Offensive Line Grades - 2014 NFL Draft

Welcome to my "2014 Offensive Line Draft Primer"

By Lance Zierlein

I've created formulas for tackles, centers and guards that take into account their power in the run blocking game, foot quickness, ability in pass protection, hand strength and how they sustain their blocks, body control, core strength and tenacity. As you will notice, I have included both tackle and guard ratings for some players and I've included a grade for players who may fit into the zone scheme as well.

My grades, as always are a combination of how I see a player now and how I see a player fitting into the NFL. For example, with Greg Robinson, I am projecting the player I believe he will become as he continues to learn the fundamentals of pass protection technique after playing for a run-heavy offense.

These grades are my own and I they do not necessarily reflect where I think a player will or should be drafted. As with any draft year, I grade the player with no regard to the draft class and only on his merits as an offensive linemen. Then, based on how the board shapes up, I would then fit them into the right spots. For example, I have a high 2nd round grade on Joel Bitonio, but I would probably draft him higher than that because he has position flexibility and I also believe that he is a safe player.

Round Grading Scale
1st 7.0 - 6.3
2nd 6.2 - 5.6
3rd 5.5 - 5.0
4th 4.9 - 4.5
5th 4.4 - 4.1
6th 4.0 - 3.5
7th/FA 3.4 - 3.0
Grade Explanation of Grade
7.0 - 6.75 Dominate, franchise-type lineman, perennial All-Pro
6.74 - 6.55 Outstanding player, should be consistent Pro Bowler
6.54 - 6.30 Very good starter, first-round talent
6.29 - 6.26 Borderline first-round, Top 40 player
No. Name School Pos. Overall Gradesort icon Other Position Zone Grade LZ Says... Edit
1 Greg Robinson Auburn OT 6.71

As powerful at the point of attack as any offensive lineman I've studied.  Dominates in run game with great leverage and strong hands.  Needs to dial back desire to destroy defender with each snap and play under control.  Lunges and takes bad angles at times in pass protection, but both issues are coachable as Robinson has had limited experience in protection.  His dominant traits (including foot quickness for his size and length) lead me to believe that he could be a long-time All-Pro tackle.  Likely to go through growing pains as a rookie, but will develop into dominant talent.

2 Jake Matthews Texas A&M OT 6.53

Matthews is the most game-ready offensive lineman in the draft.  Doesn't feature elite physical traits, but is an outstanding run and pass blocker who is plug and play from the day he signs his contract.  Times his hands and feet perfectly and is unmatched in this draft as a technician.  Longer DEs can get into his chest at times but that isn't an overwhelming concern.  Not as long as you would like at the LT spot, but his talent and skill makes up for that.

3 Taylor Lewan Michigan OT 6.33

Lewan has great length and is the premier athlete at the tackle position in this draft.  Has the feet to make any and ever block imaginable, but doesn't always take proper angles to get across the face of 3-techs.  Plays with a good base in pass protection and has enough bend and anchor to handle bull rushers.  Technique needs some refining, but Lewan is a first round talent and features the traits that should make him a good NFL starter at LT.

4 Xavier Su'a Filo UCLA G 6.17

Powerful and nasty.  Su'a-Filo features fluid hips and can get around the corner with good quickness when asked to pull and usually finds and hits his target.  Will play to and past the whistle.  Has the foot quickness and strength to redirect when needed.  Tends to get caught up on first man and takes too long to come off and pick up second rusher on twists.  Gives up more pressure in pass protection than you want.  His ability to move well and play with plus power will make him a late 1st round to early 2nd round target.

5 Cyrus Kouandjio Alabama OT 6.15

Kouandjio had a bit of a disappointing final season and has some medical concerns that may take him off the board for certain teams.  Plays too high and loses leverage at times, but does show enough anchor to battle back mid-snap.  Outstanding foot quickness into his pass sets and has great length to protect the edges.  Leverage is a concern on the next level.  He must play with lower pad level.

6 Zack Martin Notre Dame OT, G 6.13 6.21

I have Martin as a guard due to his short arms and lack of length for the position.  He's a persistent run blocker who latches on and finishes.  Plays with a wide, strong base and can drop anchor when needed.  Technically proficient with a good punch in pass pro.  Won't overwhelm with athletic traits but is a good football player who can be plugged in right away and be successful.  Can play in any scheme.

7 Brandon Thomas Clemson OT, G 6.13 6.08

My draft grade is based on the talent and does not reflect his ACL tear.  Has very powerful hands and is able to engage and overpower opponents with his patented "torque" move.  Is shorter than you would like for a tackle but moves his feet well in to play the position in the NFL if a team wants to look there first.  Has some issues getting across the face of the defender in run game.  Adept at shutting down inside moves with power and strong inside step.  Highly underrated and undervalued by some, but Thomas should be a very good NFL guard when he makes it back from his achilles injury.

8 Morgan Moses Virginia OT 5.97

Bad-bodied, long-armed tackle who displays a stiff lower body and has issues changing direction or run blocking in space.  With that said, he gets guys blocked.  That trumps the other issues.  Moses understands angles and how to use his length and flashes substantial pop when DEs try to beat him inside.  I have concerns about whether Moses' lack of athleticism on the next level and he will always struggle to get back-side blocks on the LBs in the running game.

9 Joel Bitonio Nevada G 5.58 5.50 5.67

One of the most tenacious linemen in the draft.  Never quits on a play and will win some battles by outworking and outlasting defenders.  Can play tackle or guard.  Aggressive at the point of attack, but doesn't generate as much power as you expect - even when he's on the move.  Anchors effectively against power and has high football character.  Scheme and position versatility should raise his stock.

10 Cameron Fleming Stanford OT 5.51

Plays with consistency and within himself.  Fleming is well-coached and flashes consistent power and aggressiveness as a run blocker.  Despite being heavy-legged, is fairly consistent with his pass sets and does a decent job of protecting the edge.  Limited athleticism means he must play in power scheme and will need some help against legitimate edge speed on the next level.  He's not for everyone, but his toughness and plus run blocking make will make him more attractive to some teams than you think.

11 Weston Richburg Colorado State C 5.45

He's the best center in this draft.  Plays with a terrifc anchor despite being high-cut and maintains desireable body control in hand-to-hand battles or in space.  Has plus feet and was effective getting out and pulilng at Colorado State.  Doesn't generate plus power at the point of attack, but usually holds his own.  Scouting community raves about his leadership qualities and take-charge attitude at practice and in games.

12 Billy Turner North Dakota State G 5.43 5.26 5.46

Turner had issues in protection in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl, but they were primarily technique-related and they might be coachable for him.  He has stated he would like to play guard in the NFL and I consider that to be his primary position with tackle as secondary.  Plays with an aggressive demeanor and plays hard.  Climbs to the second level quickly and flashes good body control in space.  Has a good anchor and can recover and redirect against blitzers.  Plays out of control at times.

13 Trai Turner Louisiana State G 5.42 5.51

Doesn't look like much on the hoof, but don't let that fool you because he will take it to defensive tackles.  Has good feet and does a nice job of working for position when moving laterally.  Is able to sustain blocks  on the move or on the second level.  Can get moved off his spot against power, but has enough core to survive against brute force.  Hard worker and best-suited for a team looking to play in space.

14 Dakota Dozier Furman G 5.41

Played tackle in college but is best-suited to play guard in the NFL.  He's always looking to finsih and plays with a chip on his shoulder.  Powerful run blocker who can win in tight quarters.  Has issues with change of direction and can get off-balance.  Gets too grabby when it isn't even necessary at times.  Will potential to be a wall inside vs. pass rush.  May need a year under his belt to gain necessary experience.

15 Jack Mewhort Ohio State OT, G 5.39 5.43

Solid in many areas but isn't noticably strong in any one area.  Mewhort flashes power in his hands lacks explosive power as a run blocker.  Shows good body control as a second level run blocker changes directions well enough to play tackle in the NFL.  I liked him better the first time I studied him but noticed more flaws when studying him again months later.  Might be best suited to play guard.  Despite average athleticism, he has enough foot quickness and function strength to fit into all schemes at guard.

16 Corey Linsley Ohio State C 5.39

One of the most "under the radar" center prospects in this draft despite playing at Ohio State.  Linley is unmatched in this year's draft from a power standpoint at the center position and would overwhelm weaker interior linemen.  Solid lateral movement and ability to hit moving targets in run game.  Will have trouble with A-gap blitzers and change of direction in pass pro can be uneven.  Said to be borderline "arrogant, but in a good way", Linsley has mentality that teams want from centers and unusual power from a center.

17 Ja'Wuan James Tennessee OT 5.17

His bread will be buttered in pass protection.  If he struggles, he won't be an NFL starter.  Lacks power and fails to consistently sustain as a run blocker.  Flashes good foot quickness to cut off the edge and re-direct back inside.  More quick than fast.  Solid in pass protection but has to prove he can anchor against bull-rushers.  If James can get stronger, he has a chance to be a solid NFL RT. 

18 Seantrel Henderson Miami (FL) OT 5.05

Elite size, mass and length and moves well in space.  Has issues with balance and struggles to change directions against inside moves.  Henderson drops his head too often and misses his target in running game.  Length allows him to stymie edge rushers, but rushers will a variety of moves will cause Henderson issues no matter how long the arms.  Severe concern over football character and despite the grade I have on him, I wouldn't draft him in any round.

19 Marcus Martin Southern California C 5.04

Flexible bender with good quickness off of the snap.  Has functional core strength but not a strong player.  Too often will be looking side to side in pass protection with nobody to block when he could be helping guard to secure a block.  Body control doesn't match your expectations.  Can get to any run block asked of him and has enough leverage to anchor despite lack of weight room strength.

20 Gabe Jackson Mississippi State G 4.99

Wide, thick frame allows him to drop anchor against power, but 1-gap defenders will cause him trouble.  Lets his hands get too wide.  Powerful punch and can get guys turned in run game.  Faced strong competition at DT while in SEC.  Jackson carries excessive bad weight and needs to play lighter.

21 Cyril Richardson Baylor G 4.91

Massive guard with the ability to move to the second level quicker than you expect.  Has difficulty changing direction and sustaining blocks and his power is generated more by his sheer size rather than natural strength.  Will struggle to regroup and recover when beaten.  Plays too highly and loses leverage.  Has potential in a power scheme but needs more strength and technique work.  Won't be bull-rushed and has good pop in his hands.

22 James Hurst North Carolina OT, G 4.89 4.91

Brings his lunch pail and gets to work, but his lunch pail won't be enough to say at LT in the pros.  Is an average athlete and relies on his upper body strength to get guys blocked.  Plays with a low pad level and keeps his feet churning in run game.  Has very everage body control and movement skills for the tackle position.  Will have to play RT or be bumped inside to guard.

23 David Yankey Stanford G 4.75

Solid guard at Stanford who played with consistency and got guys blocked.  Lacks an NFL trait to really hang his hat on.  Yankey isn't very powerful and is letthargic out of his stance when asked to pull.  Plays with sound technique and displays good awareness and ability in pass protection.  Limited athleticism dooms him to just a fit with power team.

24 Antonio Richardson Tennessee OT 4.74

Richardson features a strong anchor to go with his oustanding length and is rarely bull-rushed.  Doesn't bend well so can't translate weight room power into running game power.  Struggles badly against inside moves and in change-of-direction situations.  Might be a servicable RT with enough help, but lack of body control will always be a problem as he'll have a hard time keeping defenders in the middle of his power zone.

25 Travis Swanson Arkansas C 4.74

Better straight line movement than lateral movement.  Takes awhile to get around the corner when asked to pull.  Displays good posture and adequate bend in pass protection and can withstand power better than his 20 bench press reps would lead you to believe.  Catches pass rush too often rather than punch.  Durable, experienced SEC starter who has handled himself well against plus athletes and power.

26 Anthony Steen Alabama G 4.70

Stubby frame with short arms, Steen is hardly impressive to look at.  On the other hand, he is good technician in pass protectionn and uses his hands very well.  Steen moves okay in space and takes pretty good angles.  While I'm higher on Steen than some others based on his anchor strength and hand usage, his short arms are a major concern.

27 Michael Schofield Michigan OT, G 4.66 4.66 4.73

Experienced college tackle with good technique but has problems against explosive power.  Core strength may be an on-going issue for him, but if he can get stronger, has the technique and feet to compete for a starting job.  Displays good foot quickness and takes proper angles with second level blocks.  His best position might be guard with a team who features zone scheme.

28 Wesley Johnson Vanderbilt G, C 4.61 4.61 4.64

Actually graded out better as a tackle, his college position, as opposed to as an interior lineman.  Too light to play tackle, but could be a fit at guard or center in zone scheme with roster flexibility to play tackle in a pinch.  Smooth in pass sets with ability to counter inside moves and change directions.  Not a physical speciman and will get pushed around at times in the NFL, but is well-schooled and gets more the most from his frame.  Should be a very good value pick as a center.

29 Justin Britt Missouri G 4.51 4.45 4.53

Tenacious worker who also uses good foot quickness to gain advanatagees.  Lacks functional strength and can get pushed around.  May lack enough anchor to play inside for any team other than strict zone scheme, but not nothing more than a backup as a tackle.

30 Brandon Linder Miami (FL) G 4.22 4.28

Has played guard and tackle, but is a guard-only on the next level.  Can make blocks on the move and climbs to his second level target quickly and with good angles.  Lacks anchor and has a hard to holding his ground against leverage-oriented DTs.  Lack of strenght leads to "panicked hands" which get way too wide in pass protection.  Has good frame and movement skills but may be overmatched by NFL power.

31 Matt Patchan Boston College OT, G 4.21 4.27 4.34

Hard to find a tackle who gets off the ball and into a defender quicker than Patchan.  Uses explosiveness off of the snap and outstanding foot quickness to win as a run blocker.  When asked to play with power will struggle.  Gets jostled too often in pass protection due to lack of functional strength.  Has some character concerns to check out.  His foot quickness will make a coveted target by a zone team.

32 Jon Halapio Florida G 4.19

Punishing power when he gets into his man.  Generates push from powerful lower body and can beat people up in the phone booth.  Power to redirect, but feet don't always cooperate.  Will struggle against interior quickness and must play downhill as angles in run blocking will be hit or miss.  Power gives him a chance to succeed and I like his chances if he gets with the right team.

33 Bryan Stork Florida State C 4.14

Good strength at the point of attack but is limited athletically and is inconsistent with second level blocks.  While anchor and power are a plus, hard to see him being a difference maker rather than just a decent center.

34 Spencer Long Nebraska G 4.09

Fluid movement in space and able to play with some pop on the move but isn't a power player when asked to handle man in front of him.  Good pass protection technique but change of direction is a major concern and the reason I'm concerned about him.  Also, injury history has to be studied.  Not sure he has one part of his game that he can point to as a definitive strength.  Has an NFL frame. 

35 Laurent Duvernay-Tardif OT, G 4.05 4.10 4.15

Duvernay-Tardif's pro day results were off the charts and he dominated competition.... in Canada.  Tardif has oustanding combination of power and quickness and has an athletic frame.  His kick-slide and pass set are very smooth.  A team will likely draft the traits within the first five rounds, but the question of how long it will take him to adjust to the NFL level of competition is a tough one to answer.

36 Tyler Larsen Utah State C 3.96

While I like Larsen better than Bryan Stork as a talent, it is impossible not to penalize him for his short arms.  Shows good upper body strength but has trouble sustaining blocks due ot lack of length.  Takes smart angles to the second level but has no margin for error due to subpar lateral movement.  Gets caught leaning too often and doesn't play with leverage.  Scrappy but limited.

37 John Urschel Penn State G 3.86 3.93

Not much to look at from a physical standpoint, but when you watch him he rarely has consecutve bad snaps and works to overcome size/strength deficiencies.  Smart player who takes great angles and keeps his feet working.  Lacks physical tools but a willing zone blocker.  Has an outside shot of making a roster, but I like him.

38 Charles Leno Boise State G 3.58 3.68

Fluid kick slide in pass protection and mirrored fairly well, but he doesn't have the frame to be an NFL tackle.  Outstanding foot quickness makes him a zone scheme candidate but I don't think he is strong enough to make a roster right now.  Might be best suited for a practice squad where he can try to get biggeer.

39 Chris Watt Notre Dame G 3.55

Nothing I see from him gets me excited.  Watt lacks core strength and allows defenders to get into him thanks to shorter arms.  More of stalemate blocker than snap-winner and doesn't appear to be physically gifted enough to be anything more than a backup at best.

40 Jon Harrison Florida C 3.54
41 Andrew Norwell Ohio State G 3.47

Shows anchor in pass protection and has plus size.  No plus athletic traits or skills that stand out.

42 Kadeem Edwards Tennessee State G 3.47

My grade is lower than he probably deserves.  I don't like the physical tools much at all, but I do like his playing demeanor.  Body looks loose when engaged, but has a surprising amount of strength in his hands when he locks on.  Battled like he belonged at Senior Bowl.  Feet are just okay lacks power or refinement.  Tenacious attitude will endear him to a team or two and that should get him drafted late.

43 Cornelius Lucas Kansas State OT 3.44

Former basketball player with ridiculously long arms and a frame that can easily add weight.  Moves better than most with his high center of gravity and does a decent job of keeping defenders in front of him.  Has issues anchoring and doesn't get much push in run game.  Plays with toughness, but is a developmental project right now.

44 Kevin Palmer Baylor C 3.28

Played right tackle for Baylor this season after injuries depleted the position.  Is very stiff and plays too upright.  Palmer fires out of snap and gets into his man quickly and is actually more effective at getting push than you would expect for a player with such little bend.  Has some issues with sustaining in pass pro.  Projects inside to center.

45 Russell Bodine North Carolina C 3.23 3.24 3.31

Athletic testing and strength testing at the combine would lead you to believe that Bodine is one of the most gifted interior linemen in the draft, but the tape doesn't agree.  Ridiculously sloppy hand usage and gets too grabby.  Good cut blocker on the move and can play center or guard.  Has issues anchoring.

46 Gabe Ikard Oklahoma C 3.19 3.27

Very good foot quickness, but doesn't have power to match-up against NFL interiror linemen and ends up on the ground too often.  Will be physically overwhelmed on the next level.

47 Zach Fulton Tennessee 3.19

Plays with a decent level of power in tight spaces.  Is unable to move quickly enough to handle speed off the snap or change of direction from LBs and DTs.  Lacks requisite athleticism to be a full-time starter.

48 Karim Barton 3.18
49 Ryan Groy Wisconsin G 3.15
50 Trey Hopkins Texas G 3.11