Towing the Line: Khari Demos Talks College Football Weeks 8 & 9

Khari Demos joins Matt Waldman’s RSP site this season to profile college football’s trenches while keeping an eye on standout offensive skill players.  This week, OU RT Tyler Guyton and Miss St. LB Nathaniel Watson.

Tyler Guyton, RT #60, Oklahoma

One of the biggest players in the country (6-foot-7, 328 pounds), the Manor, TX native was a treat to watch in the Sooners’ narrow win over UCF. He engulfs defenders in both the running game and the passing game and shows off just as much athleticism as he does strength. I’ve reviewed a lot of linemen tapes this fall, but he is right up there for me in terms of my favorite linemen to watch. No wonder he’s getting all this hype of being a projected first-round pick. It’s been a crazy road to this point for Guyton; after starting out as a tight end at TCU and ironically making his first start at TE against Oklahoma, he’s making a name for himself as one of college football’s top offensive tackles.

I think one thing we must note is that Guyton is a right tackle now for the Sooners, however, with lefty Dillon Gabriel under center, Guyton’s importance is clear by being the veteran QB’s blindside blocker. I also think considering his size, length, athleticism, and overall skills, he can most definitely move over to left tackle in the pros.

I think that’s very clear when he’s able to smother guys in pass pro as seen above. He does sit a little tall in his stance, but imagine trying to keep your head from poking out amongst others when you’re 79 inches tall.

But it doesn’t seem to matter; Guyton is able to lower himself just enough once he gets into his pass set, and then he walls defenders off from there.

I like this rep here from Guyton too. He’s able to readjust as Shaun Peterson Jr. rushes upfield. Guyton could have locked in a little bit longer at the end, but being able to ward off Peterson as long as he did aided Gabriel in picking up the first down for the Sooners.

To me, though, one of the redshirt junior’s best showings was on this block on Gabriel’s touchdown strike to Nic Anderson.

Not only did he get tons of movement, but Guyton also did a great job of playing the RPO. Rather than getting vertical and being at risk for an illegal man downfield call, he slow-played it by throwing an inside club move.

Again, he builds a great wall for Gabriel’s blindside, thus clearing the way for the former Knight to toss one of his three TD passes against his former team. But Guyton was not done; it may not look like he’s got some world-beating block here, but the movement he provided was crucial to OU picking up this 4th-and-1.

I also like how Guyton was able to readjust on this play below. I think he showed off some great anchor to be able to hold down Dallaz Corbitt on this rush, but he also had his eyes in the right place when the Knights sent a new look post-snap.

Like I’ve said in the past, it’s all about feet, eyes, and hands when it comes to OL play. Guyton has more than a few examples of having the hands and the feet, but showing that he is seeing and reading defenses effectively is another plus. Another plus Guyton showed was his work in the run game. Shifting Peterson here was just one example of the type “oof strength” Guyton has to be able to torque defenders in his way.

One has to wonder if that 6-foot-7 frame will come back to bite Guyton at times, like this rep below. He doesn’t need to be squatting out there, but he will need to play with a lower pad level once he gets to the NFL.

This won’t work on the likes of Myles Garrett, TJ Watt, Nick Bosa, or many of the other top edge players in the league. But what it will come back to for Guyton is his pass blocking. And from the looks of it with this set in OU’s two-minute drill to close the first half, that should be his calling card above all.

Because of this, I feel like an NFL team that has an offense that may be more pass-oriented (ie: the Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins) could be a good team fit for him. Think about how devastating he can be as a blocker in RPO sets (hopefully, with better results than this play for the Sooners though).

I will say that one thing I worry about with Guyton is he has a unique frame for an offensive tackle. He’s built very lean and high, which makes his 328 pounds on the scale so interesting. I wonder if he bulks up another 10 pounds when he gets to the next level. I also think finishing needs to be emphasized for him.

He had some sloppy plays later on in the game, which may have been due to fatigue, but that does not absolve him from that. But despite that, he was able to help OU seal the win with this play where he handled three UCF defenders to clear a lane for Gavin Sawchuk.

Guyton is one of the most intriguing prospects that we’ll see in this latest crop of draftees. Personally, the peak of his game tape may be the best I’ve seen of any OT this season. While he can go through some lulls, I think he has all the talent in the world and has even that much more room to grow as he plays through his second full season as an offensive tackle. Guyton is among one of the deepest OT classes I can ever remember, but he may just be the best of them all when it’s all said and done.

Nathaniel Watson, LB #14, Mississippi State

Watson is a guy who immediately jumps off the tape as a playmaker and enforcer for the Bulldogs’ defense. It can be difficult at times to decipher how talented a linebacker is because they play a very stat-heavy position. Just because you get a lot of tackles, does not always mean that you have a complete skillset.

But with Watson, the production matches the tape. One of the best blitzers in the country, the Maplesville, Alabama native has tallied 7.5 sacks in 2023, recording a sack in all but one matchup this fall. He’s also up to 71 stops on the year, as he’s finished with five or more tackles in each game this season. But his best showing yet may have been in last week’s win over Arkansas, which earned him SEC and Chuck Bednarik Award National Defensive Player of the Week honors due to his 14 tackles and 2 sacks.

Let’s start with this third-down rush for Watson. While he was unable to bring Razorbacks QB KJ Jefferson, he was able to pressure him enough to move him off his spot, causing him to scramble and fall short of converting.

Like on that pass rush or other plays throughout the game, Watson’s able to disguise blitzes very well and he has an adeptness of being able to time up the snap. It’s a true skill and one that allows him to put pressure on QBs very often.

He was able to record sacks with that specific technique and almost added another here on Jefferson later on in the first half.

Playing forward so often can get Watson caught up at points, though.

Getting caught in the wash as a blitzer is something that has to concern defensive coaches at the next level. But I will say, he doesn’t allow that to hold him back, even making tackles in the run despite engaging with a blocker.

He does it later on in the game as well, which explains why he’s one of only 24 players throughout the country with 70-plus tackles thus far this season.

When he was deployed from depth, Watson’s pursuit and nose for the ball still showed up on tape.

One has to wonder what it’d look like if he played at depth even more than he does now. Or does he end up going the Micah Parson route; after starring as an off-the-line linebacker for Penn State, the two-time All-Pro has wrecked most of his havoc in the NFL as a hand-in-the-ground edge rusher. Seeing Watson is showing to be similarly capable in getting after QBs, maybe this is a formula an NFL DC will want to follow. Because in the majority of Miss. State’s most crucial plays, Watson is rushing the quarterback, rather than dropping back into pass coverage. Maybe that’s to hide his coverage skills; maybe it’s to double down on his strength of being a pass rusher. Either way, I think Watson’s role in the NFL can vary just because he has shown to be a uniquely versatile prospect with his set of skills.

I like Watson a lot and he has a frame and game that reminds me a lot of Saints All-Pro LB Demario Davis. I think as a blitzing backer, Watson can move all around a lineup and has proven he can get home from the interior, so imagine what he could do if he comes off the edge more frequently. Some NFL teams may not love that he’s a sixth-year college player, but I think a 24-year-old rookie LB is not the biggest issue in the world if that player can play. The 2022 second-team All-SEC selection may be the most underrated LB in the country and he’s just now starting to get the attention he deserves.

And of course, if you want to know about the rookies from this draft class, you will find the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), with the 2023 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95. 

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If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2022 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, proceeds from sales are set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat the sexual abuse of children. 

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