We’re halfway through the month of July and then it’s essentially football season. Fortunately for you, it’s always football season at Cover 1.
That includes college football and the NFL Draft.
With the 2022 NFL Draft behind us, you should already know that I’ve been dialed into this upcoming college football season. Which teams could surprise us? Which players could emerge as the best at their position? We will get into all of that in the coming weeks. Right now, I want to turn your attention to four offensive lineman to watch for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Cooper Beebe, OT, Kansas State
We’ll start with my favorite player on the list and that’s Cooper Beebe from Kansas State. Much like former K-State offensive lineman such as Dalton Risner and Cody Whitehair, Beebe is another versatile offensive lineman for the Wildcats.
Much like Risner and Whitehair, Beebe seems like a player that can play just about anywhere on the offensive line. Last season, he started 13 games at left tackle and in 2020, he had 7 starts at right tackle and a start at left guard. This upcoming season, it’s projected that Beebe could move inside to guard.
Cooper Beebe (Kansas State OT 50)...oh my goodness! pic.twitter.com/75DV2TFKWQ— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) July 2, 2022
Regardless of where he plays for the Wildcats, the 6-4 and 322-pound offensive lineman has a nasty demeanor on the field. He consistently stays square, shoots his hands and looks to punish the opposition every chance he gets. Per PFF, he had an 85.4 overall grade and a 87.5 pass blocking grade. He gave up a total of nine pressures last year but didn’t give up a single sack.
In an offense that features talented running back Deuce Vaughn, much of the success offensively doesn’t happen without the dominant presence of Cooper Beebe in front. If you’re starting with offensive line play for the 2023 NFL Draft, I’d suggest starting with the tape of Beebe because I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
While some would say he emerged from the shadows of Rashawn Slater, I beg to differ. Peter Skoronski from Northwestern was listed as a 5-star recruit and chose the Wildcats over schools such as Notre Dame, Michigan and others. He’s proved himself in more ways than one for the Wildcats. For starters, Skoronski is possibly the most consistent offensive lineman on this list. He generated an 86.7 offensive grade in 2020 and an 83.8 offensive grade in 2021 per PFF.
Highest graded Northwestern Offensive Lineman in the PFF era— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 21, 2022
1️⃣ Peter Skoronski: 86.0
2️⃣ Rashawn Slater: 84.3 pic.twitter.com/RPJLw1unoy
In high school, he was a three-sport athlete and earned varsity letters in football, track and field and basketball. It’s quite clear that he’s an athlete on tape. Meanwhile, he’s lived up to the billing of the five-star label despite giving up a total of 4 sacks over his two seasons as a starter for the Wildcats. Listed at 6-4 and 315 pounds and despite having over 1300 career snaps at left tackle, there’s some that believe he’ll be a guard in the NFL.
We’ll wait and see if he makes it as a guard or tackle but one thing teams to know is that they’ll be getting a tremendous leader. Praised for his leadership, Skoronski should be a natural fit for any locker room he steps foot in. On tape, he showcases the ability to handle twists really well and he’s light on his feet with good movement skills for a player of his size. The one game that really impressed me with him is his performance against Michigan last year. He was matched up against David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson through the entire game and he held his own. Look for him to remain as the starting left tackle for Northwestern and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he ends up being the best offensive lineman in the Big Ten this season.
Andrew Vorhees, OT, USC
There’s not a more experienced player on this list than right here with Vorhees. Certainly having a sixth year of eligibility helps with that but going into this season, Vorhees has over 2500 career snaps for the Trojans.
During his tenure at USC, he’s played significant snaps at both tackle and guard spots on the offensive line. Teams should easily take a liking to his versatility. Most importantly, this past year, he played his best football of his career with an overall grade of 90.1 per PFF. Over the last three seasons, he’s only given up one sack and it seems like the 6-6 and 320-pound tackle is only getting better.
He’s a good athlete that shows the consistent ability to reset his hands but also uses his power and length to bury defenders or redirect them with ease. Much like a bug that just won’t leave you alone, he replicates that within his play for how persistent he is as a strong finisher or just with how he gets in the face of defenders.
In 2019, he suffered an ankle injury that limited him to only two games but he’s shown a strong recovery over the last three seasons. If healthy this upcoming season, he’ll have played over 50 games in his career so teams will have plenty of tape to evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly within his game.
Chris Murray, IOL, Oklahoma
Another versatile offensive lineman that can play either guard or center is Chris Murray from Oklahoma. He previously had played at UCLA but he transferred to Oklahoma after the 2019 season. Since then he’s primarily been the starting right guard for the Sooners.
Immediately, evaluators will knock Murray for his size. He’s listed at 6-1 and 304 pounds so there might be some that primarily list him as a center. Regardless, it’s not the size of the dog but the size of the fight in the dog. When watching the tape of Murray, there’s plenty of fight.
In honor of #Big12MediaDays, I think two of my favorite OL I've studied this summer have come out of the Big 12. Cooper Beebe from Kansas State is one of them and the other is Chris Murray from Oklahoma. Murray (RG 56) is an experienced center/guard who previously played at UCLA. pic.twitter.com/YSRHdtvBIi— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) July 13, 2022
He’s got an aggressive first step and consistently shoots his hands into the chest plate of defenders. He also operates well in space as a pulling guard and there’s very little hesitation when approaching the opposition. There are times where he opens his hips too much in pass protection or leans with his head down but much of the issues within his game are fixable. Most importantly, he’s coming off the best season of his career with an offensive grade of 66.9 per PFF and it seems like he could build off it.
It’ll be interesting to see the Oklahoma offense without Lincoln Reilly running the show and Caleb Williams at quarterback. Brent Venables takes over as the head coach but he’ll keep Bill Bedenbaugh as his offensive line coach and that’s important as he’s established himself as one of the top offensive line coaches in the country. He’s helped produce five Big-12 offensive lineman of the year awards (Orlando Brown x2, Dru Samia, Creed Humphrey x2). Could Chris Murray be the next Oklahoma Sooner to win the award? I certainly like his chances.