Luke Fortner

Luke Fortner

  • IOL Wildcats
  • Senior
  • #154
  • 6'4"
  • 307lbs
  • Prospect
  • Southeastern

Top Traits

Competitive Toughness

Competitive Toughness

Luke Fortner

The range that Fortner has showcased, primarily in zone and in the screen game, is a testament to his effort. He’s done well to work back across the set and help tactfully pick off peelers on horizontal stretch plays. Functional strength is sufficient for the point of attack and he will do well to uproot *most* linebackers (No. 19 for South Carolina handled him very well on vertical climbs).

Power at POA

Power at POA

Luke Fortner

When Fortner brings his feet through contact, you do see the ability to drive and uproot defensive linemen. He isn’t a true mauler but he has enough drive block ability to help, especially in combination situations, to reset and create a crease for his back.

Prospect Summary

Kentucky offensive lineman Luke Fortner projects as a developmental player at the NFL level. Fortner served as a starting guard for the Wildcats offense over the past several seasons before transitioning to the team’s starting center in 2021. Fortner did well in this new role, showcasing the athletic ability and general functional strength needed to play the position at the next level. I do believe there’s a continued developmental curve that needs to be respected with Fortner playing in the middle. His hand timing, placement, and anchor skills were erratic in the games that I studied. But Kentucky, which implements a lot of screens into their offense, got the most out of Fortner outside the hashes and he showed a pretty savvy feel for working out in space. I like him as a late day-three player at a position that traditionally carries low value in the draft, but would not be surprised at all to see him stepping into a starting role by the end of a rookie contract. Fortner’s experience at multiple spots on the line (23 consecutive starts at right guard) opens him up for some positional value as a utility lineman as well, so I can see plenty of pathways for him making a roster.

Ideal role: Developmental center

Scheme tendencies: Zone-heavy rushing attack with a high volume of screen involvement

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Kyle Crabbs

Games watched: Missouri (2021), South Carolina (2021), Georgia (2021)

Best Game Studied: Missouri (2021)

Worst Game Studied: Georgia (2021)

Competitive Toughness: See Above.

Balance: On lateral steps, I’ve seen a few instances where Fortner has overset and his recovery ability in these instances is problematic and results in poor weight distribution and bending at the waist. He carries himself athletically on the hoof and has done well at the point of attack, especially in shallow steer situations, to leverage into the gap.

Anchor Ability: I would not consider Fortner to be a player that has a high level of pure power in his game and heavy hands will do a number on collapsing him inside. Some of this appears to be attributed to variance in Fortner’s own hands—improvement there will be critical in him sitting down rushes quicker in the NFL.

Lateral Mobility: Fortner does modestly well in wide landmarks. I’ve seen him step down across a gap and get a seal block on the A-level. His ability to flash late is adequate and he takes good angles in space.

Power at POA: See Above.

Hand Technique: Hand placement and timing are very critical areas of focus. If Fortner gets better there, I will have a much better feeling of optimism for his pro game. Too often, Fortner is landing hands wide or high and he shows some lack of discipline with keeping his hands inside his frame when defenders look to stack and disengage. Length is also not something I’d consider a strength.

Football IQ: The transition to center has presented some challenges and fundamentals to improve upon, but I also think being more aware of adjacent threats in pass protection is an improvement opportunity as well. Georgia successfully schemed some delays, B-level attacks, and games inside that created free runners after his quarterback.

Versatility: Positional flexibility should be considered a plus. I think Fortner is passable as a guard in the NFL as well; although center could theoretically leave him uncovered more often to work in space. I appreciate his late transition and the new layers to his game that have been uncovered as a result, but this experience at RG is ultimately a trump card for his 53-man roster resume.

Pass Sets: Playing at center is going to prevent him from catching too much stress here. I thought he gave himself unnecessary hardship with how aggressive his initial lateral angles were at times; he’s a good enough athlete to have modest recovery ability against initial upfield penetration. So long as he doesn’t allow his feet to get too wide, he shows enough foot-fire to reset his base.

Flexibility: I do think there’s some stiffness here through the hips that needs to be accounted for. Too often he’s playing high and straight through the hips on his second-level climbs—he’s losing leverage against power rushes and his recovery efforts require him to fold at the waist and chase instead of sustaining a lower center of gravity and playing with a dynamic base.

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: 72.33/100 (Fourth Round Value)

Crabbs Grade: 71.00/100

Marino Grade: 71.00/100

Weissman Grade: 74.50/100