Many analysts are excited about the group of offensive linemen in this draft. Several players are being talked about in the first-round mix, with potentially three tackles going in the Top 15 of the draft overall. Here are some of the names you should know heading to Indianapolis.
These are the players who analysts expect to see perform best in the athletic testing portion of the workout.
Joe Tippmann (Wisconsin) – A redshirt junior for the Badgers, Tippmann is an oversized center at a listed size of 6-foot-6, 323 pounds. That may seem like the profile of a big brawler on the interior, but Tippmann also checked in at No. 28 on Bruce Feldman’s annual Freak List, highlighting the top athletes in college football. Feldman reported a 1.65 10-yard split and a 4.31 short shuttle time for Tippmann, both of which would rank as the second-best times of interior linemen drafted in the last decade. Tippmann's athleticism shows up on film as well, and he should impress at the Combine.
Cody Mauch (North Dakota State) – Mauch has one of my favorite personal backgrounds in the draft class. A high school quarterback, tight end, and defensive end, Mauch finished his career at Hankinson high school in North Dakota with over 1,000 yards and a school-record 24 touchdowns as a tight end while also setting his school record for sacks on defense. In college, he slid to the offensive line and started 39 games at tackle, where his athleticism made him a weapon on the move. Put me down for him being one of the more impressive testers in Indianapolis in the trenches.
Blake Freeland (BYU) – Freeland has played a ton of ball for the Cougars with two years of starting experience at both right and left tackle spots. A natural athlete with extremely fluid movements and impressive play speed, the light-footed pass protector should impress on the turf with his 6-foot-7, 312-pound frame. The Utah native was named all-state in six separate events as a track athlete in high school, and owns the state record throwing the javelin.
Broderick Jones (Georgia) – Viewed by many analysts as a potential Top 20 pick, Jones' best trait is his athleticism. The Bulldogs really weaponized the redshirt sophomore in the screen and perimeter run games, where he was consistently used to erase defenders in space on the run. At 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, Jones should look good in all of the testing drills.
Asim Richards (North Carolina) – A Philadelphia native who attended The Haverford School, Richards started 38 games up front for the Tar Heels over the course of his career. Watching him on tape, he's extremely efficient out of his stance, has excellent range in pass pro thanks to his light feet, and has the ability to make any block in the book. His athleticism should shine in Indy.
Earl Bostick Jr. (Kansas) – Bostick came to Kansas as a tight end, where he started four games as a true freshman back in 2018. He soon made the move to the offensive line, where he got starts at both tackle spots as he became adjusted to his new role. His natural movement skills should impress on Sunday.
Will Kill the Drills
Coaches are looking to put stress on these big-bodied blockers, and one of the best ways to do that is to get them on the move. One of the best drills to accomplish that is the Wave Drill, which is done not only with the offensive linemen, but with the defensive linemen as well. Players will start laying on their stomachs before popping up and taking direction from a coach on moving forward, backward, left, or right as quickly as possible before finishing through the goal line in a sprint. Some things to watch during these drills:
• Players will try to get away with guessing when the coach is about to give the next direction, so expect to see the coach yell at a couple of the first prospects in line not to guess and to wait on their commands.
• This drill is great at pointing out players with great reaction quickness and twitch. How fast do the players respond and is there any wasted movement when they change direction? Then look for a strong, urgent finish to close out the rep!
Here are the players who have a chance to shine in these drills:
Paris Johnson (Ohio State) – Johnson is a "traitsy" blocker with light feet and proven versatility, having started games at both right guard and left tackle the last two years. His reaction quickness shows up on tape and should prove evident in this drill. Many analysts view him as a Top 15 pick in this draft.
Matthew Bergeron (Syracuse) – Bergeron is a bruiser in the run game, but his athleticism should not be slept on. The senior's flexibility, explosiveness, and fluidity all caught my eye during film study and he looks really calm moving in reverse. He's a potential first-round pick when it's all said and done.
Anton Harrison (Oklahoma) – Harrison has a lot of fans when you ask around, and a lot of it has to do with his athleticism at 6-6, 310 pounds. A member of Bruce Feldman's 2021 Freak List (he was left off last summer), Harrison's movement skills will impress at that size.
Steve Avila (TCU) – I don't know how Steve Avila is going to test, but I am willing to say that he'll have one of the better positional workouts. His athleticism and movement skills are not elite, but he's a reactionary athlete with surprising nimbleness. His lower body flexibility and play speed stood out on film.
These players all have great stories to tell, but who has taken the most unique journey to get to this point?
Jaxson Kirkland (Washington) – Kirkland is a big-bodied blocker at 6-foot-6, 322 pounds with huge hands and a heavy punch. Another player with proven versatility to play both sides and all four line spots, Kirkland faced a ton of adversity through his career, as injuries really hampered the last two years of his career. He was able to get a waiver to play a sixth season for the Huskies, proving he could stay healthy.
Darnell Wright (Tennessee) – Wright's performance against likely Top 3 pick Will Anderson of Alabama is the stuff of legend, as every analyst you speak with says, almost with a hushed whisper, "Did you watch his film against Alabama?" Wright, a former five-star recruit out of high school, started 42 games in his career at three different spots.
Wanya Morris (Oklahoma) – A Tennessee transfer, Morris is a good athlete with traits to develop to play either tackle or guard spot. The senior has excellent length and will be one of the more fun players to watch go through drills this weekend. If his name sounds familiar, you aren't wrong, as he was named after the Boyz II Men artist of the same name.
These are the players of note with a special statistic or measurement that sets them apart from their peers.
Peter Skoronski (Northwestern) – Listed by the Wildcats at 6-foot-4, 294 pounds, Skoronski graded out as the best pass protector in this Combine group of tackles this season according to Pro Football Focus (93.0). A tough, technically sound player with light feet, Skoronski's body type has many thinking he has a future at guard instead of tackle, but regardless of where he plays his athleticism and finisher's mentality will bode well for his NFL potential.
O'Cyrus Torrence (Florida) – A four-year college starter, Torrence was a big-time player for the University of Louisiana for three seasons before transferring to the University of Florida last summer. How did he prove himself in the SEC? Well, the arrow is still pointing up. The senior guard made it through, not just this season, but his entire college career without giving up a sack. He's also one of the better run blockers in the class.
Dawand Jones (Ohio State) – Over the last 10 years, the offensive lineman with the longest wingspan taken in the NFL Draft was Julie'n Davenport at 87 1/2 inches. Well, at the Senior Bowl, Jones checked with a wingspan of 89 1/2 inches. That is a massive, massive human being, and he's not giving up a ton in terms of his ease of movement. Jones is impressive.
John Michael Schmitz (Minnesota) – Schmitz is a really fun study if you enjoy violence along the offensive line. A true glass-eater who enjoys inflicting punishment on defenders, Schmitz graded out as PFF's top run blocker of all the interior linemen at this event (92.6). The senior also had not allowed a sack in his career before 2022.
Alan Ali (TCU) – Standing 6-foot-4, 303 pounds, Ali started for four seasons at SMU before transferring to the Horned Frogs this year and being a key cog on their strong offensive line in 2022. That fifth year in the lineup gave him a whopping 54 starts with over 4,000 snaps played in his career! This makes Ali the most experienced offensive lineman drafted since at least 2013 ... and it's very likely that those numbers are the highest ever.
The Rest of the Pack
Everyone else who will take part in the events in Indianapolis (in alphabetical order):
Jake Andrews (Troy), Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu (Oregon), Henry Bainivalu (Washington), TJ Bass (Oregon), Anthony Bradford (LSU), Nick Broeker (Ole Miss), McClendon Curtis (Chattanooga), Braeden Daniels (Utah), Jaelyn Duncan (Maryland), Mark Evans (Arkansas Pine-Bluff), Alex Forsyth (Oregon), Jon Gaines (UCLA), Connor Galvin (Baylor), Richard Gouraige (Florida), Jovaughn Gwyn (South Carolina), Ryan Hayes (Michigan), Brent Laing (Minnesota-Duluth), Tashawn Manning (Kentucky), Warren McClendon (Georgia), Jordan McFadden (Clemson), John Ojukwu (Boise State), Olu Oluwatimi (Michigan), Nick Saldiveri (Old Dominion), Juice Scruggs (Penn State), Sidy Sow (Eastern Michigan), Tyler Steen (Alabama), Ricky Stromberg (Arkansas), Andrew Vorhees (USC), Dalton Wagner (Arkansas), Carter Warren (Pitt), Luke Wypler (Ohio State)
We get to read all about the measurements for all these players over the next few weeks ... but wouldn't it be nice to have some context? What is considered a "good" 40-yard dash time? What about arm length? The broad jump? Here's what the average player drafted at each position has looked like over the last decade (based on my own personal research).
Height: 6052 (6'5 1/4")
Hand Size: 1000 (10")
Arm Length: 3400 (34")
Wingspan: 8158 (81 5/8")
Unofficial 40-Time (Stopwatch): 5.18
Official 40-Time (Laser): 5.21
10-Yard Split: 1.79
3-Cone Drill: 7.77
Short Shuttle: 4.72
Broad Jump: 107"
Vertical Jump: 29"
Height: 6035 (6'3 5/8")
Hand Size: 1000 (10")
Arm Length: 3300 (33")
Wingspan: 7918 (79 1/8")
Unofficial 40-Time (Stopwatch): 5.19
Official 40-Time (Laser): 5.20
10-Yard Split: 1.77
3-Cone Drill: 7.72
Short Shuttle: 4.70
Broad Jump: 106"
Vertical Jump: 28"