MOBILE, AL. — Perhaps the best way to evaluate offensive and defensive linemen as NFL Draft prospects is to put them in the trenches one-on-one against each other and see who’s better. The Senior Bowl is one of the few pre-draft events that offer this method of testing to the Las Vegas Raiders and the rest of the league, and these matchups are consistently one of the hottest topics of discussion throughout the week.
Granted, the one-on-one drills don’t tell the full story of the week or each player, but they can be a good starting point or give us a reason to at least flip on a prospect’s film and see if it makes sense for the Raiders to draft him.
But before we dive into the results, there are a few housekeeping items to go over.
Like with the wide receivers and defensive backs, each lineman can get one of three results on a single rep, a win, loss or draw. Wins and losses are pretty straightforward, did the defensive lineman put pressure on the quarterback in about four seconds or less? The pass rusher doesn’t necessarily have to get a sack, as long as they do enough to at least force the quarterback off his spot.
Unlike the skill guys, draws are a lot less common in the trenches. In fact, I only gave out one draw all week where I felt the pocket was collapsed enough that it couldn’t be a win for the offensive lineman, but I also wasn’t convinced that the quarterback would have been affected by the rush. Obviously, there’s some ambiguity there but I’m not going to fret over one rep.
I kept track of dominant wins (DW) for the linemen as well. A pass rusher earned a dominant win if they won quickly with a finesse move — almost immediately after the snap — or put the offensive lineman on skates and didn’t allow them to attempt to anchor with a bull rush. Offensive linemen got DWs if they either stopped a rusher before he even started his move, or if they stayed within one to three yards of the line of scrimmage against a bull rusher. Admittedly, it’s much more difficult for pass protectors and power rushers to get dominant wins.
You’ll also notice that I kept track of one-on-one run blocking for the American team. On Day 1, they lined up mono y mono and on Day 2, they did half-side drills with three to four offensive linemen versus two to three defensive linemen. For the latter, I kept the records to just the one-on-one results so one defender could have gotten a win for defeating his block while his counterpart got a loss and vice versa for the offense.
On Day 3, the American team did two-on-two pass protection working on picking up/executing stunts instead of the run blocking drills. I didn’t chart those because that’s more of a test on communication, which is very difficult when you’re playing with teammates you met literally just a few days ago.
As for the National team, they didn’t record any one-on-one run blocking competitions, hence why there are no results for that below.
American Offensive linemen
- Jamaree Salyer, Georgia: 7-0 (100%), 0 DWs
- Justin Shaffer, Georgia: 5-1 (83%), 0 DWs
- Darian Kinnard, Kentucky: 6-2 (75%), 0 DWs
- Lecitus Smith, Virginia Tech: 3-1 (75%), 0 DWs
- Ed Ingram, LSU: 5-2 (71%), 1 DW
- Chris Paul, Tulsa: 4-2 (67%), 1 DW
- Braxton Jones, Southern Utah: 4-4 (50%), 0 DWs
- Max Mitchell, Louisiana: 4-4 (50%), 0 DWs
- Spencer Buford, UTSA: 4-4 (50%), 1 DW
- Dylan Parham, Memphis: 3-4-1 (44%), 0 DW
- Luke Fortner, Kentucky: 3-4 (43%), 0 DW
- Cade Mays, Tennessee: 2-6 (25%), 0 DW
The Georgia boys — Slayer and Shaffer — were the two most dominant interior pass blockers all week. They combined to go 12-1 and were the top two performers in the one-on-ones across both teams. Both guys are looking at mid-round projections as things stand, so they could be solid options for the Raiders come late April.
In my opinion, the Senior Bowl was a tough week for the Kinnard is a guard crowd. He was one of the best and most consistent offensive tackles all week and even won a best of the best matchup against Jermaine Johnson at the end of the first practice. Also, the Kentucky product’s feet were much faster in pass protection, and one of his two losses came on the inside where he didn’t look as comfortable.
[Quick note: a draw when run blocking would be the defensive and offensive lineman essentially stalemating at the line of scrimmage, where the defender is holding his gap but not resetting the blocker. Essentially, where both guys just do their jobs and don’t gain an advantage over the other. Draws count as half wins.]
- Justin Shaffer, Georgia: 3-0 (100%), 0 DWs
- Max Mitchell, Louisiana: 4-0-4 (75%), 1 DW
- Darian Kinnard, Kentucky: 3-1-4 (63%), 1 DW
- Ed Ingram, LSU: 3-2 (60%), 0 DW
- Jamaree Salyer, Georgia: 2-2-1 (50%), 0 DW
- Luke Fortner, Kentucky: 3-4-1 (44%), 0 DW
- Dylan Parham, Memphis: 1-2-3 (42%), 0 DW
- Braxton Jones, Southern Utah: 1-3-2 (33%), 0 DW
- Chris Paul, Tulsa: 1-3-2 (33%), 1 DW
- Spencer Buford, UTSA: 1-4-2 (29%), 0 DW
- Lecitus Smith, Virginia Tech: 0-5-1 (8%), 0 DW
- Cade Mays, Tennessee: 0-3 (0%), 0 DW
Shaffer once again finds himself at the top of the list. He’s been consistently mocked as a fifth-round pick, according to NFL Mock Draft Database, but that might change after this past week.
While Mitchell didn’t exactly stand out in pass protection, he certainly did as a run blocker. He started Day 1 off with a pancake and continued to shine the rest of the way. The Louisiana product definitely piqued some people’s interests and got put into the “let’s flip on the tape” category.
Kinnard wasn’t as dominant as a run blocker as he was in pass protection, but he held his own and barely lost in these drills. Podium finishes in both categories are nothing to scoff at.
American Defensive linemen
- Jermaine Johnson, Florida State: 4-1 (80%), 2 DWs
- John Ridgeway III, Arkansas: 5-3 (63%), 0 DWs
- DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky: 3-2 (60%), 2 DWs
- Devonte Wyatt, Georgia: 3-2-1 (58%), 2 DWs
- Niel Farrell Jr., LSU: 5-4 (56%), 2 DWs
- Sam Williams, Ole Miss: 3-3 (50%), 1 DW
- Eric Johnson, Central Arkansas: 3-6 (33%), 1 DW
- Kinglsey Enagbare, South Carolina: 3-6 (33%), 0 DWs
- Phidarian Mathis, Alabama: 2-8 (20%), 0 DW
- Amare Barno, Virginia Tech: 1-5 (17%), 0 DW
- Zachary Carter, Florida: 2-10 (17%), 1 DW
Johnson was hands down the most impressive defensive lineman from this group. He played his way into the first-round discussion but unfortunately, that could take him off the table for Las Vegas. Unless the Raiders elect to go with the best player available at pick No. 22, the former Seminole will likely be heading elsewhere.
One interesting case study from this experiment is Ridgeway. He did win a lot but didn't register a single DW and didn’t show as many “eye-catching” traits as a lot of other guys did. I was surprised to see him this high, but maybe he’s a guy it might be worth taking another look at to see if he can be a solid contributor down the line.
After only weighing in at 234 pounds, Malone was surprisingly very good at turning speed to power. It will be hard for him to get NFL scouts and general managers to look past his size — or lack thereof — but he proved he can hang with the big boys in Mobile.
- Niel Farrell Jr., LSU: 5-0-1 (92%), 2 DWs
- Devonte Wyatt, Georgia: 4-0-3 (79%), 0 DW
- Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina: 3-1-2 (67%), 0 DW
- John Ridgeway III, Arkansas: 3-2 (60%), 0 DW
- Phidarian Mathis, Alabama: 3-2-1 (58%), 0 DW
- Jermain Johnson, Florida St: 3-3-1 (50%) 2 DWs
- DeAngelo Malone: Western Kentucky: 1-1-2 (50%), 0 DW
- Amare Barno, Virginia Tech: 0-1-5 (42%), 0 DW
- Eric Johnson, Central Arkansas: 3-5-2 (40%), 0 DW
- Sam Williams, Ole Miss: 1-2-1 (38%), 0 DW
- Zachary Carter, Florida: 2-4 (33%), 0 DW
Raider fans, remember the name Niel Farrell Jr. He didn’t have a ton of notoriety heading into the week, but his get-off caught my eye almost immediately after practice started. The LSU product also finished with the fifth-best pass rush winning percentage of the group, so he’s a potential three-down player at one of the Raiders’ biggest offseason needs.
You probably already know Wyatt’s name and honestly, he just proved himself even more at the Senior Bowl. He didn’t practice on Day 3 and didn’t need to. He’s a first-round option for the Silver and Black, in my opinion. Check him out if you haven't already.
Enagbare was another standout edge defender that a lot of people walked away impressed with last week. He fared better against the run than the pass but still could be an option for Las Vegas if they’re looking to add another defensive end in the Day 2 range.
National Offensive linemen
- Abraham Lucas, Washington St: 9-3 (75%), 0 DW
- Daniel Faalele, Minnesota: 8-6 (57%), 1 DW
- Zion Johnson, Boston College: 9-9 (50%), 1 DW
- Ja’Tyre Carter, Southern: 8-8 (50%), 1 DW
- Matt Waletzko, North Dakota: 5-5 (50%), 2 DWs
- Cole Strange, UT-Chattanooga: 9-10-1 (48%), 2 DWs
- Trevor Penning, Norther Iowa: 5-7 (42%), 0 DWs
- Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan: 4-6 (40%), 0 DW
- Andrew Stueber, Michigan: 6-10 (38%), 1 DW
- Nick Zakelj, Fordham: 5-9 (36%), 0 DW
- Marquis Hayes, Oklahoma: 3-9 (25%), 1 DW
DNQ: Chasen Hines, LSU: 2-0 (100%), 0 DWs, only practiced on Day 3
To be honest, this group as a whole was more about disappointment than offensive linemen standing out. I was hoping to see better results from guys like Penning and Raimann. While Penning was mean and nasty all week, he struggled to hold up in pass protection during the first couple of practices. Raimann looked almost like a completely different player than what his tape at Central Michigan showed, he was constantly oversetting and had slow hands for the majority of the week.
Lucas is someone to keep an eye on, though. He looked comfortable in pass protection and could be a mid-round option for the Silver and Black. Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed just nine pressures — zero sacks and one QB hit — this past season and only four the year before.
Faalele’s week certainly got off to a bad start as Myjai Sanders put him in a spin cycle on one of the first reps of the drill. However, the big Aussie did pick things up and finish strong with an 8-4 record on Days 2 and 3. My biggest concern with him is how well he can hold up against inside counter moves as that’s where five of his six losses stemmed from.
National Defensive linemen
- Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma: 7-3 (70%), 2 DWs
- Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA: 8-5-1 (61%), 3 DWs
- Tyreek Smith, Ohio St: 6-4 (60%), 2 DWs
- Mafe Boye, Minnesota: 6-4 (60%), 2 DWs
- Travis Jones, UConn: 13-9 (59%), 2 DWs
- Dominque Robinson, Miami (OH): 5-5 (50%), 1 DW
- Jesse Luketa, Penn St: 3-3 (50%), 0 DWs
- Kyron Johnson, Kansas: 2-2 (50%), 0 DWs, [spent part of practice as off-ball LB]
- Logan Hall, Houston: 8-10 (44%), 1 DW
- Arnold Ebiketie, Penn St: 7-9 (44%), 0 DW
- Haskell Garrett, Ohio St: 6-8 (43%), 1 DW
- Isaiah Thomas, Oklahoma: 5-7 (42%), 1 DW
- Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati: 4-6 (40%), 1 DW
It was brought up on the broadcast of the game and several times during the practices that aired on television, Winfrey had a pretty impressive week that culminated with the game’s MVP honors. He wasn’t as sharp in the first practice but finished with a 5-1 record on the next two combined. The former Sooner is another guy to keep an eye on as we move closer to the draft.
Another “remember the name” type of guy is Otito Ogbonnia. He was almost unblockable on Day 1 and earned more DWs than any other defensive lineman, and that's after he didn’t record a pass rush rep during the last practice of the week. The UCLA product currently has a seventh-round projection, so he could be a Day 3 steal for whoever gets him.
Jones is the other defensive tackle you need to know about. Measuring in at 6’ 4 3/8” and 326 pounds, he’s a massive human being who’s hard to move against the run and showed some improved pass-rush skills at the Senior Bowl. Flip on his game against Clemson from this past year and I’m confident you’ll walk away impressed.