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Packers Prospect Primer: Michigan OT Jalen Mayfield

Brian Gutekunst hasn’t used his high picks on the trenches as often as Ted Thompson. Could that change this year with a former teammate of multiple current Packers? We break down tackle prospect Jalen Mayfield.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan
Jalen Mayfield only has a little over a year as a starter but faced plenty of quality competition.
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to a new series on the Green Bay Packers draft. This is aimed at getting you ready for the 2021 class before Brian Gutkunst and Co. make selections. We take a look at the kinds of players the Packers tend to like at positions of need. That way you’re ready when they make a pick.

While the Packers play their draft cards impossibly close to their metaphorical vest, the team does have preferences. We also know Brian Gutekunst and Ted Thompson, like Ron Wolf before him, prioritize trench warfare early in the draft.

Even if it’s true the Packers could play Elgton Jenkins at offensive tackle, as I laid out earlier this week, they may not prefer that outcome. Even if they think that can work and would be a reasonable outcome for the team, there are some offensive tackle prospect expected to go in the top-50 who could pique Green Bay’s attention.

Let’s start with the former running mate of Jon Runyan Jr. at Michigan: Jalen Mayfield. The 6-foot-5 325-pound tackle played almost exclusively on the right side (know a team who could use someone like that?) and while he looked raw for much of early 2019, he blossomed late in the season and into a COVID-shortened 2020.

While he’ll enter the NFL with a scant 15 starts, he faced some elite pass-rush competition over that time against guys like Chase Young, Yetur Gross-Matos, Jayson Oweh, Terrell Lewis and more. It’s not as if he dominated in those performances, but he more than held his own, particularly against Alabama’s formidable front.

Pro Football Focus didn’t love his performance in college and ranks him outside the top-64 players on their big board, which means he represents more like mid-Day 3 value than first-round talent. He posted a 76.1 overall grade last year with a 75.5 pass block grade for his career, which are fine numbers, but not elite.

Still, a player isn’t drafted solely for what he’s been or what he is when he’s selected, but rather what he can be. Here’s a brief scouting report.

Pros

  • Easy mover
  • Works quickly in his kick slide
  • Doesn’t give up on reps
  • Looked like a different guy vs. Alabama in the bowl game — he was a wall
  • Explosive out of his stance
  • When he uses good technique, playing in balance, he’s excellent
  • Obvious improvement over 2019 into 2020
  • The flashes of power are there
  • Multiple pancakes vs. Minnesota in ‘20
  • Can hit moving targets in space
  • As a straight line power blocker, he can be very good
  • Works to get into position and wall off in the run game
  • Doesn’t lose many speed rushes because of his slide and strength
  • Looks for work

Cons

  • Not as strong to anchor in his pass sets as you’d want from a guy his size
  • Lateral movement skills are lacking
  • When he has to take inside counters he looks a step slow
  • Does he have short arms? He falls off guys
  • Too many reps where he gets moved back in the run game
  • Lacks heavy hands
  • Inconsistent base
  • Will kick slide with speed rushers, but has issues redirecting to get inside
  • Worry about his length

Summary

Mayfield is an easy mover with upper body strength and some lateral agility limitations. In the run game, he can be an excellent power blocker as a straight-line force, but can lack lateral agility to get down the line to blocks. This also shows up in his pass sets. He wins consistently around the loop because he sets early and and often sets deep, leaving him vulnerable to inside counters and occasionally the bull rush. He’s explosive out of his stance and has relatively quick feet in his kick slide, which leaves you to wonder just how much he can fix that flaw. Some better technique will save him vs. bull rushers, but he already has plus upper body strength and appears to lack length and he doesn’t consistently latch onto blocks.

As a fit for the Packers in the first round, Mayfield would be the backup plan to the backup plan. Let’s say the board breaks wonky, much like it did last year, and the top guys left are guards, running backs, and maybe a quarterback or two. In that case, Green Bay would be well-served to drop back, add a pick, and snag a guy with shades of Bryan Bulaga in the late 30’s or early 40’s.