HEIGHT: 6'4 1/8"
ARM: 33 1/8"
WINGSPAN: 6'8 3/8"
40-YARD DASH: 5.21
— Efficiently comes out of his stance with above-average quickness, pad level, hand and hat placement to hook shades on outside runs to both sides.
— Shows an impressive understanding and grasp of how to negotiate leverage in the zone-run game with good timing and fits on combo blocks, crafty hand usage and solid angles to line up and connect on backers.
— Adjusts well on the fly against gap exchanges to stay balanced and use independent hands to wall off and secure slanting defenders across his face.
— Plays with a wide, firm base and solid contact balance to stay centered in his anchor, with active hands to reset and refit underneath and inside of the bull rush.
— Flashes the ability to generate torque to get bigger interior defenders leaning, off-balance and uprooted off their feet.
— Sorts out blitzes and line games quickly while staying alert when engaged to peel off and pick up late loopers.
— Looks like a natural center with significant improvement moving to the pivot in 2021 after spending his career prior at guard.
— Has adequate play strength and square power, often getting stacked and stalemated at the point of attack on angle-drive blocks.
— Can be late, high and wide with his hands in pass protection, which allows rushers to gain access to his frame and get to his edges quickly.
— Will get to the upfield shoulder of 'backers too quickly on his climb, leaving him vulnerable to run-throughs underneath.
- 13 starts at center.
- First-team All-SEC selection.
— Former 3-star offensive tackle recruit out of Sylvania Northview High School in Sylvania, Ohio. Also played center on the basketball team.
— Switched to right guard from center in fall camp prior to the 2021 season.
— Graduated with his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 2019 and is on track to obtain two master's degrees in the spring of 2022 (mechanical engineering and business administration).
— 36 career starts with 23 at right guard and 13 at center.
— Accepted an invite to the 2022 Senior Bowl.
Luke Fortner is a three-year starter inside Kentucky's zone-run scheme. He started for two seasons at right guard before making the switch to the pivot in fall camp prior to the 2021 season. He quickly adapted to the change, showing a natural feel for the angles, timing and spacing needed to efficiently operate as a zone run-blocker at center.
Fortner is smooth and quick coming out of his stance with good pad level, hand and hat placement to work across and hook shaded defenders on outside-zone runs. He excels fitting and working combo blocks with each guard, knowing when to overtake and release based on how the 'backer reacts.
Fortner plays with a wide, firm base and understands how to work underneath defenders when overtaking to create rotational force, torque and seal off the first level. He is agile on his releases to the second level, taking solid angles with good body control and balance to line up smaller targets off combos and in the screen game.
Once latched onto a block, Fortner can leverage his hips and hands to sustain, steer and widen defenders to create cutback lanes. He diagnoses gap exchanges quickly and knows how to adjust his aiming points on the fly to wall off movement across his face.
Fortner is an alert, active pass protector. He has the processing skills to sort out blitzes and line games, work off multiple threats and pick up late loopers.
Fortner's adequate play strength and square power result in his getting stacked and stalemated when having to uproot bigger interior run-defenders on angle-drive blocks. He'll also need to tighten and speed up his strike timing and hand placement in protection to avoid giving easy access to his frame and access to his edges too quickly.
Overall, Fortner's swift adjustment from guard to center in fall camp and ability to process the mental side of the position bolstered his play speed at the pivot to an above-average level. Paired with starter-level quickness and use of leverage to connect and stay attached to blocks at the first and second levels, he looks like a potential starter in a zone-based run scheme. He also has the experience in his back pocket at both guard spots to stick as a backup and provide added value to an O-line room.
GRADE: 7.2 (High-Level Backup/Potential Starter - 3rd Round)
OVERALL RANK: 85
POSITION RANK: IOL11
PRO COMPARISON: Ethan Pocic
Written by B/R NFL Scout Brandon Thorn