On December 17th, Mississippi State Offensive Tackle Charles Cross announced that he would be opting out of his remaining eligibility (including the team’s Liberty Bowl on December 28th) and declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft. This move came with no surprise, as Cross is one of the most highly touted prospects in this upcoming draft class. Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater were selected in the top fifteen picks in the 2021 NFL Draft and have gone on to make a significant impact as rookies in the NFL. Charles Cross can certainly follow in their footsteps. Let’s dive into the tape to see what makes Cross such a good NFL prospect!
Strengths: Cross is a highly athletic tackle prospect. He possesses good lateral quickness, getting good depth quickly on his kick slide. Cross excels in space, moving to the second level with ease and showing the agility to latch onto a quicker linebacker. In pass protection, Cross does an excellent job of keeping the defender in front of him. Even when he loses a step, his length allows him to push the defender up the pass rush arc to keep his quarterback protected. Cross shows good hand-feet coordination in pass protection as well, and generally has good hand placement to get into the defender’s chest and control him. His length allows for good arm extension to keep his chest clean. Cross is a very aware and intelligent blocker as well. He keeps his head on a swivel and redirects to pick up second assignments with ease, showing impressive twitch in doing so. He also excels at picking up incoming blitzers. Cross is disciplined in pass protection, keeping his hands ready, not biting on crafty pass rush moves, and sustaining blocks through the whistle. Cross is also a good run blocker, as he shows good strength to engage and generate movement on the ground with solid power. He blocks with a mean streak, often pancaking his opponent.
Weaknesses: Cross doesn’t have the stoutest anchor, as he can be driven back a couple of yards by rushers that convert speed to power before absorbing contact and holding his ground. Continuing to add good weight as he has done since the start of his college career could alleviate this issue. Top-end speed off the edge can pose him issues, as there were a few instances of rushers dipping under his shoulder. Cross could become more consistent with his hand placement, which is generally good but can be too wide at times.
Bottom Line: While Cross isn’t completely developed physically and on the football field, his current level of play is already highly impressive and inspires confidence in his long-term projection. Cross excels in both pass protection and in the run game given his athleticism, strength, effort, and awareness. He was battle-tested against some of the best defensive lines in the country and performed very well. Cross should look to add more positive weight to improve his anchor, as well as to gain consistency in his hand placement. Overall, Cross is already a rock-solid tackle prospect who possesses true Pro-Bowl potential.
Grade: 1.3 (indicative of an early first-round grade just inside the top ten)
On Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. ET, fellow scout Alex Greb and I will be hosting a show live on Bold Take Scouting’s YouTube channel and East West Football Network’s Twitter centered around the College Football Playoff, including our predictions and our breakdown of some of the top prospects playing! Make sure to tune in!
- Cover Image: https://www.risendraft.com/offensive-line/charles-cross-report