Just when NFL fans thought the AFC east division might be there for the taking, the New England Patriots sign former league MVP Cam Newton to replace long-time division tormentor Tom Brady.
My preview of the top prospects for the upcoming 2020 college football season continues today with a look at what is shaping up to be another terrific group of offensive tackles.
Penei Sewell – junior, Oregon
6’6″, 330 pounds
Considered the nation’s best left-tackle prospect, Sewell finished 2019 as the top-graded offensive lineman in Pro Football Focus history with an overall grade of 95.5. He led all lineman with a PFF run-blocking grade of 95.3 and was third with a pass-blocking grade of 91.1. He’s led the way for one of college football’s better offensive lines across the last two season, where Sewell himself has allowed just one sack over 1376 snaps.
Despite a strong 2020 offensive tackle group in 2020, Sewell would have been the first lineman selected this past draft if he were eligible, and he shapes as not only a sure-fire top-five pick but a potential first overall selection in 2021. Sewell will also likely garner Heisman Trophy votes given his level of domination relevant to his position.
Samuel Cosmi – redshirt junior, Texas
6’7″, 310 pounds
Cosmi is a fourth-year lineman who has started 26 games up front for the Longhorns. He started all bar one game at right tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2018, when he was named as a freshman All-American. He switched to the left side in 2019, where he protected quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s blindside while the signal caller accounted for the second-most yards in school history (4326) and the third-most touchdowns (39).
Cosmi was named second-team All-Big 12 team in 2019 and will hold down the left tackle spot in 2020 as Texas strive for a drought-breaking conference title. There’s room for improvement from both a technical and strength standpoint, though Cosmi has all the tools to develop as a top-flight blindside talent at the next level.
Alex Leatherwood – senior, Alabama
6’6″, 310 pounds
Leatherwood surprised a few when he decided to go back to Alabama for season 2020 as he likely would have been a top-15 pick in the 2020 draft. He has started in 28 games during his three-year career at Alabama. He made the move back to left tackle, where he started all 13 games after playing at right guard during the 2018 season.
Leatherwood allowed two sacks and three quarterback hurries in 2019 while manning the blindside, first for Tua Tagovailoa and then for Mac Jones. He anchored the Tide line that ranked third nationally at just 0.92 sacks per game, surrendering only 12 sacks in 406 pass attempts. Some may project Leatherwood as a guard at the NFL level.
Walker Little – senior, Stanford
6’7″, 320 pounds
If not for a season-ending knee injury suffered in Stanford’s opening game against Northwestern last season, Little would have likely declared for the draft and been one of the first offensive lineman selected. In 2017 Little become the Cardinals’ first true freshman to start at left tackle in 17 years before going on to start in nine games.
Little started all of 2018 as Stanford’s left tackle, with his performance earning him All-Pac-12 first-team honours. While he may be college football’s forgotten man, Little’s athleticism for his size and strength at the point of attack had him viewed by most draft experts as one of the best blockers in college football before his 2019 season was derailed. He should be back in the conversion in 2020, health permitting.
Jalen Mayfield – junior, Michigan
6’5″, 319 pounds
He appeared in three games at left tackle for Michigan as a true freshman in 2018 and become a full-time starter in 2019, starting all 13 games at right tackle while also contributing on special teams. He has appeared in only 16 games all told but has shown promise as a big-time pass blocker, particularly effective nullifying 2020 No. 2 overall selection Chase Young when Michigan and Ohio State met last season, keeping Young to just two quarterback hurries.
Mayfield will be integral to success for the Wolverines next season as the only returning offensive lineman after last season’s other four starters were drafted to the NFL.
Other players to watch
Clemson’s Jackson Carman, Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg, Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater and Wisconsin’s Cole Van Lanen.
Best non-draft-eligible player to watch
Alabama’s Evan Neal