FBS teams roster 85 players, and there are 129 teams. The FCS has 124 schools that roster between 80-110 players. Division II football rosters even more, at between 100-140 players in a 169-team system. That means, conservatively speaking, 37,000 football players jockey for a position at the NFL level before we hit Division III. Division III interior offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz defines a diamond in the rough, but his 2021 NFL Draft projection is somewhere around an I-2 clarity value. Still a diamond, though. Meinerz’s landing spots in mock drafts are fascinating.
Quinn Meinerz Draft Projection: 2021’s small-school diamond
Let’s investigate the UWW center and his meteoric rise into the hearts of the football community.
What scheme best fits Meinerz’s traits?
This doesn’t take long to deduce. He said it himself during an interview with The Charger’s Wire writer, Gavino Borquez.
“I really enjoy playing in a power scheme. Let’s get double teams, move defensive linemen and go up to the linebackers. I think it’s good that you have a really good power football team and a team that can also get to the edge and that’s where I can use my athleticism and my speed to get to the edge. So while I’m efficient at the point of attack at the center position, I can also be good when needed to pull.”
Quinn Meinerz‘s draft projection was completely unknown before arriving in Mobile. However, the videos of him completely dominating opposing defensive linemen at UWW displayed the mean streak necessary to thrive in a downhill gap/power rushing attack. He’s a menace and a bully. The blue-collar Wisconsinite embodies everything we envision the midwest to be.
His workout videos consisted of a GoPro, oversized propane tanks being thrown over his shoulder, a weight bench perched on the flat crest of a slight rock-infested hill, and climbing to the second level to uproot a small tree, literally. Even the name of the video is no-nonsense: “Canada Workout.” Meinerz means business. Still, the natural comedic side many offensive linemen tend to have is clear in so many ways as well.
Meinerz’s potential draft range and landing spots
He’s not the most physically gifted mover. This is another reason for his relegation to downhill run schemes at the next level. That will affect Quinn Meinerz’s draft projection. However, when we look at small-school prospects, their most crucial résumé piece is their performances against Division I talent. Meinerz left Mobile as the fan favorite, and the bodies he left lying on the turf made NFL evaluators raise a brow as well.
Recent history shows small-school prospects can go high in April, but that might not be necessarily the case for Meinerz. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the two highest-profile small schoolers in Hobert College’s Ali Marpet and Humboldt State’s Alex Cappa. Marpet, a Division III alumnus, was the 61st pick in the 2015 NFL Draft class. However, Marpet was around a 90th-percentile athlete coming out of college.
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Alex Cappa was decidedly not an elite athlete, testing in the bottom third of every athletic metric. Despite being a Division II athlete with inadequate athletic testing, the Buccaneers drafted him with the 94th overall pick. Maybe Jason Licht knows something nobody else does because Marpet ended up being one of the best offensive linemen in the league. Cappa played over 1,000 snaps at RG on the Super Bowl-winning Buccaneers team.
Right now, according to Benjamin Robinson’s project Grinding the Mocks, Meinerz’s average draft position sits at pick 105.6. The teams I’ve consistently seen take Meinerz in mock drafts are the Dolphins, Steelers, Eagles, Vikings, Jets, and Texans. However, Quinn Meinerz’s draft projection isn’t an excellent fit for outside zone. So, some of these teams are better suited drafting a more athletic interior offensive lineman.
Quinn Meinerz Draft Projection: Schematic/team fits
The Dolphins only have seven picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, but six of those are inside the top 125. Pairing some offensive weapons with offensive line help is probably the best-case scenario for developing Tua Tagovailoa. Miami is projected to own picks 80 and 123. That 80th pick feels like the ceiling for Meinerz’s possible range, but his floor could be much lower than 123.
This could be a good situation for Meinerz, who could battle for a starting spot at center. Ted Karras may hit free agency after starting for Miami in 2020. If they bring Karras back, Meinerz could fight him for the starting role and be used as a swing interior offensive lineman as he develops technically. The Dolphins are a tremendous potential landing spot for Meinerz.
The Steelers have been pretty flexible with their rushing attack. Still, with Matt Canada’s elevation to offensive coordinator and Adrian Klemm to offensive line coach, it appears they will most likely favor a zone scheme. However, the Steelers line has caught criticism for their lack of physicality. We also know that Pittsburgh is as blue-collar as any city in America, so adding a bit of mean Wisconsin beef might be a step toward a more physical offensive line.
Also, he’d immediately be a fan favorite in western Pennsylvania with his propensity to expose his naval. I can’t say this is a terrible fit because many unknowns surround the run game in Pittsburgh. But if things go as projected, I think Meinerz falls lower on their personal draft board.
Quinn Meinerz’s draft projection to the Eagles makes some sense, but it’s not perfect. The Eagles possessed a diverse rushing attack under Doug Pederson and will continue that trend under new head coach Nick Sirianni. Schematically, there could be a higher rate of duo, which looks like inside zone but is different. Duo involves double-teams off the line of scrimmage, which fits Meinerz’s power well.
As long as the Eagles don’t run a high volume of outside zone, he could be a target for them. Their draft capital complicates things, as they pick at 84 but not again until after 150. This means they’d have to take him at what is probably the apex of his draft range. That doesn’t make sense for the Eagles with so many starting needs.
No, Vikings fans. You do not want this. Meinerz is a great football player. However, the amount of wide zone the Vikings run with Dalvin Cook is the absolute worst situation to put the Wisconsin-Whitewater blocker in. Even if the value feels too good to be true while mock drafting, do not pull the trigger. The fit is not realistic.
New York Jets
See Minnesota Vikings.
With Robert Saleh coming to town and bringing Mike LeFleur with him, the Jets probably wouldn’t even consider Meinerz. The Jets also have a ton of cap space, so they’d probably be better off throwing a bag of money at Corey Linsley instead.
This would be an excellent fit for Quinn Meinerz, and they could get him right around his perceived draft projection. The Texans don’t pick until pick 67. They project to own picks 109 and 122, which feels like the sweet spot for Meinerz. Houston needs help at multiple places on the interior of their offensive line, so he could realistically battle for the center or right guard spot. The Texans like getting guys in one-on-one situations and have linemen on the move pulling for power runs. Meinerz is a people-mover, and that makes the Texans a great landing spot.
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