Left tackles are a premium in the National Football League and this year, Mississippi State’s Charles Cross is considered by many to be one of the best.
In fact, according to Yahoo, he is projected to be a top-10 pick. In that article it was said as a red-shirt sophomore, Cross allowed 2 sacks and 14 QB hurries in 719 pass-blocking snaps.
Cross recently declared eligible for the draft and has chosen to opt-out of the Liberty Bowl when his team takes on Texas Tech.
Cross’ coach, Mike Leach, said, “It’s the most bizarre thing in the world to me (when players opt out of bowl games). It’s one of the biggest absurdities that I’ve seen, and it’s selfish too.”
Coming out of high school, Cross had interest from Ole Miss, Kentucky, FSU, Auburn, LSU, and USC. He de-committed to FSU before signing on with Mississippi State.
I am personally with Coach Leach on the issue of players opting out of their school’s bowl games and if I was a general manager of an NFL team (which is my goal), I would remove any player from my draft board who opted out of their school’s bowl game.
As a talent evaluator, I do think the decision shows that the player is placing himself above his team, disregarding his teammates and it is also a slap in the face to the program that put him on the map.
Cross’ decision exposes he esteems getting paid over everything else, which also is explained by him foregoing his remaining eligibility to enter the NFL draft.
However, that is not why I downgraded Cross into the 2nd round.
I do not think the lateral foot speed is there to call Cross an elite talent.
While Cross’ techniques are excellent and along the lines of Rashawn Slater (who was my LT1 last season), he by no means has Slater’s lateral foot speed and that is what is required to be dominant at the next level.
#67 Charles Cross 6-foot-5, 310 pounds
2021 film review: Memphis State, Texas A&M, LSU, Alabama (and 2020 Alabama)
Projects: Left Tackle, Right Tackle
NFL comparable: Raleigh McKenzie (as a tackle and in terms of McKenzie’s technique, not in terms of McKenzie’s versatility).
Main Concern: If the 14 hurries he gave up this season in college will turn into sacks against higher NFL-level competition.
A technician with excellent fundamentals, who is a little light in the ass and does not have elite lateral foot speed. Gives excellent effort, and plays until the whistle blows on every down, which helps him compensate for his limitations. Has long arms and uses hands well in pass pro. Sets up and does a good job consistently maintaining balance and maintains a nice wide base the entire time. Battles and stays with it. Did show he could get moved back into the pocket against strong bull rushes and ended up in a chase position against speed through the back door of the pocket. Did his best to stay with it, but he lost control in those situations. Also did show he could get beat when ends started hard to the outside initially and came back hard to the inside through the B gap. Did not have the lateral foot speed to recover once he committed to the outside. If ends just dance with him on the perimeter, he can dance all day, but he does show these vulnerabilities on film. Good against games, stunts, and blitzes. However, Alabama (2020 and 2021) and Memphis State saw something that caused them to concentrate a heavy array of blitzes off his side. He blocked his man, but those teams attacked that side of the line. On running plays, he is a hold-the-point type of run blocker who lacks the ability to sustain long enough on some plays, but overall, he does a pretty good job holding the point. Shows off athleticism in space downfield and he flashed aggression on several pancake blocks when he achieved the necessary leverage to do so. Solid prospect who will be a solid tackle in the NFL for 8-10 years, not great, but solid. He is not elite, but a team can win with him.
Cross is not a sexy pick, but he is a solid value pick for a team like the Giants early in the 2nd round.
The game film doesn’t lie.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated New York Jets and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.