Highlighting some of the top edge protectors on NFL radars.
By taking Kenyon Green in the first round of the draft this year, the Houston Texans proved their commitment to protecting the quarterback with top talent.
With Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard and Green projected to start, that places three former first-round picks in the trenches.
But maybe there’s room for one or two more?
Here are a few names to watch this upcoming college football season that have a chance to shoot up draft boards should the correct steps in development be taken:
Blake Freeland (BYU)
- Utah born and raised, Freeland was initially pegged as a big bodied tight end. After bulking up and moving to tackle he was part of the stellar offensive line Jets rookie Zach Wilson enjoyed before switching to the left side this past season. At 6-8, 307 pounds, length is how Freeland wins but some improved pad level and adding some good weight on his lower half would check all the boxes for a trait filled prospect the league usually puts a premium on.
Paris Johnson (Ohio State)
- Last season was a nice preview of what Paris Johnson could be. After starting at right guard, Johnson will finally get his chance to play left tackle with all evaluators paying close attention. Based on how Johnson handled interior linemen, strength isn’t going to be a question but its his movement skills in pass protection when asked to leave the phone booth that is still a projection.
Connor Galvin (Baylor)
- Hailing from Katy, Texas, the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year stands at a tall 6-7, 310 pounds. Galvin is very athletic for his size and uses this to win in pass protection and the run game but much like Freeland pad level and leverage hold him back. The question is does this issue lie with technique or does Galvin not have the proper flexibility?
Peter Skoronski (Northwestern)
- An undersized Northwestern tackle that wins with clean technique? No. Peter Skoronski is not Rashawn Slater, but he does have the best tape out of any prospect on this list. Arm length and being under 300 pounds are going to be talking points that surround his projection. He came in as an interior lineman recruit so this season is about proving he belongs at tackle.
Anton Harrison (Oklahoma)
- A prospect coming with a lot of hype, Harrison was one of the few bright for the Sooners. However, it was very apparent that was his first full season starting at tackle and this year people are hoping to see a more comfortable Harrison take advantage of his great traits.
Jaxson Kirkland (Washington)
- Remember this time last season when people were convinced Kirkland was going to be one of the top tackles in the country? Remember that stopped after he played Michigan? Good times, good times. But in all seriousness Kirkland is hoping to regain his draft stock by returning for another season demonstrating an above-average IQ and understanding of leverage.
Zion Nelson (Miami)
- Last season was supposed to be when Zion Nelson took the next step, instead he regressed. Now enters new coach Mario Cristobal and offensive line guru Alex Mirabal with a new found sense of optimism. Nelson is a toolsy athletic tight end convert that could soar if certain elements of his game get cleaned up.
Jaelyn Duncan (Maryland)
- Outside of Paris Johnson, there isn’t a tackle prospect this summer as physically imposing as Duncan can be. Unlike Skoronski, nobody talks about how Duncan held his own against Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo last year. Duncan is already an NFL body at 6-6, 288 pounds with a 6-8 wingspan and is so athletic Maryland used him as a puller in the run game. Consistency right now is the biggest thing holding Duncan back.
Matthew Bergeron (Syracuse)
- One of the few Canadian prospects this cycle, Bergeron chose football over hockey because “hockey was too expensive.” Bergeron is a solid pass protector with vice grips for hands and a lot of experience running the now en vogue zone running scheme at Syracuse.