The NFL Draft is less than two months away and the time for teams to mend the weaknesses before the start of the 2022 season is now. If your team needs an offensive lineman, the draft is a great way to start fresh. Here’s a look at the top 11 offensive line prospects entering this year’s Draft.
Top 11 Offensive Linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft
1) Evan Neal
Height: 6-7 Weight: 350lbs 40 Time: 5.37s
At 6’7” and 350lbs, Evan Neal has the size of a freight train, the power of a heavyweight boxer, and the precision of a heart surgeon. He may not be Paul Bunyon, but he’s a rare offensive line prospect that constitutes the use of a top 5 pick. In addition to his freakish size, Neal’s intelligence as a pass blocker is probably his biggest asset. He rarely makes bad reads and picks up linebacker blitzes better than anyone in this class — always sure in his footing. He’s punishing in run blocking, where he can leverage the totality of his size and athleticism. Neal also doesn’t make many mistakes, surrendering just 4 holding penalties in 3 years at Alabama. He does have a tendency to lean on his size, particularly in pass blocking, sometimes to the detriment of his technique. His size can also work against him in short yardage, where defenders can hold up the line simply by getting under him. So long as Neal can keep his weight under control and continues to improve his technique, he will have an instant impact on whatever team drafts him — which may very well be Jacksonville at number 1.
2) Ikem Eknwonu
Height: 6-4 Weight: 320lbs 40 Time: 4.89s
Nicknamed “the Pancake King” at NC State because of his propensity to put defensive ends on the ground, Ikem Ekwonu is the most powerful yet nimble offensive lineman in this draft class. As the first true freshman to ever start at LT for the Wolfpack, Ekwonu is able to leverage his speed and agility to make blocks for running backs 15-20 yards down field. He actively enjoys moving up and down the field as a blocker, and complements his speed with powerful hands. Like Neal, Ekwonu has an unteachable ability to make quick reads that allow him to pick up all kinds of different rush packages. He also has great balance, never falling to the ground even when bull rushed. He will have to work on his pass blocking technique, where he has a tendency to allow rushers to beat him inside. His “reckless abandon” level of aggression can also get the better of him sometimes when he takes bad angles.
3) Charles Cross
Height: 6-5 Weight: 310lbs 40 Time: 5.05s
Cross’s combination of speed, intelligence, and mechanics are immediately apparent in pass protection where he’s been making his money, figuratively speaking, since high school — where he finished his career as the number 1 prospect out of the state of Mississippi. His ability to put his hands in the right spot at the right time are reminiscent of a quarterback hitting a receiver in stride. Though he may not be one of the bigger guys in this class, especially at the tackle position, he rarely gets beat on bullrushes. He’s got great quickness on his feet which, when doubled with his hand strength/placement, make him a difficult guy to easily discard. The primary areas of concern for Cross are his lack of attempts as a run blocker and his size. He also only played 4 snaps at RT in college which may take him off the board for a team like the Giants who already have their LT figured out.
4) Tyler Linderbaum
Height: 6-3 Weight: 290lbs 40 Time: 5.14s
The best center in this year’s class, Linderbaum has incredibly quick lateral movement. It’s well-documented that he was a multi-sport athlete in high school, and I’d wager that his defense on the court was pretty good given his ability to shift in either direction. He’s great at using his lower body strength to create leverage against rushers. Only allowing 2 total sacks in his entire time at Iowa, Linderbaum has textbook pass protection. His smaller frame can be used against him by bigger rushers, and, like Ekwonu, he can sometimes play like a runaway train in the run game. His diverse skill set from years of wrestling and basketball, though, make him a great prospect at the position so long as he can put on some pounds.
5) Trevor Penning
Height: 6-7 Weight: 330lbs 40 Time: 5.00s
At 6’ 7” and 330lbs, Trevor Penning plays with freakish size and makes it his mission to impose himself on the defense whenever possible. With a 385 lb power clean and 5.00 second 40, only Bernhard Perriham rivals Penning on the combination of size and speed in this class. He’s got great technique in pass protection particularly with his hands, though he does struggle against quick, shorter edge rushers. He also frequently holds when he gets out of position, a habit that will be debilitating if continued at the next level. If he can work on his pad level and maintaining leverage, though, he’ll be a true force at the next level.
6) Kenyon Green
Height: 6-4 Weight: 325lbs 40 Time: 5.38s
At 6’4” and 325 lbs, Green is the best guard in the draft. He’s explosive off the line of scrimmage and has great grip strength at the point of attack. His footwork would make a ballerina proud and he has the lateral quickness to back it up. One thing he does have over the prospects above him is an ability to play with unrelenting aggression while not overextending himself. He stays true to form and plays into his naturally wide base to create leverage. While he did have some success playing tackle in college, he doesn’t quite have the prototypical arm length necessary for success at the position in the NFL. He also needs to work on maintaining focus in pass protection, where his technique noticeably fades the longer he has to hold up. He has the prototypical size, technique, and quickness to be a solid guard at the next level, and he would be a 2nd round steal if he’s still on the board.
7) Zion Johnson
Height: 6-3 Weight: 314lbs 40 Time: 5.18s
The FCS star turned Boston College product, Zion Johnson has some of the most natural footwork of anyone in this draft. What sets him apart is his ability to get low and remain fast, often matching edge rushers in their pursuit. He always looks to make an impact beyond his initial assignment, and his ability to make reads quickly allows him to do so. Like most guys coming out of college, Johnson will need to continue to work on his technique in pass protection. At 6’3”, he’ll also be relegated to the guard position, despite playing tackle for the majority of his collegiate career.
8) Bernhard Raimann
Height: 6-7 Weight: 304lbs 40 Time: 4.85s
With great hands and brutal strength, Raimann is a menace in run blocking schemes. His size and technique will allow him to make an impact quickly in the NFL — he always bends his knees and maintains a solid base. His mobility would make him a great asset in an offense like San Francisco’s that likes to utilize mobile tackles. While his hand placement may not quite be on the level of Charles Cross or even Sean Rhyan, it is superb enough to list as a strength. Raimann does struggle to keep his balance sometimes and can overextend himself. He also can be beat by really fast edge rushers as his lateral agility is not quite where you’d want it to be for an NFL tackle. His short arms may relegate him to the guard position in the NFL.
9) Sean Rhyan
Height: 6-5 Weight: 320lbs 40 Time: 5.21s
As a former high school shot put star, Sean Rhyan has the arm strength to hold up at the tackle position in the NFL. He’s able to take on double teams in pass blocking, and stands up to bull rushes — utilizing his strong core and lower body. He also does a good job of staying in position and not overextending himself. Rhyan is susceptible to getting beat on the inside by quicker edge rushers, often the result of turning his hips too early. His shorter arms also work against him in pass protection. He can compensate for some of this, however, by virtue of his skillful hand placement.
10) Nicholas Petit-Frère
Height: 6-5 Weight: 315lbs 40 Time: 5.05s
Coming out of high school as a 5 star prospect, Petit-Frère has the requisite size and strength needed to play the position at a high level in the NFL. He’s a great athlete with good burst off the line of scrimmage and solid footwork. He did struggle against some of the better defensive ends he faced in the Big 10 — most notably against Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan. He also has a tendency to let his upper body get over his feet and lose balance. If he’s able to maintain discipline and improve his positioning, he’ll be a solid NFL pickup as his athleticism speaks for itself.
11) Darian Kinnard
Height: 6-5 Weight: 324lbs 40 Time: 5.25s
Kinnard is a fast thinking RT that has the ability to locate linebackers and quickly get into position. He’s got the prototypical long arms that scouts love and he knows where to play on the field. Like Linderbaum, he’s a great lateral mover. Aided by an explosive burst off the line of scrimmage, Kennard racked up 47 knockdown blocks in his senior season. Ironically, one of the knocks against him is that he goes to the ground too often, sometimes playing at too high a pad level. He also loses some of his form in the running game where he relies more on his arm strength than his positioning.