By Adam Aniba
The '23 NFL Draft boasts talent and depth along the offensive line. Although the 1st round has multiple plug & play prospects along the o-line, teams will also find day 1 contributors in round 2.
Regardless of the route Washington decides to go in Round 1, these 5 prospects boast the type of versatility and talent to immediately compete for playing time. All would provide great value if on the board, when the Commanders' pick rolls around on day 2 of the draft.
6'5" 302 lbs | OT/G | NDSU
Proj Late 2nd-3rd Rd Grade
The Bisons ranked 4th in FCS and 2nd among MVFC teams in fewest sacks allowed (0.80 per game). Mauch was named to the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference 2nd team in his first year as a starter.
After a stellar season, Mauch was named to the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference 1st team, All-America 1st team, FCS Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Although Mauch took snaps at left tackle for the majority of his time at NDCU, he lined up at every position on the o-line during the Senior Bowl. Mauch looked particularly good at guard, which seems to be the best spot for him on the next level.
John Michael Schmitz
6'3 1/2" 301 lbs | G/C | MIN
Proj 2nd Rd Grade
Schmitz elected to return in '22 as a 5th year senior and allowed just 5 QB hurries, one QB hit, and 2 sacks. The Gophers center was named to the All-Big Ten First Team and received AP All-American honors. Schmitz was clearly the best center in the Big 10 and one of the best in the nation in '22.
Schmitz is a plug & play center in any system. Like most rookies, the Gophers lineman will deal with growing pains, particularly in pass pro when facing elite NFL talent on a weekly basis. The 6 seasons at Minnesota helped Schmitz refine his craft and prepare him for the next level though.
Starting center Chase Roullier has gone to IR in 2 consecutive seasons and might not be the long term solution for Washington. The Commanders re-signed center Tyler Larson and brought in former Giants OL Nick Gates, who has played every position along the o-line during his career. All 3 veterans have injury histories and Schmitz could be a 2nd round option that solidifies the position for the next decade. (Scouting Report)
6'6" 306 lbs | OT | UMD
Proj 2nd Rd Grade
During the '22 season, Duncan displayed tremendous growth as a pass blocker with run blocking being his strength. He also made strides when asked to be a pulling blocker season.
Duncan didn't allow a sack from Wolverines star pass rushers Aidan Hutchinson ('22 1st Rd Lions) and David Ojabo ('22 2nd Rd Ravens)in the Terps '21 matchup vs Michigan.
His ability to pull will appeal to run based teams, who lack an imposing anchor. At this point, Duncan ranks steady with a 2nd round grade after his film evaulton.
Some believe the Terps left tackle would be better suited moving to right tackle or even inside to guard, but his athleticism deserves a look at LT before a move should be considered.
Current starting LT Charles Leno Jr. (32 years old) carries a $8.2 million dollar dead cap hit in '23. In '24 (final year on contract), he has only a $2.25 million dead cap hit though with a $12.0 million cap savings if released. Duncan could be brought along slowly or even temporarily moved to RT, if an injury occurs to recently signed Andrew Wylie.
6'8" 360 lbs | RT | OSU
Proj 2nd Round Grade
Jones ranked third on the team in offensive snaps for the season. The Buckeyes' tackle helped lead OSU to a #1 ranking offensively in the nation in total offense (561.5 yards per game) and scoring offense (45.7 pts per game).
As a senior in '22, Jones started in 12 games and played a total of 693 snaps for the Buckeyes. In 27 career games Jones had his best production at right tackle with 14 starts on the right side.
Jones showed tremendous growth during his final two seasons at OSU, he also impressed scouts and team officials during Senior Bowl practices. He was given the nicknamed "Thanos" (character from Avengers Infinity War), based on his imposing presence.
Kansas CIty fans can attest that Andrew Wylie actually looked better at guard and a switch shouldn't be off the table. If Jones is on the board, that could be the plan with the Buckeyes tackle plugging in as the starting right tackle. (Scouting Report)
6'3 1/2" 332 lbs | G/C | TCU
Proj 2nd Rd Grade
Avila is extremely aggressive in the run game and his strength is evident in every rep he takes. His ability to create gaping holes for his running backs stands out. Avila is a headhunter with a mean streak, he seeks out contact when blocking downfield.
The TCU lineman was just as impressive in pass protection, not allowing a single sack in 515 pass-blocking snaps last season. Avila is able to match power with power, when facing aggressive bulrushers. He also dIsplays the ability to mirror defenders during their rush.
Avila is a well seasoned offensive lineman with over than 30 games of experience. He also has starting experience at both center and left guard (over a season at each position). The Horned Frogs O-Lineman has been one of the best interior lineman in the Big 12 over the past two seasons and was named an All-American in consecutive seasons.
As mentioned, Avila played both center and left guard during his career. In Washington, he'd immediately compete for the starting left guard slot with second year G/T Chris Paul and veteran Andrew Norwell (if he's isn't released).
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