3 offensive line sleeper prospects in the 2016 draft class
In preparation for the 2016 NFL draft, PFF’s team of analysts has spent the past few months putting together an overall draft board, as well as positional prospect rankings.
In doing so, we have identified players at each position who qualify as sleeper prospects, based on where these players are showing up on most evaluators’ draft boards.
Here are three sleeper prospects to watch among the 2016 offensive linemen class.
1. Joe Thuney, North Carolina State
In the two years that Pro Football Focus has been collecting college data, few players have been able to put together a more impressive two-season profile than the Wolfpack’s Joe Thuney. He played left guard in 2014, earning a +21.9 overall grade in nine games while performing well in both run- and pass-blocking. Having moved out to left tackle for 2015, Thuney performed even better, finishing the year with a +35.6 overall grade, fourth-best in this tackle class. He gave up two sacks and seven total pressures, giving him a 98.2 pass blocking efficiency score, second-best in this draft class.
Despite that success at left tackle, Thuney lacks the desired length to stay there in the NFL, and is likely to move back inside to either guard or center. His technique isn’t perfect, but he has good athleticism and should fit well with a zone-blocking team. Thuney has garnered little attention as a draftable prospect, but his productivity over the past two seasons has been impressive.
2. Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
Oregon State’s Seumalo is a technically-proficient and mobile interior lineman who should be a perfect fit for a team that favors a zone-blocking scheme. He lacks outright power, and it shows at times, but even when he is overpowered, Seumalo typically loses well, doing enough to limit the damage and avoid ruining the play. Even without elite power, Seumalo still stood out in the run game, earning a +24.3 run-blocking grade, sixth-best in this guard class, and succeeded on 90.4 percent of his run blocks, ninth-best. He was also strong in pass protection, conceding just four hurries all year.
He filled in at left tackle for the final three games of his Oregon State career, giving up zero pressures and earning a +5.8 overall grade. That left tackle stint included coping admirably against Oregon’s DeForest Buckner, no mean feat for any tackle, never mind a makeshift one. Even so, Seumalo’s future is inside; having played all positions on the line except left guard, he offers impressive versatility, a valuable commodity in the NFL.
3. Kyle Murphy, Stanford
Murphy has the size and enough athletic traits to develop into a starting tackle in the NFL. He plays with excellent technique, which shows up on a down-to-down basis, helping Murphy earn just three negative grades in 2015. The worst of those came during the Cardinal’s horror show against Northwestern, when practically everyone was bad. He rarely got beat to the outside, allowing one outside pressure for every 175 snaps in pass protection, second-best in this draft class. He also rarely gave up quick pressure, with a 99.5 sub-2.5 second pass-blocking efficiency, the seventh-best rate in this tackle class.
The one glaring flaw in his game is his play strength, which is sub-par and leaves Murphy susceptible to a bullrush. Despite that, he was still hugely effective in the run game, where sound fundamentals were often enough to win. He will likely never be a powerful tackle, but once he gets strong enough to compete in the NFL, the rest of his skill-set should come to the forefront.