The 2023 NFL Combine wrapped up its televised on-field drills on Sunday, with the offensive linemen and running backs groups. In case you missed any of our Combine coverage, be sure to check out the following position groups.
- 7 defensive tackle standouts
- 10 edge rusher standouts
- 10 linebacker standouts
- 12 cornerback standouts
- 7 safety standouts
- Breaking down all 15 quarterbacks
- 12 wide receiver standouts
- 8 tight end standouts
- 10 running back standouts
When studying interior offensive linemen, the short shuttle tends to be the most accurate projector of IOL success, as it highlights a player's ability to move laterally. Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and Evan Brown all ran under 4.56 seconds (league average is 4.78, top players average closer to 4.67) but it’s not a must-have, as evidenced by Jonah Jackson’s 5.02-second short shuttle in 2020.
With that in mind, let’s take a close look at the offensive linemen that stood out.
Note: Next the player’s name is their height, weight, 10-yard split times, and short shuttle times.
Right guard standout performers
Steve Avila, IOL, TCU, 6-foot-3 1/2, 332, 1.84, 4.74 SS
Avila showed fluid movement when changing direction, is an easy puller, and did a nice job transitioning from discarding blocks to pulling on screens. In pass pro, he drops his weight to anchor, keeps balance, and opts to maintain his technique over dropping for distance—which points to him staying at guard.
Overall, he is a fast processor with power in his hands, has the athleticism to fit a gap scheme, and has plenty of anchor to be an effective pass protector. If he is there at pick No. 48, grab him.
.@TCUFootball’s Steve Avila is looking agile out there. He is @MoveTheSticks’ No. 35 overall prospect.— NFL (@NFL) March 5, 2023
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Anthony Bradford, RG, LSU 6-foot-4, 332, 1.74, 4.8 SS
Bradford is a bit of a sleeper, but he made my original Combine watchlist because of his ability to play in a gap scheme and experience at right guard. At the Combine, he didn’t disappoint. Despite his massive frame, he was fast and smooth when changing direction and pulling. He displayed the ability to stay low and cover a lot of ground when sliding—especially in pass pro.
When asked to get out and move, he was tight on the heels of his linemates and was quick to engage. When asked to get out on a screen, he showed the ability to discard his original block and scoot outside into space.
Bradford has top 100 potential.
Anthony Bradford is a OG prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.56 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 58 out of 1309 OG from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/6ijrDDSiiu #RAS pic.twitter.com/PWUZiV3u2e— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 6, 2023
Quick thoughts on other RG prospects
O’Cyrus Torrence, RG, Florida (6-foot-5 1/2, 330, 1.84, 4.81) showed power in his explosive movements and used his long reach to his advantage in pass protection drills. He was smooth and balanced most of the day, staying on his toes and moving well laterally. He is still regarded as the top interior offensive lineman in this class, but I do think he may start to feel competition from Avila.
Cody Mauch, T/G, North Dakota State (6-foot-5, 302, 1.79, 4.55 SS) has tackle and guard traits, but his shorter arms are going to make him a guard-only prospect for some teams. If he pushes inside, his length won’t be an issue and his power can be a featured weapon for an offense. His attitude is a definite fit for the Lions.
John Michael Schmitz, IOL, Minnesota (6-foot-3 1/2, 301, 1.85, 4.56) is very thick, especially in his lower body, which helps with his anchor, but it did cause him some delays when needing to dig deep in order to get moving on pulls. Nice power in his hands.
Jon Gaines, RG, UCLA (6-foot-4, 303, 1.73, 4.45 SS) short shuttle is a rare time and it increases the chances that he is drafted, as does his positional flexibility—he played at center, guard, and tackle in college. But in Detroit, the Lions would want to take advantage of his movement skills and push him inside to guard.
Sidy Sow, LG Eastern Michigan (6-foot-5, 323 1.80, 4.69 SS) was not on my radar heading into the Combine, but in on-field drills, he looked like an easy mover who was stout and capable of staying low. When pulling, he didn’t need to gear down and dug deep to get moving with purpose. There was a little hitch in his pass pro, but he had nice power in his punch.
Time to find some game film on Sow.
OT/OG combo prospects
Darnell Wright, RT, Tennessee (6-foot-5, 333, 1.81) looks like a starting right tackle in the league in year one, but if he somehow slides, I wonder if the Lions would consider moving him inside. At the Combine, his kick slide covered a lot of ground, and every drill looked easy for him. I think he could come off the board in Round 1, so he’d be excellent value if there at pick No. 48.
Matthew Bergeron, LT Syracuse (6-foot-5, 318) showed easy change of direction skills, was a strong puller, and looked comfortable working in tight spaces. He had a solid punch when engaging, displayed good bend in pass pro, and was fluid in movement drills.
Anton Harrison, Oklahoma (6-foot-4 1/2, 314, 1.77) is long and quick as a puller, looked comfortable working in tight spaces, but also has the skills set to stay outside at OT. There are some technical things to clean up coming from the Sooners’ scheme, but he seems destined to come off the board on Day 2.
Braeden Daniels, LT/G, Utah (6-foot-4, 294, 1.71, 4.6 SS) ran a fast 10-yard split and short shuttle, which should keep his stock right in the third/fourth round range. At the Combine, he showed quick movements and a natural ability to pull, operating well in close quarters in run play designs. In pass pro, Daniels looked far more comfortable in the tackle drills, working cleaner in space that tight. If he switches to guard, there will be a learning curve.
McClendon Curtis, T/G, UT-Chattanooga (6-foot-6, 324, 1.85, 4.97 SS) is ideally suited for a gap/power scheme, and at his size, he can be a people mover. It was a bit of a mixed bag in the pulling drills, looking hesitant in one drill, then fast and fluid in the next. He has a left tackle’s kick slide, which will keep him in the offensive tackle conversation.
Jordan McFadden, T/G, Clemson (6-foot-2, 303, 1.74, 4.81) is a bit undersized, but his 34-inch arm length will keep him in play as a tackle and guard prospect. In pass pro, he showed smart technique and hand placement, while keeping a firm base. When pulling, he looked hesitant, leaning more on technique than aggression, though there were fewer concerns about his run game efficiency on his game film.
Reserve swing tackles
Blake Freeland, LT, BYU (6-foot-8, 312, 1.68, 4.71) set a Combine record for offensive linemen in the vertical jump with a mark of 37 inches and the physical accolades were present in every measurable drill. In on-field drills, Freeland chews up ground quickly, showing strong balance for his size, but he needs to be lower as a puller in the run game, as well as increase his power—far too many pushes instead of engaged blocking.
Ryan Hayes, LT, Michigan (6-foot-7, 298, 1.78) showed quick change of direction skills at the Combine. He pulled with ease, stayed low when pulling, and engaged properly. In pass protection, he needs more pop in his hands and to keep his speed under control, but he did a nice job of staying square and in position.