The last two NFL drafts have not been the strongest in abundance of OT prospects. With tackle always being a premium draft position, the hope is that 2018 will be better as far as both quantity and quality.
Because it's only July, and we are still weeks away from college camps opening, it is way too early to know if, in fact, the 2019 NFL Draft will be strong at the tackle positon — especially because we have no idea at this time what underclassmen will enter the draft. Still, we can look at those who could be the better prospects come next April. Over the next few weeks, I will write some preliminary reports on all the top OT prospects. First up is Ole Miss junior Greg Little.
Little is a true third-year junior, and the former 5-star prospect played in every game in 2016 with five starts at left tackle. Last year, he became the full-time starter at left tackle for the Rebels
Little has great natural size for a tackle at about 6054 – 325, and he is even-cut with long arms. He shows good overall athleticism with quick feet, good balance, good lateral agility and good ability to slide and recover. Little plays with natural bend and, when up against a bull rush, can sink his hips and anchor. Playing in the SEC, he faces top competition just about every week, which will prepare him well for life in the NFL.
At this time, Little is more of a trait guy than a top player. Looking at 2017, he flashes top skills, but we don’t see it every play. In pass protection, he shows he can stop wide speed, recover back to the inside versus counter moves and keep good position. We also see that he can get movement with his run blocks, get out to the second level and adjust on the move and pull from the LT spot. What we don’t see is Little doing this every play. He can get lazy with his technique or not consistently finish.
When playing against LSU last year, he often went up against Arden Key, who was a third-round pick of the Raiders this past April. Key has great speed off the edge, and at times, Little stopped him cold. But at other times, Key was able to use his great initial quickness to beat Little to the corner. Athletically, Little has the quickness to stop Key, but when he doesn’t stay with his technique, he gets beat. Maturity and a better understanding of his opponent each week will correct this. This is where football character comes into play. If a prospect wants to become a great player, he will do what he can to improve.
One area where Little needs to improve is with his hand use. He has quick and strong hands, but his hand placement isn’t always the best. Also, he has a tendency to wind up with his hands. A college player can get away with that, but an NFL player will get beat all the time.
With 2018 being Little's true junior year, I expect to see much improvement in his overall play. If that is the case, he can be a premium pick in the draft next April if he chooses to declare early. The ball is in his court, and it’s up to Little to do everything he can to improve his game. The natural traits are there.