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Friday, May 27, 2022

Seattle Seahawks pick Mississippi State OT Charles Cross with ninth pick. Grade: A +

With the ninth pick in the 2022 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select the Mississippi State OT Charles Cross.


It’s a little bittersweet that the Seahawks used one of the choices they got in the Russell Wilson trade to pick the best blocker in this class, considering the mostly awful attacking linemen that Wilson had to deal with, but whoever plays quarterback for the Seahawks. in 2022 and beyond will have a deadly blindside protector. And he’s a better run blocker than you might think, or Pete Carroll will not hit him with a 2000 mile pole.

Height: 6’4 1/2 “(45th) Weight: 307 (34th)
40-yard Dash: 4.95 seconds (94th)
10-yard split: 1.73 seconds (83rd)
Bank printing: NVT
Vertical Jump: 26 Inches (28th)
Wide jump: 112 inches (91st)
3-cone drill: 7.88 seconds (40th)
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.61 Seconds (75th)

Wing span: 81 inches (56th)
Arm length: 34 1/2 inches (80th)
Hand size: 10 3/4 inches (92nd)

Bio: A top national recruit at Laurel High School in Laurel, Mississippi, Cross was a five-star attack per Rivals and 247Sports, and a four-star recruit per ESPN. Cross had just 22 overall rebounds and 11 pass-blocking rebounds in 2019, his first season on the field at Mississippi State, but his involvement in the Bulldogs’ offense took a serious leap when Mike Leach became head coach in 2020 . had 720 shots, which sometimes struggled, but he cleared things up in time for the 2021 season, when he became one of the NCAA’s best overall blockers, and consistently did a good job against the best defense the SEC has to offer. has.

Statistics to know: Cross allowed six bags and 44 total pressure on 574 pass-blocking reps in his first collegiate starting season of 2020; he thus struck down to two pockets and allowed 16 hits on 719 pass-blocking iterations in 2021. No tackle in this draft class had more unblocked sobs in 2021. Cross’ Mississippi State Book Support Scott Lashley was second with 680, and Alabama’s Evan Neal was third with 650.

Strengths: While we’re going to talk a lot about Cross’ pass-blocking properties (which are the best in this class), we should not ignore his ability to run-block. Cross has a good nasty streak, he connects well with defenders through the game, and his mirror skills also show when he moves defenders around. And when he gets to the second level, where many dives get lost in space (we’re going to talk about this comprehensive when we get to Trevor Penning), cross targets efficiently and effectively. He keeps his body under control, he does not stretch too much, and because of all this he is ready to start wrestling only when it is time. He is timely and aggressive with his hands; Cross wants to hit you to the limit.

And when you need your leftover gear to get on the hoof and seal the rim in space? He has it on lock. If Cross had not been a good blocker at all, his ability to manage open space to the detriment of the defender would have made him a second-round development prospect.

As a pass blocker, Cross has what I call “match feet”. What you want and expect from defensive backs, not necessarily 307-pound offensive tackles. But if you try to cross his face, or hit him to either side, you’ll be better off on your game that day, because Cross can catch anything you throw at him very quickly. The footwork is just unpleasantly good.

Cross moves with speed and control through the bow, and even if a faster edge-rusher hits him through to the pocket, Cross can recover quickly enough to at least mitigate the damage. Not every pass-pro rep is going to be letter-perfect, so you want a guy who can recover and make the ugly protections work. You need a left tackle that can keep his back player healthy even when it’s not going to look good on movie day. His speed also shows when he has to pinch inside in the running game or with an RPO. There are just not many times where you see Cross being overwhelmed by a sense of physicality / agility. Everyone is going to give up pressure. What you do not want is someone who can not dance with whoever burned him, so to speak.

Weaknesses: It’s not at all to question Cross’ toughness, intensity, or filth … but you’re an NFL offensive line coach who, above all, demands a glass-eating ass kicker, he will not be your guy. He’s more of a “finisher” than a finisher – he’s going to go through the repetitions effectively over and over, but you’re not going to see a ton of cockroach blocks and other kills. That is not his intention. If you’re a defensive opponent, Cross does not want to embarrass you; he wants to make you invisible (which in a way is even more embarrassing). He will be pulled back at times by more powerful defenders, but again, the recoverability is generally elite.

Cross will not always keep his hands on his defender throughout the rep; he will sometimes retire near the end, and this may be because he is looking for work elsewhere or he does not want to be penalized. But this is something to monitor at the NFL level.

Closure: Deciding on your OT1 in this draft class is going to be a matter of priority, and I can make arguments for three guys here. If you want a tackle that can turn to any position on the line and become elite in a short time, Alabama’s Evan Neal might be the one. If you want a tackle that defined his offense with a murderous instinct, you might be everywhere in North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu.

But the reason I choose Cross is pretty simple – the NFL is a passing league with very few team exceptions, and Cross has the best and most complete qualities to block through at the NFL level in everything from fast-paced games to seven- step drops. While most first-year NFL branches struggle when they have to face the league’s best professional edge defenders for the first time, I think Cross has enough on the ball to make NFL blocking look like… well, if not “easy”, definitely less complicated than other tasks in this class. For that alone, he’s my OT1, and with a pretty decent distance. He also put in enough effort to get things done in the running game, which completes the picture.

NFL Comparison: David Bakhtiari. Like Bakhtiari, the Packers’ three-time Pro Bowler and two-time First Team All-Pro, Cross tends to make everything look easier than it really is with an NFL-ready quiver of skills. If your attack is heavy with concepts from RPO to all-go, and you need a tackle to get freaky in space when it’s time to run the ball as an additional idea, there is no better option in this concept class not.

Also, if current ESPN analyst and former Patriots, Lions and Jets lineman Damien Woody agrees with a D’Brickashaw Ferguson comp, who am I to argue?

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