This years’ tackle class will be one of the best in recent years. People might not see it this early on, but this class has a great number of hyper-athletic pass protectors that could end up dominating the first round of next year’s draft.
As the NFL evolves into a more speed-oriented game, we’ve recently seen a lot of up-and-coming edge rushers with great speed and versatility. Because of this evolution, there is currently a pressing need in the NFL for quick and nimble pocket-setters. In 2022’s group, I’ve seen a lot of that. The other difference-maker in this class is the size. Behemoths and players with basketball-like size are highlighted among the best.
Best Player: Abraham Lucas, Washington State
Not only is Lucas the best tackle in this class, but he’s probably the most versatile. He is a converted defensive end, and this plays to his advantage in multiple fashions. Although he measures in at a whopping 6 foot 7 inches, Lucas plays extremely fast.
He is proficient in the run game but most notably shows his potential in pass protection, where he dominates the opposing position he once played. He shows his ability to react to certain pass rush moves and keep the outside clean routinely on film.
Most Overrated: Thayer Munford, Ohio State
Munford has been nothing more than average playing offensive tackle for Ohio State. He lacks pro-level technique and struggles to maintain stability with players smaller than him. He’s a candidate to move to guard at the next level, but even that has its questions. Munford has the skills to be something special, but he’s been performing quite under par thus far in Columbus. He needs to bring everything together in 2021 and show he can be the player most thought he would end up being.
Most Underrated: Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
Being from a smaller school, Penning isn’t currently receiving a lot of national attention but should start receiving more as the season moves along. Scouts have been impressed by how dominant he has been.
The 6’7”, 330-pound offensive tackle plays with elite athleticism and solid speed. He’s good in both pass protection and the run game but doesn’t quite have any specific areas of his game that stuck out thus far. He has a ton of room to grow and has the bones of his game worked out.
Watch Out For: Daniel Faalele, Minnesota
There’s nobody bigger than Faalele, that’s for sure. He weighs in at a beastly 6 foot 9 inches, 360 pounds, and uses every bit of his monstrous size to his advantage on the football field.
Faalele can move rather well and set the pocket swiftly for how large he is. He plays with good technique and has solid speed, but isn’t quite a top tackle prospect yet due to inconsistencies between his tape and his game. However, with Faalele’s size, the sky’s the limit.
Preseason Top 5:
1. Abraham Lucas, Washington State – A converted edge rusher that carried over his length, speed, and athleticism to his new position and dominated.
2. Evan Neal, Alabama – A combo guard tackle with great size and incredible strength. Some might say he’s a better guard than tackle, but his tape proves otherwise.
3. Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa – An under-the-radar athletic freak that can set the edge well. Being from a small school might hurt him, but not if he continues to be an X-factor on the football field.
4. Zion Nelson, Miami – Another offensive tackle with exceptional athleticism. He shows quickness out of his stance and the ability to get to the second level as a run-blocker.
5. Daniel Faalele, Minnesota – Knows how to effectively use his ungodly size on the field. If Faalele makes it to the league, he would be the tallest active NFL player.
Just Missed: Obinna Eze (TCU), Rasheed Walker (Penn State), Charles Cross (Mississippi State), Sean Rhyan (UCLA), Darrian Kennard (Kentucky)
Athleticism is the name of the game for 2022’s loaded class. Quick and fast-paced edge setters with a knack for dealing with speedsters along the outside bring the class to its height. Watch out for small-school risers as the season progresses, because there are a lot of them.