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5 plays to make a case for offensive linemen Martinas Rankin and Tyrell Crosby

These two Day 2 lineman offer pretty straight forward evaluations based on their college film. Let’s look at a few examples.

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

At long last, we’re officially in the final days before the NFL Draft. The past several days, the Bengals concluded their top-30 visits, which included former Mississippi State left tackle Martinas Rankin. As far as we know, those visits did not include left tackle Tyrell Crosby out of Oregon.

In what has been regarded as a relatively weak offensive tackle class, Rankin and Crosby have both been pegged as day 2 prospects since the beginning of the process. While their paths to the draft have been noticeably different, it appears the league views them in the same light.

Rankin was a top-ranked junior college transfer with just two years of college play under his belt, albeit they were decorated. After a smooth 2016 where he started all 13 games at left tackle, the coaches of the SEC named him All-SEC, despite missing three starts in October.

Crosby on the other end of the spectrum, was a four year contributor for the Oregon Ducks. As a true freshman in 2014, he watched and learned from left tackle and future Bengals tackle Jake Fisher before taking over as the starting right tackle in 2015. His 2016 season was derailed by injury but he returned to form in his senior year, earning First-Team All-PAC-12 honors over a potential first round pick Kolton Miller from UCLA.

Despite both tackles finishing their collegiate careers on a high note, it’s likely that both players will find their home in the NFL as interior lineman. But, we can only evaluate them on the film we have of them on as tackles. So let’s look at five plays each from their 2017 film.

Rankin is a fluid athlete who can get out of his stance quickly. He drives his hips into well targeted and leveraged strikes and understands how to sustain blocks. These were the plays I highlighted from his 2017 tape because they best showcase what Rankin does well and how he’ll be effective. He was used as a lead blocker pulling around the line and was adequate in locking onto and engaging open field defenders. He’s well versed in gap and zone style blocking concepts and generally plays with solid balance.

On the edge he was a reliable pass protector, but he could have trouble against quick-twitched pass rushers who can work inside from outside. You can start to understand the talk about teams wanting to see what he can offer inside as his skills as a run-blocker would seamlessly translate and he’d be in a more comfortable situation as a pass blocker. In his last spring practice, Rankin was used as the emergency center when Mississippi State had no depth at the position, so he at least has some experience snapping, and this is probably the position at which the Bengals have most interest in him.

When it comes to Crosby, he’s much longer and more physical. He is a very imposing enforcer who engulfs defenders with his 35” arms and almost 11” hands, and very easily creates movement at the point of attack. While he tested at 309 pounds, his playing weight was closer to the range of 315 to 320, and he was mauling PAC-12 edges and under tackles. His experience at both right and left tackle like gives him something in common with Fisher, but they shouldn’t be looked at the same way. Crosby is a perfect fit for a power scheme and a downhill running game. He plays with a strong base and power rushers won’t be as effective against him as speed rushers will, which is why he could benefit from an offense that traditionally keeps an extra tight end for pass protection like the Titans did with Jack Conklin.

The tape speaks pretty clearly about what kinds of players these two will become and where they will find the most success. Rankin will almost surely be making the transition to either guard or center, depending on his team’s specific need, and being an older prospect with adequate athleticism, he’ll be able to make it work in a zone or power scheme. Meanwhile, Crosby has the length to possibly make it work at either tackle spot if he’s given the right help early on, but could also become some team’s next mauler at either guard spot in a punishing gangbusters style of offense. If the Bengals are in the market for an offensive lineman on day 2, your money would be invested wisely in Rankin because of the interest they’ve shown in him and his positional flexibility.