This draft class was originally viewed as being strong on the interior of the offensive line and weak at tackle. With the tackles having an inconsistent, but generally good day, we looked to the interior offensive linemen, who mostly lived up to their billing. While it would be easy to point to Quenton Nelson, who managed to put up elite numbers despite a hamstring injury limiting him, we’re going to look instead to several players who weren’t Quenton Nelson who impressed and others who hurt their stock on the interior offensive line in 2018.
Winner: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Look, I know I wrote about how awesome of a watch Will Hernandez is recently. Don’t hold it against me, because I didn’t see or expect in any way that Hernandez would put up the kind of numbers that he did at the combine. Hernandez measured as the most athletic interior OL prospect of all time at his size and finished the Combine in the elite range for guard. That kind of thing is unheard of for a player of his size, and considering his elite tape puts him firmly on everyone’s board regardless of scheme.
Loser by injury, Billy Price, OC, Ohio State
The top center in this class, on some boards by a wide margin, was Ohio State’s Billy Price. He had the attitude and demeanor of a franchise changing center and was projected to be one of the better athletes in Indianapolis. He was also one of the more durable players of the draft class. None of that mattered as he tore his pectoral during his bench press at the Combine and wasn’t able to complete any other drills. It sucks, but it will do significant harm to an otherwise promising prospect’s chances of being drafted early in 2018.
Winner by meeting expectations, Braden Smith, OG, Auburn
A player I’ve heard about from the beginning of the process, despite not yet having viewed much film, was Braden Smith of Auburn. “Check him out,” I was told. “He’s a crazy good athlete, you’ll dig it,” my friends from 1979 told me. As it turned out, he was worth watching as the athletic traits jump out to you on film. Smith was billed as a top-tier athlete, and he measured as one. If he wasn’t already on a team’s radar, he certainly is now and, that’s something teams will be considering as they start their preparation on Day 2 and 3.
Loser by too little too late: Brian Allen, OC, Michigan State
Brian Allen is a prospect with a lot of local concern. While Michigan State was once a farm of NFL talent, it has mostly been a trash heap of late, and a prospect like Brian Allen was meant to change that. Though Jack Allen was maybe talked about more as a prospect, that Allen bombed his measurements and went undrafted.
Brian Allen has a chance to reverse those fortunes as a more well thought of prospect in NFL circles who only had to measure well to find a team. Allen fell short of those benchmarks and came in as a below average athlete for RAS, and probably missed thresholds for many teams. It’s not a total loss, however, as he did enough to at least keep his name in the conversation for a team needing help late.