Although they’ve had three first-round picks in program history, last year was the first time in five years that the Marshall Thundering Herd had one of their players drafted to the NFL. This year they have several eligible prospects with Marshall offensive tackle Josh Ball projected to be their highest selected player in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Josh Ball NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: Marshall
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’8″
- Weight: 309 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Josh Ball Scouting Report
Positives: Florida State transfer coming off a tremendous senior campaign. Moves well for a big man, keeps his knees bent, and blocks with leverage. Sets with a wide base, stays square, and shows strength at the point.
Makes outstanding use of blocking angles in pass protection and anchors at the point. Attacks assignments, turns defenders off the line, and finishes run blocks. Displays good awareness, quickly picks up assignments, and is very effective with his hands. Gets a pad on defenders and shows the ability to knock speed rushers from their angles of attack.
Negatives: Shows some stiffness and overextends into blocks. Lacks quick, fluid footwork off the edge.
Analysis: After being used on a rotational basis in 2019, Ball moved into the starting lineup as a senior and took his game to another level. He possesses size, growth potential, and enough athleticism to eventually develop into a starting right tackle in the NFL.
Josh Ball Player Profile
It has been a tumultuous and controversial path to the 2021 NFL Draft for Josh Ball. However, it began in impressive fashion as a high school giant. Coming out of Stafford High School in his native Virginia, he measured in at a lanky 6’7″ and 297 pounds. A towering presence on the Stafford offensive line, he earned Virginia All-State First Team honors in addition to multiple all-conference accolades.
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Described as a “physically developed lineman who has ideal height and size,” he garnered significant attention on the recruiting trail. Ball was listed as a four-star recruit, the 99th player nationally, and the 11th offensive tackle in the class. Additionally, he was also considered the second-best player in the state of Virginia.
He held offers from over 25 across the nation. Although powerhouses such as Louisiana State and Miami offered scholarships, his decision reportedly came down to Florida State and West Virginia. A firm favorite throughout the process, Ball committed to Florida State ahead of the 2016 season.
Josh Ball’s college football career
Josh Ball’s twisting journey to the 2021 NFL Draft continued with a redshirt season for the Seminoles in 2016.
After sitting out for a year, he made his debut in 2017. In his first start against Duke, Florida State rushed for a conference-high 228 rushing yards. As a result of his impressive performances, Ball would start the remaining nine games at left tackle.
Josh Ball’s expectation was to be a pivotal part of the offense in his sophomore season. However, instead of leading the offensive line, he would be out of the program entirely.
Following an allegation of dating violence, Ball received a suspension from the program. Although a return would be in the discussion — maybe even consideration — he would spend the 2018 season at Butler Community College. He would never suit up for the Seminoles again.
Ball receives a three-star JUCO ranking as a recruit out of Butler
His only offer came from Marshall, who had courted the gigantic offensive lineman as he had come out of high school. The offer gave him the opportunity to be closer to home where he vowed to become a better student, player, and person.
On his return to Division I football in 2019, he had just one start. However, he did see significant playing time as a rotational backup offensive tackle. His impact on the offensive line helped running back Brenden Knox achieve the Conference USA MVP Award. Furthermore, the Marshall rushing offense ranked second in the conference for rushing yards per game.
Having started just one game in 2019, the Marshall offensive tackle became an important part of the offensive line in his final season. Ball would start eight games at left tackle, helping Marshall to its first ranking since 2014.
Their 70% winning percentage is the best for the program since 2015. He protected the blindside for impressive freshman quarterback Grant Wells. At the end of the year, he was featured on the All-Conference USA First Team.
Prior to their bowl game with Buffalo, Marshall offensive tackle Josh Ball declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Analyzing Josh Ball’s NFL Draft Profile
The most obvious place to begin with analyzing Josh Ball as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect is with his size. He has towered above opposition players since his high school days. There are varying accounts of him so providing an accurate measurement is difficult. Yet, he is clearly over the 6’6″ that has been listed elsewhere.
While this will bring some issues of its own, which I’ll get to later, there is no denying that with height comes advantageous length. He can keep opposing defensive linemen at bay easily with his long arms. Additionally, his long frame makes it difficult for edge rushers to find a way around him.
Ball offers intriguing athletic upside in the 2021 NFL Draft. He demonstrates the ability to get quickly out of his stance and into his pass set. Additionally, he can get out to the second level with relative ease. He describes his favorite part of offensive line play as pulling which his athletic ability is easy to see.
Furthermore, Ball exhibits enough functional agility to move well laterally. He can shut down counter moves and slide back inside to pick up inside rushes. The combination of overall athleticism and movement skills also allows him to recover well if he gets beat in the first instance.
What are some potential concerns with Josh Ball?
One of Josh Ball’s selling points in the 2021 NFL Draft also provides one of his weaknesses. When you’re 6’8″ tall, it’s difficult to play with low pad level. As a result, the chest becomes an easy target.
Additionally, it’s easy to lunge forward with your weight over your feet when you’re that tall. Although he exhibits solid body control on the whole, he needs to ensure he isn’t giving up leverage when lunging against stronger and faster NFL defensive linemen.
Currently listed at 309 pounds, the Marshall offensive tackle should look to add some muscle weight as he transitions to the NFL. That will help him add some functional strength. Currently, he doesn’t have the strongest anchor in the class. He also could benefit to add some strength to his initial punch.
The big uncertainty over Josh Ball heading into the 2021 NFL Draft will, unfortunately, be over his character. We are to presume that teams will want to do due diligence with regards to the circumstances of his suspension from Florida State.
Josh Ball’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Marshall Thundering Herd offensive tackle Josh Ball expects to be a developmental left tackle with starting potential in the NFL. His blend of size and athleticism means that he should be scheme versatile. However, given the success of the running game at Marshall, he would probably fit best with a team that wants to prioritize running the ball.
Last year, the Thundering Herd had players drafted in the fifth and seventh rounds. Could Marshall offensive tackle Josh Ball be taken higher than that in the 2021 NFL Draft?
The number of teams with a need at the position could ensure it. In his latest big board for Pro Football Network, Tony Pauline has a third-round grade on Josh Ball. Pauline also lists Josh Ball as his 91st ranked prospect and 13th offensive tackle in the 2021 NFL Draft class.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.