incredibly big for the team that drafts him and motivates him.
10) Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (6’5″, 306) Film Grade: 75
The next in a long line of potential first round Aggie offensive tackles, Ogbuehi has an uphill battle to climb after suffering an ACL tear at the end of the season. When healthy, Ogbuehi is probably the most athletic lineman in this draft. He has excellent feet, but his lack of power is a concern for me. He needs to get stronger and still has a way to go mentally. With recent reports that his recovery won’t be an issue he may find himself drafted in the first round.