There are multiple schools with more than one offensive lineman that will go high in the 2022 NFL Draft. Weirdly enough, two of them are smaller schools in Central Michigan and Tulsa. Tulsa has Tyler Smith, a potential first-round draft selection, but they also have Chris Paul, a favorite of many across the draft landscape. Paul’s versatility and smarts will be the first thing teams will see when they pop on his film. Paul also has above-average athleticism.
Paul started games at left guard, right guard, and right tackle during his time at Tulsa. The Tulsa right tackle was a stout run blocker for the Golden Hurricanes and projects mainly as a guard at the next level. Paul is a technician from a blocking standpoint and takes a lot of pride in keeping his quarterback clean. Along with being an above-average player at Tulsa, he was stout in the classroom and was apart of multiple different organizations across campus. With his leadership and play style, teams will likely not ding him too much for his age, although he will turn 24 during his rookie season.
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Name: Chris Paul
Jersey: No. 71
Position: Offensive Line
Class: Redshirt Senior
Weight: 325 lbs
Games Watched: Cincinnati (2021), Oklahoma State (2021), Ohio State (2021), Houston (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Pass Blocking (10.75/15)
Paul needs to be more consistent in his pass-blocking reps. He had trouble containing Myjai Sanders in the game against Cincinnati. There were plenty of instances where defenders could round the corner and bend on his way to the quarterback fairly easily. Paul takes some weird angles off the snap, resulting in a deficit in the rep. There were also cases where he would bypass a defender completely in pass protection, and the defender would go on untouched to sack the quarterback. If Paul can clean up the inconsistencies in his pass protection, there is a better chance that he would fit better as a tackle potentially.
Run Blocking (13.5/15)
Paul is a very good run blocker. His angles hurt him in the run game, as he can whiff on getting up to the second level, which allows defenders to scoot by him and tackle the ball carrier. Paul has experience pulling from his tackle spot and paving lanes for his running backs. It is no surprise why some have him pegged as more of an interior player due to his tenacity in the run game to never give up and control the rep.
Paul is about two inches shorter than the average tackle as he comes in at six-foot-four. While he does have adequate arm length and wingspan, his hand size comes in about an inch and a half smaller than the top tackles in the class. Paul’s lack of length doesn’t show up as much as you’d think, but there were a few times where more bendy pass rushers took advantage of the length issues he has.
He has adequate footwork in the run game. He continuously chops his feet and uses them to his advantage to move defenders out of the running lane. As a lead blocker at the second level, Paul can break down easily and slow his pace to meet the defender at the spot to make another block, so the ball carrier gains extra yards. Unfortunately, there are still some concerns in the passing game, where his base gets too wide due to his feet, which allows defenders an easier path to the quarterback.
Paul does a good job of keeping his hands inside the defender’s number plate. He didn’t get called for holding in the games watched, and the only slight issue he had with his hands during the games watched was against Sanders. The bigger concern here is with his pad level. Paul seems to play with little to no bend in his knee most of the time. One of the biggest things for offensive linemen is the ability to bend to get underneath defensive linemen, so the fact Paul didn’t bend as well as he could have is a bit concerning heading into the NFL.
While his numbers at the combine would provide a higher number than this, Paul didn’t appear to have that level of athleticism during the season. He is nimble on his feet and can pull from his tackle spot and succeed to the second level of the defense. Paul doesn’t have the best skills in drills such as the three-cone or short shuttle, so that is the area of concern.
Along with the run game, Paul’s versatility is the best part of his game. With experience at both guard spots and right tackle, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Tulsa lineman go higher than expected as a sixth man on the offensive line. The sixth man is becoming more valuable in the NFL, and teams only dress seven linemen per game now, so it’s important to have a player that can play almost every position, which perfectly describes Paul.
Paul is fine in his anchor. He has enough strength to hold his own against power rushers, but with trouble bending, he can struggle to anchor more than most offensive linemen. Paul has great grip strength, but he needs to work on his leverage and bend at the next level against higher competition.
As pointed out numerous times already, Paul struggles to bend, which means he isn’t really in control of the block he is holding against defenders. Paul will need to work on this potentially the most heading to the NFL since most defensive linemen will take advantage of this.
Overall, Paul is a very good player. He is solid in most areas, with elite trains in his versatility and run blocking. His main areas of concern come from technical aspects of his game, including bending and strength. While he has recent experience at tackle, his best spot in the NFL may be on the interior. With his teammate getting most of the attention, Paul has slipped through the cracks of the National media outlets. Fortunately, with his versatility, it may not take long for him to get selected on day three of the draft, let alone if he’s still there as the fourth round kicks off.
Paul should start his rookie campaign competing for a starting spot before ultimately grabbing a starting role near the end of his rookie contract. Paul’s high school named the first day of the draft “Chris Paul Day”, if that tells you about the kind of person he is.
Rookie Projection: Backup Offensive Lineman
Third Year Projection: Starting Guard
Final Grade (76/100): Fourth Round
Player Comp: Jackson Carman
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