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Film Room: What Thayer Munford brings to the table

Grinding the tape on the seventh-round pick

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Thayer Munford
Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s not very often that a seventh-round pick gets much, if any, notoriety. However, it’s widely considered that the Las Vegas Raiders got a steal in the final frame of the NFL Draft with Ohio State offensive lineman Thayer Munford.

Munford was expected to come off the board much earlier on Day 3 of the draft but fell to the Raiders with the 238th overall pick, the team’s second to last selection of the weekend. While that slide was undoubtedly not what the former Buckeye was hoping for, he lands in a unique situation for a seventh-rounder as Las Vegas could use a lot of help in the trenches.

So, what does the Ohio native bring to the desert?

Film Clips

Our first clip comes from Munford’s 2021 season where he primarily played left tackle, and here we’ll see an excellent blitz pickup against a defensive call that has a lot of moving parts and can be confusing.

Ohio State is using 12 personnel so Penn State counters by putting seven men in the box. With both strong-side tight ends releasing immediately into their routes, that means Munford has three pass-rush threats to worry about in the following order: the defensive end (No. 34), the SAM linebacker (No. 13) and the strong safety (No. 23). Plus, the defensive tackle (No. 53) is nearly heads up with the guard so the threat of a line game is there, and this front helps the defense disguise their blitz.

Post-snap, the end crashes inside so the threat of an E/T stunt increases, but it looks like Munford recognizes the guard is free and he can just pass off the end. He then takes his eyes to the backer, who drops to cover the inside tight end, and finally works to his lowest pre-snap threat and is sitting there waiting for the blitzing safety.

Even though Justin Fields gets the ball out quickly to help the offensive line, this is excellent mental processing from Thayer to work through his progression that quickly.

It’s pretty obvious that the Raiders’ new offensive lineman is smart in pass protection and we’ll get another example of that from this past season when he played left guard.

The Buckeyes are in an empty set which stunts can be effective against because the protection schemes get more complicated and the movement from the defensive line can create more confusion. Also, without a back in the backfield, there’s no one to come clean up the mess if a pass rusher breaks free.

However, Munford recognizes that the defensive lineman’s alignment is a little wider than normal so something is probably up. He then takes his eyes slightly outside and sees the standup linebacker starting to loop around and execute a T/E stunt.

The guard then gets his hands on the defensive lineman to pass off the lineman to the tackle, and finally, he redirects and has the strength to wash the backer into the mess and the line game is picked up perfectly.

Moving on to some run-blocking clips, here we’ll go back to 2020 and see an example of Munford’s upper body strength as a run blocker.

He’s lined up against Udafe Oweh – Ravens’ 2021 first-round pick – and the Buckeyes have an outside zone run called here. Munford and the guard combo block Oweh, and Oweh is initially slanting into the B-gap. However, Munford does his best Lee Corso impersonation and says: “Not so fast my friend,” dragging the defensive end back to the outside and pushing him off the screen.

This isn’t a perfect rep by any means and Munford will face bigger defenders at the next level, but this is impressive functional strength that can be capitalized on even more with better technique.

Apologies for all of the timeshifts but we are going back to this past season to find another example of our subject being able to get a push as a run blocker, and this comes on the first play of the game against Indiana.

This is a mid-zone run from Ohio State where the running back is going to read the defensive tackle (No. 99) lined up across from Munford, meaning he has a key block. No. 99 is shaded more on the offensive tackle and is probably closer to a 4i-technique than a three-technique, which is going to make the reach block more difficult for the guard.

So, Munford turns this into a drive block almost immediately by getting on the defensive lineman’s hip and riding him to the outside to create an easy read and nice cutback lane for the running back.

Now, Munford does get some help as the defender’s feet get tangled but you do have to appreciate the finish to widen the gap and set a tone on the first play of the game. Unfortunately, someone forgot to block the play side linebacker…

In our final clip, we’ll an impressive combo block that will be transferable to the next level regardless of which position, guard or tackle, he’ll play.

The Buckeyes dial-up an inside zone run to the weak side, so Munford and the tight end are responsible for the strong side defensive end (No. 34) and the SAM linebacker (No. 13).

On the first level, Munford does a great job of protecting the inside and being physical with the defensive end to turn the end’s shoulders and make it easier for the tight end to take the block over. Ignore the fact the tight end gets blown up at the point of attack for now…

Then, the tackle works his way up to the linebackers and takes a great angle to be able to cut No. 13 off and get on the backer’s hip to ride him past the center, creating a second-level rushing lane.

There certainly is plenty to like about Las Vegas’ seventh-round pick, now it’s just a matter of which set of expectations he plays up to. The ones that had him slated as a potential fourth- or fifth-round pick, or the ones that come with nearly going undrafted.