Whether you’re trying to stave off a slew of pass rushers or trying to catalyze a dominating run game, a stout offensive tackle is going to be necessary. Interior linemen anchor the offensive line, but offensive tackles serve as the chief protectors, called on to prevent faster, more crafty edge rushers from gaining penetration. It’s tactical warfare in tight spaces, and the crop of offensive tackles in the 2021 NFL Draft could ultimately give offenses the edge.
Which offensive tackles were drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Let’s take a look at the offensive tackles selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Penei Sewell, Oregon | Round 1, Pick 7 | Detroit Lions
The Lions could have gone with a quarterback here, but it was tough to pass up the best offensive tackle in the 2021 NFL Draft. Penei Sewell was the near-consensus OT1 through the entirety of the pre-draft process. He’s athletic, well-sized, and far more refined than a 20-year-old should be.
Sewell should start across from Taylor Decker, giving the Lions the flexibility to keep Halapoulivaati Vaitai at guard while also using Tyrell Crosby as a reliable swing tackle.
Rashawn Slater, Northwestern | Round 1, Pick 13 | Los Angeles Chargers
This was one of the most popular picks in NFL mock drafts, and on draft night, it officially came to pass. The Los Angeles Chargers selected Rashawn Slater to bolster their offensive line to protect franchise quarterback Justin Herbert.
Slater should start at left tackle, across from veteran bookend Bryan Bulaga. Even without Slater, the Chargers improved on the line with guys like Matt Feiler and Corey Linsley. Still, Slater gives them the top-end talent they needed to tie it all together.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC | Round 1, Pick 14 | New York Jets
A more accurate label for Alijah Vera-Tucker might simply be “offensive lineman.” The USC standout played guard in 2019, only to switch to offensive tackle for the 2020 season. He played well there — so well, in fact, that the Jets traded up from 23 to pick him at 14.
Vera-Tucker can play anywhere at a high level, both as a pass protector and a run blocker. It seems as though the Jets will play him at left guard next to Mekhi Becton, forming a devastating tandem. Nevertheless, he can easily slide to tackle if needed.
Alex Leatherwood, Alabama | Round 1, Pick 17 | Las Vegas Raiders
Of all the offensive tackles taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, this was the most surprising. Alex Leatherwood received the buzz of a Day 2 pick heading into late April, but the Raiders chose to take him in Round 1. This selection got some pushback for that reason, but in actuality, it’s a fine choice.
Leatherwood can clean up his hands, but he’s an exceptional athlete with elite length and frame density. He’ll likely move to right tackle in the NFL, playing across from former first-round pick Kolton Miller.
Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech | Round 1, Pick 23 | Minnesota Vikings
A few years from now, the Jets and Vikings trade will be subject to heavy analysis, as onlookers rush to seek out a “winner.” That said, both teams might end up winners if their selections can adequately develop.
There’s no disputing Vera-Tucker’s prowess in the trenches, but Christian Darrisaw is just as exciting as a prospect, and the Vikings got him after a trade down. He’s a massive player, and an easy mover, with mauler traits and power. He can boost the Vikings’ unit from Day 1.
Offensive tackles selected in the 2021 NFL Draft | Round 2
6) Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State | R2-P39 | Chicago Bears
7) Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame | R2-P42 | Miami Dolphins
8) Walker Little, Stanford | R2-P45 | Jacksonville Jaguars
9) Jackson Carman, Clemson | R2-P46 | Cincinnati Bengals
10) Samuel Cosmi, Texas | R2-P51 | Washington Football Team
11) Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State | R2-P53 | Tennessee Titans
These were the names we expected to see come off the board early on Day 2. Teven Jenkins, Liam Eichenberg, and Samuel Cosmi all received first-round hype ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. Dillon Radunz was also a well-respected Day 2 prospect. On the other hand, Walker Little and Jackson Carman went a bit higher than anticipated.
That said, Little had his fans, despite his injuries and lack of playing experience. And Carman, a two-year starter for the Tigers, has a relatively high floor for a needy Bengals’ line.
Offensive tackles selected in the 2021 NFL Draft | Round 3
12) Jalen Mayfield, Michigan | R3-P68 | Atlanta Falcons
13) Brady Christensen, BYU | R3-P70 | Carolina Panthers
14) Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa | R3-P93 | Buffalo Bills
15) Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame | R3-P95 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Only four offensive tackles were selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, resulting in 10 tackles taken on Day 2. Of the tackles taken in Round 3, two could realistically move to guard in the NFL. Notre Dame’s Robert Hainsey played guard at the Senior Bowl, and Jalen Mayfield also projects well there.
The other two tackles, Spencer Brown and Brady Christensen, should remain at their natural positions. Brown is an athletic freak whose looming upper body grants him substantial range. Christensen figures to factor into the Panthers’ starting tackle situation early on.
Offensive tackles selected in the 2021 NFL Draft | Rounds 4 & 5
16) James Hudson, Cincinnati | R4-P110 | Cleveland Browns
17) Dan Moore, Texas A&M | R4-P128 | Pittsburgh Steelers
18) Josh Ball, Marshall | R4-P138 | Dallas Cowboys
19) D’Ante Smith, ECU | R4-P139 | Cincinnati Bengals
20) Larry Borom, Missouri | R5-P151 | Chicago Bears
21) Brenden Jaimes, Nebraska | R5-P159 | Los Angeles Chargers
22) Tommy Doyle, Miami (OH) | R5-P161 | Buffalo Bills
Of the seven tackles taken in Rounds 4 and 5, four were present at the Senior Bowl in January. D’Ante Smith, in particular, proved himself as capable in both pass protection and run blocking, despite his relatively light frame. His elite length stood out, but Dan Moore, Brenden Jaimes, and James Hudson also showed flashes.
Moore has a particularly intriguing skill set with his athletic floor, and he could exceed expectations with a Steelers team that will demand more from him early. Aside from them, Josh Ball and Tommy Doyle have plus athleticism to mold, and Borom projects well as a versatile blocker.
Offensive tackles selected in the 2021 NFL Draft | Rounds 6 & 7
23) William Sherman, Colorado | R6-P197 | New England Patriots
24) Landon Young, Kentucky | R6-P206 | New Orleans Saints
25) Stone Forsythe, Florida | R6-P208 | Seattle Seahawks
26) Larnel Coleman, Massachusetts | R7-P231 | Miami Dolphins
You won’t often find any speed rusher’s kryptonite in Rounds 6 and 7, but some of these final offensive linemen have high-upside traits to develop. Larnel Coleman stands out; he tested with a 31-inch vertical and a 113-inch broad jump while also boasting 36-inch arms. Forsythe also possesses a high upside profile, and he could grow to stall NFL edge rushers in time.
Landon Young joins Coleman and Forsythe as the three tackles in this range who posted RAS scores above 8.00. The lone tackle excluded is William Sherman. Sherman could ultimately move to guard or even center, but he’s another versatile piece for the Patriots as it stands.
How many offensive tackles were drafted in 2021?
A total of 26 offensive tackles were taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. That number could ultimately change, however. Some of the players initially designated as tackles may move to guard. The same thing happened in the 2020 NFL Draft. Only 20 tackles were selected in 2020, and already at least two — Washington’s Saahdiq Charles and Minnesota’s Ezra Cleveland — have more lucrative futures at guard.
Positional flexibility makes offensive line projections a bit more complicated, especially in the middle rounds. Nevertheless, that’s ultimately a selling point for teams seeking more versatility and depth within football’s most crucial position group. In a couple of years, we’ll be able to see how the 2021 tackle class developed. But already, just by sheer numbers, they’re off to a good start.
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