The last time Arizona had an offensive lineman drafted (2009), Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, swine flu became a pandemic, and the movie “Avatar” was released. So yeah, it’s been a while.
However, OT Jordan Morgan’s NFL draft scouting report shows why not only will he buck the trend in 2023 but possibly earn consideration in the early rounds.
Jordan Morgan NFL Draft Profile
- Position: OT
- School: Arizona
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’6″, 328 pounds
Born and raised in Marana, Arizona, Morgan wasn’t the most heralded high school recruit. In fact, his only offer prior to Arizona came from FCS-level Northern Arizona. So, it’s no surprise Morgan committed to the hometown Wildcats just days after receiving notice.
Hindsight is 20/20, but Morgan should’ve received more attention on the recruiting trail. On top of helping his team to three straight state playoffs (2016-18) along the offensive line, he totaled 30 tackles on defense and was a shotput thrower in track and field.
After all-state honors as a senior, Morgan did earn offers from Arizona State and USC, but he never wavered on his decision to enroll at Arizona. He joined the team as a 270-pound tackle. But four years, 19 games, and 15 starts later, he’s grown to a listed 328 pounds at 6’6″.
The big man owns a comparatively big heart, volunteering at football camps and local Boys and Girls clubs. As a result, he was named to the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List in the summer, given to the college football player who “best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.”
Jordan Morgan Scouting Report
As a fourth-year “true junior” due to the COVID exemption, Morgan doesn’t have to declare for the 2023 draft. Injuries have stunted his growth over the last two years, and the pandemic didn’t exactly help. Yet, Morgan’s shown tremendous development this season, and he’s been a consistent presence up front.
Arizona HC Jedd Fisch tabbed Morgan as a “very, very special player” earlier this year, adding, “He’s been a fantastic role model. The guys follow him. They want to get behind him. He’s been a great leader for our guys, and our guys want to go to war with him.”
Although his teammates may want to go to war with Morgan, one thing is certain: his opponents don’t.
Where Morgan Wins
We all know Dexter Morgan, aka the “Bay Harbor Butcher.” But let me introduce you to his long-lost cousin: Jordan Morgan, the “Arizonian Assailant.”
The Arizona OT flashed his potential the last three years, and that’s largely all he was from a draft perspective — inconsistent flashes. The physical tools were always visible, but injuries and technique issues hindered his play. But in 2022, Morgan is healthy and refined, propelling himself up NFL draft boards.
Let’s begin with Morgan’s most sought-after trait: athleticism. You couldn’t tell he was 6’6″ and 328 pounds just by looking at him, as the Arizona OT sports a well-proportioned frame. You also couldn’t discern his weight when watching him move. Morgan is light on his feet with exciting lateral agility, allowing him to mirror even quicker edge rushers.
More than that, the Arizona OT has shown the quickness to reach landmarks on angle, vertical, and jump sets, as well as down/reach blocks. His naturally low pad level keeps his weight balanced and decreases his surface area. Morgan can pull as a lead blocker and climb to the second level all the same, turning and sealing defenders from the ball.
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Exploding out of his stance, the Wildcats product deploys active feet and hands to counter and reset during combat. When he’s able to reach extension with one (his most comfortable) or two arms, Morgan can repel opponents while mimicking their lower-body movements. Additionally, he can use their momentum against them, guiding speed rushers along the outer arc.
The Marana native owns the grip strength to latch and control the man across from him, even if his hand placement isn’t always ideal. And the power stored in his core creates a stout anchor when paired with a sturdy base. Morgan routinely washes edge defenders out in the ground game, rolling his hips into contact.
The Arizona OT possesses the leg drive to power through bigger opponents, as well as the play strength and wide base to absorb power and anchor in pass protection. But what may be most exciting about Morgan is the linear progression in his career.
Morgan has improved with each passing season, and 2021 to 2022 has been his biggest jump. He’s even displayed development from the first two games of the year. It’s clearest with his patience and awareness as a pass blocker.
Morgan often lets the defender come to him, forcing them to make the first move, which he is comfortable and confident countering. That patience carries over vs. stunts/blitzes, where the Arizona OT remains balanced when passing off defenders and engaging others.
Morgan’s Areas for Improvement
Morgan’s growth shouldn’t be understated … or overstated. While, in many ways, the Arizona OT looks like a completely different player than when he stepped on campus, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
As with many young tackles, Morgan must clean up his hand usage. His initial punches, while powerful, repeatedly miss high and wide. As a blocker, you want to keep your elbows inside your frame, locked and loaded to shoot into the opponent’s chest. Inside elbows mean inside hands! But Morgan routinely brings his arms low and outside off the snap, resulting in inconsistent hand placement.
Although the Arizona OT has stellar overall athleticism, there are still concerns when he’s on an island. Once committed to the outside, Morgan gives up a soft inside shoulder and doesn’t have the change-of-direction skill to redirect himself. This is compounded by more sudden rushers stressing upfield, causing Morgan to overcompensate by flipping his hips.
Keeping more weight on the right leg and improving hand strike placement and timing will help solidify the inside shoulder. But taking better angles on pass sets is also key, creating a half-man relationship with the defender.
Knowing there is no slide protection inside should also lend to a more conservative angle in pass protection. Nevertheless, these are situations where experience and proper coaching will prove invaluable for a young tackle.
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As a run blocker, Morgan maintains his wide arms, leaving his chest open for defenders to control. And when firing off the snap, he can get tall, complicating matters. High leverage decreases balance, and at a position where the low man wins, it can result in more losses than you’d like.
Moreover, the Wildcats OT can dip his head into contact, losing sight of the defender — a sign of weight getting over the toes. This is not a position of power, as the defender can now yank the lineman any way he wants if he has a good grip. It’s not frequent, but there are times when Morgan bends at the waist instead of the knees, which causes weight distribution issues too.
Power is often a plight for maturing tackles, and Morgan is no different. He has the frame to add some mass, but correcting hand usage, footwork, and waist-bending will enhance his anchor. Still, it’s fair to wonder how the Arizona OT will fare against NFL-caliber bull rushes.
Lastly are two areas that are more intangible. With Jayden de Laura at QB, plays can last a lot longer than they are intended for the Wildcats. Regardless, there are reps where Morgan loses steam, stalls his feet, and concedes second-effort wins.
And in the run game, Morgan seems content simply walling off defenders rather than overwhelming them. It’s not necessarily an outright negative, as you don’t necessarily need to be a “mauler” to succeed at the NFL. But it’s worth noting, as some teams and OL coaches may want to see more aggressiveness.
Current Draft Projection for Arizona OT Jordan Morgan
Morgan is a toolsy OT prospect trending up in the 2022 season. He didn’t allow his first sack until Week 6 against Oregon, and his run blocking is night and day from years prior. But the next four-game gauntlet will either boost or damage the Arizona product’s draft stock: at Washington, vs. USC, at Utah, and at UCLA.
Morgan already had fans in the offseason with an impressive build, athleticism, and play strength. But his uptick in performance has him flying up draft boards. In his October 13 mailbag, PFN Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline said the Arizona OT “entered the season graded as a late-round pick but is now viewed as a middle-round prospect and could move into Day 2.”
That’s right along the lines of where I’d select the budding tackle in the 2023 NFL Draft. There’s room to cement his status in the 2023 OT class with sustained run blocks, revised hand usage, and a stiffer inside shoulder.
Nonetheless, Morgan is worthy of a late Day 2/early Day 3 pick based on his physical gifts and augmented play this season. And based on his current trajectory, further ascension shouldn’t be ruled out.