Pro Football Focus' 2021 draft O-line superlatives
A lot has been made about the offensive line class in the 2021 NFL Draft.
While the 2020 class of o-linemen were considered by many analysts to be slightly more top-heavy, with four OL going within the first 13 picks, this year's group of pass protectors has great depth.
Pro Football Focus continued their 2021 NFL Draft superlatives series this week with the offensive linemen.
As PFF's Michael Renner puts it, this year's class of OL "has the kind of depth that we simply haven't seen in our seven years of grading college football." Renner later adds, "it's a good year to need offensive line help."
With that said, here are PFF's 2021 draft O-line superlatives:
Best Feet: Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
Most Physical: Landon Dickerson, Alabama
"Dickerson plays with an uncoachable mean streak. He not only wants to put guys in the turf; he wants to dive on top of them while they're down. He tied for the Power 5 lead in big-time blocks in the run game this past season and routinely buried defenders in pass protection. His 92.8 run-blocking grade in 2020 was the highest we've seen in a single season at the center position since former Arkansas center and now Detroit Lion Frank Ragnow." -- Renner
Best Pass Sets: Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
"This one is not only backed up by how visually appealing his technique is in pass protection, but it's also backed up by the PFF grades. His 91.7 pass-blocking grade on 297 true pass sets over the past two years is far and away tops in the draft class. For Vera-Tucker's entire college career, he only allowed 16 pressures on 975 pass-blocking snaps. That's quite the track record." -- Renner
Most Versatile: Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
"Slater started his career at right tackle before switching to the left in 2019. While he's only played on the edge, he has the ideal body type — 6-foot-4, 304 pounds, 33-inch arms — and athleticism to play anywhere on the offensive line." -- Renner
Most Experienced: Jack Anderson, Texas Tech
Most Athletic: Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
Best Gap Scheme: Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
"Jenkins earned the highest run-blocking grade in the class on gap runs over the past two seasons. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched his tape. Gap run-blocking prioritizes movement over everything, and Jenkins routinely moves defenders against their will. It's why he earned a 93.6 run-blocking grade in 2020. He's an extremely powerful tackle who did 36 bench press reps and produced a 32.5-inch vertical at his pro day." -- Renner
Best Zone Scheme: Penei Sewell, Oregon
"Sewell's blend of athleticism, size and play strength are why he earned a 95.7 run-blocking grade on 342 zone runs as a sophomore back in 2019. He can thrive in any scheme, but you really see his ability to shine on the move — 330-plus-pounders simply don't move the way he does." -- Renner
NFL Network analysts debate draft's top defensive player
We are now just over two weeks out from the 2021 NFL Draft.
A lot of the buzz surrounding the top half of the first round of this year's draft appears to lean towards the offensive side of the ball. This should not come as a surprise considering the group of quarterback prospects, along with the skilled pass-catchers who are projected to hear their names called soon after the start of the draft.
However, the 2021 draft class features some very talented players on defense as well.
A group of NFL Network analysts took on the debate of who is the best defensive player in this year's draft. Here are the results, along with commentary from each of the analysts.
De'Angelo Hall: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
"Parsons has the size (6-foot-3, 246 pounds), speed (unofficial 4.39 40-yard dash at his pro day) and playmaking ability of former Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly. This is the best pure, in-the-box linebacker prospect we've seen in years. Honestly, he could be the best pass rusher in a class without a dominant QB hunter -- the Penn State product at least has the physical traits to dominate that aspect of the game." -- Hall
Marc Ross: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
"Most of the top defensive players in this draft class come with some glaring concerns. But not Patrick Surtain II. He checks all the boxes of a potential perennial Pro Bowler on and off the field: pedigree, physical talent, production and intelligence, just to name a few. It's really hard to identify a legitimate flaw in his game, which sets the Alabama cornerback apart from the rest of the field." -- Ross
Charley Casserly: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
"Micah Parsons possesses a versatile skill set that would give him top-10 value in any draft. A very instinctive player, he can play all three linebacker spots in a 4-3 defense and inside linebacker in a 3-4. He finds the ball and gets there quickly, while also having the ability to slip blocks inside and the speed to make plays to the outside. He could have some trouble shedding blockers when engaged with an offensive lineman, and will operate best when he plays behind the defensive line. Parsons shows the speed to come off the edge as a pass rusher and effective blitzer. In coverage, he's a very good reactor in zone defense and looks as if he'll be able to mirror running backs and tight ends." -- Casserly
Maurice Jones-Drew: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
"The best defensive guy in this draft class is Oregon safety Jevon Holland. He's a versatile talent who can play cornerback, nickel, safety and sub linebacker, and there's a good chance he has the best ball skills in the draft. Holland is big, fast, strong and agile, everything you need to lay the booooom but also secure the tackle at safety. With the emergence of dominant tight ends around the league, a player like Holland has a ton of value." -- Jones-Drew
Brian Baldinger: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
"I believe Patrick Surtain II is the best defensive player going into the draft. He has a great deal of experience after playing three years at 'Bama against the best competition every Saturday. Not to mention, he practiced daily against a fleet of top receivers (DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle in this draft class, as well as 2020 first-rounders Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy), honing both his man-to-man skills and zone principals." -- Baldinger
Joe Thomas: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
"Micah Parsons doesn't think there's a player like him in this year's draft class. He's right! The versatile linebacker put it all on display during Penn State's pro day (and in weekly game film) and proved he's the type of defender who can create game-changing plays -- a huge positive for NFL defenses. There are other talented defensive guys out there, but none as good as Parsons." -- Thomas
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah updated his ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft for the final time before the start of the draft.
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