As the NFL draft approaches, We Sport offers you five players per position who should liven up the nights of April 29 to 1er may. After the quarterbacks and the receivers, place to the offensive line!
Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon – Sophomore)
Perhaps the greatest talent of this cuvée outside of the quarterbacks and the frenzy that surrounds them. Born in American Samoa, Penei Sewell is a wall on the blind side of the offensive line. With a physique that does not go unnoticed (nearly 2m00 and 150kg), this force of nature quickly established itself as one of the best in his position in the NCAA, notably winning theOutland Trophy, honoring the best offensive lineman in the country, and being unanimously elected All-American in 2019.
If Penei Sewell’s size and strength turn heads, other aspects of his game should not be neglected. Mobile and agile for his size and weight, he also has a set of legs and so-called violent hands, combining almost all the assets needed to protect the blind side of any NFL quarterback for the next fifteen years. Vocal leader in Oregon at just twenty years old, he is expected in the top 5, proof that his absence from the field in 2020 has not lowered his rating, just after the quarterback race that promises to be in the top 3.
His statistics in 2019 (14 games, opt-out in 2020): 927 snaps, 0 sack conceded, 7 presses (2 QB hits, 5 QB hurries)
His NCAA stats (21 games): 1377 snaps, 1 sack conceded, 14 presses (3 QB hits, 11 QB hurries)
His achievements: All-American First Team (2019), Outland Trophy (2019), Morris Trophy (2019), Co-Polynesian College Football Player of the Year (2019)
Rashawn Slater (OT, Northwestern – Junior)
Right tackle then left tackle in college, Rashawn Slater is a versatile player who has proven his worth during his studies at Northwestern. With excellent technique and interesting mobility, he was able to prove himself useful on the passing game but also against the race thanks to his ability to win at the right time. Slightly less powerful than the average, his qualities are however largely sufficient not to consider him as a potential top 10 of the next draft.
Also absent from the fields in 2020 due to the health crisis, Rashawn Slater would meet the needs of the vast majority of franchises with needs on the offensive line. If we spoke to you about his versatility just before, however, he will have to succeed in finding his definitive position with the professionals, he who could start as a guard and that some observers would even see evolve in the center of the line.
Its statistics in 2019 (11 matches, opt-out in 2020): 787 snaps, 0 sack conceded, 5 presses (1 QB hit, 1 QB hurry)
His NCAA stats (25 games): 1835 snaps, 2 sacks, 21 presses (2 QB hits, 19 QB hurries)
His achievements : –
Christian Darrisaw (OT, Virginia Tech – Junior)
Little quoted when he left high school – Virginia Tech was the only university to make him an offer – Christian Darrisaw was able to reveal his full potential in the NCAA. A very reliable player on the outsides of the line, he has a good center of gravity, impressive balance and post-snap lateral displacement that make him a formidable player against the pass. While he may be relying a little too much on his physique, he is nonetheless an intelligent player who will still have to work on his technique.
Expected high enough in the draft, to see him slide further than twentieth place would be a huge surprise, Christian Darrisaw will however have to hope in a franchise that sticks with his style of play. Much better against the pass than against the race, he would suffer from falling into a ground play-centric attack even though he managed to adapt to that style of patterns with the Hokies.
His statistics in 2020 (10 games): 669 snaps, 0 sack conceded, 6 presses (6 QB hurries)
His NCAA stats (35 games): 2317 snaps, 7 sacks conceded, 28 presses (7 QB hits, 21 QB hurries)
His achievements: All-ACC First Team (2020)
Alijah Vera-Tucker (OL, USC – RS Junior)
We told you about Rashawn Slater’s versatility, but what about Alijah Vera-Tucker’s versatility? Initially guard for his first two seasons at USC, he was deported (successfully) to the left of the line in 2020. “He was good on guard and he looks even better as a tackle!“ said of him a scout of an AFC franchise, proving that this Oakland kid is already turning heads.
All the same call to play indoors among professionals, it could nevertheless help out a franchise in need of a solution on any position. Mobile, intelligent and always on the move, this Californian by birth makes many observers salivate, until being compared to Marshall Yanda by former player Willie McGinest. As with Christian Darrisaw, seeing him out of the top 20 seems literally unthinkable.
His statistics in 2020 (6 games): 466 snaps, 4 sacks conceded, 4 presses (2 QB hits, 2 QB hurries)
His NCAA stats (28 games): 1533 snaps, 5 sacks, 11 presses (3 QB hits, 8 QB hurries)
His achievements: All-Pac-12 Second Team (2019)
Teven Jenkins (OT, Oklahoma State – RS Senior)
If the first four names mentioned are indisputably top 20 in power, there seems to be a slight gap with the peloton of pursuers. Still, Teven Jenkins is increasingly emerging as the fifth offensive lineman to hear his name at the upcoming ceremony. The only senior in this top 5, he was able to prove to Stillwater that he should be counted on in the NFL.
A powerful player with violent hands and very aggressive, he has established himself as one of the best racing linemen of this vintage. If the length of his arms and his level against the pass pose a few questions, such as his ability to evolve on the outside and avoid repositioning as a guard, the Topeka, Kansas native is ready to contribute as soon as he arrives in the NFL. and to settle as a holder from his first game.
His statistics in 2020 (7 games): 448 snaps, 0 sack conceded, 4 presses (2 QB hits, 2 QB hurries)
His NCAA stats (32 games): 2324 snaps, 2 sacks conceded, 30 presses (3 QB hits, 27 QB hurries)
His achievements : –
Special Mentions: Liam Eichenberg (OT, Notre Dame), Wyatt Davis (OG, Ohio State), Dillon Radunz (OT, North Dakota State), Samuel Cosmi (OT, Texas), Jalen Mayfield (OT, Michigan)
Image credits in one: Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images