The College Playoff is here, which sadly means the end of another exciting and wild college season. With this in mind we have to start turning our focus to the upcoming NFL Draft and the top players in it. Over the next couple of weeks, our SGPN crew is providing the top 10 lists for each position. This week we spotlight the big guys up front, the 2022 Draft Offensive Linemen class.
These are always the unsexy picks in the draft that no one loves to talk about. However, they are the most important building blocks for an offense. In today’s NFL, these players have to have great versatility and are being asked to run and pass block with many different techniques. Due to this the college level has caught up and implemented more of this to its game. Thanks to this, we are seeing more and more well-rounded prospects coming out of the college game.
It is not the best year to need offensive line help as an NFL franchise, but there is a good group of players coming out this year that possess the potential to be great. However, many lack the readiness to step in on day one and start. This is not great news for all the franchise quarterbacks out there crying for help. Let’s take a look at the top 10 offensive linemen prospects in this 2022 NFL Draft, along with a few potential landing spots.
More 2022 NFL Draft Prep
Top 2022 NFL Draft Prospects: Rookie Offensive Linemen
1. Evan Neal – Alabama
Measurables: 6-7, 350 lbs.
Projected Round: 1st
Potential NFL Landing Spots: New York G., New York J., Philadelphia
Player Comp: A slightly quicker Orlando Brown
Evan Neal is one of the bigger linemen entering the 2022 NFL Draft. He was a five-star prospect out of Florida, along with the top Tackle in the country entering college football. His long arms and massive frame allow him to bully defensive linemen in the run game and pass game. He also possesses great mobility for a guy who stands 6-7 and 380 pounds. When we look at his game we do see some holes, he does need to improve his get-off and quickness. At times we saw some of the better speed rushers give him fits this year playing left tackle. This is something he will need to work on to find great success at left tackle in the NFL.
Evan Neal has been asked to play many positions along the line at Alabama over his years there. This allows him to have the ability to be a swing player along any offensive line at the next level. So if he does not improve in the areas to succeed at left tackle he can easily find a dominant role somewhere on the line. As a result, we will see him come off the board somewhere in the top 15 picks of this year’s draft. The New York Giants seem like a good fit for Evan Neal, they have two picks in the top 6 picks of the draft and have aging left tackle in Nate Solder. Other options are the New York Jets or Philadelphia, either way, he has a good shot in being the first of the 2022 draft offensive linemen taken.
2. Ikem Ekwonu- NC State
Measurables: 6-4, 320 lbs.
Projected Round: 1st
Potential NFL Landing Spots: Philadelphia, New York G., Pittsburgh
Player Comp: A more physical Kevin Zeitler
Ikem Ekonu enter the college game as an IOL and was only a three-star prospect, ranking as the 36th guard in the country. However, as a freshman, he earned a starting role as the left tackle for the Wolfpack. After earning this role he began to put himself on the map and became a dominant force on the offensive line. He brings great physicality to the tackle position, allowing him to dominate the run game and slow down speed rushers. Along with the ability to anchor against any bull rush. Additionally, he struggles with the inside moves in passing sets, and with holding his blocks at times. With the big jump he made from 2020 to 2021 I expect him to be able to clean up these things at the next level.
His football intelligence has allowed him to play multiple positions at NC State. Most notably left tackle and left guard, and will allow him to be used at either position at the next level. Most likely he will slide in as a starting left tackle though at the NFL level. As a result, I expect this physical dynamic player to come off the board within the top 15 picks of the NFL Draft. The Philadelphia Eagles seem like a perfect fit for him, he will fit their offensive scheme perfectly. Other potential spots are the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers if he was to fall.
3. Tyler Linderbaum – Iowa
Measurables: 6-3, 290 lbs.
Projected Round: 1st
Potential NFL Landing Spots: New York J., Atlanta, Carolina
Player Comp: A poor man’s Ryan Kelley
Tyler Linderbaum entered the collegiate ranks as a defensive tackle before converting to center. Unlike many of the players atop this list, he is almost a center-exclusive prospect. This may hurt his value come draft day as NFL teams tend to value versatility when it comes to linemen. However, he is extremely polished and can step in as a day one starter. He possesses a great ability to be the low guy at the contact point, along with an ability to reset and anchor when he gets hit with the bull rush. His mobility stands out as well, allowing him to get out to set edges as well as seal creases. With what he was asked to do at Iowa you can see him fitting into a zone run scheme concept very well.
When it comes to being an NFL prospect Tyler Linderbaum has all the tools you look for. He is a rare prospect that possesses a very dynamic style of play. His biggest knock will be the lack of true passing reps in the the run-heavy Iowa scheme. Along with his lack of versatility along the offensive front. He may find himself slipping down draft boards due to this. There is one team I think could take a chance on him in the early first round, this is the New York Jets. They are trying to build a zone scheme running offense, similar to the 49ers. With two picks in the top-ten, it makes a lot of sense if they replace Connor Mcgovern with a more polished player. Other potential spots are Atlanta and Carolina.
4. Kenyon Green- Texas A&M
Measurables: 6-4, 325 lbs.
Projected Round: 1st
Potential NFL Landing Spots: Atlanta, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Denver
Player Comp: Richie Incognito without the temper
Kenyon Green was a five-star recruit when he joined the Aggies. He was immediately slotted into a starting role along the offensive line, going on to make 35 starts for them. Along the way, he has become a true force in the run game. Due in large part to his frame, power, and toughness it allows him to bully any interior defensive lineman. Most surprising is his lateral mobility, this makes him a great asset in power run schemes as a pulling guard. However, he is not just a bulldozer, he is a sound pass blocker as well. We see him have a good ability to latch to defenders and anchor in place. Along with an ability to mirror defenders which makes him a great piece in the center of the line on passing downs.
At the next level, I see Kenyon Green becoming a dominant guard, with the ability to perfect either side. This versatility will make him a hot commodity come Draft Day. It is very hard to find too many negatives in his game as well. Due to this, I expect him to be a top 20 pick in the NFL Draft. The Atlanta Falcons sitting at 9 currently seem like his best fit in the top 10. However, the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Denver Broncos make a lot of sense as well.
5. Charles Cross – Mississippi State
Measurables: 6-5, 310 lbs.
Projected Round: 1st
Potential NFL Landing Spots: Carolina, Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York G.
Player Comp: A less polished Lane Johnson
Charles Cross has risen to stardom over the past two seasons for the Bulldogs. He has made 20 starts at left tackle and impressed in every way. Cross has lived up to his five-star recruit pedigree. He possesses great fluidity in his game, which allows him to redirect rushers at will. This also allows him to match many counter moves as well. On top of that, his great first step, balance, lateral mobility, and hand fighting make him a high-profile pass blocker. However, he does lack the overall mass and anchoring ability due to a smaller frame. He does however get the job down with 100 percent effort when asked to do so.
Projecting forward he will need to work on improving his ferocity and strength in the run game to become an All-Pro tackle. His effort is never in question but his lean frame makes it hard to handle larger defenders in the run game. This makes him very one-dimensional, he will find his greatest success in a pass-heavy offensive scheme. As a result of his high potential, he could be the first player off the board in the 2022 Draft among offensive linemen. The Bengals seem like a great fit for him if he manages to fall to them. His pass blocking strengths would help them keep Joe Burrow upright. Other potential spots could be Carolina, Atlanta, and the New York Giants.
6. Nicholas Petit-Frere – Ohio State
Measurables: 6-5, 315 lbs.
Projected Round: 1st-2nd
Potential NFL Landing Spots: Cincinnati, Baltimore, Tennessee, Buffalo
Player Comp: A Poor Mans Trent Williams
Nicholas Petit-Frere came to the Buckeyes as a five-star recruit who ranked as the top offensive tackle in the 2018 class. It took him a while to find a starting role on the team, but he has looked very polished this season at left tackle. He has a solid frame at 6-5, 315 pounds along with a solid reach. Along with showing an ability to employ a solid base and covers a lot of area. His lateral mobility stands out in both the run game and passing game, allowing him to cover a lot of ground quickly. Along with all of this he does he gets off the ball well and also imposes his will on defenders. As a result, he has started to rise up draft boards already. He could be a surprise pick in this class of 2022 Draft when it comes to offensive linemen.
As we look forward to the NFL level he will need to work on his placement in blocking sets. He has all the tools to combat speed and bullrushes, however, he finds himself too deep at times. This allows those speed rushers to get an edge on him. Along with that, it opens up a window for the rushers to combat with an inside move. This could prove to be an issue at the next level. As a result, I expect him to find a home possibly late in the first round or early second round. The Bengals seem like a great fit for him, allowing him to slide to right tackle and sure up the outside edges for Joe Burrow. Other potential spots are the Ravens or Titans.
7. Darian Kinnard – Kentucky
Measurables: 6-5, 342 lbs.
Projected Round: 1st-2nd
Potential NFL Landing Spots: Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Tennessee
Player Comp: A much younger Andrew Whitworth
Darian Kinnard is a four-star recruit who has played a ton of right tackle for the Wildcats. His 6-5, 342-pound frame and leg drive makes him a force in the ground game. Along with his attitude at the point of attack makes him one of the most dominant players if he gets the first shot on you. Add this in with his mobility, which is above average for a guy his size, and you have one mean bulldozer. However, he does struggle in some areas, mostly the passing game. Kentucky’s offense didn’t allow us to see many reps in this department. Although when they did pass he had his moments of greatness mixed with some “what are you doing moments?!?” Growing in his pass-blocking ability will be his biggest challenge transitioning to the NFL.
However, if he improves his hand fighting and placement of his jabs, he could become a solid pass blocker. He seems like a guy that will benefit from a move inside. This will allow him to use his frame and violent tendencies a little bit more. As he will face many more bullrushes than speed rushers. Also, his mobility and frame will make him a monster in the pulling game. Factoring in all of this, the Baltimore Ravens feel like a perfect fit late in the first round. This team is built around the ground game and executing play-action off it. Darian Kinnard a seemingly perfect fit for the Ravens’ offense. other potential spots are Tampa Bay, Buffalo, and Tennessee.
8. Trevor Penning – Northern Iowa
Measurables: 6-7, 340 lbs.
Projected Round: 1st-2nd
Potential NFL Landing Spots: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Miami, Seattle
Player Comp: Spencer Brown but stronger
Trevor Penning could be the first FCS tackle taken in the first two days of the NFL Draft. He has been a dominant, nasty, mean force for Northern Iowa. Standing at 6-7, 340 pounds he has a monster frame to work with. This frame is extremely dense and possess great length and reach. This allows him to cover great ground in the run and screen game. Aside from this, he is a freak of an athlete, he is expected to run around a 5 second 40-yard dash while holding the program record in the squat (625 lbs.) and power cleans (385 lbs.). Add in his understanding of position and leverage, along with solid hand technique and a mauler mentality he is a handful in the trenches. He could emerge as one of the best offensive linemen of the 2022 Draft in a few years.
As we project forward to the next level he will need to improve in a few key areas. One more noticeable area is his balance. He struggles to stay strong when anchoring and this allows lengthier rushers to get the best of him. Along with that, he has a tendency to lunge and overreach at times as well. This makes it hard for him to recover when needed, due to some slightly heavy feet at times. If he can refine these more glaring issues along with a few little things he has star potential at the next level. I see him coming off the board as early as the Pittsburgh Steelers who need tackle help badly. His nasty style of play would fit well into that Steeler mold. Other potential spots are Cincinnati, Miami, Seattle.
9. Daniel Faalele- Minnesota
Measurables: 6-9, 380 lbs.
Projected Round: 1st-2nd
Potential NFL Landing Spots: Baltimore, Buffalo, Detroit, Tennessee
Player Comp: Alejandro Villanueva but bigger
Daniel Faalele has possibly the highest ceiling of the group of linemen, however, he lacks the experience that the others have. As a former rugby player, he only has three-season playing tackle for the Gophers. However, the athleticism he possesses is unquestioned. He has a great ability to redirect his 400-pound frame in pass sets and run blocking assessments. His length may be his best trait, he could become one of the best against speed rushers due to this. Best of luck if you want to try and power through him off the edge as well. In the run game, you better hope he does not get his hands on you. He is great at initiating power at the attack point along with finishing blocks with a slight nastiness.
Projecting forward he is a raw talent that is willing to learn. Any team that takes the chance on him could have a star in the making. He will need to improve in a lot of areas. However, his overall frame will help him cover up a lot of little miscues in his game. Most likely he will find most success as a tackle at the NFL level. Due to his lack of readiness, I see him falling to the second round most likely. However, a team in the later first round could take a chance on him due to the need heading into the 2022 Draft at offensive linemen. The Ravens seem like a great fit late in the first round, their quick passing and run-heavy scheme will fit his style perfectly. Other potential landing spots are Buffalo, Detroit, and Tennessee.
10. Zion Johnson- Boston College
Measurables: 6-3, 316 lbs.
Projected Round: 1st-2nd
Potential NFL Landing Spots: Tennessee, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Arizona
Player Comp: Isaiah Wynn but available
Zion Johnson was a college transfer from Davidson to Boston College. Surprisingly he landed a starting role very quickly. Playing mostly as a left guard, this will be the best position for him. He lacks the overall size and length to play tackle at the NFL level, however could handle it if called upon for short stints. One of his best traits is physicality he is always looking to finish blocks and display above-average power. Along with his lateral ability and quick latching hands and you get one of the best zone running scheme blockers in this 2022 draft offensive linemen class. Although he’s not a pure run blocker as he has improved in 2021 in passing sets. He stays square and does well against bull rushers.
Projecting forward I see him settling in at left guard at the NFL level. He is very sound and plays within his capabilities. This makes him reliable and is hardly caught out of position. Due to his lack of all-pro potential, I think he will fall to the late first-round possibly second round. The Tennessee Titans seem like a perfect fit. They need help at the guard position and their balanced attack will allow Zion Johnson to flourish. Other potential spots could be Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Arizona.
Top Offensive Linemen 2022 NFL Draft
|Player||University||Measurables||Proj. Round||Possible Landing spots|
|Evan Neal||Alabama||6-7, 350 lbs||1st||New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia|
|Ikem Ekwonu||NC State||6-4, 320 lbs||1st||Philadelphia, New York Giants, Pittsburgh|
|Tyler Linderbaum||Iowa||6-3, 290 lbs||1st||New York Jets, Atlanta, Carolina|
|Kenyon Green||Texas A&M||6-4, 325 lbs||1st||Atlanta, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Denver|
|Charles Cross||Mississippi St.||6-5, 310 lbs||1st||Carolina, Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York Giants|
|Nick Petit-Frere||Ohio State||6-5, 315 lbs||1st-2nd||Cincinnati, Baltimore, Tennessee, Buffalo|
|Darian Kinnard||Kentucky||6-5, 342 lbs||1st-2nd||Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Tennessee|
|Trevor Penning||Northern Iowa||6-7, 340 lbs||1st-2nd||Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Miami, Seattle|
|Daniel Faalele||Minnesota||6-9, 380 lbs||1st-2nd||Baltimore, Buffalo, Detroit, Tennessee|
|Zion Johnson||Boston College||6-3, 316 lbs||1st-2nd||Tennessee, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Arizona|