With his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report, where does BYU OT Blake Freeland stand in the 2023 offensive tackle class? He’s drawn the attention of scouts since his very first starting opportunities in 2019. But now, Freeland is nearing his transition to the professional level. Here’s what he offers as an NFL prospect.
Blake Freeland NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: BYU
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’8″, 307 pounds
After Week 5 of the 2022 college football season, Shrine Bowl Director Eric Galko sat down with PFN to go over some of the prospects who impressed him in the most recent slate. The very first name he brought up was Freeland’s, among universal praise for the BYU offensive line.
Freeland is in his fourth year now, and as a safely eligible NFL Draft prospect, he’s garnering a lot of love from evaluators and onlookers alike. But in truth, Freeland has been a stalwart for BYU since he first stepped foot on campus.
A mammoth specimen with a champion’s background as a shot put and javelin thrower, Freeland earned starting reps as a true freshman in 2019 and maintained a role in 2020. He started all 13 games in 2021 and continues to assert his dominance at the left tackle spot.
A four-year starter with experience, athleticism, and power, Freeland checks all the surface-level boxes that evaluators look for. But diving into the tape, what do the details say about the BYU OT and how he translates as a prospect? Let’s find out.
Blake Freeland Scouting Report
The 2023 NFL Draft offensive tackle group is slowly becoming more and more inspiring. There’s a visible top group and a number of tackles vying for Day 2 capital. Here, we’ll see where Freeland belongs on that hierarchy.
If you like physical traits at offensive tackle, Freeland has them. At 6’8″, 307 pounds, he’s a tall, lean blocker with borderline elite length and an overwhelming wingspan. He’s also a high-level athlete for his size.
Freeland has smooth lateral mobility and recovery athleticism and can quickly reposition himself against stunts to maintain leverage. He’s a light-footed athlete for his size who quickly traverses space in condensed areas.
The BYU OT is very explosive off the line and quickly generates momentum heading into contact. He has great mobility in space and has great range moving upfield and as a pulling blocker.
Freeland can leverage his high-end explosiveness and length into awesome power at the contact point. With that combination, he can steamroll defenders upfield with his displacement capacity. But he’s also shown he can sustain leg drive after fully extending to plow defenders downfield.
MORE: PFN Mock Draft Simulator
Additionally, Freeland’s hands have high-end knock-back power and can blast defenders off-balance when fully extended. He’s also able to turn his hips and fully extend to shove rushers outside the apex with force. He’s shown that he can use rotational power to torque defenders at contact and lock them within his torso.
A former state champion in both the shot put and javelin, it comes as no surprise that Freeland has exceptional raw strength. The functionality of that strength on the field can improve at times, but Freeland’s high-end length allows him to outreach most rushers and latch onto the pads with biting hands.
Moreover, he has the core strength to maintain extensions and stymie power rushes when in phase and keep rushers inside his shadow after torquing with his hips.
For his size, Freeland’s athleticism is eye-catching, and so too is his hip fluidity. He doesn’t quite have elite flexibility, but he has shown he can quickly unhinge and rotate outside against stunts.
In a similar vein, he can quickly open up his hips to maximize lateral range and match rushers. The BYU OT is able to turn his hips and pivot around rushers to carry and direct them past the pocket.
Freeland’s hand usage is consistently uplifted by his sheer physicality. The BYU OT consistently dishes out contact and fully extends toward opponents, and he unleashes aggression at contact with a finisher’s mentality against poorly-leveraged defenders. Freeland also shows flashes from an operational standpoint and can use his hands effectively to a degree.
Freeland has shown he can tighten his hands at contact and levy powerful two-hand extensions inside the torso. He can also quickly and violently re-extend when defenders break anchor to disrupt moves and obstruct their path. Freeland proactively uses his high-end length to cage off defenders and keep his torso clean, and he can quickly re-load and re-exert to maintain separation.
Footwork can be an issue for larger tackles at times, but Freeland manages his lower body quite well. He has a good corrective feel with footwork and can rotate back into phase quickly when rushers commit outside.
Moreover, he has good foot speed and has shown he can vary his kick-slide based on the depth he needs. He’s often patient and controlled on his kick and can tempo up his footwork to match rushers to the apex.
Expanding on Freeland’s footwork, the Cougars blocker has shown he can reset his base after shading laterally on play fakes and re-enter phase to buoy rushers. He’s also shown he can widen his base to envelop rushers while keeping his hands tight and fully extended, and he flashes synergy with his hands and feet.
Another strength of Freeland’s is his over-arching awareness and alertness. He is consistently quick off the ball and understands leverage and angles. He can position himself to pin rushers against the interior of the line. Additionally, the junior tackle can adapt based on play flow and wall off backside pursuit defenders if his QB scrambles.
Freeland is patient and composed when facing stunt threats, can position himself between prospective rushers, and stays alert and adaptable. On top of that, Freeland can recognize delayed defenders outside and swivel around to wall them off after chipping inside.
In the run game, Freeland has shown he can pin defenders and stack blocks upfield in sequence. Leverage is perhaps the weakest area on Freeland’s scouting report. But even here, he has decent knee bend for his size and has shown he can attain the proper center of gravity as a pass protector.
His leverage is stronger as a run blocker, however, where he’s proven at times that he can play beyond his center of gravity and fully channel power from his lower body to maximize displacement.
Freeland’s Areas for Improvement
Freeland is a tantalizing physical talent, but as is often the case with taller tackles, leverage can be a major issue for him. With his height and top-heavy build, Freeland struggles to consistently activate his lower body. Additionally, his tall pads and open torso, along with his leaner frame and lighter base, can make him easy to displace in pass protection.
Freeland visibly struggles to lower his pads and acquire leverage at times and plays too tall at contact more often than desired. His relatively upright nature makes him easy to work off balance by powerful defenders.
Moreover, while Freeland has solid lateral flexibility as a mover, he lacks great bend in his hips and appears to be intrinsically limited in his ability to lower himself and acquire leverage.
Freeland’s tendency to play too tall in space inhibits his ability to sustain moving blocks. It also sometimes prevents him from sustaining leverage through pass protection reps, and he can’t always maintain the proper range to latch and lock down rushers.
To that end, Freeland can be coaxed into lurching past his center of gravity when playing too tall, and his tall, upright play style gives defenders more room to work around his torso. He’s narrow and at times wobbly with his movement — all things that NFL defenders may be able to exploit.
While Freeland is a high-level athlete, he doesn’t quite have elite corrective athleticism, and he sometimes has to gather himself after being offset by counters. Similarly, Freeland doesn’t have great change of direction in space, and his upright style hurts in this regard as well.
While Freeland’s raw strength is undeniable, it doesn’t always fully translate on the field. Freeland doesn’t always display the functional core strength to nullify opposing power after latching, and he can be worked off-balance.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
His grip strength also leaves more to be desired at times. The BYU blocker doesn’t always look controlled in contact situations, and defenders who apply torque can wrench him free. His grip with both his inside and outside hands can be stronger. He struggles to latch at times and can let defenders slip by him.
While Freeland has shown exciting flashes with his hand usage, he’s still a work in progress there. The BYU OT is heavily reliant on two-hand extensions and can use independent hands more often.
There are times when he can be a bit too passive and reactive at contact. He sometimes keeps his hands wide as rushers approach, leaving his torso exposed to power. Moreover, Freeland too often allows defenders to dictate reps and needs to find a better balance between patience and proactivity.
Continuing with the operational theme, Freeland’s outside hand doesn’t always strike cleanly, and can slip past opponents, reducing control. He’ll also sometimes wrap around opponents who stunt inside, and he doesn’t always effectively latch to keep them contained. At times, Freeland’s torso appears a bit stiff, and he can’t always absorb blows while maintaining a grip.
Freeland has room to refine his game in other areas as well. He occasionally has extraneous footwork working back and can be worked out of phase by stunting defenders. There are also times when he can be more controlled working to the apex, as he sometimes careens through as rushers counter inside.
At times, Freeland can strive for better synergy. The timing between his feet and hands isn’t always synchronous and can leave him imbalanced. And finally, Freeland sometimes overshoots blocking angles in space and doesn’t quite have the change of direction to consistently recover.
Current Draft Projection for BYU OT Blake Freeland
The raw tools are enough to land Freeland in the early-round conversation as a future NFL starter at left tackle. As of now, he grades in the mid-to-late Day 2 range. He has the high-end athleticism and length to set a strong foundation for his professional career, but there are some things to iron out before he takes the next step.
Freeland’s athleticism is an obvious selling point, and his blend of explosiveness, light feet, length, and physicality is a dream for offensive line coaches. Few blockers as big as Freeland are also as nimble, and he also has the power to jar defenders and rapidly displace opponents. Combine that with his raw strength, and you have all the building blocks you need to create a top-tier left tackle.
On the operational side, however, there are concerns — most notably Freeland’s leverage as a pass protector. He’s a tall player who plays tall, and that’s not something that’ll be easy to kick.
Not only does Freeland’s height work against him in his quest to acquire leverage, but he also doesn’t have the bend in his hips to consistently lower himself. He does have decent knee bend, but he’ll have to work to counteract his leverage disadvantage.
Beyond that, Freeland can also further refine his hand usage, and his footwork, while solid, has its lapses. But overall, there are enough traits in Freeland’s arsenal to warrant a top-100 selection.
He’ll need some development, but he can be an impact starting tackle in the NFL. He’s a road grader on the ground with the mobility, range, and power to be scheme-diverse, and he has potential in pass protection.