2021 NFL Draft Summer Scouting: Offensive Tackles

Photo: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 offensive tackle class saw six players drafted in the first round. That was the most since 2011, when the same number were selected in the opening round, but the average number of players drafted at the position on the first day of the draft has hovered around three since 2010. While the 2021 class may not bring the same type of Day 1 success, there's lot of talent within it to already be excited about going forward.

1. Penei Sewell, Oregon, Junior

Size: 6-foot-6, 330 pounds

What Stands Out: Sewell will be praised as one of the top players not only at the position, but across the board as a prospect. He has plenty of nimbleness and balance for a prospect of his stature. With springy feet and plenty of bounce in his lower half, the Ducks' scheme enables him to show off his natural athleticism. The offense permits him to get outside of the tackle boxes as a puller and on screens. Getting out of his normal surfaces, it’s easy to see how light he is on his feet, but he also maintains proper body control and accuracy with locating and engaging with targets.  

His hands are often in sync with his pass sets and he extends them naturally to latch onto the frame of targets. If able to land cleanly, he has the ability to direct and navigate where he wants to take defenders as a run-blocker. As a pass-protector, his hands are quickly able to halt the process of rushers, and even if unable to win initial hand positioning, he has the smarts of knowing which tactic to use in order to adjust and reposition to put them in a winning position.

What Must Improve: He often can get overeager with wanting to get his hands on defenders and it results in him being off-balance. The game against Washington is one where a lot of his warts were exposed in this area. There were spotty reps where he was unable to maintain his balance and they got the best of him a few times. It doesn't happen often, but his balance can come and go in spurts when he gets a bit lackadaisical and relaxes his technique.

Scouts Take: "He's a really clean prospect and you struggle to identify clear weaknesses in his game because they are so far and few in between the good ones. If I had to say one though, the kid gets too amped up to block and he misses badly at times. Stuff like that is easily correctable though. He'll be a good one for somebody who picks early next year."

2. Samuel Cosmi, Texas, Redshirt Junior

Size: 6-foot-7, 309 pounds

What Stands Out: Cosmi fits the mold of athletic offensive tackles similar to what's been present in years past. Even though he has a linear frame, he has the body capacity in order to pack on many more pounds. One of the more impressive parts of his game is his ability to latch on and finish. He also incorporates a useful chop move to get rid of rushers' hands quickly. A natural in his pass set, he displays plenty of nuance in his game that will help him eventually become an attractive option as a left tackle. Already receiving experience at both offensive tackle spots, it bodes well for his future outlook and comfort when asked to play either side. 

What Must Improve: Quick bull-rush attempts to his upper regions are often successful. They catch him with a jolt and he doesn’t consistently have the anchor nor lower body strength to bottom out and reset his feet as a result. Cosmi isn't a blocker who wins by generating much movement at the point of attack. Instead, his overall game is predicated upon winning with angles and beating others to spots. For as athletic as he is, Cosmi is often the last player off of the line of scrimmage. Many of his losses have been a result of him being slow off of the ball. Once able to time up snap counts and naturally being able to explode out of his pass sets, he could be the beneficiary of becoming the consistent aggressor instead of being the reactionary player at the point of attack. 

Scouts Take: "I like this kid a lot, but he's in those dangerous waters of being one of those athletic offensive tackles. He won't test as well, but you're hoping that he can turn into a similar player as O'Neill in Minnesota. He plays much stronger than his body gives off, but he'll be able to add weight. I think he'll rise if he plays the entire year like he did against LSU. He was highly impressive that one during the battle against Chaisson."

3. Jalen Mayfield, Michigan, Junior

Size: 6-foot-5, 319 pounds

What Stands Out: Mayfield is a smooth athlete and all of his body movements flow together when plays remain on schedule. His fundamentals are exactly how they are supposed to be operated. As a pass-setter, all of his movements are in unison, which enables him to have success against rushers that strictly prefer to get up the field as quickly as possible. Right now, his upper-body strength is ahead of his lower half and that's how he's often seen generating movement at the point of attack as a high blocker. When able to land his hands on targets, he's able to cleanly steer them out of plays as a run-blocker, but the similar effect can be seen as a pass-protector. Experiencing his first action at right tackle last season, he seemed to become more comfortable as the season progressed.

What Must Improve: Mayfield's biggest deficiencies come when he's asked to redirect. He experiences struggles when he has to quickly adjust on the fly to match rushers that alter their rush plans. Some hip stiffness is shown and most of his surrendered pressures have come when he's fallen victim to opening his hips prematurely to the sideline. As a result, this allowed pass-rushers to come back underneath him. Mayfield's lower body is still developing and its evident throughout the 2019 season.

Scouts Take: "This is the kid that many aren't talking about right now that I think could end up going high. How high? I have no idea right now, but he needs to get stronger. The tools he already has though are delightful. There will be a lot of coaches who want to get their hands on him and develop him into what they want."

4. Alex Leatherwood, Alabama, Senior

Size: 6-foot-6, 310 pounds

What Stands Out: Shown to be a sufficient athlete, Leatherwood has an effortless pass set that allows him to gain depth and cover ground with ease. Sudden and immediate body movements, his upper body remains calm while his lower half is still working, but he stays poised at the same time. The Crimson Tide offensive tackle remains under control, but efficient when ascending up the field on zone concepts. The screen game is also another area where he excels when asked to secure perimeter blocks. Leatherwood possesses an extraordinary type of power as he displays impactful hands that are able to absorb and deliver vicious blows at the same time. The force from his hands are noticeable when engaging in blocks on the first and second levels. If able to land cleanly, Leatherwood is excellent with running his feet on contact, which results in generating yards of movement in proper directions.

What Must Improve: After playing guard during his first two seasons, the transition to offensive tackle involved some inconsistencies, and rightfully so. Being out on an island was an adjustment for him, as he’s used to being sandwiched in between two other teammates. Seeing and noticing edge blitzes plus firing out of his stance consistently were two areas that noticeably need more consistency. Because of his challenges with his lower body flexibility, he will get caught playing high and it forces him into quick-loss situations where he's left reaching. His pad level can be a bit high and defenders are able to quickly get past him as a result. Having lapses of playing without proper bend results in not being able to reposition his body and hands upon quick and effective moves from down lineman. He will be left whiffing as he watches the defender pass him by.

Scouts Take: "Believe it or not, the league is already split on this guy. Some people think he's a guard and others think he has more upside as a tackle. He has some cringeworthy moments as a tackle because of his lower body, but I'm trying him at tackle first. That's the spot I think he can give you the most value from. He'll go in the first round if he plays well this year, but there's some legitimate concerns there."

5. Daniel Faalele, Minnesota, Junior

Size: 6-foot-9, 400 pounds

What Stands Out: Faalele's massive body structure coupled with long arms makes it difficult for defenders to circle around him. Attacking down the midline of his body hasn’t been effective for defensive ends, as he has the strength and girth to remain sufficient with players who settle on that plan of attack. Rushers that are able to get to the peak of the pocket against him have to go to extreme measures just to receive opportunities to win the corner. Faalele's frame in all directions extends well beyond many thresholds, but he’s proven to be a sufficient athlete considering his size.

What Must Improve: In order to get started, Faalele often has to take a hard jab step only with his left foot. Even when moving in opposite directions, in order to get his body process started, he has to somehow find a way to stab his toe in the ground and then move to where he wants. A correctable footwork flaw, it is one that could help him get to his designed spots quicker if he’s able to eliminate the habit.

Scouts Take: "The weight is obviously the first thing that you notice about him on paper, but after having watched his tape, he moves really well for a man of his size. Conditioning and understanding what he can do will always be the biggest challenge, but I think he can be a middle of the road right tackle with time. He'll never be a player who's super explosive for obvious reasons, but he's so massive that it makes things difficult for guys that are going against him. You can run up the field, but it will take you forever to get around him. You obviously can run through him and inside counters are hit and miss against him because if he lays a finger on you, you're going flying somewhere."

Written By:

Jordan Reid

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Jordan Reid is a Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Gaining experience from various lenses of the game, he has previously served as a college quarterback, position coach, and recruiting coordinator at North Carolina Central University. He now serves as a Color Commentator for FloSports, covering both high school and college football games around the country while also being the host of The Reid Option Podcast.

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