Fifth Round: 163rd Pick
Jordan Mills enters the 2013 NFL draft on the heels of an eye-opening Senior Bowl performance followed by a mediocre scouting combine.
Evaluators who observed practices closely during Senior Bowl week surely had the name "Mills" scribbled frantically all over their scouting notes. After all, he was the player who held Ezekiel Ansah largely in check during drills, only to see Ansah dominate the opposing offensive tackles on the North roster (outside of Eric Fisher) once the actual game was played.
Mills comes from Louisiana Tech, where star teammate Quinton Patton drew most of the attention from evaluators, but through the process, Mills has made a name for himself as a bruising right tackle prospect.
How does Jordan Mills project at the NFL level?
The good news about Mills is that he has quick feet. The bad news is: He doesn't always use them well. To put it another way, Mills doesn't play with "heavy feet," but his footwork is still a mess nonetheless. Far too often he plants, widens and overextends into difficult blocks in the run game, and his kick slide in pass protection leaves even rudimentary, fundamental principles to be desired.
Motor, Toughness and Power
Aggressive motor and toughness are the areas where Mills scores off the charts. He's just a tough, salty player. He sticks on blocks for as long as he possibly can and likes putting opponents' numbers in the dirt. He's a "phone booth" player who is better at engaging a defender in close spaces to latch on quickly and dictate his will than he is engaging in free space.
As for power, Mills plays with a functional strength that is serviceable at the college level, but he will need to continue building on this to be a viable NFL option at the right tackle position. Mills played against subpar competition at Louisiana Tech for a majority of his college games, but—as mentioned—those who were in attendance at Senior Bowl practices saw that Mills was a player who flashed occasional dominance against the best competition in the country.
Quickness, Agility and Balance
For men their size, every offensive tackle prospect we break down in this series is unbelievably quick and agile. When comparing Mills to the rest of the 2013 offensive tackle crop, though, after constant study—Mills is about average. He has a good first step every time (except in his kick slide) that aids his overall initial move and can functionally execute most every assignment. Mills' quickness and agility are not a detriment to his game the same way his balance is—functionally—which we'll get to in the run-blocking breakdown.
Mills has an unrefined kick slide and has the same issue with speedy edge-rushers in the passing game that he does in the running game. His footwork is messy, he can get overextended and can rely too much on physical attributes. His 20 reps on the bench press show that Mills is not the most powerful upon entering engagement, and his upper-body strength is not always a crutch worthy of "falling back on."
He will oftentimes make up for it by planting, extending and reaching. This works well against lesser competition but can leave Mills exposed. He will need development in an NFL weight program to get his overall strength on par with one of his best attributes...
Mills' best attribute as a prospect is the salty nature he plays the game of football with. He's a mean-spirited player who operates on the football field like a big bully. He loves shoving people down and racking up pancake numbers. If a defender gives up on a play, Mills will not quit driving him. He makes it a point to finish every block possible.
Here, we'll examine two run plays against A&M which call for similar assignments for Mills. This is an easy block. Mills starts with inside position, and simply has a one-man assignment to kick the defensive end out and open a hole inside.
Mills opens up with a good first step and takes proper aim.
This is the beginning of an issue—one we'll see get exploited on the next play. Mills narrows his power base in preparation to brace for contact with the defender, setting his left foot.
Upon absorbing contact, Mills widens his base and plants the opposite leg. The end (in this situation) is fighting against Mills and is not letting Mills take himself out of the play.
If the end were to let Mills' motion continue in its current trajectory, he could be to the running back in three simple moves.
But Mills manages to square up and "drag" the end out laterally.
Regardless of the fact that Mills left himself vulnerable at such a critical time at the point of contact, he ends up executing his assignment well in this instance.
Now, let's see what happens when a player of Damontre Moore's caliber is handled in this way by Mills on the same assignment. No player has done more damage to their stock during the pre-draft player evaluation process than Moore with his horrible testing times and rumors of complacency, but on this play, he looks like a future All-Pro versus Mills.
Mills gets a a good first step and takes proper aim.
Mills becomes uncomfortable with how fast Moore is coming upfield and again loses a bit of control. We see again that his base has narrowed coming into engagement.
Mills plants his right foot once again while bracing and has become overextended. His feet are too widely spread apart and his momentum is taking him toward the sideline. This is a phenomenon that Moore will recognize and exploit. At this moment, the play is over against a player like Moore for all intents and purposes.
Moore does the opposite of the player in the first play. Instead of letting Mills' positioning work for him, he chooses to let it work against him. Moore almost "jumps" back in a move that reminds you of a matador baiting a bull to go a certain way with the red flag he waves around. Moore is allowing himself to be pushed back, because he understands that if he doesn't initiate solid engagement with Mills, Mills will have nothing to hold himself up.
Moore easily checks the outside to make sure he has contain covered as he manhandles a flailing Mills.
Once he has seen the runner cut inside, the move is easy. Moore tosses Mills aside in the other direction, letting his weight carry him out of the play and knifes inside.
No gain on the play.
In a zone-blocking scheme—or even in an NFL offense that utilizes "dashes" of the zone-blocking scheme—we have seen that teams will generally put their right tackles in good position by giving them inside help from the guard. That is to say, in the two-man assignment, the guard and the tackle will be hip-to-hip with their zone steps to prevent against inside countermoves from outside rushers.
Mills will not play left tackle at the NFL level any time soon and is much better suited to play right tackle given his tough nature and currently troubling footwork in pass protection. We have seen on film, and against the best competition at the Senior Bowl, that Mills has the capability to be a mauler similar to higher-rated prospects such as D.J. Fluker of Alabama.
Right tackles are not the hottest commodity on the NFL free-agent market currently, which leads one to believe that teams in need of the position may see greater value in the draft, and Mills would most certainly be a candidate to come in developmentally and be in position to eventually fill such a void on a cheap contract while serving as quality depth in the meantime.
Mills may be a late Day 2 selection toward the end of the third round, but teams will feel most comfortable taking a player of Mills' ilk somewhere in the fourth, where he should be considered a high-upside steal.