Charles Cross | Mississippi State
Weight: 305 lbs.
Age/Class: 21, Redshirt Sophomore
Position: Offensive Tackle
-Great vision that allows him to pick up stunts
-Very quick feet
-Great athlete, accelerates to his blocks at the next level, especially on screens
-Maintains good leverage in pass protection
-Physical, finishes his blocks
-Excellent football IQ, his great awareness of where he is, and where the play is going puts him in position to succeed
-Strong, active hands
Biggest Strength: Pass Blocking
-At times his hand placement is too wide, leading to holding calls as he grabs or hooks defenders
-Tendency to prematurely and violently lunge at defenders on run blocks, allowing defenders to slip past him when he whiffs
Biggest Weakness: Wide hand placement
To start, Cross is regarded as one of this draft’s best offensive tackle prospects due to his pass blocking. This was very valuable at Mississippi State as the Bulldogs ran an Air-Raid style offense under head coach Mike Leach. Cross’ quick feet allowed him to match the speed of quick edge rushers and adapt to the offense quicker than most underclassmen would. Cross experienced a dominant 2021 season as he used his strong hands to out-physical his opponent. Cross did so against talented defenses like Alabama, LSU and the other SEC powers, making his performance even more impressive.
Not only does Cross display natural strength, he is much faster than what you would expect. He frequently piles up pancakes and throws big blocks at the next level on runs and in the screen game. His speed and awareness puts him in position to make those plays. Those two traits should translate well into an NFL scheme that features a zone running as well as RPOs and screens.
When watching his film, it’s visible that Cross is aware of the objective of each play and puts himself in great positions to be successful, even if it’s on the backside of the play. However, at times his athletic ability gets the best of him as he occasionally lowers his head and lunges at defenders in the run game. This heat-seeking missile style of run blocking can result in whiffs that allow opponents to slip by. At times Cross’ hands get outside the frame and he hooks or holds his opponent. He doesn’t do it often, but nevertheless it’s something that could become a bigger issue in a more run-centric offense. The good news is those traits are fixable and I see them working themselves out with more experience.
Overall, at 21-years-old, Cross is a premier left tackle prospect. As the NFL becomes more pass and quarterback dependent, a proficient pass-blocking tackle is a necessity. Cross’ biggest strengths in the pass game are those that are in the highest demand in today’s NFL. Combined with a physical presence, great athleticism and strong hands, Cross is a top three offensive line prospect entering the 2022 NFL Draft.
Draft Projection: Early-Mid First Round Selection