The Michigan Wolverines have had at least one first-round prospect in the last two NFL drafts. In a deep offensive line class, can Michigan offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield be the next Wolverines first-rounder in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Jalen Mayfield NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: Michigan
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 320 pounds
If things had been different, Jalen Mayfield could have been heading to the 2021 NFL Draft as a defensive lineman. The 6’5″, 245-pounder played both sides of the ball at Grand Rapids Catholic Central, producing at an eye-watering rate. Mayfield set the school record for career tackles for loss, with 57 over the course of his career. Impressively, Mayfield racked up 96 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, and 3 fumble recoveries as a senior.
Despite his defensive success, Mayfield excelled on the offensive line. As a senior, he helped block for a team that had 3,500 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns. With Mayfield leading the way, GRCC had back-to-back Division 4 Michigan state titles. His play earned him a call-up to the Army All-American All-Star game.
A four-star recruit, Mayfield was ranked as the 268th overall player in the 2018 class. He received offers from Nebraska, Arizona, and Iowa, but initially committed to Minnesota.
However, as the fourth-ranked player in Michigan, Mayfield also received hometown attention from both Michigan State and the University of Michigan. When the Wolverines offered, Mayfield flipped his commitment, arriving in Ann Arbor in June 2018.
Jalen Mayfield’s college football career at Michigan
The Jalen Mayfield that leaves Ann Arbor for the 2021 NFL Draft is not the same as the one that arrived in 2018. Having played both sides of the ball, Mayfield was a lean 245 pounds when he left Catholic Central. Before he could make an impact as a Michigan offensive tackle, Mayfield would have to add a significant amount of weight.
Despite this, Mayfield still made three appearances in his freshman season. The Michigan offensive tackle made his collegiate debut against Western Michigan. He would see further playing time against Nebraska and Maryland at left tackle. Additionally, Mayfield saw special teams snaps, which will appeal to NFL teams in the draft process.
Mayfield would rise to prominence during the 2019 season. Starting all 13 games for Michigan at right tackle, Mayfield showed development throughout the season. Although there were some rough moments against the likes of Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos, by the time Michigan faced Ohio State in the regular season finale, Mayfield was showing signs of being an accomplished offensive tackle.
Unfortunately for the Michigan offensive tackle, the opportunity to further develop and showcase his ability was cut short by the disrupted 2020 season. Additionally, he missed time with injury. However, Jalen Mayfield did start two games at right tackle before declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Analyzing Jalen Mayfield’s NFL Draft Profile
The 2020 offensive line class is extremely deep. What are some of the things that help Michigan offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield distinguish himself ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft?
Before even turning on his tape, Mayfield looks the part of an NFL tackle. During his time in Ann Arbor, Mayfield added 75 pounds to his high school weight. At 6’5″ and 320 pounds, Mayfield has a similar build to current NFL offensive tackle Trent Williams, currently of the San Francisco 49ers. Williams was a first-round pick of the Washington Football Team.
Of course, size isn’t everything, but thankfully, Mayfield just so happens to know what he’s doing as well. Mayfield exhibits excellent footwork, which helps him to excel in pass blocking. He has the ability to match the defensive end’s moves with his own footwork to neutralize their pass-rush threat. Combined with his strength and a solid anchor, Mayfield projects to be an excellent pass blocker at the next level.
His footwork also helps him contribute to the ground game. There are multiple examples of him using good foot speed and athleticism to get out to the next level. Although he isn’t as much of a bully in the ground game as some prospects, Mayfield still has enough physicality to move people around at the line of scrimmage.
Experience of playing both offensive tackle positions at Michigan will also help boost his NFL Draft stock.
What are the potential concerns with Jalen Mayfield?
There is much to like about Jalen Mayfield and not too many potential concerns from an NFL Draft perspective. However, having only started one full season at Michigan may cause concern for some teams. You could see he was still developing in 2019. Will he still need some development before suiting up in the NFL?
From a technical standpoint, one thing stands out as a developmental need. He is often prone to lunge at defensive players, allowing him to be overpowered as his substantial weight is too far over his toes. However, this is an issue easily rectified as he continues to develop and become accustomed to his natural playing weight.
Jalen Mayfield’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Although Michigan offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield has experience playing both tackle spots, the likelihood is that he translates to being a starting right tackle in the NFL. Several teams are currently in the market for the position. Of those, I like the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Chargers as good team fits.
Could Jalen Mayfield be a first-round pick in April’s 2021 NFL Draft? In his latest big board for Pro Football Network, Tony Pauline lists Mayfield as his 24th overall prospect, third offensive tackle, with a first or second-round grade. With an expected run at the offensive tackle position, there is every chance that Jalen Mayfield is a first-round NFL Draft pick.
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