2021 NFL Draft: Interior Offensive Linemen

Last time around we talked interior defensive line and now we get to the men on the other side of the ball. The average over the past five years is for about 20 interior offensive linemen to be drafted, and it looks like we could meet or exceed that number this year with a strong group overall. This class is filled with usual suspects from the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, yet also features some small-school guys with high upside like David Moore from Grambling. Overall, this class could prove to be one of the better interior offensive line classes in recent years.

Interior Offensive Linemen Big Board

1) Alijah Vera-Tucker – USC

2) Creed Humphrey – Oklahoma

3) Wyatt Davis – Ohio State

4) Landon Dickerson – Alabama

5) Quinn Meinerz – UW Whitewater

6) Trey Smith – Tennessee

7) Jackson Carman – Clemson

8) Aaron Banks – Notre Dame

9) Kendrick Green – Illinois

10) Robert Hainsey – Notre Dame

11) Royce Newman – Ole Miss

12) Ben Cleveland – Georgia

13) Josh Myers – Ohio State

14) David Moore – Grambling

15) Sadarius Hutcherson – South Carolina

16) Tommy Kraemer – Notre Dame

17) Deonte Brown – Alabama

18) Robert Jones – Middle Tennessee State

19) Trey Hill – Georgia

20) Drake Jackson – Kentucky

21) Carson Green – Texas A&M

22) Jack Anderson – Texas Tech

23) Michal Menet – Penn State

24) Jimmy Morrissey – Pitt

25) Kayode Awosika – Buffalo

Guys To Watch

IOL-1: Alijah Vera-Tucker – USC

Vera-Tucker played both guard and tackle for USC in his career and while I think he could spend some time outside if needed, his best position in the NFL is going to be inside at guard. He plays with a mean streak that offensive line coaches are going to love and consistently finishes guys in the run game. He has great feet and often wins by out-leveraging his opponent. He has a strong core to anchor against power and strength through his hands, delivering a nice punch to stun and disengage from defensive linemen. Vera-Tucker needs to continue to add strength through his frame but has the capabilities to be a starting NFL lineman right away especially in a zone-rushing West Coast offense like that of the 49ers, Packers or Rams.

High Guy: Quinn Meinerz – UW Whitewater

The guy with the gut, Quinn Meinerz took the Senior Bowl by storm this year and has seen his stock skyrocket as we get closer and closer to the draft. Meinerz played guard at Division 3 Wisconsin-Whitewater and showed off his versatility by playing extremely well at center down in Mobile. He is a supremely gifted athlete who moves well and shows tremendous quickness for an interior player. Strength and power are important on the interior, and Meinerz plays with both at a high-level, handling guys from the power-five level with easy while at senior bowl practices. He is still raw with how he uses his hands and will also need to continue to add strength to his lower body at the next level specifically to improve his anchor and balance. However, Meinerz shows a high football IQ with the power and quickness to step into a starting center role early on in his NFL career.

Low Guy: Deonte Brown – Alabama

Brown is a big guy with a ton of natural strength. He plays like a schoolyard bully, picking on small guys and paving the way for Alabama’s running backs. If Brown gets his hands inside an opposing player’s shoulder pads, the rep is all but over. He has slid down the board for me specifically because in pass protection he struggles with quick interior defenders and linebackers shooting gaps who he simply cannot get his massive frame in front of. His weight is going to need monitoring throughout his career and while he is physically imposing, he will get exposed if he cannot maintain the limited amount of agility he currently has. Brown is a scheme-specific guard who will be valued higher by some teams than others and because of that might slide in the draft.

My Guy: Wyatt Davis – Ohio State

Ohio State’s best offensive lineman last year, Wyatt Davis unfortunately was unable to finish his season after suffering a leg injury in the national championship game. He has great bloodlines with Hall of Famer and former Packer, Willie Davis as his grandfather. Much like Willie, Wyatt plays with a ton of tenacity and maximum effort on each snap. He has vice grips for hands and moves extremely well for a man of his size. Davis has quick feet and is one of the best interior blockers in the class thanks to his ability to climb and dominate at the second level in the run game. As a pass blocker, he does well moving laterally and sets with a nice wide base. He needs to add some strength and finish his blocks with more consistency, but there is no doubt Wyatt Davis has the profile to be a starting caliber guard in the league for the next 7-10 years.

Sleeper: Ben Cleveland – Georgia

Ben Cleveland is one of the strongest guys in this year’s draft class. After being a rotational player for Georgia in 2019, Cleveland came back and looked significantly stronger and more mobile than the previous year. He has solid knee bend and does a good job playing with leverage for a guy of his size. His strength is noticeable in both the run and pass game, especially if defender attempts to challenge him head on. He anchors well and consistently finds work in the pass game with great awareness and vision. Cleveland did a better job with his footwork in 2020 but still needs to continue to improve his lateral quickness and mobility. He is not going to be for everyone, but with excellent size and strength Cleveland has the chance to be a solid contributor on the interior at the next level.

Photo courtesy of University of Illinois Athletics