Orlando Brown, the son of former NFL starting OT, Orlando ‘Zeus’ Brown (he of Jeff Triplett/yellow flag/eyeball fame), is a chip off the old, extremely large, block. I love offensive linemen who play with fire and aggression and Brown certainly does that. He plays LT for Oklahoma and, in pass protection, he is technically good. He has excellent length and really quick feet for such a big man, enabling him to mirror and finish very effectively. I thought he put on a bit of a clinic in the Ohio State game last year, when he gave Sam Hubbard a pretty torrid time. In the running game, he seems to view his opposite number through a prism of hatred and rage. Blocking is not enough for Brown; he is set upon humiliating his man and reducing him to a whimpering wreck. Again, I think this is utterly commendable in an OT. So, why do I not have a top 10 grade on Orlando Brown Jr? Primarily because I worry about his agility and flexibility. I think a really good speed rusher could give him problems in the NFL and I think he might ultimately be more comfortable at RT. That transition sounds a lot easier than it actually is, however, and, as a result, Brown might have his struggles in the first year or two. By 2020, however, I believe he will be a good starting OT in the league and, as such, I have a first round grade on him.
Brandner is a long, athletic tackle who has a lot of starting experience at Duke. He moves very well for an OT, particularly in the run game, where he can get to the second level with commendable quickness. As you would expect from a Duke lineman, he is smart and alert and keeps his head on a swivel. At 6-6, 285lb, he is somewhat lightweight by NFL standards and this shows on tape; he is certainly susceptible to a bull-rush and would really benefit from another 20lbs of muscle. Given the athleticism he demonstrates in the run game, I was surprised by how unbalanced he was in pass protection. His kick-slide is not particularly polished and, as a result, he is particularly susceptible to speed rushers, both around the edge and off inside counters. He sometimes can compensate by using his length to win ugly but this will not get it done consistently in the NFL. Due to my concerns about his functional strength and his ability in pass protection, I see him more as an undrafted free agent prospect at this point.
Crosby, as a freshman and sophomore, played both tackle spots but saw most action at right tackle. In that position, you can see some promise, particularly in the run game, where he is relentless when it comes to finishing his blocks. When he moved to left tackle, as a junior, however, he looked lost in pass protection. It’s important to contextualise his performance; his junior year was severely truncated by injury and he never got into any rhythm. Nevertheless, as an LT, he brought to mind what I would imagine a bear tied to the stake would have looked like in Elizabethan England; instinctively aggressive but ultimately slow and bewildered, unsure where the next rabid dog was coming from. He simply does not have the athleticism or feet to play LT in the NFL and I have considerable reservations about whether he would be able to cope with NFL rushers on the right side either. If he were to shift inside, however, I can see Crosby fashioning a career at the next level, albeit only within certain schemes. A power-running scheme, such as those operated in Tennessee or Arizona, would suit Crosby well – he could be an old-fashioned road-grader at guard. Overall, though, his lack of a) nimbleness and b) scheme diversity leads me to see him, at this point, as a Day 3 option, although it will be interesting to see how he performs this year, should he be injury free as a senior.
Connor Williams is a consummate athlete. At 6-6, 290, he looks like a tight end at times, so easy is his movement and so quick his feet. Texas have taken advantage of this athleticism, using him to pull in the running game. It is also apparent in the ease with which he can pass on one rusher in order to turn his attention to a greater threat. It is easy, with such a good athlete, to think he is a finesse player but there is a bit of aggression in Williams as well. He has the quickness to get to the second level in the running game and, when he does, it’s over – he can bury men quicker than an English gravedigger in a time of plague. This blend of nastiness and awareness should stand him in excellent stead at the next level. Some teams will be wary of Williams because of his size – he is 10lbs short of 300. If he were to add 15lbs of good weight, however – and he looks as if he has the frame to do so – you are looking at a future Pro Bowl prospect, in my opinion. He very, very rarely gets beaten and his instincts and peripheral vision are excellent. I would be happy to draft him in the first round, should he decide to come out this year.