For the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft I will be scouting upwards of 60 offensive line prospects and many of the eligible tight ends. While the scouting report itself won’t be shared here (announcement coming), I am introducing a series where I select a few players I am studying that week to spotlight.
The goal will be to showcase how each player wins, their best matchups of the season, any notable anecdotes, game notes, and some concerns that I have about key areas of their game. In doing so you will get a snapshot of dozens of linemen around the country with insight into their evaluation. You can expect this series to run in a similar format as below, with tweaks throughout draft season.
Alabama LG Deonte Brown - 6’3” 350 pounds - Redshirt senior - 23 years old Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season
A former teammate on the O-line told me that Brown was his, “Favorite teammate I’ve ever played with. He’s a pure athlete despite his size with the best feet I’ve seen.”
Tapes viewed: 2020 - Missouri, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi State. 2019 - Auburn
Best matchups: Week 2 vs. Texas A&M DT McKinnley Jackson & Week 4 vs. Georgia DT Jordan Davis
Top traits: Footwork, balance, play strength, power, competitive toughness
Biggest concerns: Set points, strike timing
Week 1 vs. Missouri: This was Brown’s first game being at left guard since the 2018 season (played right guard in 2019). He was beat clean by an inside-out spin move due to turning his shoulders and hips inside that created a soft outside shoulder, was late recognizing a late-looping linebacker on a blitz, and had a few missed blocks in the running game. His ability to pry open his opponent to open up lanes with his backside hand showed off his brute strength, but there was clearly some rust for him to work off.
Week 2 vs. Texas A&M: Brown had an awesome back-and-forth battle with true freshman McKinnley Jackson (top player in the state of Mississippi as a high-schooler), each showing their best stuff against one another. Brown showed very good anchoring ability with a nice double under technique to create lift on Jackson while Jackson beat Brown clean with a cross-chop-club-swim move after Brown gave him his outside hand.
Week 3 vs. Ole Miss: Brown had a beautiful rep transitioning to his anchor that showed off his balance, mobility, and hand placement against defensive tackle Tariqious Tisdale. He had a dominant base block vs. Hal Northern that showed off his explosive hips, hands, and ability to generate torque and was a monster on double teams in this game. Brown got beat to his inside as a puller in pass protection, then faced a similar scenario against the same rusher a couple drives later, showed patience, and picked him up, demonstrating that he can correct a mistake in-game when given the opportunity.
Week 4 vs. Georgia: Brown had three reps where he drifted past his set point in pass protection and overset rushers, one he recovered very well to cut off an inside counter but was beat clean inside with a club-swim move on another. This was one of the main concerns I saw on tape with him; needing to shore up his landmarks/set points in his pass sets and being more patient with his hands. He was also late recognizing a three-man stunt with a late-looping 1-technique coming off of a double DL slant, giving up penetration to the frontside end through the ‘B’ gap. He quickly diagnoses simple twists and did earlier in this game, but needs to process longer developing, more complex stunts faster.
Best fit: Raiders, Steelers, Patriots, Ravens
Five Plays: These are five reps from Brown’s tape that I think tell the story of what he can do as a pro player.
Alabama LT Alex Leatherwood - 6’5” 315 pounds - Senior - 22 years old Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season
Leatherwood has a rocked up, muscular build and I’ve heard is expected to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.7-4.8 range.
Tapes viewed: 2020 - Missouri, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi State.
Best matchup: Week 4 vs. Georgia OLB Azeez Ojulari
Top traits: Play strength, initial explosiveness, anchor, competitive toughness, mental processing in pass protection
Biggest concerns: Over reliance on outside hand in pass protection
Best fit: Jets, Bengals, Panthers, Chargers
Five Plays: These are five reps from Leatherwood’s tape that I think tell the story of what he can do as a pro player.
Ole Miss RT Royce Newman - 6’6” 310 pounds - Redshirt Senior - 24 years old Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season
Tapes viewed: 2020 - Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Vanderbilt. 2019 - LSU
Best matchup: Week 5 vs. Big Kat Bryant
Top traits: Athletic ability, initial explosiveness, competitive toughness, versatility
Biggest concerns: Over reliance on a two-hand strike in pass protection, pad level
Week 1 vs. Florida: This was Newman’s first game at right tackle after playing left guard in 2019 and he struggled with his footwork and use of hands in pass protection. Newman had a false step/slight hitch between his second and third step that limited his range and he was overly reliant on a two-handed strike. Brenton Cox Jr. beat him outside and inside numerous times. In the run game, Newman showed off his phenomenal snap timing and initial explosiveness to cover up the 3-technique on backside combo blocks, movement skills as a puller and climbing to the second level to fit on linebackers in space. These traits were consistent on all of the tapes I watched.
Week 3 vs. Alabama: Will Anderson Jr. beat him using a ‘flash’ technique followed up by converting speed to power that got under Newman’s hands and lifted him up on 3rd & 7. Newman responded later in the game when Anderson bull-rushed, this time doing a very nice job getting to his spot with a strong base to anchor. Newman had another nice jump set later in the game with very good initial hand placement, but was shed too easily by a forklift technique, showing middling grip strength to sustain the block, something that popped up a few times on his tape. Newman had another nice initial fit in the run game on a down block against Justin Eboigbe but was thrown off the block after the stalemate, unable to reset his hands to sustain the block.
Week 5 vs. Auburn: Had an epic matchup against Big Kat Williams and really responded impressively in pass protection. Williams is heavily reliant on his signature pass-rush move (double-swipe) that was able to beat Newman a couple of times, but Newman adjusted and incorporated a ‘flash’ technique into his game that really helped him by giving him another option to use instead of just a two-hand strike. Once he started to have success with the flash, Newman kept going back to it and became predictable for Williams, so he will need to be more selective using this technique to keep rushers guessing.
Week 6 vs. Vanderbilt: Newman got to face off against Dayo Odeyingbo (6’6” 272) and was exposed a little bit against Odeyingbo’s elite length and powerful long-arm technique. Newman is vulnerable to the push/stab-pull technique from defenders with a tendency to let his pads rise after contact and not re-leveraging his hands quickly enough to work back underneath and regain leverage. This makes him top heavy and easy to shed, something Odeyingbo took advantage of in the pass and run game.
Best fit: Chargers, Bears, Colts, Packers, Chiefs
Five Plays: These are five reps from Newman’s tape that I think tell the story of what he can do as a pro player.
Stay tuned for next week when I will be sharing notes on Alabama center Landon Dickerson, BYU left tackle Brady Christensen, and Ohio State right guard Wyatt Davis.