The NFL Draft takes place April 29–May 1, 2021 and will return to some form of familiarity. Last year’s draft happened two months into the COVID-19 pandemic and was relegated to Zoom– removing all in-person aspects like fans, hugs, and the like. Thankfully, the 2021 draft will return fans and in-person drafting when it takes place in Cleveland, Ohio. The Greater Cleveland Sports Console is taking protocols from Super Bowl LV in Tampa and the NBA Playoff Bubble in Orlando to hold a safe draft that’s as close to normal as they can get.
With the central focus shifted off the virus, it’s time to take a look at this year’s draft pool. We’re here to give you positional rundowns, including who the favorites are to be drafted where and what players are generating league buzz.
NFL draft odds: First OL drafted
How to bet on first OL drafted
At most online sportsbooks, you can find options for several NFL Draft bets including the first player drafted at each position. To find this section click the NFL tab and find a tab for “First Pick by Position” then view the odds listed below.
NFL Draft: 2021 OL profiles
Penei Sewell, Oregon: The top offensive lineman in the 2021 is often seen as Oregon All American Penei Sewell; as early as his sophomore season in Eugene, Sewell was hailed as the best offensive lineman in the country. At 6′ 6″, 330 pounds, he’s a force to be reckoned with– he’s got a quick first step (especially for his size), he’s a downhill and physical run blocker, and he’s got the length to compete with top pass rushers. Sewell is often mocked in the early first round, most typically to the Cincinnati Bengals with the fifth overall pick.
Rashawn Slater, Northwestern: League rumors hint at some clubs favoring Rashawn Slater over Penei Sewell. The teams that supposedly value Slater more is unknown and it could very well just be pre-draft smoke. What’s not smoke, however, is Slater’s ability. He’s a versatile athlete, though he opted out of the 2020 season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2019 tape against top-NFL pass rusher Chase Young (then at Ohio State) offers promising results, though scouting reports question what his ceiling really is. Whoever does pull the trigger on Slater– potentially teams like Detroit at seven or Carolina at eight– are getting a high-floor, low-risk guy. He’s also worth a small shot at being the first lineman taken off the board if the league buzz holds true.
Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech: Darrisaw was a guy who was being valued in the mid- to late-first round, but has quickly climbed up draft boards and mock drafts this offseason. He started at Virginia Tech from Day 1 as a true freshman and continued to improve game after game. He’s viewed now as an immediate starter to a team in need, often being associated with zone running schemes. Teams like the San Francisco 49ers at 12 could potentially be a great fit for Darrisaw, though many analysts are placing him with the Los Angeles Chargers at 13. Either way, Darrisaw is not expected to be picked as the first offensive lineman, but also won’t likely fall into the back half of the first round.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC: Vera-Tucker is 2021’s highest-rated inside blocker, being the only one given a solid first-round grade (important note: many offensive tackles are eventually moved inside after seeing what they can do against the NFL’s pass rushers). He was a left tackle at USC, though is largely being viewed as an NFL guard thanks to his quickness and ability to move around the field. Whoever drafts Vera-Tucker is getting a flexible athlete who can move around to plenty of positions if need be, while also providing a solid anchor inside. Vera-Tucker could be drafted in a variety of places, though he seems to land somewhere in the late-teens or early 20s. The Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, and Pittsburgh Steelers could all be potential landing spots.
Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State: The best word associated with Oklahoma State’s Tevin Jenkins is “bully.” In the NFL, that’s a complement, especially for an offensive tackle. Jenkins routinely takes his man out of plays and is a vicious downhill blocker. He’s one of the most experienced players in the Draft, having started 35 games during his career with the Pokes. He’s demonstrated the ability to be a valuable run blocker while existing in Oklahoma State’s air raid system, giving him serious versatility in the NFL. Jenkins’ name is gaining traction and could be drafted as high as 24 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 25 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and as late as 31 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
NFL Draft OL history
Here is a list of the first offensive linemen taken in each NFL Draft going back to 2010.
|Year||Team||Player||College||Pick (No. overall)|
|2020||New York Giants||Andrew Thomas||Georgia||4|
|2018||San Francisco||Mike McGlinchey||Notre Dame||9|
|2016||Baltimore||Ronnie Stanley||Notre Dame||6|
|2014||St. Louis||Greg Robinson||Auburn||2|
|2013||Kansas City||Eric Fisher||Central Michigan||1|
NFL Draft betting strategy and trends
Offensive linemen are one of the most valuable commodities each and every year, with plenty of them flying off the shelf in the first round of every draft. In 2020, six offensive tackles were taken in the first round, the most since 2011 (also six). Interior offensive linemen are typically viewed as Day 2 guys, with just five taken in the first round in the last five drafts (2017 and 2020 Drafts had none taken). The difference between interior linemen and tackles can be muddy, seen especially with guys like Alijah Vera-Tucker, meaning bettors are better off betting on the group as a whole.
In 2021, the runaway favorite to be picked first is Oregon’s Penei Sewell; he’s been hailed as the best offensive lineman in college football for the past three years and with the Bengals at the fifth spot primed to take an offensive tackle, it seems pretty logical that Sewell will fall then. However, don’t discount Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater from being a surprise pick given recent league buzz. The rest of the class are projected first rounders, along with potential names like Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenburg, Michigan’s Jaylen Mayfield, and Texas’ Sam Cosmi.