While the Georgia defense has garnered significant attention with its near historic season, the offensive line has been quietly developing into something special. Anchoring the right side, Georgia offensive tackle Warren McClendon has earned conversation around his 2022 NFL Draft potential. Although it may be a year early for the redshirt sophomore, what does McClendon’s scouting report reveal about the potential for a move to the NFL next year?
Warren McClendon NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: Georgia
- Current Year: Redshirt Sophomore
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 300 pounds
Warren McClendon Scouting Report
Although the 2022 NFL Draft class might not possess the offensive tackle depth of last year, there are still potential playmakers at the professional level on all three days of the draft. Evan Neal, Charles Cross, and Ikem Ekwonu are the current headliners, but other offensive linemen have stated their case throughout the year.
Georgia’s Jamaree Salyer impressed enough this season to earn an invite to the Senior Bowl. As a redshirt sophomore, McClendon hasn’t sniffed the All-Star circuit. However, that’s not to say his scouting report doesn’t showcase NFL potential even if he opts to declare earlier than expected.
At 6’4″ and 300 pounds, McClendon won’t be the biggest offensive tackle in the class. Still, he possesses decent size at the position. Furthermore, he appears to have the requisite length to be considered NFL-worthy. There is a divisive perception that NFL tackles need 33-inch arms to be successful. While unable to find an official measurement, the Georgia OT appears to meet that threshold on tape.
McClendon has seen significant development between 2020 and 2021. In his redshirt freshman season, he often played with a high stance, failing to bend his knees and sink his backside, relying on bending at the waist. This year, he has played with a noticeably better stance, resulting from routinely playing with good pad level.
Athletic, strong, and technical
The Georgia OT has some exciting athletic upside. McClendon is quick off the snap, allowing him to be aggressive at the point of attack. He demonstrates his vertical athleticism by frequently getting out to the second and third level in the run game. Watching him breeze past his OL teammates as the play developed downfield became something of a regularity.
McClendon clearly possesses power and strength. This is shown in multiple ways. Firstly, when he times his initial punch correctly, he can impact even the most powerful pass rushers. There are multiple examples of him forcing the biggest defensive tackles into submission.
Secondly, his strength is evident when pass protecting. The Georgia OT is able to set with a wide base and anchor strongly. Pass protection also allows him to display some impressive combative hand skills. McClendon showcases fast handwork to quickly counter any attempts to take away his hands as a weapon.
With athleticism, strength, and some technical upside, there is a chance McClendon would be selected if he was to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft. However, at present, that might only be as a Day 3 prospect. His best course of action would be to return to Georgia, hone his craft, and return as a much more polished, and thus, valuable prospect in 2023.
Areas for improvement
As mentioned earlier in his scouting report, McClendon has shown real development these past two seasons. In the Peach Bowl victory over Cincinnati, he was left out to dry repeatedly by Myjai Sanders. This year, he’s held his own against some of the best pass rushers in the nation. Nevertheless, there are still areas for improvement on his scouting report.
There are still times where McClendon overextends when blocking. This results in him becoming unbalanced and spending too much time on the ground. He needs to be aware of keeping his weight over his knees, maintaining good body control, and eliminating this from his game to elevate his stock.
While he has some athletic upside, McClendon struggles against speed rushers. There were multiple examples on film where edge defenders were simply able to shoot underneath and past him before he had the opportunity to react.
There are times where McClendon exudes football intelligence. He can be seen communicating with the rest of the line. If you watch his eyes, you can see him scouring out the most dangerous opponent that he’ll need to block. Yet, there are also times — particularly in the open field — where he looks lost and unaware of the play developing around him.
Finally, while he possesses active hands, there are some technical developments required. Too often, his initial punch is mistimed or misplaced. This leaves him susceptible to attack, which was evident in multiple games studied.
Warren McClendon Player Profile
The McClendon family is a football institution in Georgia. Willie McClendon was an All-SEC linebacker for the Bulldogs between 1976-1978. His brother, Tyrone McClendon, lined up on the defensive line in Athens in the mid-1980s. Willie’s son, Bryan, tallied over 500 yards and 6 touchdowns for Georgia in the 2005 season, his final year as a Bulldog.
Georgia football has been in the family for generations. Early on, it was apparent that Warren had the athletic ability to become the latest McClendon to tread the path to Athens. The Brunswick High School starlet shined at basketball, being a part of a team that made it all the way to the 2017 GHSA Class 6A State Championship Game.
High school dominance
Nevertheless, football was where he excelled. A four-star recruit who was ranked the 25th-best player in Georgia, McClendon was heavily recruited across the nation. Alabama was the first team to offer him the opportunity to play college football, but over 20 more schools were vying for his signature.
McClendon brought his recruiting to a close following a junior campaign where he earned AJC All-State Class 6A honors. By this time, Bryan was the offensive coordinator at South Carolina. After spending time at the Gamecocks junior camp and taking multiple visits, they were considered a major player to secure his signature.
Despite this, family ties to the Georgia program were stronger than ties to South Carolina. The Brunswick native opted to remain in the state, continuing the family legacy with the Bulldogs. McClendon committed prior to his senior season. In his official commitment announcement, he explained the allure of staying close to home.
“Just growing up in Georgia, and with Coach Sam Pittman, it just felt like home.”
McClendon’s career at Georgia
Home might be where the heart is. However, it isn’t always where the start is. As a true freshman in 2019, McClendon saw little game time for the Bulldogs. With future NFL Draft first-round talents Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson on the roster, McClendon was limited to four games against Murray State, Missouri, Georgia Tech, and Baylor.
With both starting offensive tackles departing for the NFL Draft in 2020, McClendon stepped up into the right tackle spot. Despite the disruption of the season, the redshirt freshman started nine of 10 games, playing 82% of the team’s offensive snaps. Although it wasn’t always pretty to watch with a rotating cast at quarterback, he earned FWAA Freshman All-American honors in his first season as a starter in the SEC.
McClendon carried that run of form into the 2021 college football season. As Georgia emerged as a national championship contender, he started all 14 games at right tackle. While the defense has been applauded for their historic performances that have led them to the pinnacle of college football, it’s worth reflecting on how good the offensive line has been.
McClendon’s emergence on the 2021 Georgia offensive line
With McClendon holding down the right side, the offense has scored 30+ points in all but two games. Their rushing offense ranked higher in 2021 than at any point in the young offensive tackle’s career. The unit as a whole ranks second in the nation for sacks allowed. The Georgia line has allowed just 0.79 sacks per game.
They’ve achieved all this while McClendon has been faced with stopping the most destructive pass rushers in the nation. In the College Football Playoff semifinal, he helped hold Michigan’s David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson in check. He’s faced Will Anderson, a monster quartet on the Clemson defensive line, and South Carolina’s Kingsley Enagbare.
Although I think it’s unlikely that McClendon declares for the 2022 NFL Draft, if Georgia wins the 2021-2022 National Championship, there’s every possibility that he leaves on a high and heads to the NFL. Right now, he would likely be a late-round prospect.
Regardless, the significant development McClendon’s already made during his time in Athens could see a team take a chance on him as a developmental prospect with starting potential in the pros.
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