Layout of the Preview:
1) Brief Positional Overview
2) Top 15 Prospects. Includes Grade, NFL Comparison, Summary, Extra Thoughts
*Comparisons are more about physical profile and play style, NOT projection
3) Grades only: 16-26
90+: All Pro
85+ Pro Bowl
81-84: 1st Round / Year 1 Contributor / Starter
79-80: 2nd Round / Year 1 Contributor / Year 2 Starter
77-78: 3rd Round / Contribute by end of Year 1 / Year 2 Starter
74-76: Early Day 3 / Special Teams / Future Backup / Possible Starter
71-73: Mid-Day 3 / Special Teams / Future backup / Gamble Starter
68-70: Late Day 3 / Back End of Roster / Practice Squad / Developmental
65-67: Preferred UDFA
4) Positional Approach – Draft Weekend
NYG has two top ten picks manning the outside of their offensive line who are currently on rookie contracts. One of them is All-Pro caliber in Andrew Thomas, soon-to-be extended to a monster deal that is very much deserved. Thomas still has a long way to go in terms of his career, but the trajectory he is on is going to land him on a short list of the top linemen who have ever worn the NYG uniform. No celebrating yet, as he needs to keep that foot and ankle healthy for the next five-plus years, but that is the kind of performance we have been seeing out of him. Let’s recall what his outlook was after his rookie year in 2020. He went through some rough times among a rookie class of guys who started off their respective careers on a higher step up the staircase. Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, and Jedrick Wills all appeared to be homeruns. Well, three years later Wirfs is still the best of the bunch, but Wills and Becton are not exactly standing on a strong foundation when it comes to even holding onto a long-term starting job for CLE / NYJ, respectively. I bring this up because the struggles Evan Neal went through as a rookie need to be taken in stride. His rookie season was poor, no question. But as I said after he was drafted, he was going to need time to fix some of his technique and body control issues. 2023 will be the FIRST TIME he has played the same position as the previous year since high school. Behind them, Matt Peart, Korey Cunningham, and Tyre Phillips offer adequate but replaceable depth. Very few teams have strong depth at tackle, they’re hard to find.
TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS
1) Peter Skoronski – Northwestern – 6’4/313
NFL Comparison: Zack Martin / DAL
Junior entry. Three-year starter from Park Ridge, IL. 2022 First Team All American and three-time All Big 10, first team in both 2022 and 2021. Grandson of former Green Bay tackle Bob Skoronski. A technique-savvy tackle with near-perfect hands and feet. He can speed up his footwork on the fly while maintaining his body control, balance, and hand placement. He looks like a player on repeat snap to snap. The dependability and scheme-versatility he brings will be sought after by nearly every team. There are credible questions surrounding his lack of length, but he has more than enough high-quality tape to prove he can handle life on the outside. There are teams with a need inside at guard, however, that can still draft him high and get a Zack Martin-type player. No matter where Skoronski ends up, he is going to be a long-time quality blocker that enhances a team’s ability to control the point of attack.
*My outlook or grade on him does not change based on the position we are talking about. If you personally are big on positional value, then I could see him dropping a few slots in the overall stack. To keep this simple, Skoronski is one of the safest picks in the draft. You hear decision makers often talk about a draft class ending up with a bunch of “doubles”. That is exactly where I see this kid ending up at worst. Guard or tackle? Let me see what is currently on your roster and I will let you know afterward. Measurements scream guard, but those arm length issues matter less than you are talking about a guy with this caliber of technique and intelligence. Joe Thomas comes to mind when I see how consistently he moves.
2) Broderick Jones – Georgia – 6’5/311
NFL Comparison: Tytus Howard / HOU
Third-year sophomore entry. Two-year starter from Lithonia, GA. Jones, a former top tier five-star recruit and accomplished high school basketball player, technically started just 19 games over his career but was a part of a rotation in 2021 that gave him a lot of snaps. Once he took over the full-time job protecting the blindside of quarterback Stetson Bennett, he never looked back. Jones is an elite athlete with the kind of quick trigger and snap out of his stance that looks like he’s in fast forward mode. He is light on his feet with easy and natural ability to redirect. He stays square to his man with rapid-fire footwork and active hands. Jones still has some rawness to his game that likely stems from less-than-ideal experience. He needs a bit more mass and strength to improve the anchor, but that can come in time. He is an ideal fit for a zone blocking scheme and could even pave a road for himself inside at guard if tackle does not work out. Jones has all of the traits to start in the NFL, but his lack of experience may throw caution into the wind for some teams and depending on who gets him.
*There is a little buyer-beware here. There is not a single tackle in this class that played less college football than Jones. Some could take that as a good thing, others could use that fact to look elsewhere for offensive line help. The former basketball player has actually grown an inch in the past year and a half, a rarity. The 19-game starter was not flagged for holding once over his career, a rarity. While he comes into the league with more-than typical unknown, the performance was top notch in the SEC. Considering the hunger for more quality OL play in the league, do not sleep on the possibility Jones ends up being the first blocker taken in the draft.
3) Paris Johnson – Ohio State – 6’6/313
NFL Comparison: Tyron Smith / DAL
Junior entry. Two-year starter from Cincinnati, OH. 2022 All American. Two-time all-Big Ten, first team in 2022. Spent the 2021 season at guard and 2022 at tackle. Johnson is a twitchy, long, and fluid pass protector with the mechanics and technique to handle pass rushers on the edge. He snaps out of his stance and looks comfortable moving up the outside. He greets the defender at the meeting point with a violent hand strike and can initially maintain his balance and control. The experience and success at two different spots along the line will open up even more doors for the high-ceiling athlete. There will need to be anchor gains made in the weight room, but when considering the already-present tools and versatility, Johnson has all the makings to be a quality pro. Johnson plays a premium position at a high level that many teams are in dire need of, and his value is further increased by the experience at both guard and tackle.
*Depending on which team drafts him and who they have playing tackle, we could see Johnson begin his career inside similar to Tyler Smith at Tulsa. His body type is best suited for outside and what separates him from a much higher outlook is simply the lack of experience he has playing tackle. I want to see more stoutness; I want it to look a bit cleaner. That should come in time and whoever drafts him may need to cope with some growing pains that center around power and balance. But this kind of length is all-time great, and he still does not use it to full capacity. Johnson has the most upside in the OL class.
4) Matthew Bergeron – Syracuse – 6’5/318
NFL Comparison: Mitchell Schwartz / RET
Senior entry. Four-year starter from Victoriaville, Quebec. Two-time All-ACC. Has seen starts at both tackle spots but was predominantly on the left side over his career. Bergeron checks a lot of boxes when it comes to what teams are looking for at offensive tackle. There is a sense of comfort and developed know-how to his game. He will come into the league further along than most when it comes to the nuances of the skill set required to block defenders of all shapes and sizes. The lack of consistency and the need for some time in the weight room could end up stalling the impact he can have on the line initially, however. The question will revolve around just how high the roof is of his physical potential. He is not far off from pro-ready and if the power and strength attributes make just enough gains, he has the look of a guy that will start for over a decade. Bergeron looks pro-ready right now in a lot of ways but will simply need to heighten his lower body power and strength before being put in there on an every down basis.
*I have been pretty steady on my outlook of Bergeron since September. I labeled him a borderline first rounder back then and here we are, a guy who I believe should be taken toward the end of round one. The million-dollar question centers around what a team thinks his true upside can be. Is he near-maxed out? If so, I am fine with it. He can be an average linemen in a league with several below average linemen in starting lineups. Is he a tackle or guard? Another fair question. His skill set projects to both and with the instability the NYG line has inside/outside (until Neal proves he can get the job done), this can be a pick that you use to bring the player in, figure it out later.
5) Dawand Jones – Ohio State – 6’8/374
NFL Comparison: Trent Brown / NE
Senior entry. Two-year starter from Indianapolis, IN. Eared All-Big Ten honors in both 2022 and 2021. Jones is a former Division I basketball recruit and has one of the more unique bodies in the entire class. His frame is massive in all directions, in every sense of the word. He will immediately be one of the largest men in the league full of giants. Jones has learned to use that size to his advantage. While his movement traits get ugly at times, he has the kind of reach and lockout strength that can control his man with ease. His mass and explosion can get tremendous movement upon contact. And he has developed better footwork over his two years in the staring lineup. Jones still needs to work on his lower half to avoid the ugly beats where he is off balanced and slow, but the physical gifts are rare, and his impact is real. Jones has gifts and power that cannot be ignored but he does not always play to the natural athletic ability and may need to drop some weight for long term durability and current ability to adjust naturally.
*One thing I did not factor into my grade, but I do want to throw out there is the concern I have with his body type and it holding up for an entire career. I had similar fears with Mekhi Becton back in 2020, and look where he is. Jones does not have a bad body, but 374 pounds on legs that are not very thick scare me a ton. The pressure on his joints in combination with the discomfort he shows at times getting into a stance would lead me to deeper medical checks if I had access to them. He was a durable player in college, but it is something I will monitor. Anyway, Jones does not always look pretty but he has some margin to work with that others do not because of that size. All-time kind of size.
6) Anton Harrison – Oklahoma – 6’4/315
NFL Comparison: DJ Humphries / ARI
Junior entry. Two-year starter from Washington, DC. First team All-Big Ten in 2022. Harrison played on the left side all three years and routinely graded well in pass protection. He plays with such a wide wingspan and radius and understands how to use it. The body control and confidence he has in himself, and his techniques can go a long way against pro edge rushers. The strong hands and the ability to keep them inside can be overwhelming for opponents. There are some leverage and overall power issues that can be fixed in time. He has the look and play style of a guy that will be in the league for a long time. Harrison has the potential to be a starting left tackle in the NFL once he starts to match his lower body strength and consistency on the same level his hands are currently at but should start off his career as a backup swing tackle.
*Harrison is the kind of player that everyone likes, but nobody really talks about. They don’t stick their neck out for him, but it is understood by nearly everyone he will have one of the 32 starting left tackle jobs early in his career. Do I want him there right away? Not really, but things could be worse. If I am a team looking for a swing tackle in 2023 that can play toward the end of the year and in 2024 at the latest, I am all in on Harrison day two. Remember his name because very few chat about him, but I consider him one of the safest bets in the group. There is some Charles Cross here, too.
7) Darnell Wright – Tennessee – 6’5/333
NFL Comparison: Donovan Smith / FA
Senior entry. Four-year starter from Huntington, WV. First-team All-SEC honors in 2022. Wright started games at three different positions over his career, including a full season at left tackle in 2021. Most of his snaps have been spent at right tackle, and that is where he will likely begin in the NFL. The former five-star recruit was a little bit of a late bloomer, saving his best football for 2022. He plays like a grizzly bear that just woke up from hibernation. The aggression and natural power are there, but he seems disoriented and uncoordinated. The feet are athletic enough and he can body defenders, but when it comes to consistency and sustaining quality contact, Wright still shows a lot of rawness and may eventually need to move inside. Wright has the physical goods to be a starter but the consistency around his skill set and lack of coordination may bump to guard.
*The feeling I had after watching Wright’s tape was all over the place. One snap I would see Trent Williams, the best left tackle in the NFL. The next snap I would see was Tevin Jenkins, a former Bears first rounder that was miserable at tackle but quite effective at guard. This happened over and over. The trend I see is what leads me to my projection and the trend here revolves around inconsistency. He is gifted, he is a big-time physical blend of tools. He plays with swagger and will fit in well to a group that kicks the crap out of people. But his issues in space are going to be chewed up alive if he doesn’t fix them. More than once I got an Ereck Flowers vibe. Many see round one, I do not.
8) Tyler Steen – Alabama – 6’6/321
NFL Comparison: Matt Feiler / FA
Fifth year senior. Four-year starter from Miami, FL. Earned second team All-SEC honors in 2022, his lone season at Alabama after transferring from Vanderbilt. Steen, originally a defensive tackle, started over 40 games in the SEC and was put on the national spotlight in his final year playing for the Crimson Tide. He quickly won the starting left tackle job after arriving in Tuscaloosa. Steen played his entire career outside but could make a move to guard at the next level when considering his measurements and movement style. No matter where he ends up, he plays a dependable and physical brand. His initial punch does damage, he stays square and active, and his contact presence is heavy. Steen plays with great hands, but the feet have shown sluggish reactions that have caused problems in pass protection. His best work is in a phone booth, however. He is a weapon inside them. Steen should get a look at tackle first, but his traits align more with a quality starting guard but no matter where he ends up, the options he can provide should give him a boost.
*This is a name I feel will get a long look from NYG when they look for tackle-to-guard converts. He fits the profile of what BUF was looking for when Schoen/Daboll were there. The length is a bit of an issue but he is such a densely built, strong dude that even when he loses the hand game his anchor looks unmovable at times. Smart kid, coming from that ‘Bama offensive line that this regime drafted from a year ago could replace Peart as the third string OT right away in addition to eventually competing for a spot inside.
9) Jaelyn Duncan – Maryland – 6’6/306
NFL Comparison: Trey Pipkins / LAC
Fifth year senior. Four-year starter at left tackle that earned Honorable Mention All-Big 10 honors three straight seasons. Duncan is a light-footed, easy bending blocker with several key boxes checked. The thickness in his legs, athleticism, and ability to remain square against his opponent all appear to be pro-ready right now. The tools are all there, but the tape does not always sync up. He had way too many losses in pass protection and there is a length-shortcoming that could lead to problems on the outside. His game may be best suited inside where he can maximize his body type and skill set. Duncan has some of the best tape in the class, but his consistency issues are enough to be moved inside but no matter what position he ends up playing, there is an incredibly high ceiling here to try and mold.
*Prior to the season, I said he looks like a guard based on body type and the 2021 tape. His 2022 season was so bad in pass protection outside, that it nearly made me just put him in at guard. So, disclaimer here I did not know where to put him for the sake of the preview. Just know that when draft weekend comes, and you see his name. Duncan really does look the part. His set up post-snap, his hand strike, his ability to stay square. You catch the right string of plays, and you see a first-round caliber guy. To see the shortcomings, you must watch all of the tape. His footwork is so poor in pass protection despite 39 starts. And the fact he gained 16 pounds between the combine and his Pro Day and completely blew the workout may say something about the maturity / character. A lot to unwind here but I do see a guy that can be a good guard if the mental stuff checks out.
10) Wanya Morris – Oklahoma – 6’5/307
NFL Comparison: Braxton Jones / CHI
Senior entry. Three-year starter from Grayson, GA. Second team All-Big 12 in 2022. Started at left tackle for two seasons at Tennessee before transferring to Oklahoma, where he was backup in 2021 before starting at right tackle this past year. Morris missed the first two games of 2022 because of academic issues and then another game-plus with an upper body injury during the back half of the season. Thus, he has started just nine games since the start of 2021 after the transfer. He measures in way above average across multiple dimensions and brings quality natural footspeed to the table as a pass rusher. His play is inconsistent and that centers around aggression and reaction-based quickness. There are traits and stretches of play that make him look dependable, but he will be best suited for a backup role that can play both sides. Morris projects ideally to the swing tackle role that could credibly backup both spots, but there are too many shortcomings both mentally and physically to think of anything more early on.
*Morris grades out on tape a little worse than this, but his tool set is borderline-rare. I am worried a bit by the past three years from a macro-level. Since the start of the pandemic season in 2020, he has started just 15 games. There have been a few durability issues and the character is not fully clean. The questions can be enough for teams to simply look elsewhere. At some point though, the quality 2022 tape and tools need to be considered.
11) Asim Richards – North Carolina – 6’4/309
NFL Comparison: La’el Collins / CIN
Senior entry. Three-year starter from Philadelphia, PA. Earned All-ACC honors in 2022. Richards primarily played tackle for the Tar Heels but also had a cup of coffee at guard. He split time between the two at the Senior Bowl. His movement traits and production should get an initial look on the outside for the start of his pro career. He shows a tremendous hand work from both a power and technique perspective with athletic-enough feet and hips. He can seal the edge and play sudden, showing abrupt adjustments and transitions. The greatest trait to his game, however, could very well be the competitiveness he shows on a weekly basis. This is a high-effort, highly talented lineman with the tool set to play multiple positions and projects to the starter level early in his career. Richards may look like a guard initially, but his pass blocking techniques and movement should get him a look outside initially, a spot he could develop into a starter within two years.
*What is easy to like about Richards centers around how much he improved year to year. I saw a lot of him when I scouted the two guys NYG drafted last year. I was impressed enough to write a few notes on him thinking he could have come out in the 2022 class. His tape was even better in the 2022 season. I would even say he looked better at the end of year than he did at the start. To pair with that, he is an intense player with a lot of hustle. I always like to see that out of big, powerful guys. Could NYG triple-drip from the same college O-Line?
12) Carter Warren – Pittsburgh – 6’6/311
NFL Comparison: Chukwuma Okorafor / PIT
Sixth year senior. Four-year starter from Paterson, NJ. Second Team All-ACC in 2021. Missed all but the first four games of the 2022 season with an injury that required surgery. Will spend most, if not all, of the pre-draft process rehabbing rather than competing on the field or working out at the scouting combine. Warren fits the prototype for the position. He is tall and long with broad shoulders, thick hips, and thin ankles. He carries his weight well and besides the need to get stronger, he is physically ready for the league. Warren is a blank canvas that offensive line coaches will be excited to work with. The team captain started 39 games in college but still has multiple technique-based inconsistencies that are standing between him and his high ceiling. He has proven he can move his feet fast enough; he has proven he can win the lockout game; he has proven he can play square. If the edges to his skill set get smoothed out, this is a starting caliber lineman. Warren checks most of the boxes but simply needs more consistency and man-strength before he can be put into the fire.
*I call him a “blank canvas that coaches will want to work with”. But the one contradiction there is the fact he is already 24-years old with just under 40 career starts. I just see rawness in his game. Inconsistent techniques but a blend of size, power, and athletic ability that very few have. Warren has flashes of a year one starter in his game right now. He suffered a meniscus injury that required surgery, thus we did not get to watch a lot of tape in 2022. There will be a lot of coaches that are drawn to him.
13) Ryan Hayes – Michigan – 6’6/298
NFL Comparison: David Edwards / BUF
Fifth year senior. Two-year starter from Traverse City, MI. Two-time All-Big Ten. Member of two straight Joe Moore Award award-winning offensive lines. Hayes is a short-armed tackle that may have to move to guard at the next level. There are multiple issues within his pass block repertoire that can get exposed against pros more than they did in college. The lack of reach and poor balance with too much lower body stiffness is a potential recipe for disaster. With that said, Hayes does not have many losses on tape. Plain and simple. There is a heaviness to his contact when striking the opponent and he plays a brand of football that gets the most out of himself. He notices all the tricks and trades, competes through the whistle, and puts plenty of attention on the little details on and off the field. He was penalized just six times in four years. Hayes may have an overall talent shortcoming, but guys like this tend to play longer in the league than many drafted ahead of him. No matter what position Hayes ends up, the near-guarantee will be he will hit his ceiling and provide extra attitude to the offensive line. The question is, just how high will his talent construct that ceiling?
*Before I went deep-dive, I liked Hayes game a ton to the point I had an initial day two outlook on him. As I watched more, I saw he did not have enough in his arsenal to make up for the lack of length to stay outside. With a few bend-issues below the waist, life inside may be a bit tough for him. Regardless, Hayes is the kind of guy I want to see on a depth chart in a backup role. He will project to multiple spots, he gets the most out of himself, and there is a ton of grit to his play. May be a better pro than college player, as has been the case with quite a few Michigan linemen in recent years.
14) Blake Freeland – BYU – 6’7/302
NFL Comparison: Brian O’Neill / MIN
Senior entry. Four-year starter from Herriman, UT. 2022 All-American. Father played football and mother played basketball for BYU. One of four sisters throws on the BYU track team. Freeland was a state champion shot put and javelin thrower himself in high school and he was also an all-state basketball player. The athletic package is there. The experience level is there. The production is there, as he allowed just one sack and 11 pressures over the previous two seasons combined. Freeland played two years at both tackle spots. All of this should add up to a high overall outlook and grade, but the tape does not always match up. He needs a lot of body work, the lack of stability is a credible concern, and he has a hard time recovering. The athletic profile and aggressive style of play provide a wide base to build from, but the negatives in his game will need to be ironed out over the course of a year or two before being thrown into the mix. Freeland’s projection is based more on athleticism than skill which is fine if it is taken in the right spot. For such an experienced player, there appears to be such a long way to go.
*This will be an interesting guy to follow draft weekend. The analytics and workout numbers combine to give him a big-time outlook and projection. This not a good athlete, this is a special athlete. He was a very good player on the field, statistically. But then I had to question the competition he was matched up against for two reasons. One, his body control, lower half activation, and techniques were incredibly inconsistent. Two, he was a train wreck at the Senior Bowl. That was the week I solidified the idea he needed to be day three, and not an early day three guy. The tools are worth taking a chance on, but there is way too much he needs to refine.
15) Braeden Daniels – Utah – 6’4/291
NFL Comparison: Kelvin Beachum / ARI
Fifth year senior. Three-year starter from Carrollton, TX. Two-time All-Pac 12 including first team honors in 2022. Daniels, an accomplished shot-put thrower in high school, started multiple games at three different positions in college. He played both tackle spots in addition to left guard. The physical profile and play style credibly support the projection to play both inside and outside. He is explosive and has shown the capability of peppering the feet with plenty of fast twitch. Daniels, despite over 40 career starts under his belt, still has a raw feel about him. He has a hard time finding the line between aggressive and reckless, leading to struggles in sustainment and a lot falling to the ground. But when he is lined up with patience and balance, he checks a lot of boxes. He is an ideal fit for a versatile backup role in a zone scheme. Daniels has the capability to handle the combination of speed and power in the NFL, but will need time to put on more weight and find a true position.
*I was drawn to him right away when I broke down the Florida tape from early in the year. He won against multiple SEC defenders by a. wide margin. The size is tough to look past, though. Even a zone-heavy scheme will need to redshirt him for a season and then you can get a better feel for his best position. His value will stem from versatility, as the experience and skill set credibly align with both guard and tackle roles.
16) John Ojukwu – Boise State – 6’5/309: 72
17) Richard Gouraige – Florida – 6’5/306: 71
18) Connor Galvin – Baylor – 6’7/293: 70
19) Kadeem Telfort – UAB – 6’7/322: 69
20) Jake Witt – Northern Michigan – 6’7/302: 69
21) Jaxson Kirkland – Washington – 6’7/321: 69
22) Warren McClendon – Georgia – 6’4/306: 69
23) Earl Bostick Jr – Kansas – 6’6/309: 69
24) BJ Wilson – Quincy – 6’6/337: 68
25) Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu – Oregon – 6’6/317: 68
26) Dalton Wagner – Arkansas – 6’8/320: 68
While there is zero hesitation or question about the starting tackles in 2023, I do sense some unstable ground behind them. Tyre Phillips is the top backup and while there are better options out there among swing tackles in the league, there are quite a few teams that would take Phillips over what they currently have on the depth chart. Matt Peart, on the other hand, has been downright awful over multiple years now. To be blunt, he has not panned out after being selected in round three of the 2020 draft. A player who we knew was more about tools and potential than readiness and skill set, he simply has not mastered the repeatable fundamentals of the position. Korey Cunningham is the last option to compete for a backup job and I do not see a player who will provide anything better than Peart. All three are free agents in 2024.
This brings me to the subject many are either not willing to discuss or have a hard time putting credible thoughts together on. That is the situation around right tackle Evan Neal. The #7 overall pick from last year’s draft played poorly as a rookie, no way around it. I shake my head at the strong reactions. Neal suffered multiple injuries, fought through them, and provided steady run blocking. His pass protection lacked consistent feel and control. As I have said several times, I fully expect to see a better version of him in 2023, the first time he will be playing the same position as “last year” since high school. With that said, constructing a roster is about being ready for anything. What happens if Thomas/Neal go down? What happens if Neal does not improve and ends up in the basement again? Quality depth is needed at a spot where is nearly does not exist in the league. Marcus McKean is a big-time hopeful, but I would suggest another college tackle who could project to a backup both inside and outside. It should be day three, maybe even mid-to-late day three. While we cannot expect a great prospect to be available at that spot, we can realistically expect someone to be there who can compete for Peart’s job and offer some versatility as well. Sign me up for an Earl Bostick Jr., Ryan Hayes, or Asim Richards type if one of them falls.