Top Five 2019 NFL Draft Prospects- Interior Linemen
These guys will look to open up holes for the franchise's workhorse and anchor the center of the offensive line. Today I rank the top five interior linemen prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Garrett Bradbury- North Carolina State
Bio: Initially coming to NC State as a tight end, Garrett Bradbury moved to guard prior to the 2015 season. After spending his first two seasons at left guard, he was moved to center as a junior. As a senior, he won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center and received first-team All-ACC and All-American.
Strengths: Good core strength and muscle mass. Above average athleticism as a former tight end. Smooth mover who can reach, pull, and climb with ease. Great reaction skills to mover from one block to the next. Impressive body control. Quick hands ready to punch targets in the run game or pass protection. Strong hands to sustain blocks. Quick anticipation and response to defensive formations. Will maintain mirror and won't over set in pass protection. Nose tackles finds his hands in their frame quickly into their rush. Footwork and upper body strength redirect gap blitzers. Agility to make up for slow start to the play.
Weaknesses: Slightly below average size for the position by NFL standards. Forward lean in pass protection could leave him susceptible to counter moves. Punch mechanics are very predictable and can be countered. Pass protection benefited from play action and quick throws. Needs to learn to give ground in zone schemes in order to gain ground. Lateral movements are rushed occasionally. Excessive leaning makes run blocking top heavy. Doesn't generate much push as a drive blocker. Won't be able to get away with holds on the second level in the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Corey Linsley
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible Landing Spot: Atlanta Falcons
2. Elgton Jenkins- Mississippi State
Bio: As a redshirt freshman, Elgton Jenkins started two games at left tackle and one at right tackle. The following year spent time at left tackle and left guard. In 2017, Jenkins found a home at center where he played the next two years.
Strengths: Good quickness from snap to step. Broad frame and thick below the waist with good overall play strength. Good body control and plays within his limits. Widens frame to seal off gaps in run plays. Creates leverage with decent pad level and good hands. Uses proper hand placement and leg drive to eliminate targets on down blocks. Extremely strong hands to latch on to defenders and take them out of the play. Reads the middle linebacker and changes the rhythm for block based on his intention. Can play anywhere along the line. Able to hold his anchor if he feels a bull rush coming. Serviceable recovery agility.
Weaknesses: Will settle for a draw rather than win on drive blocks when facing elite talent. Loses the advantage early thanks to heavy feet. Leans a little early in pass protection, making him susceptible to swim moves. Missed several snap counts against Alabama which led to penalties and fumbles. Average lateral quickness and athleticism in the open field. Struggles to adjust at the second level. Mississippi State's scheme required less movement than most NFL teams.
Pro Comparison: Billy Price
Projected Round: 2
Possible Landing Spot: Baltimore Ravens
3. Connor McGovern- Penn State
Bio: As a true freshman, Connor McGovern started nine games at right guard. The next season, he was moved to center. As a junior, he was named third team All-Big Ten playing both right guard and center.
Strengths: NFL body type with strong upper body and a thick lower half. Works well on double team blocks. Can punch and carry target while block settles in. Able to stay and play wide. Good technique when transitioning on zone blocks. Bends well for desired pad level. Able to force defenders out of their anchors on zone blocks. Consistent hand placement in the running game. Bull rushes are ineffective against him. Opens hips and makes adjustments when beaten. Adequate redirect power in pass protection.
Weaknesses: Hand placement too wide in pass sets. Needs to take more consistent angles to the second level. Inconsistent pace to second block on combos. Lacks quickness on lateral movements. Unorthodox movements to mirror 3 technique rushers. Occasionally over sets and leaves inside open to counters. Gets caught forcing weight on his toes. Will lean and lunge to redirect in pass protection rather than anchoring. Frame becomes a target when he over sets. Reaction time and awareness needs improvement.
Pro Comparison: Rodger Saffold
Projected Round: 2-3
Possible Landing Spot: Buffalo Bills
4. Chris Lindstrom- Boston College
Bio: After spending his first two years playing right guard, Chris Lindstrom earned second team All-ACC honors as a junior after splitting time between right guard and right tackle. He stuck to right guard as a senior and earned third team All-American and first team All-ACC nods.
Strengths: Has the athleticism and intelligence to play anywhere along the offensive line. Comes from a football family who played in the trenches at Boston College. Elite first step and overall athletic ability. Thrives as a move blocker in the open field. Has the lateral speed to make reach blocks and cut off at the second level. Loose and flexible in his lower half. Ability to fight and make contact against more elusive targets on the second level. Combative against power rushers looking to push him aside. Stays low and in front of athletic inside rushers. Well timed and precise punches. Hits, slides, and mirrors defenders to keep pocket from collapsing. Reacts quickly to stunts and extra rushes. Pass protects with good balance and core.
Weaknesses: High wasted and thin calves. Pad level rises once out of stance. Struggles to gain leverage at the point of attack. Tends to be the nail rather than the hammer at first contact. Only generates movement on doubles and down blocks. Shorter arms and lacks skills to consistently finish blocks. Has to be sure his quickness doesn't cost him body control or patience. Will allow some pocket push against larger nose tackles. Lacks the upper body strength to force defenders out of his frame.
Pro Comparison: Joel Bitonio
Projected Round: 2-3
Possible Landing Spot: Carolina Panthers
5. Michael Deiter- Wisconsin
Bio: The Ohio Division IV Lineman of the Year, Michael Deiter chose to attend Wisconsin. After redshirting in 2014, he started all 13 games between left guard and center. In 2017, he was a first team All-Big Ten pick as a 14 game starter at left tackle and second-team All-American squad after his senior season due to his play in 13 starts at left guard.
Strengths: Wide base and thick frame. Posted 10 or more starts at three different positions. Durable with a lunch pail mentality to answer the call week in and week out. Serviceable first step. Punches upward into frame of defender and rolls hips under for added lift. Good leg drive on double team and down blocks. Finishes strongly once he gains the advantage. Above average awareness to get in front of and latch on to twist moves. First punch is on time and tight. Decent technique in the running game and pass protection.
Weaknesses: Doesn't fair well against strong defenders with good handwork. Needs better footwork to help sustain blocks against stronger nose tackles. Not very fluid on the second level. Struggles to identify and land hits in the open field which will limit his effectiveness on the move. Loses position and gives ground to bull rushes. Lacks lateral foot quickness to mirror against quicker rushers and counter moves. Below average ability to recover once beaten.
Pro Comparison: Ryan Ramczyk
Projected Round: 2-3
Possible Landing Spot: Green Bay Packers
Other Notable Prospects
Beau Benzschawel- Wisconsin
- Excellent downfield, not a natural knee bender
Nate Davis- Charlotte
- Good strength, weight management issues
Nate Herbig- Stanford
- Massive size, Injury history
Javon Patterson- Mississippi
- Long arms, gets lost in space
Ben Powers- Oklahoma
- Hard nosed demeanor, smaller size
Phil Haynes- Wake Forest
- Natural brute strength, lunges in space
Hjalte Froholdt- Arkansas
- Versatile, slow and awkward occasionally
Alex Bars- Notre Dame
- Good footwork in run game, injury prone
Eric McCoy- Texas A&M
- Great run blocker, struggles with shotgun snaps
Ross Pierschbacher- Alabama
- Great trap and pull man, limited fluidity