Watching Cody O’Connell reminds us of Bill Parcells’ planet theory; there are simply not very men on the planet who have the size (6-7, 350lb), strength and athleticism of Washington State’s #76. If you try to bull rush O’Connell, you would expend as much fruitful energy by sitting on the ground, waving energetically to your friends on the sidelines. He simply engulfs power rushers – he almost absorbs them! It’s difficult to assess O’Connell’s potential in the running game, due to the infrequency with which Wazzou QBs hand the thing off. From a small sample size, however, he looks impressive; he reminds me, at times, of Jaws from the Bond films, in the way in which he disposes of enemy threats. My issue with O’Connell, however, is his agility. He can appear a bit lumbering and slow to pick up stunts, blitzes and twists. A good example comes at 9:19 of the 1st quarter of the 2016 Arizona State game, when he is very slow to react to what the defence is doing. I’d be intrigued to see O’Connell in the Titans’ exotic smash mouth scheme; I think he could wreak havoc in that sort of offence. He is, to me, a boom or bust prospect. If he can adjust to NFL veterans’ wiliness, he certainly has the power and size to excel at the next level. Equally, however, that lack of agility could see him exposed in the NFL. There is enough here, though, for me to give careful consideration to selecting O’Connell on Day2 of the 2018 draft.
Velichko is an experienced and versatile lineman, who has started at both tackle and guard at San Jose State, on both sides of the line. He is by no means an elite prospect but I do think that his skill-set, allied to this versatility, might make him a viable practice squad candidate for an NFL team in 2018. His main strength is his alertness; he recognises his responsibilities and can often be seen shunting off his primary responsibility to one of his teammates in order to pick up a secondary threat. He has quite a powerful punch and is reasonably athletic, with the ability to move quickly towards the second level. When he keeps his feet chopping, he is a creditable run blocker and I enjoyed the amount of pancake blocks for which he was responsible – always, for me, a positive sign! He is, however, a marginal prospect at best at the next level, due to the flaws in pass protection, where he tends to over-extend and lose his balance, forcing him to lunge and lose control of contact situations. This is, I suspect, partly due to two things: 1) he plays too high – at 6-7, he struggles to gain leverage – and 2) he is a bit slow off the snap and, as a result, lacks the explosion you would really want to see. A good offensive line coach will smooth out some of these difficulties and, although Velichko is a long-shot to make it in the NFL, I see enough on tape to suggest that a camp invite is feasible.
The words that come to mind when you scout Billy Price are ‘alert’, ‘intelligent’ and ‘savvy’. He has started 41 consecutive games at guard for Ohio State and the fact that he is almost certainly moving to center for his senior season will probably only enhance his stock. Price has extremely quick feet, which enable him to shift fluidly into position against both 1-tech NTs and 3-tech DTs. You can also see this athleticism when he pulls; he looks very nimble for an interior lineman when he comes round the corner. He is an intelligent player, whose veteran experience enables him to cope comfortably with stunts and twists. You very rarely see him being pushed back in the running game, although I would like to see him being a bit more aggressive when he gets to the second level. He could be a very serviceable starting guard but I’m not sure if he has the raw strength to excel there; as a center, however, his combination of athleticism and intelligence could enable him to be a top five player in that position. My instinct is that Price will end up playing center in the NFL and, if that’s the case, I can see him being a player who contends for Pro Bowl honours.