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Ask Farrell: Should OL evaluation process evolve with new trends?

Walker Parks
Walker Parks (Nick Lucero/

When it comes to evaluating offensive linemen for ranking purposes, the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft was an eye-opening experience.

So many undersized players were taken among the early picks that the thinking that ready-made prospects at the high school level should be ranked highest might not be the best way of doing things. Since Rivals rankings are based on college performance and NFL Draft position, it may be time to re-evaluate our evaluations.

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Jonah Williams was 280 pounds in high school, hardly a finished product. Chris Lindstrom was 236 pounds and Garrett Bradbury was a tight end. Andre Dillard weighed 240 pounds. Tytus Howard was a 230-pound tight end and Kaleb McGary was being recruited by some as a tight end but played offensive tackle at Washington.

That’s the first round for offensive linemen in the NFL Draft.

Which brings us to Walker Parks. The four-star Clemson commit from Lexington (Ky.) Frederick Douglass had a strong showing at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas recently at 275 pounds and he has the frame to add much more weight in a college system.

He has no bad weight on him at all, he’s country strong and he showed surprisingly good movement against elite talent at defensive end.

Of the top 10-ranked offensive tackles nationally, only three are 275 pounds or under in Parks, Notre Dame commit Tosh Baker and Nebraska commit Turner Corcoran.


We ask National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell if those players - and possibly some bigger, less-athletic tight ends, are the types of recruits we should consider for five-star status since their ceiling is so high over the next few years?

“Maybe this draft year was a fluke, who knows? But I know we are looking for athletic offensive linemen with great feet when we look for five-stars now, and that could be a 270-pound kid. It’s impossible to project a tight end to be an elite offensive tackle and a guy like Lane Johnson for the Philadelphia Eagles was a quarterback in high school, so sometimes you just don’t know. But athleticism is key and some of the guys who are already 335 pounds in high school often just don’t progress as much as you’d like. That’s why I’m so high on a guy like Parks.”