• Peter Skoronski wins “best hands in pass protection:” No wonder Skoronski is the top-ranked offensive lineman on the PFF draft board. Watching his tape, you see him switch up his sets and hand usage more often than any other tackle in the class.
• Paris Johnson Jr. is “best in gap scheme:” It’s Johnson’s ability to crush a double-team and then come off to also get a linebacker that makes him so special in a gap scheme. His experience at guard in 2021 only helps him in this regard.
• Blake Freeland is the “freakiest athlete:” Freeland looks like a high-end tight end in the way he can explode out of his stance. It’s why he earned an 87.9 run-blocking grade last season despite well below-average play strength.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
As you’ll see below, this is quite the jumbled offensive line class. There is certainly a good deal of talent to go around, but there are also very few high-end prospects. And that makes determining their strengths and weaknesses all the more imperative.
Here are the best offensive line prospects in each aspect of line play.
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Best Mirror: Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Skoronski is very fleet of foot, and it’s why he can get by at tackle despite his less-than-ideal length for the position. It’s also why he allowed a grand total of six pressures on 474 pass-blocking snaps last season.
The Northwestern product's 93.0 pass-blocking grade in 2022 was the highest mark from a Power Five tackle since 2019.
Skoronski doing pass sets and change of direction drills pic.twitter.com/2VfFm4hjHJ
— Bradley Locker (@Bradley_Locker) March 14, 2023
Best Hands in Pass Protection: Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Top-notch mirroring ability and top-notch hand usage? No wonder Skoronski is the top-ranked offensive lineman on the PFF draft board. Watching his tape, you see him switch up his sets and hand usage more often than any other tackle in the class.
That shouldn’t be that surprising, given that he’s a three-year starter at left tackle when others at the top of this class have only one year of experience there.
You see a LT on Saturdays mixing up his sets – you know the game has slowed down for him… @PSkoronski
Nice jump set here with quick/active hands vs Van Ness pic.twitter.com/Ib8FCHavsA
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 10, 2023
Best Zone Scheme: John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
Schmitz isn’t the high-end athlete you often think of when you hear the term “zone fit,” but he was still the highest-graded offensive lineman in the class on zone runs last season.
Much of that has to do with how quickly he processes and adjusts on the fly — a necessary skill for zone-blocking runs.
My newest film room with John Michael Schmitz is now up.
Attached is a preview showing a common theme across Schmitz's last two years of film: Creating movement on a drive block on the frontside of outside zone and dumping an out-leveraged defenderhttps://t.co/n1pMeUq5gr pic.twitter.com/IAz4qp5cWI
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) March 13, 2023
Best Gap Scheme: Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State
There are a lot of bullies in this draft class — Johnson, Broderick Jones, Dawand Jones, O’Cyrus Torrence, Andrew Vorhees and Darnell Wright have valid claims to this spot, as well.
It’s Johnson’s ability to crush a double-team and then come off to also get a linebacker that makes him so special in a gap scheme. His experience at guard in 2021 only helps him in this regard.
Paris Johnson ???? pic.twitter.com/uHqxQewSP1
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) December 22, 2022
Most Powerful: Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Wright is not your average 330-pounder. He can really get out of his stance and get into a defender's pads before they know what hit them. That only serves to amplify just how powerful the Tennessee tackle is. His ability to manipulate defenders with his upper body is second to none in the draft class.
Darnell Wright hip toss, [email protected]???? pic.twitter.com/jpNv9LDu2B
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) January 2, 2023
Freakiest Athlete: Blake Freeland, BYU
He may look knock-kneed and a relative twig by tackle standards, but, boy, can Freeland get out on the move. His ability to fly out of his stance is eye-popping the first time you flip on his tape.
He looks like a high-end tight end in the way he can explode out of his stance. It’s why he earned an 87.9 run-blocking grade last season despite well below-average play strength. He may be a project, but it really comes down to the time he’s willing to spend in the weight room.
Bring me Blake Freeland ???? pic.twitter.com/XpVAiyHhgk
— Brad (@Graham_SFN) March 8, 2023