Early 2021 OL Favorites
It’s never too early to start looking ahead, because inevitably some team won’t be happy with their offensive linemen and look to remedy that with next year’s young stock. After coming off a pretty good tackle class, we’re looking at another one that may even it out with some better interior guys. However, outside the top 3 or so, there’s a lot of room to move around with these rankings over the next season. There’s also plenty of upside I want to see turn into more safe production. So early on, here are some of my favorites for the 2021 OL class.
Penei Sewell, LT, Oregon
I mean obviously, right? It’s one thing to be the top lineman of the next class pretty definitively, but he’s likely to be the best tackle prospect in a while. As someone who was a fan of Andrew Thomas and Jedrick Wills in this past class, Sewell takes what made those guys so good and combines them into a single prospect. A true dancing bear, he has pretty fantastic function and natural strength. He’s still is able to move very well for his size, though.
He’s also huge. Usually tackles are taller, but he’s genuinely just bigger than the lineman he’s lining up next to and against, listed at 6’6″ and 325. My only qualm with his tape was his pad level, he’s so naturally strong with good hand usage he’s just tanking guys with a straight back. So scarily enough, he has room to improve over his final season. At the moment he’s a top-3 lock for next year.
Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma
The center for Oklahoma is someone I watched a good amount of before he decided to return for another season. I think he could have gone in the bottom of the 1st with where he was at already in 2019. So Humphrey is someone who still has plenty to gain or lose based on his ’21 campaign. He isn’t someone with elite physical tools or athleticism, but he has good natural strength that he makes functional through technique. A technician naturally, I’m curious to see how much better he can get, because another status quo season might see his stock dip from a lost year in an NFL system. Barring regression, he should be a very good starter on the interior very quickly into his career.
Alex Leatherwood, LT, Alabama
Another prospect I got to watch a lot of before they returned to school. In this case I was pretty glad he did, as he would have been a pretty raw prospect going into his rookie year. Sandwiched between Jonah Williams and Jedrick Wills as a sophomore, Leatherwood moved from RG to LT this past season and the tape made that evident. He’s your typical Alabama lineman who can move well and has great physical tools to work with, but his hands and feet were not yet aligned enough to be worth a high 1st-round selection. An offseason to practice the position and another season of development will be great for him. I think we’ll see his name rising slowly but surely throughout the process.
Best of the Rest
I’ve gotten a good deal of tape work on the aforementioned players. The guys below are ones I’ve either just gotten started on or read up on that I’m getting into soon.
Iowa OLs Alaric Jackson and Tyler Linderbaum
Two very different prospects that’ll get plenty of looks. Jackson has been the mainstay at LT for a few years now and apparently was good enough to largely keep Tristian Wirfs on the right side. Linderbaum is a very high upside guard relatively new to the position who had flashes of dominance.
Jackson Carman, LT, Clemson
Trevor Lawrence’s blindside guy? Yeah I’ll be watching him closely. But on first view he seems more beneficial to Travis Etienne as a giant and aggressive mauler. I like to see a bit of technique out of these hulking characters as opposed to usage of their pure size, especially in the ACC, so we’ll see how much he can improve before draft season.
Samuel Cosmi, LT, Texas
A size/speed combo that’s pretty insane but also lacks technique. These last seasons are huge to taking those steps forward as plenty of teams will draft you on upside, but showing growth matters significantly too.