Head of the Class
Western Kentucky left tackle (and friend of the #PylonU podcast) Forrest Lamp highlights the interior offensive line class. Lamp, a left tackle for the Hilltoppers, could play the position at the next level, but he best translates as a Zach Martin-type conversion on the interior, where I’ve given him the “Dominant/Rare” tag for projection and traits, respectively. Size and arm length concerns are negated on the interior, where Lamp’s athleticism and incredible technical prowess offer some fortunate team a Week 1 starter. Down in and down out he is the most consistent player on both sides of the football in this class, and if I were picking in the top 10 and needed to upgrade my interior, he would be the only player I looked at.
Just below Lamp are Indiana’s road grader and Ohio State’s do-it-all interior linemen, Dan Feeney and Pat Elflein. One of the only things keep Feeney from being a lock first rounder is the worry over his multiple concussions. Aside from that very real concern, Feeney is especially well-built for teams who want to establish a run-first offense and be the aggressors at the line of scrimmage. A topic that was brought up this draft cycle was “finishing” – and Feeney’s probably the best at it in the class, playing through and sometimes after the whistle. There are several teams who need to solidify their interior in the late 1st and early 2nd round, which is where Dan Feeney should be selected.
Ohio State’s Pat Elflein should find early success due to his position versatility. In similar ways to Cody Whitehair from a year ago, Elflein isn’t bound to one spot having started at center and guard for the Buckeyes. Elflein ultimately needs to be a center, and due to the lack of them worthy of top 40 picks in this class, he may go as high as the late 1st a la Travis Frederick a few years ago to Dallas, and he assuredly will be gone in the second round. I’ve tagged him as an “Impact” player by year 3, meaning Pro Bowl quality, and his traits grade is excellent, due in part to the quality of how he can handle multiple positions along the line.
Two Mid-Round Options To Consider
Ethan Pocic, LSU – Pocic, despite being 6’6” – an abnormal height for his position – was one of the best centers in college football and I thought he was the best in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. Teams may believe he’s a long-term guard because of his stature, but regardless of where he’s at on the interior, he’s a future starter.
Will Holden, Vanderbilt – Holden showed up the last day in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and dominated in practice, putting himself on everyone’s radar. Another college tackle to guard conversion, Holden should go in the top 75, and I personally would consider him earlier. He’s one of the only players in this class who can be a legitimate factor at either guard or tackle, depending on the need, and those guys aren’t coming out often – the NFL has a very real tackle epidemic on its hands – especially in this class.