The "Triple Take" team, the Steelers Radio Network trio of Matt Williamson, Dale Lolley and Mike Prisuta, provides updates on their breakdown of the top interior offensive linemen prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. If you want to hear the audio version of "The Triple Take" click here.
The opinions of these Steelers Radio Network personalities do not reflect the views of the Steelers organization.
Matt's Second Take on the IOL position ...
Who's stock has risen and why?
Kendrick Green, Illinois (6-4, 315 lbs.) - Green has experience at both center and guard. He fires off the ball with obvious explosive traits on tape. But Illinois' Pro Day went a long way to what we saw from Green on the field. First off, Green ran the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds at 305 pounds. But, like his tape, Green's explosion numbers with his jumps really stand out. Again, this guy is 305 pounds and got off the ground 35.5" in the vertical and 119" in the broad jump. You just don't see offensive linemen jumping straight up in the air over 35 inches very often and that is how he plays on game day.
Who's emerged and why?
Tre Smith, Tennessee (6-4, 312 lbs.) - During his time at Tennessee, Smith was very much in the eye of the draft community. He has a medical history that needs checked out and is strictly a guard prospect at the next level although he has played some tackle. Smith looks to be back in high regards as he is ready to enter the NFL. He is a huge human being at 6' 5 1/2" and 321 pounds with 33 5/8" arms and over a 82" wingspan. His 32 reps on the bench press were impressive, as were his movement tests, but it was Smith's 7.43 3-cone drill at his size along with an outstanding 10-yard split in the 40 that really stands out. That agility is a great complement to the power Smith plays with on tape. He plays the game with intelligence and has reportedly, has interviewed very well in this pre-draft process.
Other Notes: When looking at testing numbers for interior offensive linemen, the one I go to first and is the short shuttle. Many don't realize it, but the short shuttle is an excellent indicator for offensive linemen's, especially interior linemen, success at the next level. Anything under 4.5 is outstanding. You will notice many interior offensive linemen chose not to even run the shuttle this year-which tells you a lot about them athletically. Here are some notables at this position that really excelled in the short shuttle at their respective pro day:
Chandon Herring, BYU: 4.46
Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma: 4.46
Jimmy Morrisey, Pitt: 4.46
Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater: 4.47
Matt's First Take on the IOL position ...
#5 - Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (6-4, 315 lbs.) - Davis is a pure guard that stands out in pass protection. He is very quick into his stance and mirrors his opponent well. Davis battled a knee injury this past year, but still was rarely beaten in protection. He projects very well at the next level against the amazing array of interior pass-rushers in the NFL and plays the game with great balance. But Davis holds his own in the run game as well. He is an extremely solid overall prospect with a bright future.
#4 - Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma (6-4, 315 lbs.) - Although his arms are a little on the short side, Humphrey has a big thick sturdy body. He has a lot of experience at the college level and has been extremely consistent. What stands out most about Humphrey is his hand usage. He has quick yet powerful mitts that he uses very well to control his opponent in both pass protection and in the run game, especially in a gap-heavy run scheme. It is noteworthy that Humphrey is a left-handed center, a rarity, but he also could play guard at the next level.
#3 - Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (6-5, 313 lbs.) - Leatherwood played left tackle for Alabama and could potentially stay at tackle at the next level. He is a thickly built powerful man with the phone booth qualities you look for in a difference making guard. At tackle, some top speed rushers gave Leatherwood a tough time and he might be better off operating in tighter quarters. Massively recruited out of high school-and you can see why-Leatherwood has long arms and heavy hands. He also has potential as a puller if guard is his long-time home in the league.
#2 - Landon Dickerson, Alabama (6-5, 344 lbs.) - Dickerson is as physical and nasty as any offensive lineman in this draft class. His injury history is extensive and the medical aspect of his draft profile will have to be heavily scrutinized by team doctors, but just as a player on the field, there is a ton to love here either at guard or center. Dickerson is as tough as they come and sets the tone for his fellow line mates. Many offensive linemen that love to finish as much as Dickerson does often whiff on blocks when going for the knockout punch. That is rarely the case with Dickerson.
#1 - Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC (6-4, 315 lbs.) - What really stands out about Vera-Tucker is his light and quick feet, which could give him an excellent opportunity to play tackle in the NFL. But as a guard, Vera-Tucker could really shine in a heavy zone blocking run scheme where he could be on the move and utilize those great feet. He isn't the most powerful or physical player but is incredibly consistent and reliable. Vera-Tucker should do very well in the right run game but should really shine in protection in the NFL.
Dale's Second Take on the IOL position ...
Who's stock has risen and why?
Kendrick Green, Illinois (6-4, 315 lbs.) - Green has starting experience at both center and guard. He's a ferocious run blocker. And he ran a 4.85 40-yard dash at the Illinois pro day. He's moved up a lot of draft boards based on some really good tape as a run blocker who can move.
Who's emerged and why?
Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater (6-3, 320 lbs.) - Meinerz has gone from a guy who was an injury invite at the Senior Bowl to the star of that week's practices to a potential second-day draft pick. He's more than just a good story. His 40-yard dash (4.86 seconds), vertical jump (32 inches), broad jump (111 inches), three-cone (7.33 seconds) and short shuttle (4.47 seconds) were all 90th percentile or better for the position.
Other Notes: Alabama's Landon Dickerson is coming back from an ACL injury, but was able to do some things at the Crimson Tide's second pro day. He's on schedule to be ready for the start of training camp. … The Notre Dame guard duo of Aaron Banks and Tommy Kraemer both measured in at a legit 6-5. Both also were well over 300 pounds. There's the beef. … Grambling's David Moore came in at a very stout 6-2, 330 pounds. There are some who believe he could be moved from guard to center.
Dale's First Take on the IOL position ...
#5 - Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma (6-4, 315 lbs.) - A three-year starter at Oklahoma, Humphrey is a mauler at center. He's also the rare left-handed snapper. He's smart and plays the angles well and can get to the second level. Should continue to improve with his power blocking as he continues to mature.
#4 - Landon Dickerson, Alabama (6-5, 344 lbs.) - A nasty player who has seen time at all five spots on the offensive line, he was at his best in 2020 at center for Alabama, where he transferred to after starting his career at Florida State. Dickerson plays the position with a chip on his shoulder. He did suffer a ligament injury that required surgery. And therein lies the rub. Dickerson missed time with various injuries in his college career. But the tape is strong.
#3 - Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (6-5, 313 lbs.) - Leatherwood started 28 career games at Alabama, including 15 at guard and 13 at right tackle. He projects better at guard in the NFL, though a tackle-needy team might try him on the outside to start out. Big and strong, Leatherwood offers good pop in the run game. He struggled a bit with some of the agile pass rushers at the Senior Bowl, but if he kicks inside to guard, he won't see as many of those.
#2 - Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (6-4, 315 lbs.) - A good-sized guard prospect who didn't give up a sack or hit on the quarterback in 2020. The grandson of NFL Hall of Fame defensive lineman Wilie Davis, he has NFL bloodlines. Davis will be coveted by teams looking for a plug-and-play right guard. More of a mauler than an athletic lineman, Davis should still be a high pick.
#1 - Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC (6-4, 315 lbs.) - Played left tackle for USC in 2020 after lining up at guard in 2019. He projects better at guard at the NFL level, but could be asked to play tackle for team needing help at that position. Has extreme athleticism that allows him to get to the second level with ease. Looks light on his feet and plays like it. Vera-Tucker should be a first-round pick.
Mike's Second Take on the IOL position ...
Who's stock has risen and why?
Kendrick Green, Illinois (6-4, 315 lbs.) - Green posted numbers at Illinois' Pro Day that demanded a look back at his on-field performance the last three seasons. That's a natural reaction when a prospect that's north of 300 pounds runs a 4.85 40 (that's in the 99th percentile among interior offensive lineman according to Pro Football Focus), posts a vertical leap of 351/2" and manages 9'11" in the broad jump.
After further review, Green is officially intriguing. Against Nebraska he drove a defender 13 yards from the line of scrimmage, give or take a couple, and then finished with a pancake. And when he wasn't blocking with ferocity, Green was captured on camera on sidelines or in tunnels dancing, gesturing, jumping and/or clapping, all of which betrayed the joy with which the 2020 First-Team All-Big Ten and Second-Team All-America plays.
Green, a former football and baseball player and wrestler in high school, arrived at Illinois as a defensive lineman but switched to offensive line after his freshman redshirt season. He started 33 consecutive games, 29 at guard and four at center, in his three on-field seasons for the Illini, but for some reason looks like a center as he prepares to enter the NFL.
That might have something to do with Green having worn No. 53 at Illinois.
Green is Brugler's No. 4 prospect at center.
Other Notes: Wisconsin-Whitewater's Quinn Meinerz (6-27/8, 320 lbs.) isn't just a feel-good Senior Bowl story or even a sleeper any longer, not after a 4.99 40, a 32" vertical and a 9'3" broad jump. "He just cemented it with the numbers he posted," Jeremiah announced. "It's hard to find big guys that can move like him and sink and bend like him. He's going to go in the second round." The Division III comparison Jeremiah mentioned was Ali Marpet, a second-round pick by Tampa Bay out of Hobart in 2015. Marpet started 13 games at guard for the Bucs in 2020. Jeremiah maintained Meinerz, a guard who taught himself center in advance of the draft, is "gonna go higher than Marpet went at 61 (overall),"
Mike's First Take on the IOL position ...
#5 - Trey Smith, Tennessee (6-5, 333 lbs.) - Smith has had to deal with a serious medical issue, blood clots in his lungs, during his time at Tennessee, and the accompanying concerns will have to be satisfied. But his coach at the Senior Bowl, Carolina's Matt Rhule, came away impressed. "He's overcome a lot," Rhule told ESPNU at the Senior Bowl. "He's been really good this week. And you see a lot of power. You see a guy that can win in the pass game and also win up front in the run game. I've been impressed with him." ESPN analyst Todd McShay envisions Smith as a Day 2 pick, assuming the medical checks out.
#4 - Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (6-4, 315 lbs.) - He's a grandson of NFL Hall-of-Fame defensive end Willie Davis. And if you watch one of Ohio State's numerous touchdown runs over the last couple of seasons, it's not hard to spot the running back cutting behind a block from the right guard, No. 52, or blasting through a hole opened by No. 52. Davis earned his two first-team AP All-American designations at guard in Columbus. And he's played with the best, against the best on the biggest of stages. Plug and play.
#3 - Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (6-5, 313 lbs.) - Leatherwood was a guard in 2018 and Alabama's left tackle the past two seasons. His performance during Senior Bowl week and his relative struggles with speed rushers outside gave credence to the theory being bandied about by some that he projects better as a guard. He'd rather be a tackle but he's big and powerful and well-suited to excel at guard should a move inside be forthcoming. He won the Outland Trophy in 2020 and he's done it all against all comers, but given the massive expectations he didn't quite deliver as advertised in Mobile, Ala.
#2 - Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC (6-4, 315 lbs.) - Another left tackle in college who appears destined for guard in the NFL. Vera-Tucker was a guard in 2019 before moving to tackle in 2020's abbreviated, six-game campaign. His competitiveness and athleticism are apparent at either position. Vera-Tucker won the Morris Trophy, which is given annually to the Pac-12's best offensive lineman. It is voted on by the Pac-12's defensive linemen.
#1 - Landon Dickerson, Alabama (6-5, 344 lbs.) - Dickerson won the Rimington Trophy as college football's best center in 2020. The only concern is the torn ACL he suffered in SEC Championship Game (Dickerson attended Senior Bowl week but didn't participate). It's a significant concern, but probably the only concern. Beyond the stuff you can measure and the on-tape ability, Dickerson oozes intangibles. A transfer from Florida State, Dickerson arrived at Alabama and "instantly became the leader of that offensive line," McShay assessed during Senior Bowl week. "He was the Alpha dog and he did it very quickly. The respect they have for Dickerson is unparalleled." Dickerson had this to say to the NFL Network about his philosophical approach to the game at the Senior Bowl: "Really, when I'm on the field I just want to make whoever I'm playing against wish they didn't play football, that's as simple as that."