The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns have not had an offensive tackle drafted since 1998. However, they did have a pair of guards reach the NFL in 2020, with Robert Hunt (Round 2) and Kevin Dotson (Round 4) going inside the first four rounds. In the 2022 NFL Draft, Louisiana has yet another OL representative in Max Mitchell. With his scouting report, Mitchell should have no issue hearing his name called early in April.
Max Mitchell NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: Louisiana
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’5 3/4″
- Weight: 299 pounds
- Wingspan: 80 3/4″
- Arm: 33 5/8″
- Hand: 9 5/8″
Max Mitchell Scouting Report
Measuring just under 6’6″ and 299 pounds at the Senior Bowl, Mitchell is a tad on the lighter side for an offensive tackle. Thus, many have pegged him as a tackle-to-guard convert. Yet, that does both the 22-year-old prospect and the team who drafts him a disservice.
Mitchell has the athletic ability, technical prowess, consistency, and mental sharpness to stick at tackle. He needs to add more weight and power, but his frame can surely hold it without severely diminishing his athleticism. In fact, Mitchell has said he wants to gain 15 pounds this offseason while retaining his speed. Working with professional trainers and dieticians in an NFL weight room will certainly help his cause.
Nevertheless, if he can’t maintain more weight, Mitchell can slide inside and thrive. If the league views him as a guard, he likely won’t hear his name called until Day 3. However, if a few teams plan to keep him at tackle, he can easily go in the Day 2 range.
Where Mitchell wins
Typically, players do not improve on a Madden video game-like trajectory. But that’s exactly what Mitchell has done in his four years at Louisiana. Mitchell has steadily become a more refined tackle through experience, coaching, hitting the weight room, and film study. He owns the core strength to stymie bigger defenders and the footwork to hold his own against smaller, quicker rushers.
Playing over 1,000 pass-blocking snaps in his career, the Ragin’ Cajuns product allowed just 5 sacks. Mitchell’s pass sets are a thing of beauty, as he reaches depth quickly and maintains balance throughout reps. You will be hard-pressed to find a play where Mitchell’s back is on the ground. Even if he loses balance, he’s able to shoot his legs back under him and recover. He has impressive flexibility and body control, allowing him to gain leverage consistently.
Speaking of consistency, that’s Mitchell’s trademark trait. He routinely showcases excellent hand placement paired with quick-moving feet. His body is almost always in sync, leading to a patient and under-control play style. As we will get into, Mitchell’s play strength is lacking, and he won’t wow physically, but he regularly sets himself up to win. Moreover, he has the awareness to identify stunts and pass off his defender to pick up another.
Mitchell shines in the ground game. He makes quick work moving to the second level, paving paths for his RBs to follow. Louisiana primarily ran zone-rushing schemes, which played directly to Mitchell’s strengths. He keeps his shoulders square, secures double-teams, and swiftly moves to the next man in his area, keeping an eye on linebackers.
Areas for improvement
No prospect is perfect, and Mitchell recognizes this. In an interview during the season, he stated, “I understand what needs to be done now. I just need to be able to do it better.” While Mitchell is an impressive athlete, it isn’t enough to make up for his lighter frame at the next level. He’s already susceptible to power, and his opponents will only be getting bigger and stronger.
That’s another knock on Mitchell — his collegiate opponents. The Sun Belt isn’t known for producing elite edge rushers. And in 2021, the only Power Five squad the Ragin’ Cajuns faced was Texas in Week 1. Now, it’s important to note that Mitchell actually played well in that game, taking snaps at both left and right tackle.
Paired with his concerning weight is a lack of power. Although Mitchell’s tape was littered with him taking off-balance defenders to the ground, stronger rushers could stand him up, even when he begins with a good anchor and leverage.
Another thing to note is Louisiana’s offense. While it was effective in college and Mitchell and Co. executed it well, it lacked true pass sets. Head coach Billy Napier (now Florida’s HC) conducted a run-heavy offense that used RPOs, pre-snap shifts, and motions to make reads easier for QB Levi Lewis. Furthermore, Lewis was almost exclusively in shotgun or pistol looks, so Mitchell doesn’t have much experience protecting a QB under center.
Mitchell’s Player Profile
Mitchell’s high school playing days began on the interior of the offensive line. He took snaps at guard and center before locking down the right tackle spot to end his time at Neville High School. Mitchell didn’t start full-time on varsity until his senior season, and he wasn’t sure if he had what it took to play collegiate football before then.
Analysts and schools had their own reservations, with 247Sports giving Mitchell a two-star rating and only five programs sending offers. Four of the schools longing for Mitchell’s signature were Arkansas-Monticello, Millsaps College, Northwestern State, and Ouachita Baptist University.
Well, we know who the fifth program was. Upon the conclusion of Mitchell’s high school senior campaign, Louisiana came in late and secured his commitment. The Monroe, LA native wanted to play at the highest level possible, and the Ragin’ Cajuns offered him just that — roughly 2-3 hours south of his home city.
Mitchell cited his relationship with Napier and then-offensive line coach Rob Sale — who went to Neville as well — as key reasons he felt comfortable committing to Louisiana.
Mitchell’s career at Louisiana
Mitchell gained valuable playing time right out of the gates for the Cajuns. He moved from right to left tackle and played in all 14 games as a true freshman. As they say, “the rest was history.”
Mitchell started every game as a true sophomore, lining up at left tackle, right tackle, and even left guard. After showcasing his versatility, Mitchell kicked out to RT and stayed there for the next two seasons.
In 2020, Mitchell earned second-team All-Sun Belt honors and was a part of a Joe Moore Award semifinalist unit — given to the nation’s best offensive line. Additionally, in 2021, the Louisiana OT was named to the first-team All-Sun Belt and third-team AP All-American.
As far as durability goes, the Louisiana OT only missed two games in his four-year career. In 2020, he missed a Week 3 matchup with Georgia Southern due to being asymptomatic with COVID-19. Then, last season, he sat out the New Orleans Bowl contest against Marshall due to a hand injury that shouldn’t have lasting effects.
Louisiana head coach Billy Napier on Mitchell
Scouts and coaches have praised Mitchell for his leadership and toughness, both on and off the field. Prior to the 2021 campaign, Napier touched on Mitchell’s career at Louisiana:
“He’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. He’s worked extremely hard — he’s got a bright future. He has integrity. He lives life with discipline. He’s done a good job as a student, he plays with effort, he’s tough-minded and has really contributed, but more importantly, has been steady off the field.
“Max has played a lot of football,” Napier continued. “He’s worked hard in the weight room, he’s worked hard at nutrition. He’s got some position flexibility — he’s played guard and both tackles for us. To have the intelligence to do that and certainly the unselfish approach and character to do that is impressive. His play speaks for itself. He’ll play at the next level.”
Mitchell’s NFL Draft ascension
Despite his struggles with power at the Senior Bowl and uninspiring showing at the Combine, NFL teams should view Mitchell as a tackle first and an exceptional guard prospect second. The difference in positional value should mean he gets a chance to make a living at tackle before moving inside. With his balance, stellar pass sets, smoothness in space, and sought-after consistency, Mitchell could go in Round 2 in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Zone-rushing teams will like Mitchell, and a fit I like in Round 2 is the San Francisco 49ers at 61st overall. Trent Williams will be 34 by the time the 2022 season begins, and Mike McGlinchey will be a free agent next offseason. Mitchell fits their mold, and he can spend Year 1 bulking up and even starting on the interior if needed.
Mitchell prides himself on his resiliency and effort. That, combined with his obvious talent on the field, will have the Louisiana OT follow in the footsteps of Hunt and Dotson this spring.