The 2023 NFL Draft interior offensive line class is wide open at the top, and no one knows for sure which iOL prospect will crack Round 1 territory. With his versatility and blend of traits, could TCU guard Steve Avila be that player? Avila hasn’t put his pre-draft process to waste, and he could be trending toward an early starting role.
Steve Avila NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Guard
- School: TCU
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’3 1/2″, 332 pounds
- Length: 33″
- Hand: 9 1/4″
2021 was a massive step up for Avila, who earned first-team All-Big 12 honors after starting 11 games at center for the TCU Horned Frogs. Then he did the same at guard in 2022. But as strong as Avila’s career at TCU was, many NFL evaluators may find just as much solace in his history and background.
Avila was, in fact, a guard recruit out of high school. He was already 300 pounds at that point, with a documented 5.25 40-yard dash, 4.51 shuttle time, and a 25.3″ vertical jump.
A low four-star recruit on ESPN’s board, Avila fielded offers from schools like Kansas State and Utah but chose to stay in-state. Hailing from Grand Prairie, Texas, he made the half-hour drive to Fort Worth to join up with the Horned Frogs.
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It didn’t take Avila long to morph into an asset on the offensive line once he joined TCU’s ranks. He was a valued backup in 2019 after redshirting in 2018 and started nine games at center, right guard, and right tackle in 2020. In 2021, Avila moved to center full-time, then back to left guard in 2022. Both years, he was one of the best blockers in the entire nation.
Avila was an elite performer at the collegiate level, and he’s proven positional versatility at guard and center. Assuming his first NFL opportunity comes at guard, how exactly does Avila translate there?
Steve Avila Scouting Report
Avila is commonly mocked as one of the top offensive guard prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. Does he edge out Florida’s O’Cyrus Torrence with his composite profile? Let’s take a closer look.
The first thing you notice about Avila on film? The dude is big. At 6’3 1/2″ and 332 pounds, Avila has a massive, boxy frame with overwhelming width and frame density. Even beyond that, however, Avila has an excellent combination of length and natural leverage. His length (33″ arms) is an asset that not all guards have, and he makes the most of it.
Avila doesn’t have elite athleticism to go with his size, but he’s not a liability in that department, either. The TCU guard has enough burst to get upfield off the snap with solid efficiency and can accelerate to fuel leg drive once anchored. He’s shown to match rushers laterally in tight spaces. Moreover, Avila flashes good accelerative capacity at times when attacking second-level defenders.
Avila tested better than expected at the NFL Combine, logging a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 8.49. His 1.79 10-yard split and 5.21 40-yard dash were both above the 76th percentile among guards, and his 29.5″ vertical was near the 83rd percentile in explosiveness. He also earned 28 bench reps — an impressive number with 33″ arms.
Serviceable athleticism aside, the majority of Avila’s physical appeal comes with his size, power, and strength. The TCU G has stifling grip strength when anchored on opposing frames. His hands latch with force and can be very hard to break off.
Avila also has the core strength to keep linemen in front of him as they strain laterally to break free. His unique length allows him to maintain anchors against longer, more powerful opponents. And when he’s on a stable base, he has the grip strength to withstand violent clubs and rips.
Avila’s most dominant physical trait is his power exertion. He exerts massive amounts of power with extensions after latching onto opponents. Additionally, he extends and sustains power exertions with urgent leg drive. Avila’s length and frame density combine to afford him near-elite power capacity. The TCU G carries rare knockback power with his hands, as well as the sheer mass behind his movement.
To that end, Avila is able to supplement extensions with violent rotations and blast defenders off their feet with lower body activation. His power consistently knocks back opponents and creates space. He can load up devastating power from his base and forklift opponents out of lanes, then drive them upfield. The TCU G explodes into contact as a help blocker and bowls over unsuspecting defenders. He can also use one-armed extensions to wrench back linebackers who enter his wheelhouse.
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Avila’s boxy profile comes with visible stiffness, but he’s not completely devoid of flexibility. The TCU guard has enough flexibility to lean and seal out defenders in space. Furthermore, he has the hip flexibility to adjust blocking angles and turn upfield without too much strain.
Avila plays with fairly natural knee bend and can lower himself and acquire leverage to get under opponents. He’s also shown to play beyond his center of gravity and use his base to cushion himself on extensions. He’s able to quickly get under pads and latch inside the torso off the snap and use his length to lock out and unleash energy on extensions.
Naturally, Avila’s length grants him exciting potential when engaging in hand fighting. The TCU G quickly gets his hands up off the snap in pass protection. He can load up his hands and store power, then latch with force and nullify rushes.
Avila brings a combative mentality as a hand fighter. He loads and extends with brutal quickness, then reloads with efficiency. Going further, the Horned Frogs blocker uses independent punches in rapid succession to jar and misalign defenders off the snap.
Avila is able to replace his hands swiftly after extensions and regain leverage. But there’s also a methodical edge in his game. Avila’s shown to flash his hands to manipulate defenders into certain attack paths, then violently extend, latch, and absorb.
In a similar vein, Avila shows above-average awareness. He keeps his eyes and feet active when serving as a help blocker. Moreover, he can shift his focus while keeping his base. He processes leverage quickly and passes off looping defenders, maintaining discipline.
Avila’s footwork is fairly efficient. As a run blocker, the TCU G can use shuffle steps to glide upfield and square up linebackers in space. He can also use urgent feet to solidify positioning heading into blocks.
Meanwhile, in pass protection, Avila keeps a wide base with steady weight transfers. He can roll his base back while keeping width. And when given the opportunity, Avila imposes his will with relentless energy at contact. He’ll capitalize on imbalanced, poorly-leveraged defenders and drive them into the turf.
Avila’s Areas for Improvement
While Avila isn’t an athletic liability, he may experience scheme limitations at the next level. The TCU guard doesn’t have great change of direction in space. He experiences some stiffness when needing to get out of his stance and pursues defenders on scramble drills. Additionally, Avila often needs to take a gather step or two before redirecting.
Expanding on his athletic limitations, Avila also lacks elite range and won’t consistently chase down second- and third-level defenders. Going further, Avila lacks elite explosiveness upfield. While he has decent burst, he can’t always clear the line and reach linebackers at depth before runs develop. He also can’t always reach his marks as a pulling blocker.
Elsewhere, Avila doesn’t always showcase the necessary grip and core strength to maintain anchors on the move. His feet sometimes halt at contact, neutralizing leg drive. On pass-protection reps, Avila doesn’t always show the required flexibility to absorb power and keep from being displaced consistently.
Similarly, he lacks the elite hip flexibility to turn on a dime and recover in space after over-pursuing angles. There are times where Avila experiences delays unhinging to track looping rushers, and he doesn’t have the athleticism to recover if he’s initially late to react.
While Avila is naturally well-leveraged, he sometimes drifts too far upright at contact, neutralizing his lower body. He occasionally leads with his head on moving blocks and lurches past his center of gravity, bending at his waist and losing balance and leverage. Avila sometimes struggles to sustain moving blocks in space and maintain grip. At times, he plays with too much lean, which can impact his balance working against power.
Going further, Avila could do a better job latching onto opposing frames on moving blocks, as his hand placement can be unstable. He sometimes rushes to extend off the snap and gets caught with his feet idle. Premature extensions not only impact balance but leave his torso open and exposed to power. He’ll also occasionally panic and extend with flat feet when overshooting moving blocks. Overall, Avila’s feet and hands could have more synergy, even after 2022. His eagerness to extend can leave him with a lopsided form.
Among other things, Avila sometimes struggles to recollect his base once defenders get inside his frame. The TCU G can be late recognizing defenders breaking free inside as a help blocker, and he doesn’t always show the necessary vision to recognize rushers breaching the apex.
Expanding on his help blocker utility, there are times when Avila could show better patience, as he sometimes prematurely commits to rushers and gives up space for delayed blitzers. And lastly, Avila occasionally overpursues blocking angles while moving in space.
Current Draft Projection for TCU G Steve Avila
Avila grades out as one of the best guards in the 2023 NFL Draft, and he carries a slightly higher grade than Torrence on my board. That said, he’s only a fringe top-75 prospect for me.
Avila is worth consideration in the Day 2 range, but his value could be inflated on draft day, given the scarcity at guard and his added positional versatility.
Avila might end up being scheme-specific at the next level, but he does have a solid foundation to build off of. He offers great width, strength, and hand power on the interior, and also has steady footwork and combative hands. He’s shown to gather rushers with independent hand usage, and particularly as a zone blocker, he uses his anchor, drive, and core strength to plow open and maintain lanes.
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Avila’s combination of length, power, hand quickness, and physicality can be dangerous for opposing linemen. He also offers good initial burst.
However, there are some physical limitations to note with Avila. He visibly lacks high-end recovery athleticism and lateral freedom, and he’s not very flexible when needing to flip his hips and adjust his alignment.
On top of his limitations, Avila isn’t a perfect prospect operationally, either. He still extends prematurely at times and can be late to recognize stunting linemen and delayed blitzers.
Even so, in schemes that employ inside zone and duo more often, Avila presents appeal with his initial burst, strength, natural leverage, and power. He can be a solid starter at guard or center, with the profile to support a decade-long career on the interior.