We have reached week two of my positional draft rankings and it is time to look a little into the trenches, with the top interior linemen on either side of the ball.
This group of includes all centers and guards, which also means the collegiate tackles who I expect to move inside at the next level.
Back in December the interior OL class did not look overly exciting, but with a few very talented centers deicing to come out this year already, there is much more to talk about. Overall this list is ruled by the center position, with two easily earning top-50 grades and seven altogether in my top ten.
Here is the list:
1. Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
After starting out in a local high school in Camden, New York, Ruiz spent his last two years at Florida IMG Academy and left as the top center prospect in the country. At Michigan he appeared in ten games as a true freshman, starting half of them at right guard. The last two years, Ruiz has started every single game at center, earning third- and second-team All-Big Ten selections for a team that heavily relied on their run game and defense.
This is a very athletic center prospect at 6’3”, 307 pounds with 11-inch hands and a massive pair of ass and thighs. Ruiz displays great mobility in the hips and can roll them through contact to create movement. He plays with excellent leg-drive in the run game and lands on plenty of defenders. He also brings good movement on combo-blocks and finds his targets on the second level. When he does get himself in a bit of a stalemate, Ruiz can torque the pads of the defenders and still open up room late. He was also used as a puller out to the edge or up the hole quite a bit. When he climbs to the second level or gets out in space in the screen game, Ruiz does a great job throttling down before initiating contact and rarely misses his targets. He has the agility to excel in a zone-running attacks, but also create push on double-teams in gap schemes, already having performed very well in both at the collegiate level.
Ruiz is a candidate to be left on an island in pass-protection, showing excellent ability to mirror defenders and a strong anchor to not give up ground. When he is part of slides, he does a nice job guiding those rushers past the quarterback when they try too hard to get around him. You see excellent balance to recover if he gets into some sub-optimal positions and re-place those hands. When he isn’t matched up with somebody directly, Ruiz keeps his head on a swivel and he has also shown excellent lateral agility on designed rollouts. Ruiz didn’t surrendered a single sack and just nine total pressures on almost 500 pass-blocking snaps last season. He was also highly impressive in all the on-field drills at the combine, looking very natural going through the entire workout, as well as running a 5.08 in the 40 and having some of the best leaping numbers among the O-line.
However, Ruiz plays with a little too much extension at times, instead of really getting into the frame of defensive linemen – especially in protection. I also wouldn’t mind seeing a little patience in that area of them game and cut off the path of rushers instead. He did not do great at exchanging assignments with his guards on interior D-line games and either one of the blockers involved ended up being a little late to pick up the defender. I think Ruiz could also drop a good ten pounds with some excess weight in the mid-section.
This is a prospect who can probably play any of the three interior spots for pretty much any offensive system and make an early impact. While there might be more powerful or more mobile interior offensive linemen in this draft, Ruiz is right up there at the top when it comes to the total package. I would not be shocked to see hear his name called somewhere in the mid-20s as that guy who seems to move up boards late in the process each year recently.
2. Lloyd Cushenberry II, LSU
A three-star tackle recruit from Louisiana, Cushenberry didn’t get a scholarship from his home-state Tigers until the last minute, when he immediately changed plans. In year one he was in a reserve role and contributed on special teams, but as a sophomore he became the full-time starter at center. Last season he once again started all of LSU’s 15 games on their road to national title, earning first-team All-SEC honors on the way. Cushenberry also became the first offensive linemen to receive the honor of wearing that coveted number 18 jersey for the Tigers, even though he had to go with 79 due to NCAA requirements, which led him to wearing the honor in form of a patch.
This young has as a unique body type at 6’3”, 315 pounds with a thick frame, large 10 ½-inch hands and ridiculously long arms for a center at 34 ½ inches – that’s longer than Jadeveon Clowney. Cushenberry plays with excellent pad-level in the run game and rolls his hips through contact. He does a great job setting up his teammates on combo-blocks by turning the shoulders of defensive linemen while having his eyes on his linebacker. He is highly mobile when it comes to climbing to the second level and he doesn’t overrun his fits, rarely letting guys get away from him. Cushenberry got down the field on screen passes and led the way for LSU’s talented group of skill position players quite a bit. He certainly has enough junk in the trunk to work in a gap-based rushing attack while obviously having excelled in the zone game as well already.
Cushenberry and the rest of the interior O-line provided great pocket integrity for Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow all of last season. The center displays an extremely sturdy base to absorb power rushers and stopped some of the powerful defensive tackles in the SEC. When he gets his hands inside the chest of defenders and can sit in that chair, you basically don’t even have to watch anymore, because you know nothing will change about that. Cushenberry had a tremendous Senior Bowl week, where that ability to anchor against bull-rushers and consistently playing with good leverage was apparent throughout his time in Mobile. He was basically the only one who could challenge South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw and was the best offensive lineman there.
When you look into the less common statistics, going from eight total pressures allowed in 2018 to a whopping 34 last season is pretty concerning, even when you consider that his pass-blocking snaps increased by 172. As great as Cushenberry is at countering power rushers, he has had his fair share of struggles with quickness on the interior. You see him caught on some swim-moves and let guys get to one shoulder when they aggressively slant or stunt into a gap. Overall Cushenberry falls victim to leaning his weight too far over his toes, which can not only be used against him by pass-rushers, but also to be pulled to the side by technically sound run-defenders.
With that being said, Cushenberry’s pressure numbers looked so much different because the new offensive system last season left him on an island all the time. Once he gets into a scheme in the pros, where he is only responsible for one gap, he should once again excel in that area. Cushenberry was highly regarded as the leader of the Joe Moore Award-winning LSU offensive line and a crucial piece to the team’s title run. I think he can fit pretty much any system and should be a great pro right off the bat.
3. Robert Hunt, Lousiana Lafayette
Due to playing for a high school team that only won two games in the time he was there and only having 18 players on the roster at some point, Louisiana was the only school to offer the two-star recruit a scholarship. Hunt started all four years for the Ragin Cajuns, beginning out at left guard and spending some time at left tackle as sophomore. These last two years he has excelled as the team’s right book-end, earning second-team All-Sun Belt honors in 2018 and first-team all-conference last season despite just playing seven games due to a groin injury.
This 6’5”, 325 pounds man is a road-grader in the run game. He plays a mean game and whoever drafts him needs to stock up on syrup, because his tape is pretty much a pancake party. Hunt can torque his upper body, uncoil those hips and accelerate his feet to take guys on the edge for a ride. When he comes in on an angle on down-blocks against defensive tackles, he gets underneath that armpit of the defender and often times lifts that guy off his feet altogether. On combo-blocks he works well in combination with his guard by mostly just driving the D-linemen back into that guy’s lap before releasing off the initial block. At the same time Hunt was used to lead up the hole as a puller on power plays as well. He was also very effective cutting off guys on the backside of zone plays and you see those ULL running backs take the cutback behind him washing down somebody on several occasions. Hunt has enough flexibility in the hips to pivot back around against linebackers trying to shoot the inside gap and take him off track.
Hunt does a nice job utilizing his length and keeping pass rushers at the end of his reach. A lot of defenders’ rush stalls if they don’t have a great first move versus against this guy, plus if they try to take any dramatic turns, his long arms help Hunt guide those rushers further than where they want to be. He displays a smooth slide of the feet and when he gets those clamps on you, it’s pretty much game over. Hunt allowed only one sack and one more QB hurry on just under 200 pass-blocking snaps. He surrendered the same amount of sacks and seven total pressures on twice of that amount in 2018. With his track record on the edge, you don’t feel bad about leaving him out there in the pass game either.
Despite that, Hunt wasn’t challenged too much by true speed rushers off the edge and hasn’t displayed the kind of footwork that would be required to counter them. He doesn’t nearly get enough depth vertically and struggles to keep his shoulder squared because of it. You see his base get too narrow and his pads rise too high when guys don’t just allow him to sit back there and react. He oversets to the outside at times and gives away an easy lane for B-gap counters that way. He also a tendency of giving away what he is doing pre-snap by leaning one direction or the weight he puts out in front.
This kid is a bully in the run game with enough athleticism to stay at right tackle, but I could see him develop into a Pro Bowl guard, where his problems in pass protection can be hidden, which is funny to say, considering how effective he was in that area in college. I think he can fit any scheme from that position and boost your run game from day one, even if his pass-sets definitely need some work until then.
4. Jonah Jackson, Ohio State
This former three-star recruit out of Pennsylvania spent four years at Rutgers university. He redshirted his first year with the Scarlet Knights, then mostly stayed on the bench in his first active season and saw his 2017 season cut short by an injury. The following year he finally played a full season as a starter and received honorable mention All-Big Ten recogniton, but decided to use his final year of eligibility to join the Buckeyes – a move that paid off big-time. He became a first-team all-conference selection and worked his way up the draft board as one of the better guard prospects available, as Ohio State cruised through most of the Big Ten.
This guy is a people-mover in the run game. Jackson uses strong, well-placed hands to latch onto defensive linemen and take them for a ride. He does a great job washing his man down the line on zone schemes and creating cutback opportunities. Jackson’s timing at passing on assignments and working up to the next man is on point, plus when defenders try to go underneath the block, he pins them to the inside. When he gets his paws on linebackers, those guys usually can’t show much resistance. Jackson adjusts his second level angles pretty well on the fly and even if the defender seems to have an angle on the ball-carrier, he can create an opening somehow for his teammate to run through.
Jackson likes to get his hands on his man in protection early and control the rep. While he may give ground early at times against power-rushers, Jackson has enough muscle in the lower body to stop that momentum and sustain pocket integrity, showing excellent recovery skills time and time again. On slide protections, Jackson does a nice job keeping his eyes on the gap he is responsible for while staying in position to help out his center, plus he is looking to deliver some shots from the side when he is uncovered in protection. The Buckeyes guard allowed just one sack and nine hurries on 460 pass-blocking snaps last season and the year before he stayed totally clean when it comes to any hits on the QB, with seven hurries on just under 400 attempts for Rutgers. That is highly impressive considering how long Justin Fields held the ball at times last season.
With that being said, Jackson pops up right away and gradually raises his pad-level in protection, which has him stood up completely straight at times way earlier than I would like him to. He turns his shoulders with the initial slanting defender too much and doesn’t get his feet into position quickly enough to the secondary defender on occasions against T-E twists. While Jackson did excel in Ohio State’s zone-heavy rushing attacking, the one think he needs to improve in that area is getting some depth with a bucket step to create an angle against D-tackles who are in a position to shoot right up the gap, so he doesn’t just drive them down the line with an angle on the running back. Overall he is not the most mobile guard for long pulls or in the screen game.
This is a very high-floor guard prospect who can create movement in the run game and has put together a high success rate against quality competition. Jackson fits best in a zone-based run scheme with plenty of slide protections, but with his power he can certainly help running backs downhill as well and you can trust him against big defensive linemen one-on-one in the pass game. There are more athletic and graceful options out there, but Jackson is rock-solid.
5. Matt Hennessy, Temple
Just a two-star tackle recruit out of the New Jersey area, Hennessy appeared in three games, including one start, in his first year with the Owls, qualifying for a redshirt. Over these last three seasons he has started all but for games at center, which he missed due to injury, and improved every year. In 2019 he received first-team All-AAC accolades and was a finalist for the Rimington award. Hennessy also earned one of the prestigious single-digit practice jerseys Temple gives to the toughest players in the program.
First and foremost – this guy’s snap-to-step quickness is off the charts. Hennessy’s agility was on full display in the outside zone game for the Owls, where he could reach defenders up the A-gaps or even beat linebackers to the spot, who were already lined up further towards the play-side and wall them off the other way. You see him continually work those hips around defenders to shield them from the play. At 6’4”, 307 pounds, Hennessy is very fluid in the lower body, which shows routinely when adjusting angles on the fly or reacting to somebody trying to go underneath a block. His agility also showed up at the combine, when he recorded the second-fastest three-cone drill among all O-linemen. While he wasn’t used heavily in that role, I could certainly see the mobile center be utilized more as a puller at the next level, judging by the way I see him operate in space on screen passes.
His outstanding lateral agility also shows up in protection and he rarely allows defenders to get to one shoulder against him, by squaring them up before they can even get out of their stance properly. Hennessy displays active footwork and a nice, controlled shuffle off the ball and then mirrors rushers beautifully for the most part. Even if he is caught out of position on a few occasions, he has a way covering. Once the defender in Hennessy’s gap stunts towards the opposite A-gap, he passes them on and snaps his head the other way for any loopers or blitzers coming across. He seems highly alert for a multitude of pressure looks and games up front. The Temple center has allowed no sacks and just six total hurries on 875 pass-blocking snaps over these last two years.
With that being said, Hennessy is Ccertainly not the most powerful run blocker. He offers little upside driving D-tackles off the ball, especially in solo-blocking spots, where he tends to drop his head against those bigger guys. Despite his prowess in protection, he is not a candidate to be left on an island against true power rushers, as we saw to some degree during Senior Bowl practices. Hennessy is probably limited to the center position and some teams way look at him as a fit for zone-run schemes only.
Looking for a highly athletic and agile center, who can sure up the middle and enable you to run outside zone effectively? Hennessy is your man. While the Temple standout lacks some core strength that is evident when he is put in bad situations, his skill-set should be highly coveted among NFL clubs. While I wouldn’t put those two in the same tier, I think Hennessy could have a similar impact as Garrett Bradbury had for the Vikings as a rookie.
6. Nick Harris, Washington
Despite being a former top-15 center recruit, Washington was the only major FBS program to offer Harris a scholarship. As a freshman he started two games at both guard spots respectively and he was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 pick in year two when he started all 13 games at right guard. The Huskies coaches moved him to center his junior season, where he didn’t miss a game and improved to first-team all-conference. He repeated those honors last year and is now entering the NFL draft with plenty of quality experience.
A little undersized at 6’1”, just over 300 pounds, Harris plays with as much determination and grit as any offensive linemen in this draft, plus he uses his lack of height as an advantage to get underneath the pads of defenders. He is very fluid at passing on assignments and climbing up to linebackers in the zone rushing attack. He can get on his horse and outrace linebackers to the spot in the outside run game, who he pins inside, as well as creating lateral movement when the run is designed to go inside. Harris is the best center in this class when it comes to reaching anything from zero to two-technique defensive tackles. He also excelled as a puller on reverses and toss plays, consistently engaging and controlling smaller bodies. He looks comortable working up all the way to safeties in the quick screen game and once he is engaged with someone, he keeps running his feet. Harris will find a way to get people blocked, whether he has to get his butt in front of defenders trying to chase from behind or hook their arms by ripping through.
Harris is textbook pass-protector from the center position. He shows incredibly quick hands that often times land inside the chest of his man before he can even get out of his stance. He changes up his pass-sets and not only wins early on during reps, but displays active feet and good hand-placement pretty much until the ball is out of the quarterback’s hands. He was even asked to pull outside and pick up edge rushers quite a bit, which he did a great job ab. Harris allowed just one sacks and two hits on the quarterback on 837 pass-blocking snaps over these last two years. He was outstanding during Senior Bowl week, where he mirrored spin moves beautifully and did not allow a quick win in one-on-ones all week long. At the combine he ran pretty well and was a very fluid mover in the on-field drills, changing directions with ease and showing outstanding mobility in the hips to open up and pull right after snapping the ball.
However, he certainly needs to add some sand to his pants. Harris’ anchor technique is off the charts, but you see those elite power rushers take him for a ride if he is left on an island. He simply does not have the pure strength to move big defensive tackles out of their space routinely in gap run schemes and with 32-inch arms, Harris’ lack of length makes him a center only prospect, while even presenting some problems there.
Harris is one of my favorite prospects in the entire draft, because even though there are some power and length limitations, he consistently got the job done for the Huskies and is a technically sound player. I would love to see his future team utilize his mobility in different ways and give him a chance as soon as he has strengthened his base.
7. Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
Ever since I first watched the 2017 Wisconsin tape and saw this kid play center, I knew he would be great. While Biadasz was Wisconsin’s defensive lineman of the year as a senior in high school, he was also an all-state selection on the offensive side of the ball, where the Badgers’ coaches saw his future at. He immediately jumped in at the center spot when he arrived in Madison and was a Freshman All-American as a full-time starter. The following year he was a first-team All-Big Ten selection and last season he won the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center, while also being named a unanimous first-team All-American.
As great as running back Jonathan Taylor was for the Badgers over these last three years, you could argue that Biadasz was equally as impressive at his position during that stretch. The 6’3”, 315-pound center might have been the best at running those inside/outside zone schemes, where he can attack and control or reach D-linemen, but I have also seen him drive 320-pounders backwards by five yards on simply dive plays as well. When he finds himself in a bit of a stalemate, he can also use some torque to move defenders to the side late. Biadasz is excellent at pulling towards the second level and takes some linebackers off their feet. He does a great forklifting those guys and walling them off from the play or creating movement and cutback lanes in the process on sweep/toss plays. He was at the pivot for one of the greatest three-year stretch of rush offenses we have seen in a while, with Jonathan Taylor breaking the all-time freshman rushing record and earning consecutive Doak Walker awards as the best back in the country these last two years, with 2000+ rush yards basically all three seasons.
Biadasz displays excellent quickness off the snap and agility in pass pro. He likes to use a quick stab against nose tackles and 1-techs to take away that initial burst and then settles in with patient feet. He makes himself “wide” in protection, meaning having both arms to the side and being alert for anything coming up the A-gaps, which I felt like Wisconsin almost asked him to cover both when they sent five out in the route. He is looking to help out his guards and guides rushers past the QB when those guys next to him to get beaten. Throughout his three-year career with the Badgers, Biadasz allowed just 22 total pressures on 1082 pass-blocking snaps and he was at his best in that department last season, when he limited opponents to one sacks and four more hurries.
The biggest concern with this kid is the hip surgery he had in the spring of 2019 and the fact he received a medical red flag at the combine. However, he is not a perfect player outside of that either. Biadasz gets caught up locking horns against big D-tackles in the run game at times and he falls on his chest with his weight over his toes on way too many occasions. Last year I thought he had to step back much more against those heavy guys at first contact when he was asked to single-block them. In protection he tends to drop his head and overextend at times. I thought his balance, knee bend and overall athleticism didn’t reach the level I saw from him as a sophomore, so the range of the player you could get is just so dependent on if he can get back to that form.
Biadasz has started all 41 games right in the middle of that Badger O-line since 2017. He most likely would been the first center off the board and a first-round pick if he had been able to enter into last year’s draft, but with a strong class of juniors at the position coming out after this season and the medical reports around Biadasz, his draft stock has dropped massively despite really do anything wrong. He has experience in a rushing offense that ran a multitude of gap and zone schemes as well as pro-style protections. If I was certain that he could return to the type of athlete I saw in 2018, he would be absolutely be right in the mix for the top center in this class, but there’s a lot of risk without knowing his full medical.
8. Shane Lemieux, Oregon
Together with his line-mate Calvin Throckmorton, Lemieux was one of just three players on the Ducks’ roster from their rival state Washington. Since arriving in Eugene as a three-star prospect, he has started every single one of the team’s 52 games at left guard and been a steady presence there, while other guys had to shuffle around due to injuries. These last two seasons, he has been a second-team All-Pac-12 selection and in 2019 he also received second-team All-American honors.
Lemieux is a powerful player at 6’4”, 310 pounds, who can just smack guys to the ground and keeps his legs driving when he is engaged with somebody. He comes off the ball with some tenacity and force. You see him deliver enough pop at initial contact that he can progress to linebackers on combo-blocks almost instantly. He was also used on some skip-pulls or to kick out the end-man on the line. In the zone run game, Lemieux uses his body very well to wall off defensive linemen and not give them a lane towards the ball-carrie. His ability to tag onto guys when the aiming point of the run is towards the outside and to take them over, allowing his teammates to climb, is much better than you would expect from a guy with his build.
This young man has one of the sturdiest bases of anybody in the draft and nobody seems to hold better in protection, meaning those hands actually grab by the shoulder-pads without being visible to the refs. He shows really good balance to be off one leg and in pretty bad position, but still find a way to stay in front of his man. When guys slant away from him or there is just nobody to engage with, Lemieux keeps his eyes up for cross-blitzers and twists. On slide protection, I also like how he gains some depth to help out the guys next to him in case the rushers they are tagged with counter the towards him. The big guard does a nice job squaring up blitzing linebackers and once he gets into that position, you rarely see the defender do a lot whole lot anymore. He has allowed just three sacks and QB hits each on almost 1000 pass-blocking snaps over these last two years.
However, Lemieux is built a little top-heavy and looks kind of heavy-footed at times, having his struggles changing directions. He doesn’t look overly comfortable in space and when he is running untouched for a while, he tends to slow down and look around. When he approaches linebackers, Lemieux is more about getting a hit on them instead of sustaining contact. If his future NFL teams wants him to cut off defenders on the backside, he will certainly have to improve technically in that aspect. Lemieux doesn’t have great lateral agility and overreacts to some moves, while also getting too wide with his steps to mirror effectively at times.
This is a power-guard prospect who will work well in a gap-based rushing attack but also has put out quality tape on inside/outside zone plays. Lemieux might not be most fluid or agile athlete and there are things he can improve upon in pass-pro, but I really like the physicality he brings to the table and he has not only been an excellent player for four years in college, but has also improved pretty much every year.
9. Darryl Williams, Mississippi State
Despite excelling at every spot along the offensive line at his high school in Alabama and becoming a four-star recruit in the process, Williams started out as a reserve and special teamer for the Bulldogs as a freshman. The following two years he started all but one game at left guard, with the one being missed due to an injury. As a senior, the coaches moved him to the center spot to replace now-Packers guard Elgton Jenkins. Williams was named a team captain and paved the way for the SEC’s regular season rusher leader Kylin Hill.
At 6’2”, 305 pounds, Williams has high-level athleticism for the position. He showcases excellent snap-to-step quickness and is bery good positional blocker, who brings his hips around quickly and forces defenders to go through him, when sealing defenders on the backside of run plays, while continuing to turn his body as the play progresses. His lateral agility was a big plus for Mississippi State’s zone rushing attack and that should translate very well to the next level. With how much Williams got after it in the run game, he was a big reason for the Bulldogs’ effective rushing attack and the tremendous success the East team had during the East-West Shrine game two months ago.
Williams’ quicks off the ball are also evident in Mississippi State’s slide-heavy protection schemes, where he was consistently was the first to bring his hands against defenders up the A-gaps. He shows great fundamentals in terms keeping his elbow tight to his body and thrusting upwards to slow down rushers right away. Then he just has hands like vice grips when grabbing a hold of those guys. On 365 pass-blocking snaps last season, the MSU center gave up just one sack and nine total pressures on 365, while having nine separate games where he didn’t surrender a single pressure. Williams also had a tremendous showing in pass pro during East-West Shrine week, where he stonewalled several guys and even those who had good starts, he found a way to get back under control. For a group of D-linemen that clearly ruled the week, Williams stood out as a guy who won the majority of his battles, including putting Arkansas’ McTelvin Agim on his butt, who dominated several other guys.
On the flipside, Williams struggles heavily with big nose tackles one-on-one in the run game. I think he is limited to zone-based rushing attacks and sealing defenders on the backside of plays, not showing the pure power to uproot defensive linemen out of their gap. However to even be trusted in such a role, he will need to hit the weight room pretty hard or he will only find himself in tougher situations against those grown men in the NFL- While it didn’t show as much in MSU’s run-heavy offense that used slide-protections on almost every pass play, I would expect Williams to have his troubles anchoring down against guys at or above his weight class in protection as well.
This guy is my favorite center prospects in the middle rounds. If you put him in a system, where he can use his mobility in the run game and isn’t left on an island with big D-tackles in the pass game routinely, I think Williams has most traits that you need from a successful NFL center outside of functional strength. If he can add that through the training program supplied by his future team, he could be a starter much sooner than expected.
10. Ben Bredeson, Michigan
Even though Bredeson grew up less than an hour away from Camp Randall stadium and was Wisconsin’s Gatorade Player of the Year as well as being named the state’s top offensive lineman his senior year, he choice the Maize and Blue over his home-state Badgers. The Michigan coaches could not keep him on the bench for too long, as he started eight of 13 games, earning Freshman All-American and honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. These last two three years he has started every single game at left guard, earning consecutive second-team All-Big Ten accolades and being a first-team all-conference selection as a senior. He was also a team captain these last two seasons.
This guy is built like a fridge at 6’5”, 315 pounds. Bredeson obviously has the size to drive guys off the ball on gap schemes, but with his large frame, he can also stay attached to defenders in Michigan’s zone rushing attack. He hets defensive linemen off balance when he pops them from the side and then works to the second level, plus when he gets his huge body in front of linebackers, they seem to disappear and he does a nice job walling them off from the play. This guy is a scary sight as a puller and when he lands at his target, he will move that guy out of the way, whether it’s on kick-outs, leading up the hole or just getting outside on sweep plays.
Bredeson likes to use quick-sets and not even allow defenders to set up their pass rush. He has plenty of sand in those pants to withstand initial chargers and a strong grip to control the rushers. He uses his reach very well to slow down guys trying to stunt into the opposite gap and is looking for work in protection when he doesn’t have a direct assignment. The big Wolverine guard does a nice job picking up loopers on T-E twists as well. Bredeson surrendered only nine total pressures on almost 500 pass-blocking snaps last season. At the Senior Bowl Bredeson did a pretty good job staying in front guys during one-on-ones against the D-line and improved throughout the week, despite facing a tough group of defenders.
Unfortunately, Bredeson has incredibly short arms at 31 1/8 inches considering his height. He is not active enough with his footwork when he tries to quick-set defensive tackles and he will face a lot more of those who know how to counter that to get past him right off the bat. Bredeson lacks some lateral agility that will make him struggle against those undersized three-techs and in the pass game won’t be very successful when defenders have a two-way go against him.
An oldschool guard prospect with a massive frame, Bredeson would fit best in a gap-scheme rushing offense, where he can create vertical movement and isn’t asked to stay on an island versus quick-twitch interior defenders. There are some limitations when it comes to his lower body quickness, but with his success in the pass game and experience against a multitude of games up front, he could earn the trust of his future coaches quickly.
Just missed the cut:
Netane Muti, Fresno State
The Tonga-born Muti was an all-state offensive and defensive lineman in Hawaii, who made his way to Fresno State as a two-star recruit. However, injuries have really marked his collegiate career, as he redshirted his first year on campus with an Achilles injury, then started every game in year two and earned honorable mention All-Mountain West recognition, but only played in five games over these last two.
This 6’3”, 315-pound behemoth has been described by teammates as a “mystical being” who could pick up a moose by himself. Muti is an aggressive, tenacious blocker who can seemingly move mountains in the run game. He creates a ton of vertical momentum as part of double-teams, as well as being quick to reach the second level and has very good reactive athleticism. He has experience with multiple schemes and shows good mobility once he gets moving. Muti is looking to deliver some shoves and knock-downs late during plays and wants to be a bully. When plays go off script, he is looking for work and his strength was on display at the combine, when he put up the top overall mark in the bench press at 44 reps.
The Fresno State coaches trusted him so much when he was available that they even put him at left tackle to start at left tackle in 2018 until he was lost for the season and actually looked really good. He stands up pass-rushers with that initial punch a lot of times and there are plays where there is no secondary movement from that defender either. Miuti sets a heavy anchor and has the grip strength to clamp down against those guys, who can basically never knock his hands down. He doesn’t shy away from finishing those guys by tossing them to the ground either. Muti did not allow a single sack as a junior on over 500 pass-blocking snaps and has only surrendered two pressures on a little under 200 since then.
Muti’s Injury history is very long and scary. While I like his aggressiveness in the run game, he is too reckless at times and instead of being under control as he drives defenders off the ball, he shifts his weight way out in front at times. You see him slip off way too many blocks and he over-runs plenty of his fits. It also takes him a while to get out of his stance when pulling. In protection he gets a little wide with his arms if a rusher approaches him from some distances and overall he is more of a phone-booth type of guy as a pass-protector, being lazy with his footwork on too many occasions. Muti is far from technically sound all-around as a player and he has sub-32 inch arms.
Put on Muti’s freshman tape and you see pancake highlights all over the place. He even buried former Alabama first-round pick Da’Ron Payne under himself when those two faced each other back in 2017, Muti plays with a tremendous motor and finishing attitude, but before you even think about spending a day two pick on him, you have to be fully sold on Muti’s medical status.
Damien Lewis, LSU
Unranked out of the state of Mississippi, Lewis had to prove himself at junior college before earning interest from any Division 1 schools. After consecutive JUCO All-American selections, he joined the Tigers in 2018 and immediately took over as a full-time starter at right guard. Last season he earned second-team All-SEC accolades, as he started all 15 games during LSU’s run at a national championship and was part of a line that won the Joe Moore Award as the nation’s premiere front five.
At 6’2”, close to 330 pounds, Lewis is a power-guard who isn’t satisfied until he lands on top of somebody. He provides a lot of vertical movement on double-teams when he comes in with a good thump at initial contact and then he sucks up plenty of linebackers as he works off combo-blocks. I have also seen this guy toss big defensive linemen to the ground as if they were nothing.
Lewis stymies a bunch of of defensive linemen when he first puts his hands on them during pass-sets. He does a nice job widening his base to slow down bull-rushes and anchor down, plus when he gets rushers off balance, he doesn’t hesitate to pancake them to the ground. At the Senior Bowl, Lewis displayed a lot of power in the run game and also stoned some guys in protection.
With that being said, he has a tendency of getting too wide and being a little late with his arms in protection. Lewis struggles a bit with body control and weight distribution in protection. Picking up blitzers in protection is definitely a weakness in that regard. Lewis was lifted off his feet like a baby by Auburn’s Derrick Brown early on in that game and looked like a different guy for the rest of the afternoon. In the run game he is not overly fluid and gets beaten to the spot by scraping linebackers quite a bit.
This young man is best suited for a gap/power rushing attack, where he can be a tone-setter for you. His base and athletic profile should give him a chance to start early on, but he could have his struggles with those talented three-techs, who can quickly penetrate at the next level. I have to cut him some slack here for that matchup against Derrick Brown, because that guy was wrecking everybody when left one-on-one last season.
Right behind them:
Jon Runyan (Michigan), John Simpson (Clemson), Kevin Dotson (Louisiana Lafayette), Calvin Throckmorton (Oregon), Cordel Iwuagwu (TCU), Logan Stenberg (Kentucky), Solomon Kindley (Georgia)
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