The NFL has thankfully seen an influx of talent along the offensive line in recent years. Last year, both Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater were discussed as being the top tackle in the draft, and both have lived up to expectations during their rookie seasons. Unfortunately, some teams haven’t taken advantage of the talent. The Bengals continue to have one of the league’s worst offensive lines, and Joe Burrow has been sacked over 50 times on the season.
Once again, the 2022 draft class has plenty of tackle help. At the top is Alabama’s, Evan Neal. Behind Neal, there is still plenty of talent, with Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross listed as potential early first-round candidates. A player that has seen a significant rise is Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere. He was once a five-star recruit and the top tackle in the class of 2018. Since then, Petit-Frere has started the last two years for the Buckeyes. In 2020, he started at right tackle, and this year, he made the switch to left tackle. Interesting also was the fact that the Buckeyes moved him to right tackle for a few series at the end of games against Rutgers and Indiana this year. Draft Twitter has mixed opinions on him, so it’s time to dive into the tape.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Draft Scouting Reports.
Name: Nicholas Petit-Frere
Jersey: No. 78
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Ohio State
Class: Redshirt Junior
Weight: 315 lbs
Games Watched: Akron (2021), Indiana (2021), Penn State (2021), Rutgers (2021), Michigan (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Pass Blocking (10.5/15)
The report gets off to a shaky start here with Petit-Frere’s pass blocking. While he dominates against smaller competition as he did against Rutgers and Akron, he struggled against Arnold Ebiketie, David Ojabo, and specifically Aidan Hutchinson. His pass sets are very inconsistent. He gives up a lot of ground on the inside, and the three potential first-round prospects listed in this section took advantage of it. Hutchinson dominated him when Ohio State played Michigan to the point for Petit-Frere had to start holding him and arguably false-starting on every play during the second half. Teams will see that he struggled against the best competition he played all season, which is a major concern heading into the NFL.
Run Blocking (14/15)
Petit-Frere is a far better run blocker than a pass blocker. He is quite dominant in the run game, and his athleticism helps him greatly. He is very aggressive, almost too aggressive at times. Petit-Frere can move people in the run game from down blocks. After that, he works his way up to the next level and easily paves lanes. Petit-Frere was often the lead blocker during the 2021 season, which resulted in multiple chunk gains. He does miss some blocks on rare occasions due to his aggressiveness.
Petit-Frere has absurd length. He is a long, fluid athlete that moves freely in space and makes it look easy. It is no wonder why the Buckeyes loved to have him outside and lead-blocking. He has long arms that enable him to almost push players outside of the grasp of the play as well.
Yet again, he is inconsistent here. His pass sets are decent. He takes small choppy steps but also gives up a lot of ground on the inside somehow. In the run game, he is usually good, but there have been cases where his first step is too big, which gives the defender a chance to put a move on him, and Petit-Frere misses as a result. His athleticism in this aspect should give him an advantage, but it also hurt him at times.
Unfortunately, this is another trait where Petit-Frere doesn’t fare too well in. His hands will get outside the shoulder pads when edge rushers are close to beating him. If his hands were more inside, the Buckeye wouldn’t have many issues. Hutchinson and Ojabo pressed this issue further when the only way that Petit-Frere could beat them was to hold them.
His stance is also a bit awkward, and it sometimes tells where the play is going. Petit-Frere also would benefit from bending a bit more and getting lower while blocking. He doesn’t seem to have as much strength as it would appear, so getting lower would benefit him greatly in the run game.
Amazingly, a player of Petit-Frere’s size can move as fast as he can. Petit-Frere has a quick get-off off the line of scrimmage, and it gives him an immediate advantage. As said earlier, Ohio State loved getting their tackle out in space and ahead of the running back as a road-grader to pave lanes. Petit-Frere is quick and can move in and out of lanes to snag one last hit on a defender for as much yardage as possible.
With Petit-Frere playing both tackle spots, he can play either at the next level. He has plenty of snaps between the two positions with a full year plus some extra garbage time snaps at right tackle and another full year at left tackle. Petit-Frere can play in multiple schemes, and teams will love his versatility between either tackle spot.
Petit-Frere’s strength is a major concern. While he has great athleticism and a quick burst off the line of scrimmage to help him in the run game, he doesn’t necessarily finish blocks. In the passing game, power rushers were a concern when watching him, as they would set Petit-Frere onto his heels. Once entrenched in a battle, the Buckeye tackle would almost become stagnant and try forcing the defender off him when he had to use his feet to help him. It was very concerning to see him lose control of the block as the defender neared the quarterback.
Stated earlier was the fact that Petit-Frere is a very aggressive player. Because of that, he seemingly didn’t have much control when he got into a block. He would lose track of the defender, and they would end up making the tackle more times than not. Petit-Frere is prone to miss some blocks here and there as well.
It is no wonder why opinions vary on the Ohio State tackle. There is plenty to work with, but there are also some concerns on some major parts of his game. The former five-star recruit will likely have plenty of growing pains at the next level. In the run game, he is solid, and it is the best part of his game, paired with his length. In the passing game, he needs some refining. The struggles against top competition in the Big Ten brought to life some more concerns than there were.
Thankfully, teams can play him at one of two positions early in his career. Ohio State played him at both right and left tackle. That gives teams at the next level the ability to play the best five on the offensive line, with Petit-Frere playing at one of the tackle spots. He can play in multiple schemes, which will also help him at the next level. All in all, the potential is there with Petit-Frere, but the first-round hype wasn’t seen.
Rookie Projection: Swing Tackle
Third Year Projection: Starting Right Tackle
Final Grade (79.5/100): Early Third Round
Player Comp: D.J. Humphries