NFL Draft 2021: Rough Diamonds Series: Offensive Line

This is part five of the series where I take a quick look, position by position, at my favourite Day 3/Undrafted guys from the 2021 NFL Draft.

Today it’s all about the Offensive Linemen, who are affectionately known as the “big uglies”. Scouting the Offensive Line is a bit like Marmite. For most people it can be a laborious task and is no way as glamourous as watching the skill position guys. However, watching mammoth humans move (at times) gracefully can for some, me included, be as rewarding as watching receivers making one handed catches. Protecting your franchise Quarterback (if you have one) has become just as important as supplying weapons for them to use, so Offensive Line, and in particular Offensive Tackle, is now considered a premium position come draft day. Before the draft I took a look at a few guys who I felt would be good third day value, so I won’t go back to the well and use them, instead I’ve found three more intriguing guys to highlight.

Sadarius Hutcherson: South Carolina (Undrafted, Tampa Bay)

Hutcherson was a Defensive End in high school and didn’t play Offensive Line at all. A 3-star recruit, he ended up at South Carolina where they still intended to use him on their Defensive Line. He redshirted in 2016 and piled on the pounds, whilst also becoming stronger, so the decision was made to transition him over to the Offensive Line, to maximise his newfound size.

He was thrust into the line-up as a Redshirt Freshman, starting four of eight games played that year at Left Guard. He then started all 13 games of the 2018 season at Right Guard, and it was here where he started to gain some attention. The Gamecocks decided that for the 2019 season he would play Left Tackle, probably because he was clearly their best Lineman, so why not try him at the premium position? Now the results were a bit of a mixed bag, which is unsurprising considering he was still learning to play Offense. I caught games against Alabama, Georgia and Florida, all top teams obviously, and he certainly didn’t look overmatched in any of those games. In fact, I thought he handled himself really well against Georgia, and that was a pretty big statement game for him. He did look like a Guard playing Tackle too at times, but again that was to be expected. Now I also caught him against Missouri, and that was the only time he looked totally lost. This was in week 4, and the Georgia and Florida games came after this, so the feeling was that he got better as the year progressed and was primed for a big 2020 season.

For the 2020 season though, Hutcherson surprisingly returned to his Left Guard spot. I caught two games, against Auburn and Texas A&M, one was good the other wasn’t. He dominated the young Auburn Defensive Tackles, showing that brute strength in the run game by creating big lanes for the Running Backs to use. His strength overwhelms smaller players, and his short area athleticism was clearly on display here. He struggled against Texas A&M though, and in particular when matched against Defensive Tackle Bobby Brown (Fourth Round, Rams). Brown easily moved Hutcherson out of the way with strength but was also able to beat him with speed off the snap too. To be fair the whole Offensive Line struggled against the Aggies, but this game created the first doubts about whether he was a day two guy in my mind.

The buzz picked back up again when his pro day numbers came through. He came in shorter than listed at 6’3, but by now it was widely considered that he was going to be a Guard in the NFL anyway. He ran a 5.01/40 at 321lbs, and put up 35 reps on the bench press, numbers that I thought would cement him in the top 100 for sure. I was shocked to see him go undrafted, and he was my 2nd highest ranked guy who wasn’t selected, behind Florida State Defensive Tackle Marvin Wilson. Huthcerson signed on with the Super Bowl Champion Bucs, and I must admit I like this fit a lot. Tampa Bay has two top quality starting Guards in Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa, but Hutcherson has a decent chance to win the back-up job to both those spots with a good camp. His versatility, athleticism and downright good tape makes me believe he’ll prove to be an Undrafted diamond. 

Tommy Doyle: Miami (Ohio), (Buffalo, Round 5, Pick 161)

Doyle’s story is similar to Hutcherson’s in the fact that he too played Defensive End in high school. Considered too slow for that position, he was recruited by plenty of MAC schools to play Offensive Line instead, and he ended up signing with Miami (OH). In high school he was 6’7 260lbs, so he knew he’d need to get bigger to play on the line, and that’s exactly what he used his redshirt year to do, gaining weight, strength and learning to play a whole new position. 

He started 14 games as a Redshirt Freshman/Sophomore at Right Tackle, before starting all 13 games at Left Tackle as a Junior in 2019. He had shown good improvement every year, and his junior tape had scouts excited that with a big senior season he could potentially become a day 2 prospect. Unfortunately for Doyle, because of Covid, the MAC conference started late and his RedHawks could only muster three games played. I caught just one of those, against Buffalo, and he had a pretty rough day, especially when going up against Edge Malcolm Koonce (Third round, Raiders). 

With 2020 being such an odd season, I’m prepared to overlook that game against Buffalo, and revert back to what the tape shows us in 2019, which is a smooth, athletic Tackle who is still learning the position. He has excellent length (over 35-inch arms) which he uses to ride edges away from the Quarterback. He has great balance too, always on his toes and moving players easily away from the action. Those arms provide quite a punch as well, and when he can fully extend, he is in control and never looks in danger of losing power. The only issues really seem to be when defenders beat him to the punch and get to his chest, negating his arm length advantage, and winning the rep quickly. 

As a player still learning the position, and with only 3 senior games played, Doyle was selected in about the right range, but his upside is well worth the gamble in the fifth round. The Bills needed some Offensive Tackle depth, and they currently have him backing up Left Tackle Dion Dawkins on their depth chart. Dawkins is a high calibre starter who Doyle will be able to learn from, without having to take the live bullets early in his career.

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Panthers

Jimmy Morrissey: Pittsburgh (Las Vegas, Round 7, Pick 230)

Morrissey is a great story. He had no FBS offers coming out of high school, so he walked on to the Pittsburgh football team instead of accepting the offers he had from some FCS programs. After redshirting his first year, he proceeded to start 47 games over the next four years with the Panthers. He quickly established himself as the leader of the line and has helped transform the fortunes of the Pittsburgh program in his time there. 

Morrissey first caught my eye in 2018, as a Sophomore, in back-to-back weeks against Syracuse and Notre Dame. The Notre Dame game was especially good, winning more reps than he lost against Defensive Tackle Jerry Tillery (Round 1 2019), who was having an outstanding year. He continued to put out good tape as a Junior in 2019, with another excellent game against Syracuse as the highlight. I caught three games this past year, and again he more than held his own against Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State.

He is a classic overachiever, whose sheer determination to succeed has got him to this point. He is incredibly smart, he makes the line adjustments pre snap, and correctly identifies blitz pick-ups. He has a great short area explosiveness, firing off the snap and winning reps early. Also, a very effective blocker on the move, he takes the right angles to seal defenders and move them away from the play. Now the biggest issue Morrissey has is sustaining blocks. Once engaged he can be overwhelmed by bigger, stronger defensive lineman. He will need to become much stronger in the NFL, but I thought he certainly deserved to go higher than the last round, especially with those intangibles.

Getting selected by Las Vegas, who pretty much cleared out most of their Offensive Line this off-season, is a great spot for him. He has every chance to secure a back-up role quickly there, and who would count against this guy starting at center for them in the near future?

That’s the Offense done in the series, it’s time to switch over to the Defense, and next up will be the Edge guys…

If you liked this article, check out the rest of the series – They are all in the “College” section.

Follow Keith on Twitter – @LordLucken

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