2019 Preseason Award Projections: Outland Trophy

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2019 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall’s stars could be the headline players next May for the 2020 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Outland Trophy is given to the best interior lineman in college football. Three years ago, I correctly predicted Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson would win the Outland Trophy. Last year, I was wrong as Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams won the award.

Outland Trophy Winner:

Andrew Thomas, Georgia

The Outland Trophy has generally gone to offensive linemen, with a lean toward offensive tackles, and that was one of the reasons why I was correct in my Robinson prediction three years ago. Four years ago, Aaron Donald was the first defensive player to win the award since Ndamukong Suh in 2009. There is a lot of interior defensive line talent in college football; however, I think the Outland Trophy will stick with its inclination of going with an offensive lineman. Considering the award has generally favored tackles over guards, I think Thomas has to be a favorite because he could easily be the most dominant offensive tackle in the nation in 2019.

Over the previous two seasons, Thomas has provided a big impact for Georgia at the point of attack. He has been a power run blocker for the potent rushing offense while also being a reliable pass protector for Jake Fromm. Thomas was very impressive at right tackle as a true freshman, starting there all season and helping the Bulldogs to produce a dominant rushing attack. In 2018, he moved to the left side and excelled once again.

Multiple team sources mentioned being impressed by Thomas, and that goes back to his showing as a freshman. He could have franchise tackle potential for the NFL, and if he dominates as a junior like he is capable of doing, he could end up being the most acclaimed offensive lineman in college football this fall. That could easily lead to him winning the Outland Trophy.

Outland Trophy Runner-Up:

Derrick Brown, Auburn

After a rough start to the 2017 season, Auburn caught fire late in the year, including wins over the two teams that played for the National Championship, Georgia and Alabama. The Tigers’ offense got a lot of attention, but their defense came up with big performances and Brown was the leader on that side of the ball. In 2017, Brown totaled 56 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He caused more is disruption than the numbers illustrate and created a lot of negative plays for the opposing offenses.

Brown played well as a junior despite facing a bunch of double teams. He totaled 48 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss and one forced fumble in 2018. If Brown had entered the 2019 NFL Draft, team sources think he would have been a top-10 pick. He could be even better in 2019 due to more experience and some quality ends around him in Nick Coe and Marlon Davidson.

Infinitely more important than my opinion is what NFL scouts think. Here is how one advance scout summarized Brown heading into the 2018 season, “He’s a first-rounder all the way. Of the guys in the southeast, the only one I would put above him entering the season is Raekwon Davis – Alabama. I think Brown is better than the Clemson guys – Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. Brown can play the [three-technique] or the one-technique. He has real strength to him and can push the pocket in the pass rush.” I think Brown could have a huge senior year and end up being a top contender for a lot prizes, including the Outland Trophy.

Outland Trophy Dark Horse:

Trey Adams, Washington

Scouting sources have compared Adams’ size and athleticism to Taylor Lewan coming out of Michigan and also that Adams has good technique to go with his impressive skill set. They think that the 6-foot-7, 309-pound Adams is bigger with better range than Connor Williams and more athletic ability than Mike McGlinchey. Another thing that impressed sources was how Adams played against Alabama in the first round of the college football playoff a few years ago. They say that Adams shut down the Crimson Tide defenders anytime he was isolated on them. That Alabama defense featured three dangerous pass-rushers in the form of Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. Adams has a great skill set with a lot of athletic ability, and injuries are the issue that have kept him back during his collegiate career.

Adams is the favorite to be one of the top offensive lineman in college football in 2019. Thus, it wouldn’t surprise me if he wins the Outland Trophy, but considering his durability problems I’m more inclined to project him as a dark horse.

Honorable Mentions: Stanford OT Walker Little, Tennessee OT Trey Smith, Auburn OT Prince Tega Wanogho, Oregon OT Calvin Throckmorton, Louisville OT Mekhi Becton, Missouri OT Yasir Durant, Texas OT Sam Cosmi, TCU OT Lucas Niang, Ohio State OT Thayor Munford, Kansas OT Hakeem Adeniji, Alabama DT Raekwon Davis, LSU DT Rashard Lawrence, Penn State DT Robert Windsor, Florida DT Tedarrell Slaton and Michigan State DT Naquan Jones.

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