First Take – Top Offensive Tackles for the 2021 NFL Draft
With the report cards for the 2020 NFL draft completed, NFLDraftScout is turning its attention to the class of 2021, offering a quick “First Take” with rankings and perspective of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each position group.
Though it did not generate nearly as much attention in the pre-draft build-up, the 2020 offensive tackle class was every bit as gifted as the receivers.
Like the pass-catchers, six offensive tackles heard their name called in the first round, with the first three blockers coming off the board before the Las Vegas Raiders made Alabama’s speedy Henry Ruggs III the first receiver selected.
To put that into its proper perspective, that is the second-most offensive tackles ever picked in the opening frame of the draft in the modern era, falling one behind the seven first rounders in 2008.
Much to the chagrin of pass rushers everywhere, however, the talent at tackle is still quite high.
The best blocker in the country last year, in fact, returned to Oregon in the fabulously gifted Penei Sewell, who became the first player to ever win the Morris Trophy (Pac-12’s best lineman) and Outland Trophy as a true sophomore. Top quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are likely to be selected over him in the 2021 NFL draft (should all choose to enter the draft once eligible) but that is just a reflection of the value of their position in comparison to his.
Simply put, Sewell is the best player in the country and would have been the first blocker selected had he been eligible in 2020.
Even with his brilliant play, Sewell was overshadowed at Oregon by their superstar quarterback, Justin Herbert, the sixth overall pick this spring by the Los Angeles Chargers.
Being overshadowed comes with playing the offensive line and is perhaps why steady-eddies like Texas’ Samuel Cosmi and Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg don’t get more national attention.
Alabama and Iowa will miss their star right tackles, Jedrick Wills and Tristan Wirfs, who were selected 10 and 13 overall by Cleveland and Tampa Bay, respectively, but all is certainly not lost given that similarly gifted left tackles Alex Leatherwood and Alaric Jackson returned.
Leatherwood is my top-rated draft-eligible prospect returning for the Crimson Tide and a cinch first round pick. Jackson has flashed in the past but missed much of last season with a sprained knee which limited his effectiveness when he was on the field.
Stanford’s Walker Little, likewise, has a chance to leap into the top five at the position after missing almost all of last season with a knee injury of his own. The former five-star recruit is hoping to bring back some of the luster along the offensive line that Stanford has lost in recent years.
There is nothing Little about the former five-star recruit but he (and virtually everyone else) look small compared to Minnesota’s behemoth Daniel Faalele’s whose listed size below is no misprint.
Underclassmen are denoted with an asterisk. All players listed are potentially eligible for the 2021 NFL draft.
The Top Five
1. *Penei Sewell 6-5, 325 Oregon
2. Alex Leatherwood 6-5, 310 Alabama
3. *Samuel Cosmi 6-5, 295 Texas
4. *Walker Little 6-6 313 Stanford
5. Liam Eichenberg 6-5 305 Notre Dame
Best of the Rest
6. Alaric Jackson 6-6 320 Iowa
7. Thayer Munford 6-5, 310 Ohio State
8. Ben Petrula 6-5, 310 Boston College
9. *Daniel Faalele 6-8, 400 Minnesota
10. *Adrian Ealy 6-5, 328 Oklahoma
11. *Abraham Lucas 6-6, 320 Washington State
12. Dillon Radunz, 6-5, 298 North Dakota State
13. Tommy Doyle 6-7, 315 Miami (OH)
14. Cole Van Lanen 6-5, 312 Wisconsin
15. Drew Himmelman 6-9, 315 Illinois State
16. Greg Eiland 6-7, 335 Mississippi State
17. *Logan Bruss 6-5, 310 Wisconsin
18. Jordan Reid, 6-4, 300, Michigan State
19. Robert Jones, 6-4, 332, Middle Tennessee State
20. Landon Young 6-6, 324 Kentucky
Prior “First Take” Positional Previews: