If I had My Druthers . . . 2017 Offensive Line

If I had My Druthers . . . 2017 Offensive Line

January 20, 2017

Austin Jackson (image via USA Today)

Last year I took a late look at a few positions that Michigan was recruiting down to the wire. For example, I wanted Devin Asiasi the most out of Michigan’s remaining tight end targets last January (LINK), and he signed with the Wolverines, for whom he played quite a bit as a freshman. (For the record, the other four tight end targets on that list redshirted in 2016.) As a reminder, I feel it’s necessary to mention that I specifically avoid looking at recruiting rankings while working on this piece to avoid being influenced, though this here hobby means I have a fair idea of their general ranking.

1. Austin Jackson – OT – Phoenix (AZ) North Canyon: Jackson is the least physically developed player on this list at 6’6″, 270 lbs. He’s a lithe, athletic offensive tackle/defensive end, and he almost doesn’t look like an offensive tackle prospect. Though he is largely regarded as an offensive line prospect, he almost certainly needs a redshirt to add some size in order to play OL. He’s very good working up to the second level and playing in space, and he moves his feet well in pass protection. Right now he can get overpowered at the line of scrimmage by bigger players, but I do like athletes at offensive tackle who need to fill out rather than big guys who need to learn to be athletic.

Hit the jump for the remainder of the list.

2. Toryque Bateman – OT – Gadsden City (AL) Gadsden City: Bateman is 6’7″, 310 lbs. He has long arms and looks the part of being a left tackle at the next level. He moves his feet well, and I really like his footwork in pass protect. He does a good job of getting depth and mirroring pass rushers. As a run blocker, his biggest strength is his ability to combo block on inside and outside zone runs, working his way up to the next level. He needs to play lower, and he also needs to work on his hand placement when he run blocks. Hand placement is also a bit of an issue in pass pro, and he does occasionally get his feet too narrow.

3. Mekhi Becton – OT – Highland Springs (VA) Highland Springs: Becton is listed at 6’8″, 325 lbs. He’s a huge lineman who could play left or right tackle in college. Despite having a huge frame, he is not the punishing blocker he should be. He struggles to bend, and he doesn’t finish blocks consistently. He is a plus athlete for his size, and he’s willing to get out in space and make blocks downfield. He needs to improve his footwork in both the run and the pass game. He’s very raw and tends to reach, but he has a solid punch and can be a very powerful blocker if he latches on with those long arms and that 325 lb. frame. He’s a player who probably requires a redshirt.

4. Tedarrell Slaton – OG – Plantation (FL) American Heritage: Slaton is 6’5″, 353 lbs. He plays right tackle for American Heritage, but he won’t be a tackle in college. At 353 lbs. (and I believe he weighed in the 360s at the All-American Bowl), he’s too big right now and struggles to get into a good stance. He does not use his hands very well as a blocker, and since he keeps them too low, defenders can get into his chest and control him, even when they’re grossly outweighed. Slaton has decent feet for a big guy, but he does not play through the whistle consistently. Slaton made some noise early about wanting to play basketball in college – which does not appear to be happening – and now reportedly wants to play defense. I’d take him above Lynch simply because Slaton can play nose tackle, a position that Michigan needs, but I think Lynch is the better offensive lineman right now.

5. Carter Lynch – OG – Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph’s: Lynch has the build of an offensive guard at 6’6″, 310 lbs. with a thick lower body and a bit of a truncated frame. He moves like an interior player and does not play great in space. He looks like he could also play center. Lynch has a bit of an awkward stance that needs to be cleaned up, and he tends to come out of his stance too high. He is an aggressive blocker and perhaps the best finisher of the linemen in this list. Despite a bit of a lack of athleticism, he can be effective on trap blocks and kickouts because of his aggression and strength. He reminds me a little bit of former Michigan offensive guard Kyle Bosch (now at West Virginia). Michigan is more in need of offensive tackles in 2017, so he goes to the bottom of my list.

NOTE: As far as I know, Michigan has not been actively recruiting Lynch, but he was offered at one point.


  1. Comments: 1356
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Jan 20, 2017 at 6:47 AM

    Yeah, I’d take Austin Jackson so fast your head would spin. I was pleased to see you rate Bateman ahead of Mekhi Beckton as Bateman looks to be maybe a little longer and a touch more athletic in space. Still it’s so hard to project a kid at 6’7″ 340-ish. What does he look like moving at 310? Can he get to 310? Will he even try to get to 310? Who knows?

    i think it’ll be Becton, but I’d take them all. I do like Slaton a little better than you, only because he’d never take a snap for me at offensive guard. I’d get him as fit as I could then tell him to grab two jerseys and don’t let go.

  2. Comments: 134
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    Jan 20, 2017 at 7:54 AM

    I should know this, but where does Michigan stand with each prospect on your list?

    Jackson is exactly the type of OT recruit I like to see one of in each class. Not only do I agree 100% with the “teach size, not athleticism” statement about OT, but he also could move elsewhere if he can’t add that size. If someone like Becton (who I’d still take in a second) can’t develop the athleticism needed, where do you put him?

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 20, 2017 at 8:09 AM

      1. Jackson isn’t visiting, so he’s basically out.
      2. Bateman put Michigan in his top 3 but reportedly has some academic issues.
      3. Becton seems the most likely but took a recent trip to Louisville that he liked.
      4. Slaton is kind of a long shot at this point, wants to play defense, and seems destined for Florida. Also had some academic issues.
      5. Lynch isn’t being pursued.

  3. Comments: 134
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    Jan 20, 2017 at 7:56 AM

    Also, another helpful thing would be able to picture a former Michigan player with each of these guys. You mentioned Lynch is similar to Bosch. Suggestions for the other guys?

    Jackson = Omameh?
    Batement = Lewan?
    Becton = Braden?
    Slaton = Will Campbell? Chris Bryant? Onwenu?

  4. Comments: 400
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    Jan 20, 2017 at 10:24 AM

    F I’d mahdruthurs; right there with F I’d git arowntuit………..
    Offensive Linemen they’re really Defensive linemen aren’t they?
    They defend the running back;
    They defend the quarterback;
    Hense They defend the ball itself!

    When talking about OL’s; everyone is always focused on size, strength, agility, blah, blah – the physical abilities………. but that stuff is only half the package. You know kinda like the fake titted bimbos that Thunder posts on this site. Only half the package! Team those good looking gals with a degree in astrophysics & now you’ve got a woman I can build a relationship with not just a 1 nite stan – mah man!

    An offensive line man must be the most intelligent player on the field; he must have an exceptionally strong aptiude for intellectual pursuits and have a never ending drive not only to pancake defensive personal but also to study in the classroom. Alah Shaw’s gang at Stanford: Intellectual Brutality.

    So If your potential OL recruit isn’t capable of extreme work in the Classroom having a great capacity for academic work & pursuit you might want to pass on him.

    Most people have no clue that the most intelligent positional group in the NFL is not the Quarterback position but rather it is the Offensive Lineman – YES! smartest players in the NFL as a positional group are OL’s: IQ & Wonderlic……

    So your potential OL recruit: he’s got all the Stars! he’s got all the size! he’s got all the strength! he’s got all the athletic ability!!!
    Yers! Yes! YES!!!! WE GOTA SIGN HIM!!!!!!!

    But ahh Coach? He’s dummer than a box of rocks. Maybe we don’t want him.

    Offensive Lineman………The only True Skilled Position in Football.

    • Comments: 182
      Joined: 9/15/2015
      Jan 20, 2017 at 12:37 PM

      might want to tone it down just a bit

  5. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jan 20, 2017 at 10:57 AM

    I like em all. Becton sounds like the only one Michigan has a shot at.

    Still holding out distant hope that they can talk Slaton and Hebert into both coming by selling immediate playing time opportunities.

    I’m glad people are coming around to how critical OL is. I’ve been discussing/whining/harping about this since the Rodriguez-Hoke transition. Not that glad though – I’d rather our coaches had solved the problem already and nobody cared to discuss it.

  6. Comments: 14
    Joined: 12/13/2016
    Jan 20, 2017 at 11:16 AM

    Isn’t C.J. Thorpe coming in this weekend?
    He may be a reach but having someone on campus right before signing day could produce results.
    As for the rest of those prospects the common thread has been for Becton if the staff paves a road to his door.
    I would think something shakes out soon… and I also look for Hebert to sign with this class.

    • Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Jan 20, 2017 at 12:39 PM

      I know everyone is (rightfully) freaking out about OT right now but the 2018 picture could look quite a bit different.

      Possible scenario @OT: Let’s say we get a transfer (Clemson kid or LTT), let’s say Newsome sits out the year and returns, let’s say Ulizio or another recruit are up to speed by then. Let’s say JBB or Bredeson start in 2017 and lock in for 2018. etc. It’s possible our OT situation looks really strong.

      Possible scenario @OG/OC: Cole and Kugler will be gone (replace 2 of 3 starters potentially). Bredeson might be at OT. Onwenu or Ruiz might not pan out.

      There is obviously positional flexibility but the 2017 recruiting class needs to be focused on 2018 and beyond just as much, if not moreso, than the immediate needs in 2017.

      • Comments: 134
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        Jan 20, 2017 at 2:07 PM

        I feel significantly more confident about 2018 than I do about 2017. By then you’ll know what you have with several of the recruits that have come in these past couple of years and you should have depth again. You will also have a very strong QB depth chart and will have rebuilt the defense too.

        The problem is that if 2017 sucks balls it starts corrupting things for the future with recruiting, coaching stability on the staff, transfers, shuffling of people/positions, etc.

        I think what you want to see this year is a consistent 5-6 guys playing and making progress. Maybe they aren’t “good” and they still frustrate us, but at least you start to see some guys lock down a spot – whoever they are. You want to go into 2018 knowing that at least 3 spots are locked down.

      • Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Jan 20, 2017 at 3:06 PM

        @AC – appreciating your posts lately. Well put – Just felt that needs to be said.

        I think the corruption you mentioned is already happening now. We’re grasping at straws at OT and have been for a decade. Consistency is huge and we can’t get any because we are shuffling to fill holes.

        The thing about “2 years from now” is that it always looks good to optimists and almost never accounts for typical attrition. Looks 2 years back when we thought “Just wait till Kalis, Magnuson, and Kugler are seniors and Drevno has turned us into Stanford”. Not so much.

        That said, I agree with you things should be better — but the interior of the OL will only be in a good place if key young players develop. Somebody on Mgoblog did a basically believable data analysis a couple years back that said you could have inexperienced OTs but for interior OL experience was critical. We won’t have any in 2018 so may be reliant on size and talent.

        Ruiz and Onwenu and Bredeson panning out is a best case scenario. There is 2 years of time for things to go wrong or right there. Probability is that at least one of those guys will get hurt, transfer, or bust.

        That’s why you need more options (including guys like Thorpe) because you never know who is going to be a Patrick Omameh (2 star turned NFL starter) or Glasgow and who is going to be a Kalis or Kugler.

        Attack with numbers!

    • Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Jan 20, 2017 at 12:40 PM

      Thorpe is no reach and would fill a huge need.

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