Duke Manyweather is one of the most respected minds when it comes to offensive line evaluation. He’s also one of the coaches at arguably the biggest offensive line training facility. When he talks about the offensive line, people listen—important people.
Case in point, when the tape of Detroit Lions fifth-round pick Colby Sorsdal hit Manyweather’s desk, he immediately was drawn in by the small-school prospect. He started to reach out to NFL general managers to see what they knew about him and quickly discovered he was quite possibly the best kept secret in this class. Scouts had already dismissed William and Mary as a prospectless school this year. But when Manyweather was snooping around about Sorsdal, they knew they had missed something.
“They know when I’m calling or texting and I’ve got a name for them, they’re like, ‘Damn, I missed that one,’” Manyweather told Pride of Detroit on the latest First Byte podcast. “All of a sudden I started sending clips (of Sorsdal) to GMs and they’re like, ‘Oh man, we missed him. I’m going to watch him. I’m going to write him up.’”
But Manyweather wasn’t just interested in hyping up an overlooked prospect. He wanted to get his hands on him. So for a couple months, Manyweather helped train the William and Mary offensive lineman, and immediately the nasty, dominant player he saw on tape matched the effort he was getting day in and day out of training.
“He had really great body positioning, leverages, great technique, tremendous footwork. He was very efficient with his movement,” Manyweather said of Sorsdal’s tape. “He never looked out of control, always finished—whether he put guys in the ground or not—he just gave an added extra (effort). He wasn’t challenged much in pass protection, which I don’t care what level you play at, there are going to be times in which you get out of position or somebody gets into your chest, and you just didn’t see that with him. You saw above-average hand usage. Him being able to swat down a long arm, being able to lift up a long arm, being able to trap guys down, being able to re-fit anchors.
“That play strength was also something that stuck out to me. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, if you are physically dominant, you’re always in good positioning—being in good position to recover when you need to be is important. That’s really what O-line is about in the NFL: being able to recover. So Colby was in position to recover, what we call ‘be where your feet are.’ And just his play strength was off the charts for that level.
“So when I look at those things, that lets me know that the guy’s got a chance, and when I met him and I saw his personality and I saw just what he was willing to do and willing to invest and willing to put in, it let me know that, ‘Alright, what we saw on tape married with the mental component of it. We’ve got a player here. This is going to be a pro guy.’”
Manyweather has got a very selective process when it comes to choosing NFL Draft prospects to work with. So even the fact that Sorsdal was able to train with him in the lead-up to the 2023 NFL Draft bodes well for the William & Mary product. And while most believe Sorsdal will have a longer journey to the starting lineup with veterans Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Graham Glasgow on the roster this year, Manyweather believes Sorsdal's days as a starter may be here quicker than you think.
“This is not to say that he’s penciled in as a starter, but I know the mentality that Colby has,” Manyweather said. “And I know what Penei (Sewell) provides at right tackle, I know what Jonah Jackson and Taylor Decker like to do. I think he’s going to fit in that room really well and he’s going to compete. That’s for sure. So I think if it came down to it, him competing, you may have found a starter in a fifth-round draft pick from a small school that’s going to play a physical brand of football.”
You can listen to our entire conversation with Manyweather below, and I promise it’s worth your time. There aren’t many people in the world that know offensive line better than Manyweather, and there aren’t many that know Sorsdal better as a person and player.
If you want to learn more about Manyweather and his OL development programs, check out the Final 5 OL Academy, and all of the work he does for OL Masterminds. You can also get OL Masterminds apparel at his website.