By Jared Stanger
I’m fairly confident that 2018 is going to be a pretty good Offensive Tackle class. The 2017 Seniors include Mike McGlinchey, Tyrell Crosby, Martinas Rankins, and Chukwuma Okorafor. The 2017 Juniors that may declare early include Connor Williams, Orlando Brown, Brian O’Neill, Mitch Hyatt, Trey Adams, Yodny Cajuste, and Yosuah Nijman. If you get 3-4 underclassmen, I think you have a class stacked enough that you can plausibly find a LT late in the 1st round…maybe pushing into the 2nd.
There are quite a few ways we can break down this group. We’ve got guys that are athletes, we’ve got guys that have the right build, we’ve got run-blocking specialists, we’ve got better pass-protectors, etc.
Early on, I’ve been pretty impressed with how many of these guys fit the build proportionally (per each player’s school listing) of what I once found to be the league prototype LT size (6’6″/315lbs). If you give +/- 2″ of height and +/- 5lbs in weight, you get a list looking like this:
Mike McGlinchey- 6’8″/315lbs
Yosuah Nijman- 6’7″/320lbs
Tariq Cole- 6’6″/320lbs
Connor Williams- 6’6″/315lbs
Martinas Rankins- 6’5″/315lbs
Tyrell Crosby- 6’5″/320lbs
Bentley Spain- 6’6″/310lbs
Geron Christian- 6’6″/315lbs
Timon Parris- 6’5″/320lbs
Pretty good list. Couple of bulls-eyes in Williams and Christian. If you had asked me a week ago to name my favorite OT in this class, I would have said Connor Williams. After one week of tape under a new head coach and new system, Connor has taken a step back. (Come to think of it…that might be affecting Trey Adams as well. Not a new HC, but a new position coach.)
Currently having the opposite effect on me from Williams’ hot-to-cold is Mike McGlinchey. I’ve had issues with some of his 2016 games. Michigan State vs Malik McDowell comes to mind. But I watched his first game of 2017 and I had very little complaint (follow tweet thread).
Many have McGlinchey as OT1 this year…the rest probably have Williams. These two are Tier 1: “top 10 picks”. Tier 2 right now is generally comprised of Mitch Hyatt, Orlando Brown, Trey Adams, Chukwuma Okorafor. I’m not really interested in this tier. I’m more interested in what is probably Tier 3 now, but will rise up into tier 2 in time. I’m considering tier 3 as: Brian O’Neill, Tyrell Crosby, Yosuah Nijman, Yodny Cajuste.
Keep in mind, Tom Cable once talked about the height he prefers for his OL and it was players more in the 6’4″-6’5″ range. Tall guys have trouble keeping pad level low enough. Obviously, being over 6’5″ has never stopped PCJSTC from bringing in a given OL (Joeckel, Sowell, Giacomini, etc). Being 6’5″ is probably the A- to the B+ of a 6’6″ guy. So, for Cable, the Rankins/Crosby/Parris grouping may be most intriguing.
With Rankins being moved inside to play Center for Mississippi State this year, I think Tyrell Crosby might be most in Cable’s wheelhouse in terms of size. Tyrell was limited in 2016 to only two games due to injury, so I’m currently operating on very small scouting sample size (if anyone knows where I can find Oregon vs Southern Utah tape, let me know). But I think the sample I’ve seen is excellent (thread).
Whatever Crosby’s tape vs SUU looked like, it was good enough for PFF to honor him for this week:
Yodny Cajuste plays much more stout than his listed 6’5″/308lbs would suggest. I think he might be more in the 315-320 range, as well. Yodny is coming off a pretty big knee injury, but is looking very solid in his first game back this year:
The guys that look a little heavy and play a little slow (for my eye):
Chukwuma Okorafor- 6’6″/330lbs
Orlando Brown- 6’8″/345lbs
Trey Adams- 6’8″/327lbs
Okorafor was teammates with 2017 WMU draftee Taylor Moton. I always had trouble with Moton’s tape because he looked unathletic. Then he tested at the combine, and Moton was actually a pretty good athlete. So I punt a little bit on Okorafor because I don’t trust my eyes on him.
Guys that look a little light and play without enough anchor:
Brian O’Neill- 6’6″/305lbs
Mitch Hyatt- 6’5″/305lbs
Jeromy Irwin- 6’5″/300lbs
Of those three, Hyatt is the most highly touted, but O’Neill is the most intriguing to me. A former TE, Brian still holds possibly the best athleticism at OT this year. And Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi will show him off:
The other competitor for biggest freak athlete at OT is VTech’s Yosuah Nijman. Although it’s not showcased much on tape, my research tells me Nijman will ruin the combine whichever year he comes out. I had Yosuah’s 2017 debut graded a very solid performance. Nothing too flashy, but nothing to complain about. PFF actually had him graded very high.
Currently, my sleepers of the 2018 OT class are Stony Brook’s Timon Parris and Humboldt State’s Alex Cappa. I have no clue how to relate these two to FBS players. I can only judge whether or not they dominate their league. Cappa definitely does.
Parris is playing better competition, but not as dominant. I’d need to see him take some strides forward this year before thinking him more than UDFA, but he could get there.
For live scouting some of these players, here are the choice picks from this week’s Saturday schedule:
Brian O’Neill/Pitt on ABC at 12:30pm vs Penn State
Tyrell Crosby/Oregon on Fox at 1:30pm vs Nebraska
Orlando Brown/Oklahoma on ABC at 4:30 vs Ohio State
Mike McGlinchey/Notre Dame on NBC at 4:30 vs Georgia