GREEN BAY, Wis. – Now that you know who might not be a consideration and why the Green Bay Packers could be in the market for a center, here is a look at the 2021 NFL Draft class of interior offensive linemen.
Vera-Tucker, Humphrey Are First-Round Prospects
USC G/T Alijah Vera-Tucker (6-4 1/2, 308 pounds; 32 1/8-inch arms; 5.10 40; 4.63 shuttle; 32 bench press): Playing left tackle in 2020, Vera-Tucker allowed four sacks and eight total pressures out of 305 pass-protecting snaps. As a guard in 2019, he allowed one sack and seven total pressures, a pressure rate of only 1.2 percent. For his career, Trojans runners averaged 1.6 yards before contact on runs to his gap. The two holds in 2020 were the only two of his career. When added to the guards, his Relative Athletic Score ranks fifth in the position group.
“One thing is I'm very physical on the field. Whether it's at guard or left tackle, I feel like you see that a lot when you turn on my tape -- definitely try to finish guys every single play," he said. "And then also I feel like my IQ is very high in this game as well, able to just recognize ... just little things in the game that are important for anybody to understand. And also, I feel like I'm a very good technician, too. I take that very seriously in my game. So just kind of all those things combined, I feel like separate me from the other offensive linemen in this class.”
Draft Bible says: “AVT” presents an all- around physical profile that could provide him a role as a starter early in his career. He’s a well-proportioned interior player who hits all the necessary size thresholds wanted from the position. Vera-Tucker is a smooth operator for a man his size, profiling perfectly to a zone blocking scheme that values the ability to move the line of scrimmage laterally. AVT is such a smooth athlete that he even operated at left tackle in 2020 for the Trojans and played very well -- well enough that some teams may toy with the idea of keeping him outside. Despite the natural gifts, Vera-Tucker leaves you wanting just a little bit more. He’s not aggressive enough, appearing a little passive working past first contact and into the second level. It’s all there for Vera-Tucker to become a starting-caliber player relatively early in his career.
Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey (6-4 1/4, 302 pounds; 32 1/4 arms; 5.08 40; 4.49 shuttle; 29 BP): According to Sports Info Solutions, Sooners runners averaged 1.8 yards per carry before contact behind Humphrey’s gap, No. 6 in the center class. He was flagged two times for holding. He scored a perfect 10 in RAS, making the former wrestler the total package and the obvious No. 1-ranked center among zone-scheme teams.
Draft Bible says: He possesses a nice thick base and lower half with a wide body shoulder to shoulder, but his overall build is athletic, not sloppy. A stout anchor in pass protection and mauler in the run game, Humphrey is country strong, showing up as a freshman squatting 600-plus pounds. In 2018, he manned the center position for the Sooners offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award and featured four starters that were drafted in the NFL. Humphrey was arguably the best player of the bunch. One reason is due to his high football IQ and ability to rise to the level of competition, performing best in big games. He showed off a rare level of maturity, making all the calls and adjustments pre-snap and displaying terrific awareness on second-level blocks.
Alabama G/T Alex Leatherwood (6-4 3/4, 312 pounds; 33 7/8 arms; 4.99 40; 4.65 shuttle; DNP BP): Playing left tackle in 2020, Leatherwood allowed three sacks and 16 total pressures out of 474 pass-protecting snaps, a pressure rate of 3.4 percent, according to Pro Football Focus. At guard in 2018, he allowed two sacks and 21 total pressures but that’s ancient history from a physical maturity standpoint. According to SIS, Tide runners averaged 3.4 yards on runs to his gap, third-best in the guard class. He was flagged three times for holding. If you run Leatherwood’s RAS with the guards, he’d be No. 1 in the class.
Draft Bible says: Leatherwood utilizes his arm length well to keep defenders at bay in pass protection and has the necessary strength to drive opponents as a run blocker. The Florida native owns a great combination of size, athleticism and power. He’ll need to refine his technique, as he tends to get overextended and caught out of position at times, affecting his balance. Would like to see him be more aggressive in the second level seeking out contact. Returned to Alabama in hopes of solidifying his draft stock, but film was largely the same story. His work at left tackle position for the Crimson Tide will be very appealing, but his performance is still a long way from being technically sound enough to last on the blind side. Leatherwood’s experience inside at guard is a big plus for his draft projection and some teams could prefer him along the interior.
Day 2 Prospects Include Quinn Meinerz
UW-Whitewater C Quinn Meinerz (6-2 7/8, 320 pounds; 33 38 arms; 4.99 40; 4.58 shuttle; 33 BP): There is no analytical data on Meinerz’s career. And if there had been, it wouldn’t have mattered against his Division III schedule. It would be almost impossible for a player to raise his draft stock more than Meinerz. Thanks to two injuries, Meinerz got a late invite to the Senior Bowl. He dominated there, then blew away the field in the predraft testing. He’s second among centers in RAS not only this year but since 1987.
Draft Bible says: Meinerz was the biggest winner from the Senior Bowl practices, and he has skyrocketed up draft boards with the tape he put up during the week. Meinerz had never played center before, and his fall season was canceled, yet he was one of the best players in Mobile. In fact, he broke his hand on the very first day of practice in Mobile and never even flinched. He displayed unbelievable strength at the attack point and excellent athleticism. Meinerz had no trouble snapping the football and looked like a natural at his new position. His 2019 tape, which wasn’t at center, was nothing special, but he showed massive improvement over this past year. His upside is through the roof, and he has the potential to end up as one of the top players at the center position.
Ohio State C Josh Myers (6-5 1/4, 310 pounds; 32 arms; DNP 40 and shuttle/turf toe; 29 BP): According to Pro Football Focus, Myers allowed two sacks and 11 total pressures out of 264 passing plays, equating to a pressure rate of 4.2 percent. According to Sports Info Solutions, Buckeyes runners averaged 3.4 yards per carry before contact behind Myers’ gap, No. 1 in the center class. He was not penalized for holding.
Draft Bible says: A former offensive tackle recruit, Myers brings a long powerful frame to what is ordinarily a squatty position. There is more than enough of a power profile from Myers to work opposing defensive linemen, boasting a powerful set of hands and hips to gain leverage. His background at offensive tackle shows up in pass protection where he has solid mirror technique inside. While smooth, his pad level can come back to hurt him big-time, lacking knee bend to consistently anchor against power rushers. Myers can be slightly lumbering in tight quarters, having some trouble working against speedier inside rushers 1-on-1. With his combination of plus athleticism and power, Myers is a scheme versatile center prospect who should be able to translate well to either zone or power systems.
Alabama C Landon Dickerson (6-5 5/8, 333 pounds; 33 1/4 arms; DNP workout/ACL: Dickerson is a sensational player with a bad injury history that presumably will keep him out of the ifrst round. According to Pro Football Focus, Dickerson allowed one sack and five total pressures out of 385 passing plays, equating to a pressure rate of 1.3 percent. According to Sports Info Solutions, Crimson Tide runners averaged 1.7 yards per carry before contact behind his gap, No. 7 in the center class. He was flagged zero times for holding.
Draft Bible says: An offensive tackle with the Seminoles, Dickerson moved to the interior with the Crimson Tide and took off. After seeing some action at guard, Dickerson found his long-term home at center. That is where his raw power was put on a huge display. He has some impressive anchor at the point of attack, rarely giving an inch. Dickerson has some nice length for the position, which can help him gain leverage early in reps when working laterally. While working to the second level, he takes relatively decent angles in cutoff situations. As an athlete, Dickerson leaves a lot to be desired. He shouldn’t work laterally too often, and is better suited for a gap power system in tight confines. His balance is not the best and he spends far too many reps on the ground.
Notre Dame T Liam Eichenberg (306 pounds; 32 3/8 arms; DNP 40; 4.57 shuttle; 33 BP)
According to Pro Football Focus, didn’t allow any sacks in 25 games at left tackle over the past two seasons. In 2020, PFF charged him with zero sacks and 15 hurries over a span of 455 passing plays, a pressure rate of 3.3 percent.
“I’ve gone up against some of the best pass rushers to come out in the past years: Clelin Ferrell from Clemson, Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich and Brian Burns,” Eichenberg said during Notre Dame’s pro day. “This past year, I think for me it’s just my tape speaks for itself.”
According to Sports Info Solutions, Fighting Irish runners averaged 3.1 yards per carry before contact behind his gap. He wasn’t flagged for holding at all in his college career.
“The biggest selling point for me is I think I’m consistent,” Eichenberg told WNDU. “I think I’m a guy you can plug in and play right now. I’m not a guy that needs a lot of development. I think I’ve been coached well when it comes to my technique and my fundamentals very well. a lot of people knock me for athleticism. I’m an offensive lineman, I’m not running a route or anything, so I guess it’s a little bit different. But I think I’m a guy that can go in there, get to the NFL, and play right away.”
Basketball was his first love. He started playing football when in sixth grade. “I was always the tallest kid, but I wasn’t always the biggest kid I guess you could say,” Eichenberg told The Observer. “My freshman year I weighed 185 pounds, I was like 6’3”, and then my sophomore year I put on 65 pounds so I weighed like 250 my sophomore year — and then I just started playing varsity as a sophomore and that was kind of my goal.”
His brother, Tommy, plays linebacker at Ohio State
Draft Bible says: He boasts a prototypical frame to slot in early as a blind-side protector. Eichenberg hits all the requisite size thresholds wanted at the position. He is a very smooth pass protector who possesses outstanding patience and balance to remain square against more athletic edge rushers. Eichenberg has good hands, remaining active early in reps. In the run game, Eichenberg is powerful enough to compete at a high level. He is a hustler who plays with a bit of a mean streak, working to the echo of the whistle on more than a few occasions. The biggest question mark is just how high is his upside. There is nothing physically that pops out about Eichenberg.
Ohio State G Wyatt Davis (6-3 5/8, 315 pounds; 33 7/8 arms; DNP workout/knee): You want genes? Davis is the grandson of Packers legend Willie Davis. His dad played football, too, until going into acting. According to Pro Football Focus, Davis allowed three sacks and 11 total pressures out of 280 passing plays, equating to a pressure rate of 3.9 percent. According to Sports Info Solutions, Buckeyes runners averaged 1.9 yards per carry before contact behind his gap. He was flagged one time for holding.
Draft Bible says: Davis is an incredibly physical interior player who plays with a nasty streak in the run game. He asserts his will on opposing defenders. Davis is rocked out in his lower body, easily creating power in some very tight spaces. With plus athleticism for the position, he is able to potentially translate to either a gap power or zone scheme. He demonstrates nice hip positioning, getting aligned well in accordance with the hole. With a nasty demeanor, Davis routinely finishes opposing defenders on the ground with high effort. In pass protection, Davis showcases solid feet to work while maintaining a square base. When posed with powerful defensive linemen, he is able to sit down and shut down power effectively.
Tennessee G Trey Smith (6-5 1/2, 321 pounds; 33 5/8 arms; 5.09 40; 4.82 shuttle; 32 bench): Smith went from fearing for his life after blood clots were discovered in his lungs to becoming one of the top line prospects in the draft. Normally, Smith’s shuttle might take him off the Packers’ board. That, however, was the only negative. In fact, in terms of Relative Athletic Score, he’s No. 1 in the position group.