2022 NFL Draft Position Review: Offensive Tackles

Charlie lays out an overview at the top players from each position for the 2022 NFL Draft. For further information, check out our in-depth analysis of 2022 NFL Draft Prospects by Position.

By Charlie Campbell.
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This page was last updated April 6, 2022. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

Position Review: Offensive Tackles

Offensive Tackle Class
Early-round talent: A-
Mid-round: A-
Late-round: B
Overall grade: A-

Merging the 2022 and 2021 prospects
Penei Sewell
Evan Neal
Ikem Ekwonu
Charles Cross
Rashawn Slater
Trevor Penning
Tyler Smith
Alex Leatherwood
Christian Darrisaw
Nick Petit-Frere
Teven Jenkins
Liam Eichenberg
Walker Little
Jackson Carman
Daniel Faalele
Bernhard Raimann

After a few down years, the offensive tackle group rebounded some in 2019, provided a superb class in 2020, and had another excellent group of prospects in 2021. Last year’s group had top-20 four tackles and another six tackles selected over the first two rounds. This year is a similar class with high first-round talent and quality prospects for Day 2.

If you were to merge two classes together, Penei Sewell would be the top prospect. and team sources say they had him graded higher than the four tackles who went in the top 13 of the 2020 NFL Draft – Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton, Tristan Wirfs. Sewell was a better prospect than Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross is. But those three are better than Rashawn Slater was. Trevor Penning and Tyler Smith are better prospects than Alex Leatherwood and Christian Darrisaw. Nick Petit-Frere is on a par with 2021 second-round picks Teven Jenkins, Liam Eichenberg and Walker Little. Jackson Carman was a better prospect than Daniel Faalele and Bernhard Raimann.



Safest Pick: Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Previous Picks:
2021: Penei Sewell
2020: Andrew Thomas
2019: Cody Ford
2018: Mike McGlinchey
2017: Garett Bolles
2016: Larmey Tunsil
2015: Ereck Flowers
2014: Jake Matthews
2013: Luke Joeckel

This might be a surprising pick to some because Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu are expected to go ahead of Cross and have received more hype than the Mississippi State tackle. Cross, in my opinion, is likely the safest. He has multiple years of good tape at left tackle playing in the the toughest division of the toughest conference in the nation. He is a skilled pass protector with size, quickness, athleticism and feet. Cross is a natural left tackle who has proven to be tested in the trenches.

A lot of teams are projecting Neal to right tackle because of his feet and issues with speed rushers. Some scouts think he could end up being a guard as a pro. Ekwonu has a great skill set, but Cross is more polished because Ekwonu was shifted around the line somewhat. Cross likely is the safest tackle prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Biggest Bust Potential: Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
Previous Picks:
2021: James Hudson
2020: Ezra Cleveland
2019: David Edwards
2018: Connor Williams
2017: Roderick Johnson
2016: Shon Coleman
2015: La’el Collins
2014: Cyrus Kouandjio
2013: D.J. Fluker

This was a difficult decision because no prospect strikes me as having real bust potential. I went with Raimann (6-6, 304) because he is the rawest of the bunch having gotten a late start in football and only playing offensive tackle for two years after switching from tight end to tackle in 2020. There are a lot of points of development for Raimann given his lack of experience, and he had problems in the pass-rushing one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl. He also has short arms – 33 inches – and needs to improve his technique overall. I could see Raimann struggling with pro pass rushers and needing serious developmental time. Some projections have Raimann in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and I think he has some bust potential if he goes that high.



Offensive Tackles Rankings by Attributes


Pass Protection:
NFL prototype: Laremy Tunsil, Texans
  1. Charles Cross
  2. Ikem Ekwonu
  3. Tyler Smith
  4. Nick Petit-Frere
  5. Evan Neal
  6. Trevor Penning
  7. Bernhard Raimann
  8. Daniel Faalele


Recap: Franchise left tackles have to be rock solid in pass protection. Most teams feature a right-handed quarterback, so the left tackle has to be trusted to shut down pass rushers coming from the blind side.

Cross really excels in pass protection and shows a special skill set to be a blind-side protector in the NFL. He has quick feet and the length to shut off the corner from speed rushers. Cross possesses smooth athleticism alongside his speed, which makes him adept at playing the typewriter with his feet to cut off the edge. He also will use his quickness and agility to ride defenders around the pocket and open up the left side as an option for quarterbacks to slide laterally. Cross is able to adjust to inside moves, and with his ability to react rapidly, he moves to cut off inside lanes. There is no doubt that Cross is very good at mirroring speed rushers coming off the edge. He has more issues with physical defensive ends, but he does possess the size in his base to anchor.

As a pass blocker, Ekwonu is very gifted, combining athleticism, quickness and agility. He has the feet to quickly get depth in his drop to take away the edge from speed rushers. Ekwonu is fast and athletic at playing the typewriter with his feet and cuting off rushers. He also can glide and mirror speed rushers but still possesses the power to knock them off balance. His natural strength also lets him anchor against and stop bull rushes. Ekwonu is a smooth mover with the power to finish off defenders and to keep them from getting pressure on the quarterback.

Smith is a freaky athlete in the passing game. He combines athleticism, quickness, agility and strength in one package. Smith’s deft, agile feet make him a true dancing bear who can glide with rushers while being able to get depth in his drop to take away the edge from speed rushers. He has natural strength, good length with massive bulk to anchor and stop bull rushes. There is no doubt Smith is a smooth mover with the power to finish off defenders and to keep them from getting pressure on the quarterback. Smith also is very intelligently able to adjust to games from the defensive line and shoed developed awareness and recognition skills stemming from that intelligence.

In pass protection, Petit-Frere shows a special skill set to be a blind-side protector in the NFL. He has fast feet and the length to shut off the corner from speed rushers. Thanks to his smooth athleticism and his speed, Petit-Frere can play the typewriter with his feet to cut off the edge. He also will use his quickness and agility to glide defenders around the pocket and open up the left side as an option for his quarterback to slide laterally. Petit-Frere is able to adjust to inside moves and possesses quick reaction skills he moves to cut off inside lanes. There is no doubt Petit-Frere is very good at mirroring speed rushers coming off the edge. He has more issues with physical defensive ends, but he does have the natural size to anchor.

As a pass blocker, Neal is a real challenge for defenders to beat. With his mass and length, it can be hard to get around him. Neal has enough athleticism to get depth in his drop and is not slow out of his stance. His heavy hands really jump out, as the strength of them can shock defenders. When Neal latches on, defenders are in real trouble because he does an excellent job of sustaining blocks, and they can rarely manage to shed his block. Neal also does a great job of eliminating second efforts and maintaining his block for long periods of time. While Neal was a good pass protector overall in 2020 and 2021, he can have some problems with speed rushers. Sometimes his feet can be a problem for him to get moving, and that allows fast edge rushers to get the corner on him. As is common with some massive offensive linemen, Neal has change-of-direction issues and redirecting. Working on his feet and ability to wall off speed rushers to the outside and inside are the big points of improvement for him heading to the NFL. Neal has some balance issues too, so that is another area to get better at so he can avoid falling to the turf.

Penning is a gifted pass blocker in possession of length, athleticism, quickness and agility. He has quick-enough feet to get depth in his drop to take away the edge from speed rushers, and his long frame makes it hard for defenders to around him. Penning plays with good leverage to stop bull rushes and is able to bend at the knee. At times, he opens up his chest too much and is slow to adjust to moves to the inside or outside that he doesn’t anticipate. Thus, he is not a finished product and needs some developmental time. Coming from his lower level of competition, it could be in the best interest of both Penning and his NFL team to develop him as a backup for half season before working him into the starting lineup.

As a pass protector, Raimann needs a lot of development, and that was given further proof at the Senior Bowl, where he struggled with speed rushers. Raimann’s feet look get stuck in the ground, and he lunges after rushers. That leaves him in bad position to defend against speed rushers around the corner. In Mobile, being cognizant of problems with speed around the corner left him susceptible to bull rushes, allowing his hands to get too wide and letting defenders get into his chest to push him back into the pocket. Raimann needs to improve his hand placement because getting his hands around the outside of defenders could lead to a lot of holding calls in the NFL. He also needs to continue to work on his feet and at bending to not lunge after defenders while being ready for inside moves. Raimann has short arms at 33 inches, so is lacking in length for handling NFL pass rushers. He is going to need a lot of work on defending speed rushers, and that issue could make him a better fit at right tackle as a pro.

Faalele is a giant in terms of height and length, which makes him tougher to run around in pass protection. He also has strong hands to sustain blocks and prevent second efforts. His height can be a hinderance though, as it can lead to him playing too high, which leads to trouble. He has to watch how he bends plus not let his feet get stuck in the ground. Faalele’s feet are right tackle only, which can make it difficult for him to achieve the necessary depth in his drop. Faalele is not quick to react to speed rushes, struggles to mirror speed rushers, and his lack of depth in the drop keeps him from being able to widen rushers around the pocket. Faalele has some athletic issues, and adding that in with playing too high, leads to speed rushers giving him problems. As a result of his inconsistencies, Faalele would fit as a right tackle only in the NFL.



Run Blocking:
NFL prototype: Trent Brown, Patriots
  1. Evan Neal
  2. Ikem Ekwonu
  3. Trevor Penning
  4. Tyler Smith
  5. Bernhard Raimann
  6. Daniel Faalele
  7. Charles Cross
  8. Nick Petit-Frere


Recap: Neal is a load in the ground game, knocking defenders off the ball and riding them out of their gaps. Neal engulfs edge defenders and keeps them from flowing to the ball. With his ability to generate movement, Neal is an asset in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Fewer offensive linemen play with a mean streak anymore, but that lesson was lost on Neal who he will get very physical and violent with defenders. His heavy hands shock defenders, and he can manhandle defensive linemen at that point of attack. Neal looks to pancake them and is a bully on the field who really beats up opponents. Neal moves well for his size, but that stature also creates some limitations for him hitting blocks on smaller defenders in space. Hence, Neal could be better in a power-man blocking scheme in the NFL.

In the ground game, Ekwonu has some real nastiness to him. He is a fierce run blocker, staying engaged through the whistle and very physical at the point of attack. With a bad attitude, Ekwonu gets violent with defenders to push them around and challenge them to stay in their gap. Ekwonu is quick out of his stance and fires to the second level. It is rare to see offensive linemen who are as fast as Ekwonu is in a straight line, and he is a real asset to get downfield on screens. Ekwonu is a smooth mover in space, so that, in tandem with his drive-blocking ability, makes him a great fit for either a zone scheme or a power-man scheme in the NFL.

Penning does a great job in the running game. He can knock defenders out of theirs gap and ride them around the field. Penning blocks through the whistle and is very physical at the point of attack, planting defenders into the ground with serious force. Penning really brings it, getting nasty with defenders, shoving them around and challenging them to hold their gaps. He is a bully on the field who fights hard and finishes off defenders with zero hesitation. Penning might get some penalties for being too physical, but he sets a nasty tone, and defenders are in for a long day of getting beat on when they play against Penning. He is quick out of stance and can get to blocks on the second level, so that combined with his ability to drive block makes him a solid fit for both zone and power-man blocking schemes in the pros.

On the ground, Smith is a mauler. He has a mean streak to him and is a forceful run blocker. He is latched on through the whistle and very physical at the point of attack. Smith will get after defenders and drive them from their gaps. Smith is quick out of his stance and capable of firing to the second level while being able to function in space. Few left tackles have Smith’s mauler style as a run blocker, so he is a rare left tackle prospect who can be a force in both phases.

Entering the next level, Raimann is a plus run blocker. He isn’t a finesse tap-dancing left tackle who is weak in the ground game. Raimann doesn’t possess overwhelming power, but he is very good at latching onto defenders and turning them to open up holes and can create some movement. He is strong at sustaining his blocks, and he will ride some defenders around the field. Once Raimann latches on, defenders have a very difficult time shedding him.

Faalele has a mean streak in the ground game and blocks through the whistle. Faalele can be a nasty run blocker who bullies defenders at the point of attack. There are times where is a beast in the ground game who can push defenders around at the point of attack. Faalele does a nice job of placing his hands to get into the chest of defenders, and that means they are in trouble because he will ride them out of their gap. With his mean streak and power, Faalele will finish defenders off violence. While Faalae is a power run blocker, he is not quick to the second level given his size. Thus, he would not be a great fit for a zone-blocking scheme.

As a run blocker, Cross gets the better of defenders by routinely beating them to spots. He fires off the ball and uses his quickness to get to his landmarks to set up rushing lanes. With his speed and athleticism, Cross is excellent at bolting to the second level, and he is skilled in space to hit blocks on defenders once there. Cross has the size and mass to tie up defenders by turning and manipulating, but he is not an overpowering road grader of a run blocker. He blocks hard through the whistle, and looks to finish defenders with violence, but he could stand to add more strength for the NFL.

Petit-Frere needs to get stronger and more aggressive for run blocking in the NFL. He got the the better of defenders at Ohio State by beating them to spots. Petit-Frere fires off the ball and uses his quickness to get to his landmarks to set up rushing lanes. He is not a powerful force, and he wins in the ground game by tying up defenders and manipulating them rather than blasting them off the ball. With his speed and athleticism, Petit-Frere can dart to the second level, and he is skilled in space to hit blocks on defenders at that range. Petit-Frere plays hard through the whistle, but he could stand to add more strength and play with more aggression. A former basketball player, Petit-Frere is a bit soft in his demeanor. That showed up against Michigan in 2021, when the moment seemed too big for him. Petit-Frere could stand to get more mature and play with a tougher mentality.



Feet:
NFL prototype: Ronnie Stanley, Ravens
  1. Ikem Ekwonu
  2. Charles Cross
  3. Tyler Smith
  4. Nick Petit-Frere
  5. Trevor Penning
  6. Bernhard Raimann
  7. Evan Neal
  8. Daniel Faalele


Recap: Ekwonu and Cross could have the best feet in the 2022 NFL Draft. Both of them are very light on their feet with the ability to play the typewriter and consistently get themselves in good position. They have quick, smooth feet that are very impressive for large tackles.

Smith has very quick feet and can pick them up and put them down in his backpedal or while firing out of his stance. Petit-Frere is a good athlete with quick feet as well, and he has the ability to kick slide with speed rushers. Petit-Frere is very good at defending the edge from fast pass rushers.

Penning possesses solid feet. Raimann struggles with consistency, showing good feet at times and struggles at others. Neal (6-7, 360) and Faalele (6-8, 345) are massive offensive linemen, and as a result of their general size, each can have his feet get stuck in the ground.





Zone-Blocking Scheme:
NFL prototype: Tyron Smith, Cowboys
  1. Ikem Ekwonu
  2. Tyler Smith
  3. Charles Cross
  4. Nick Petit-Frere
  5. Trevor Penning
  6. Evan Neal
  7. Bernhard Raimann
  8. Daniel Faalele


Recap: Most of these tackle prospects could execute in a zone-blocking system. Almost all of them possess the athletic ability and the speed to play it. Ekwonu, Smith, Cross and Petit-Frere are great fits for zone schemes because they are quick and mobile. Each one has shown the ability to block on the move in their offenses. Penning and Neal are massive, but they are quick and athletic enough to run zone plays. Raimann can do some zone as well. Faalele would be a bad fit for a zone scheme because he lumbers and is not quick enough in space. He would be a better fit for a power-man scheme.



Man Scheme:
NFL prototype: Trent Williams, 49ers
  1. Evan Neal
  2. Ikem Ekwonu
  3. Tyler Smith
  4. Charles Cross
  5. Trevor Penning
  6. Bernhard Raimann
  7. Daniel Faalele
  8. Nick Petit-Frere


Recap: The first six here, Neal, Ekwonu, Smith, Cross, Penning and Raimann, are good fits in a man-blocking scheme. They sustain their blocks well in the ground game overall and are plus run blockers on the edge. They also have the quickness to fire to the second level to hit blocks and seal linebackers from the hole.

Faalele is a mixed fit for a man scheme. On the plus side, he has the size and power to maul linemen at the point of attack. On the down side, he lumbers and can struggle to fire to the second level or pull to hit blocks on linebackers. Petit-Frere could be too much of a finesse blocker for a power-man scheme, but he started to show more physicality during his final year, so perhaps he is a late bloomer.



Guard/Right Tackle Potential:
NFL prototype: Lane Johnson, Eagles
  1. Ikem Ekwonu
  2. Tyler Smith
  3. Evan Neal
  4. Charles Cross
  5. Trevor Penning
  6. Bernhard Raimann
  7. Nick Petit-Frere
  8. Daniel Faalele


Recap: Some teams like to move college tackles inside to guard or over to right tackle. Other roster considerations also cause some tackles to start their careers on the right side or by moving in to guard. Having the versatility to be moved around and play a variety of positions adds a lot of value to an offensive lineman.

Ekwonu has the skill set to play tackle or guard, and probably even center. Smith could easily play guard as well as tackle. Some team sources project Neal to right tackle and think he could end up being a guard in the NFL. Cross could play guard or right tackle, but he’s such a good left tackle, it doesn’t make sense to play him at any other spot unless he has a left-handed quarterback, in which case he could be the blind-side protector at right tackle.

Penning or Raimann could move to guard or right tackle in the NFL. Right tackle or guard would be a better fit for Raimann as a pro. Petit-Frere would have to get stronger to play guard. Faalele could be a right tackle only beecause he does lacks the feet for left tackle, and his height would cause problems for quarterbacks in terms of throwing lanes and seeing the field if he is inside at guard.




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