Here’s the fifth story of our position-by-position NFL draft series. Today, we’ll look at the top offensive linemen.
Teven Jenkins isn’t one to let up.
That’s a trait NFL teams surely love when evaluating his game tape. Thought of as a potential second-round draft pick, perhaps the mean streak he displayed against defenders during his final season of college football will catapult him into the first round when it’s all said and done.
Entering his 2020 season for Oklahoma State, Jenkins knew he needed to show a more violent and intense side on the gridiron. Near the end of the season, Jenkins earned a reputation of being someone who finishes blocks until the end of the whistle.
And he does so with no regard for the defender he’s blocking.
In his own words, his goal was to become a “nasty” offensive lineman during his final collegiate season.
“My O-line coach (Charlie Dickey) and my strength coach (Rob Glass) were telling me if I was going to be the guy this year, I’d have to be (an expletive) on the field, be (an expletive), be more aggressive than I ever was, and I took that personally,” Jenkins said. “It definitely paid off for myself with what I’ve done on the field and put on film. It’s a big part of who I am. I do believe I’m the best finisher in this draft, and that does set me apart from any other O-lineman.”
Jenkins has been grouped in the second tier of offensive tackles behind a clear top two of Oregon’s Penei Sewell and Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater. While Sewell and Slater are locked in as first-round picks and potential top-10 selections, Jenkins and others are hoping to sneak into the top 32 picks.
Joining Jenkins in that next tier are Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw, Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg and Texas’ Samuel Cosmi. Each of these players has at least a chance at the first round, especially if Sewell and Slater are selected earlier than expected.
Given the inability of scouts to travel to games or for prospects to participate at the NFL scouting combine because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cosmi knew he needed to have a strong season to earn the needed attention from NFL personnel. Cosmi believes he did enough to earn consideration for the the first round.
The fact he played both left and right tackle during his collegiate career certainly helps, too.
“When it comes to it, I think a lot of it says on my tape,” Cosmi said. “Being able to be consistent, showing my explosiveness in the run game and my consistency in the pass game and my mean streak — I think that’s very important when it comes to looking back at my film. I feel like this year, film is everything.”
While Jenkins and Cosmi can only hope a team takes them earlier than the analysts expect, Sewell and Slater don’t have that concern. Although both players opted out of the 2020 season, the two have long been considered the top tackles of this year’s class.
Sewell said he spent his time away from Oregon training to hone techniques used at tackle in the NFL.
“I’ve got with the NFL people, players that played before or coaches that coached in the league for a long time, and soaking up the knowledge that they have for me,” Sewell said. “It was just something that I really benefited from this time off. This whole time I’ve been working on that and being a sponge and also just every day, day in and day out, knowing that I opted out and was sitting out through this time, the next time I have an opportunity to step between those lines, I’m going to make the most of it and that I’m coming with everything that I have. And I’m not coming up short.”
Most draft analysts believe Sewell will be taken before Slater, although NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah has Slater ranked atop his board at offensive tackle. Part of Jeremiah’s reasoning is that Slater has the position versatility to play guard and center, which could help a team in need of help at more than one position on the offensive line.
In the long term, however, Slater believes he’s a left tackle and stated as such during his Pro Day in March.
“I think I am the best tackle in the draft,” Slater said. “I have a really high level of confidence about that. But at the same time, I’m a team player. If a team wants to play me at guard, so be it. I’m all for it. As long as that’s what’s best for the team I’m happy to play whatever position they need me at.”
AJC’S POSITION-BY-POSITION SERIES
QUARTERBACKS: How far will Justin Fields drop in draft? | Top 10 QBs
RUNNING BACKS: Plenty of prospects to pick from | Top 10 RBs
WIDE RECEIVERS: Draft deep with talent | Top 10 WRs
TIGHT ENDS: Ability to create mismatches is key | Top 10 TEs
OFFENSIVE TACKLES: A ‘nasty’ bunch | Top 10 OTs