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Senior Bowl offensive line prospects shine during practice week

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The Senior Bowl executive director was effusive in his praise of the o-line prospects. Several of them turned out well during practice week.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

When the Senior Bowl rosters came out, I’ll admit that I wasn’t necessarily overwhelmed with the group at offensive line. Maybe I was a little naive to the offensive line class as a whole, but I didn’t really know what to expect down in Mobile from the big uglies. Names like Kansas State’s Dalton Risner and Washington State’s Andre Dillard were notable and but they’d probably be off the clock by the time the 49ers walked to the podium with an offensive linemen in mind. So, who in Mobile, was there to be excited about?

According to the Senior Bowl’s executive director Jim Nagy, everyone. Nagy told media before practice that the offensive line group was a group that NFL personnel was very excited to see compete — he was right. The offensive line group excelled against a very good defensive line unit in Mobile, which is a good thing for the 49ers.

With inconsistent play from the interior of the 49ers offensive line, Joe Staley aging and Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury history, investing in the offensive line needs to be a priority when the draft rolls around. With a slim offensive line class overall the Senior Bowl was a good sneak peak for who could fit with the 49ers.

Ben Powers, Offensive Guard— Oklahoma

Ben Powers played on one of the best offensive lines in all of college football last season— one of the few reasons Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy. Powers was consistent in his career with the Sooners, but never did anything to pop. Maybe it was him playing with Cody Ford, who is one of the classes best, but boy, did he show out in Mobile. Powers was noticeably strong, like very strong. You could hear the strike from his punches on the sideline. When defensive tackles tried bull-rushing Powers it just flat out didn’t work. Once he got his paws on people they were on mute.

If Powers can show off a little bit of his athleticism at the combine he could elevate his stock into the 49ers range. We know Shanahan likes his interior linemen to be light on their feet in his system. Powers looks like a plug and play guard that can be had either late day two or even early day three. At worst Powers can provide some depth with eventual room for growth.

Garrett Bradbury, Offensive Interior Linemen— North Carolina State

We know Kyle Shanahan has a type when it comes to interior offensive linemen— smooth moving, versatile offensive linemen with high football IQ’s. NC State’s Garrett Bradbury checks all those boxes. On top of all that Bradbury was named the Senior Bowl offensive line player of the week at the Senior Bowl. What else needs to be said?

There’s only a few guys I walked away from the Senior Bowl just with the feeling that this guy absolutely fits the 49ers, and Bradbury is one of them. We had an idea who Bradbury was as a run blocker— nasty, heavy handed athlete, but could he pass block against some of the interior talent at the Senior Bowl? He looked like a wall at several times in practice. Was able to show his nasty streak in the run and pass. If Bradbury isn’t on the 49ers radar after his performance in the Senior Bowl, I don’t know an offensive linemen who could be.

Kaleb McGary, Offensive Tackle— Washington

If you’ve read my work, you should know the name Kaleb McGary. I’ve been a huge fan of McGary’s play in the Pac-12. He’s been extremely quiet, but very consistent for the Huskies the past two seasons. The Senior Bowl was his opportunity to shine and he took it. There seemed to be multiple instances where McGary was putting opposing edge guys on their back. McGary put on a clinic in one-on-one drills where he continued to dump guys, even on back-to-back reps at one point. McGary had winning reps against Boston College’s Zach Allen and Texas’s Charles Omenihu, which are two players that will probably go higher than McGary in the draft. McGary was a prospect that truly improved his draft stock down in Mobile.

McGary is arguably a plug and play starter at right tackle, which may push him out of the 49ers range, and he’s probably solidified at right tackle, not inside. All problems for the 49ers, but he’s so good that if he’s available in round two I still think the 49ers should take a flier on him. I believed in McGary heading into the Senior Bowl, and his performance in Mobile only validates my high praise for the former Husky.

Other Senior Bowl Offensive Line Standouts:

  • Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State
  • Oli Udoh, Elon
  • Nate Davis, Charlotte