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 C/G Landon Dickerson - 6’5” 330 pounds - Redshirt senior - 22 years old Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season
A quote from Dickerson on the Alabama O-line that encapsulates his playing style well, “We just had a mindset and mentality to want to go out there and make people quit. It wasn't about the scoreboard. If we went out there and made that front 7 not want to play us and wish they never played football again, we were going to be happy."
Tapes viewed: 2020 - Missouri, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Georgia, and Tennessee
Best matchups: Week 4 vs. Georgia DT Jordan Davis
Top traits: Size, competitive toughness, leadership, upper body strength, mobility
Biggest concerns: Injury history
Week 1 vs. Missouri: Dickerson was a force in this game and out of the gate demonstrated how physically dominant he would be for the season. On one rep Dickerson was uncovered in a half-slide to his left with a tackle-end (T-E) stunt being executed by the 3-technique DT and wide-9 DE Tre Williams. Dickerson provided help with his inside hand to the right guard as he slowly slid to his left with his eyes diagnosing the stunt. Once he confirmed the looper was coming he exploded into contact and thunder-punched Williams on his butt. Later in the game in the low red zone, Dickerson had Akial Byers (6’4” 305) in a 0-technique on a power concept with the right guard giving a bump on the double-team to help secure the fit. Once the runner crossed the line of scrimmage Byers let up only to have Dickerson latched tightly inside his frame, driving him 5+ yards off the ball and folding him up like a beach chair for a pancake. Dickerson also knocked over a nose tackle on a combo and climb, fit on the Mike backer, and catapulted him 5 feet at the point of attack to create a cutback lane for the runner.
In pass protection, Dickerson showed impressive independent hand usage to stay in front of and cut-off an attempted inside club move in pass protection from a 0-technique. The one notable negative rep that he had was being late coming off of a 0-technique who was running a three-man game with a 3-technique and 5-technique DE to Dickerson’s left. The DE looped around both interior rushers and Dickerson was late to recognize it, giving up a strip-sack in the process. QB Mac Jones helped the DE get home by climbing into the pressure, but Dickerson could have processed it quicker.
Week 2 vs. Texas A&M: Dickerson again looked for work when uncovered in this game to deliver monster shots on unsuspecting rushers, but was most impressive in the run game. The ‘back block’ for a center is when they have to open their hip at the snap and fit on a backside defensive tackle, usually in a power concept when the backside guard pulls to prevent penetration. It’s one of the most difficult assignments a center is asked to do, especially if that DT is a 3-technique and not a 2i or a shade because of how much space they have to travel in such a short amount of time. Dickerson flawlessly executed two on backside 3-techniques, getting good fits and creating a stalemate. Dickerson also pulled to both sides and wrapped around each tackle, lining up and sealing a safety. I thought this would be the most impressive game I’d watch of his, that is until I watched his next performance against Ole Miss.
Week 3 vs. Ole Miss: I said on Twitter that Dickerson was the “Terminator” in this game and it wasn’t much of an exaggeration. Dickerson manhandled junior DT K.D. Hill (6’1” 320) and made him look like a DIII player at times. On one double-team Hill was in a shade over the outside shoulder of Dickerson and with a slight bump from the right guard got put flat on his back while the runner scampered through the crater Dickerson had created for a 35-yard gain. Dickerson was flat-out dominant not only against Hill but everyone he encountered in this game and put together one of the most impressive tapes you’ll see from a center prospect.
Week 4 vs. Georgia: Dickerson’s matchup against future NFL starter DT Jordan Davis (6’6” 330) went back and forth with each player showcasing their strengths against the other. Davis rooted his feet and held the point against Dickerson well in the game and Dickerson cut Davis off from a 2i-alignment on an outside zone run with one arm. The most impressive rep from Dickerson came on another outside zone run where Dickerson executed a natural fold block behind the right guard to pick up the frontside backer, delivering massive jolt at the point that led the backer to adjusting his chinstrap after the play was over. On another outside zone run, Dickerson came off of a combo block on a 2i to pick up linebacker Nakobe Dean attempting to penetrate the play-side ‘A’ gap, sticking him in the chest with one hand and stopping him cold. Not only were these examples of Dickerson’s elite stopping power and cinderblocks for hands, but also showed very good processing to see through the first level of the defense up to the second level, and adjust in a timely manner. This was also the only tape that I studied where I saw Dickerson on the ground (once), not counting getting rolled up on by a pile, which happens often to linemen and did to Dickerson several times across the five tapes of his that I studied.
Week 5 vs. Tennessee: Dickerson had to move to right guard in this game due to Deonte Brown getting injured and had zero drop-off in play. On one base block he bent DT LaTrell Bumphus’ (6’3” 290) neck back with the amount of jolt he delivered on contact and folded him up onto the ground. He reached a 2i alignment with ease on an outside zone run and in the low red zone worked up to the second level when uncovered to hit, lift, and drive LB Quavaris Crouch 5+ yards into the end zone despite his helmet coming off early in the rep.
Best fit: Cardinals, Dolphins, Steelers, Ravens, Bills
Five Plays: These are five reps from Dickerson’s tape that I think tell the story of what he can do as a pro player.
BYU LT Brady Christensen - 6’6” 312 pounds - RS Junior - 24 years old Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season
The coaching staff told me Christensen graded out at 92% on the season and 98% in pass protection. His position coach also told me that Christensen is the best pass-blocker he’s ever coached, to include Frank Ragnow. They’re obviously different positions, but that was notable.
Tapes viewed: 2020 - Navy, Troy, Boise State, Louisiana Tech, Houston
Best matchup: Week 7 vs. Houston DE Payton Turner
Top traits: Length, use of hands, zone run-blocking, competitive toughness
Biggest concerns: Was helped in pass protection by the scheme and extensive use of play-action, RPOs, and roll-outs as well as 12 personnel and having tight end help, lack of high-end competition
Week 7 vs. Houston: Christensen faced the best competition of the season in this game when he faced off against DE Payton Turner, who is a similar prospect to Saints DE Marcus Davenport. Christensen more than held his own and demonstrated both patience and a mixture of pass sets to keep Turner locked up for most of the game minus one glaring loss. The loss came on a rep with Turner in a 2-point stance out of a wide-9 alignment. Christensen overset him and turned his hips a hair too early and Turner used a stutter club-swim move to beat him inside.
Best fit: Chargers, Jets, Vikings, Bears, Colts, Rams, Packers
One-liner: A smooth pass protector with excellent length to pair with patient, accurate hand placement and a refined skill-set as a zone run-blocker.
Five Plays: These are five reps from Christensen’s tape that I think tell the story of what he can do as a pro player.
Ohio State G Wyatt Davis - 6’4” 315 pounds - RS Junior - 22 years old Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season
Tapes viewed: 2019 - Wisconsin. 2020 - Nebraska, Penn State, & Rutgers
Best matchup: Week 1 vs. Nebraska DT Casey Rogers
Top traits: Competitive toughness, anchor, use of hands, grip strength
Biggest concerns: Footwork & angles climbing to the second level, aiming points and adjusting to post-snap movement
Week 8 vs. Wisconsin (2019): Pass protection: Davis did a nice job on a full slide to his left staying level and tight to the center with active eyes to pick up a late-looping end, delivering a violent shove that knocked him back into a stumble. Did a very nice job on another rep on a dual-read working off the 3-technique to the blitzing Sam backer to pick him up and then later in the game used impressive spatial awareness with his center and right tackle to pick up a slanting end after passing off the 3-technique to the center. Davis had an explosive pass set against 3-technique Keeanu Benton to beat him to the spot with a well-timed, powerful outside strike to create leverage before transitioning to his anchor. Davis later stoned Benton’s attempted bull-rush, knocking him down and spiking him to finish after he left his feet to get in a passing lane. Davis gave up a pressure when he got fooled by a dummy signal from a shaded nose tackle to his immediate left, thinking a DT twist was coming. This caused Davis to set on the shade and forget about the 3-technique to his right, allowing him a free run at the QB.
Run game: Davis has an excellent scoop block on a head-up 0-technique, working his hands inside his frame while staying square to the line of scrimmage. Davis struggled early in the game to get any movement on Benton as the drive man on double-teams, but gradually started to have some success as the game went on. After a few inaccurate fits with his hands on these doubles he eventually corrected his aiming points and drove Benton with the center 3-yards off the ball into the backside linebacker. Davis had a climb to the second level on the backside of outside zone and overshot the linebacker, missing him with his inside hand and giving up the backdoor.
Week 1 vs. Nebraska: Davis had a great battle with sophomore DT Casey Rogers in this game and after a slow start put some really impressive reps on tape. Early on he stepped under himself out of his stance on a roll out to the left and didn’t gain enough ground, letting the 3-technique (Rogers) cross his face from the backside ‘B’ gap. Shortly after on an inside zone combo from the 1-technique to the backside backer Davis allowed his weight to get too far over his toes in an attempt to fit on the 1 tech and fell. Rogers was the 1-technique and gave a subtle shoulder turn to reduce surface area that led to Davis falling. Davis fell off a couple of other blocks in this game too, including an inside zone combo that his base got way too narrow on as he was climbing, negating his ability to come to balance in time to pick up a linebacker run through. In the four tapes I watched I thought Davis was on the ground a little too much, hence one of my main concerns listed above. Despite some early struggles as the game went on Davis wound up having a very good day run-blocking. He had a beautiful angle-drive kick out on Rogers that he finished with authority on then a backside cut-off up to linebacker Will Honas that showed off his athletic ability in space. The best blocks in the run game were all on double-teams or combo blocks; a Deuce block that he took DT Ty Robinson by himself on and created 3 yards of movement, an Ace block against 2i DT Peters that he also took by himself for 2 yards of movement, and finally a frontside combo block on outside zone that he drove Chris Walker back on.
Week 2 vs. Penn State: Davis’ stout anchor was on display throughout this game. He had one rep against DT P.J. Mustipher where he locked him up with tight hand placement and another where he reset his hands as he was straining to create force through the in-steps of his feet vs. a bull-rush, a very important quality for the next level in order to re-leverage against power rushers. Davis did a very nice job in this game covering up the shaded nose on zone combo blocks and overtaking in time to prevent any penetration.
Week 3 vs. Rutgers: Davis whiffed on DT Michael Dwumfour slanting inside at the snap, lunging, and throwing a shoulder at air. On another rep later in the game nose tackle Julius Turner won across his face through the ‘B’ gap on an attempted inside zone combo, causing Davis to fall to a knee and get twisted up. The positives came on a gorgeous reach block vs. an inside slanting 5-technique that he used excellent hand placement on to create leverage and seal. Davis also had one of his patented pancakes from the backside of an inside zone run using very good hand placement and impressive power on a tilted nose tackle (Turner) to bury him in the ground.
Best fit: Jets, Bengals, Panthers, Bears, Ravens
Five Plays: These are five reps from Davis’ 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 Oklahoma State right tackle Teven Jenkins, Georgia guard Ben Cleveland, and Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell.