Scouting offensive linemen is a complex process. In that process, certain traits like athleticism, power, length, and leverage standpoint. However, an underrated factor when evaluating offensive linemen is versatility. The best linemen can slide in and start at one position for years. But depth, as well as flexibility, is just as important. Linemen who can provide quality play at multiple positions are often in high demand. Ole Miss offensive guard Royce Newman has that skill set as an NFL Draft prospect.
Royce Newman NFL Draft Profile & Senior Bowl Measurements
- Position: Guard
- School: OIe Miss
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’5 1/8″
- Weight: 306 pounds
- Wingspan: 78 3/4″
- Arm: 32 1/4″
- Hand: 8 3/4″
The arms race never ends in the SEC. Teams like Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Florida constantly race to acquire the best possible talent. Often, they leave other schools like Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Ole Miss in the dust, from both an acquisition and developmental standpoint. Having said that, the middle of the recruiting class offers a lot of upside as well. If molded correctly, less-heralded players can thrive.
Royce Newman was one of those players. Rated as a three-star prospect, he was the 55th-best offensive tackle in the 2016 class. His most compelling offers came from teams like Missouri, Iowa State, and Nebraska. Standing at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, he wasn’t viewed as a future starter by many teams. But the Rebels decided to pounce and presented him with an offer, which he accepted.
Royce Newman’s career as an Ole Miss guard
Making the leap to the SEC, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound guard from the heartlands wasn’t quite ready for the high-caliber competition. Newman redshirted his freshman year and returned as a reserve lineman in 2017. He played in nine games that year. In that time, Newman got his feet wet, and also logged some experience at guard for Ole Miss.
In 2018, Newman came back as a reserve lineman. He played in 12 games for the Rebels, all the while increasing his utility as a multifaceted lineman. His experience at both tackle and guard came to benefit him in 2019. That’s when the Ole Miss Rebels made Newman a starter — not at his traditional position, but on the inside as a guard.
Newman’s final two years with the Rebels
The Ole Miss guard started all 12 games at his new position in 2019, and for the most part, he played well. On 416 pass-blocking snaps, Newman only allowed one sack. He didn’t quite earn All-SEC recognition, but the athletic interior lineman started to make a name for himself as a sturdy player for the Ole Miss line.
In 2020, Lane Kiffin joined the Rebels as the head coach. He proceeded to move Newman back to tackle. In Kiffin’s new pass-oriented offense, Newman’s functional mobility stood out on the edge. The converted Ole Miss guard also earned high marks as a run blocker and ended his college career on a high note. In early November, Newman made clear that he would enter the 2021 NFL Draft. He also accepted an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in January.
Analyzing Royce Newman’s NFL Draft profile
Royce Newman has a lot of the physical tools necessary to succeed on the offensive line. He stands at around 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, and he’s clearly an exceptional athlete. Reports have suggested that he’ll impress with his offseason athletic testing, and firing up the tape, that comes as no surprise.
Newman gets out of his stance with good quickness, and from there, his athleticism is the foundation of his game. As a pass blocker, he has the lateral mobility and lightness of feet to match his man around the edge. He also has the flexibility to turn his hips and drive his man back past the pocket, once he gets that angle. Against interior rushers, Newman is similarly mobile. He moves his feet well, and uses his recovery athleticism and balance to fend off counters.
In the running game, Newman’s athleticism also shows up. He has the mobility to move across the field and get to the second level, and with his momentum, he has enough length to latch on and control his man. He also brings good leg drive when sustaining blocks in the running game. Although the Ole Miss guard isn’t the strongest player, his built-up momentum can be tough for defenders to fight against.
What are the issues with Newman?
While Royce Newman has a strong athletic foundation, there are some lacking areas of his game. His length is average to above-average, but it doesn’t seem to be elite. This can impact his leverage against more rangy defensive linemen.
Additionally, Newman also lacks top-tier natural power. He’s a strong player, but his length only transfers so much of that on the field. Other players are able to better conduct their power transfers, and as a result, Newman can get wrenched around by linemen with the necessary authority and grip strength. Luckily, Newman has the recovery athleticism to stay in the play, but he may have to add a little more natural power to his game in the NFL.
Furthermore, Newman’s need for power shows up in his hand usage as well. Newman shows flashes of very good hand speed and usage, but he doesn’t always couple the necessary force with those punches. His athleticism allows him to keep his positioning, and he has a decent floor in other areas. But if he wants to be an NFL starter, he’ll have to start building on his profile.
Royce Newman’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Royce Newman is a fun player. I don’t quite see a Tristan Wirfs-Level athlete, but that’s a very high bar to clear. Newman still tangibly has the necessary short-area burst, lateral ease, and flexibility to be a solid player.
He’ll have to keep strengthening his frame, but he does have the upside to be a versatile, well-rounded offensive lineman. He turns 24 years old in August, but age is less important for offensive linemen. Players at the position have been known to last well into their 30s.
The best part with Newman is his versatility. Not only does his athleticism give him some schematic breathing room, but Newman also has substantial experience at both tackle and guard. Newman was a full-time starter at guard in 2019, and a full-time starter at tackle in 2020.
Given his lack of elite length and power, guard may be a better spot for him. At guard, Newman doesn’t have to reach as much, and his athleticism gives him a greater advantage in the trenches and moving to the second level.
Which teams could use Royce Newman’s services?
Guard will be Royce Newman’s best chance at a starting gig in the NFL. Nevertheless, if he doesn’t earn that right away, he has the athletic upside and versatility that NFL teams search for in their backups. This makes the Ole Miss guard a compelling pick in the middle rounds.
He can be a high-value reserve lineman with positional versatility in his early years, and potentially, ascend to a starting role later on. Teams that are thin at offensive line, such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers, and Los Angeles Rams could be interested in Newman.
Newman brings a lot of appeal with his two foundational traits. With his athleticism, he offers withstanding upside. And with his versatility, he offers flexibility for a coaching staff. Teams can comfortably stack Newman with an early-round lineman without overlapping. Of course, if Newman tests well enough, he might become an early-round lineman himself.