2021 Free Agent Positional Preview: Offensive Line
I researched the available free agent lists in late-Feb./early March in order to get a feel for the marketplace and identify key players likely on the move; players that could shift teams fortunes under-the-radar if a team landed/grabbed a bunch of them. We have the obvious names, the under-the-radar, and the trap doors to look at.
Here’s my take on 2021 NFL free agency…the players I’m really watching for fantasy, handicapping, etc., on where they might land.
The Top 3 Available According To NFL Analysts:
1) OT Trent Williams, SF – The biggest name people know, been around a long time…and, arguably, one of the best tackles of the last several years. He’s 35 years old but OLs are going into their upper 30s now. He’ll be one of the best free agents of 2021 for a title run team (or any team).
2) OG/OT Brandon Scherff, WSH – Stable, top guard for several years in the NFL. Only age 29, so he might arguably be the best OL free agent considering age. *Got franchise tagged after this was written.
3) OG/OT Joe Thuney, NE – Why New England hasn’t addressed Thuney to stay in New England is beyond me, but the Pats are starting to swirl down the drain and Thuney will try and make a run for it, and Belichick will probably let him go unless they expensively Tag him.
The Top 3 Talents Available/To Target If I Were an NFL GM:
1) OG/OT Joe Thuney, NE – I could argue he’s THEE top talent of all the O-Linemen and of the contenders for that title, Thuney is the youngest at 28 years old this season. He’s talented, he could play multiple positions…he’s the top ‘franchise’ OL in this free agent class if he makes it to real free agency.
2) OC Corey Linsley, GB – The best center in free agency, and I’d be beyond shocked if Green Bay let him walk and left Aaron Rodgers hanging.
3) OT Trent Williams, WSH – The best shorter-term OL spend with risk that he’s getting ‘up there’ in years and a buyer might be buying at the wrong time.
The Top 3 Values/Sleepers According to FFM:
1) OC/OG Ethan Pocic, SEA – Was highly rated for CFM coming out of LSU. Been jerked around by Seattle, potentially (just my theory)…and if so, he might flourish in a better situation. Can be a guard or center. Should come cheap/he’s lost a lot of momentum over the past 4 years coming out of LSU.
2) OG Jon Feliciano, BUF – The line play for Buffalo was so much better when Feliciano returned from an early season/preseason injury. He’s a plug & play starter. I can’t believe Buffalo would let him hit free agency.
3) OG Gabe Jackson, LV – Was a top guy a few years ago, got a big contract and then injuries and inconsistencies hit. If he can get reignited, he might be a good 1-year ‘prove it’ (or cut soon after) guy.
The Top 3 Problems According to FFM:
1) OC Alex Mack, ATL – good NFL career, but 35+ years old and his blocking grades/abilities are falling and his injury risk is rising. I bet he goes to the 49ers to reunite with Kyle Shanahan as depth.
2) OT Kelvin Beachum, ARI – average/OK hand, consistent but never terrific. His value is steadiness, but that doesn’t thrill me to pay him lots of money to be ‘OK’.
3) OT Russell Okung, CAR – One of the better OTs of the last decade, but age/injuries are catching up. I think he’s hanging on for extra paydays. I’d rather look elsewhere for my one-year mercenary hope on OT.
Predictions and Random Notes:
-- Trent Williams prediction…signs with Kansas City to go for a title.
-- Washington finds a way to keep Brandon Scherff. *Got franchise tagged after this was written.
-- The buzz around Taylor Moton growing. I suspect Carolina will be the favorites to keep him. *Got franchise tagged after this was written.
-- Alejandro Villanueva is much needed with the Big Ben return. If Villanueva walks away, it’s a commentary on what he thinks about the Steelers situation from coaching to their playoff hopes.
-- Daryl Williams had a great bounce back season for Buffalo. I suspect he stays there unless Wahsington loses Scherff and throws money at Williams.
-- Ethan Pocic to Carolina would mean Joe Brady knows something from his LSU connections.
College Football Metrics (CFM) 2021 Season – For Dynasty Rookie Drafts, NFL Drafts, Handicapping, etc.
It’s going to be a scouting NFL Draft season like no other – some top prospects opting out of their final college season, a unique schedule for CFB teams to have played, a different type of bowl season…a whole new backdrop to scout against. An experienced, talented scouting eye is going to rule. I have 10+ years of successful CFM scouting and analytics to lean on – I’m ready for the challenge.
I know the mainstream football analysis is going to butcher this year’s class even worse than normal – because they are going to blindly favor big school prospects more than ever, because those schools will have the only names they are truly familiar with, and it’s just the ‘name’ they are familiar with not their ‘game’. They’ll ‘hive mind’ run with whatever names the collective seems to be buzzing about – because they don’t put in the work, they just echo things they’ve heard. I’m not saying that to be a jerk – it’s the open window of opportunity (their failure) that I was able to build my career/business upon.
I spend many hours each offseason day/week/month researching the current class of top 100+ prospects individually as well as all the smaller school and ‘lesser named’ prospects our computer models start to identify. I study and compare prospect’s tape, and I input the performance data (weighted with our secret, proprietary scouting formulas) to get a firsthand feel for it so I can analyze and test/challenge all our analytics. I get to know these prospects on the field, statistically, and do character background research as well -- so I can boil it down to reports so my private clients and subscribers (from serious fantasy players, to professional handicappers, to agents, to NFL war room personnel) can know these prospects by description and statistically – for NFL purposes, for Dynasty Rookie Draft purposes, for Fantasy Best Ball/Redraft purposes in the preseason, and for handicapping and prop betting purposes.
If you love Fantasy Football, if you love the NFL Draft process – I guarantee you’ll never look at the process the same way again with a CFM subscription.
As the regular season football ends, a whole new season of football discovery begins with our ‘CFM’ subscription and study or current and past rookies (offense and defense) – and material flows daily all offseason January to September (NFL season start), leading us to using the material to our advantage for the NFL regular season.
Go to our College Football Metrics or Fantasy Football Metrics subscription pages for more information.
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