Watch: Mitchell Schwartz on 2023 NFL Draft prospects, QBs, Offensive Linemen and Sleepers
In our exclusive interview, the former Chiefs and Browns OT previews the top quarterbacks and offensive linemen in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Bryce Young, he has everything. Except size.
2023 NFL Draft first-round predictions and picks
Which of the top 4 QB’s do you think should go number 1 overall?
Mitchell Schwartz: It’s interesting. When they made the trade it seemed like people weren’t exactly sure who they were going to take. You could do some potentially crazy stuff with it too. You could even trade down a pick if Houston felt like they needed to jump up for somebody. It does seem like Bryce is the pick and he’s probably the guy that I would pick.
It’s hard. I feel like all four of these guys have something that takes away from you saying, “He’s surefire going to be a number one guy.” I go back to Andrew Luck because that’s my draft class but like the perfect prospect who’s got everything you’re looking for. With Bryce, he has everything except size. He’s the outlier of all outliers.
I know guys point to Kyler and Russell Wilson but I think there’s a couple big differences. One, I’m just going to throw out the combine weight. 204 or whatever it was. My guy was pounding some salts and some liquids for a couple weeks.
I think anyone who watched him play- he’s not living in the 200 range when he’s fully training in an NFL season. So when compared to Kyler, even if the height is similar, Kyler still has got a more muscular build to him than Bryce does. So you’re looking at Bryce as more of a slight point guard in the NBA because he’s short and he’s thin. And he is a true outlier in that sense.
We’ve seen guys come along these last couple years who have pushed the limits of hey, we don't think quarterbacks could compete at this height, and they've been doing a pretty good job of it. But he's just that next step of “can you compete at that height”, but also weigh in the 180s.
Realistically that would scare me as a team who not only is picking one but traded up and not going to say mortgage the future but traded away some serious assets to do it. So you have to be comfortable with that.
It comes down to: he wasn't really hurt in college, and he does have some of that escape ability and the smarts kind of like Lamar does as well. You don't really see Lamar taking big hits. You know, (1) They both have dynamic athleticism to avoid them. (2) They they're also smart about getting out of the way. They're smart about getting down.
They're not Josh Allen out there, just welcoming any and all contact and seeking it out. They play in a smart way. And Bryce says, especially where he understands that he isn't the biggest guy and it's not smart to be tussling too much when you can get down and get safe. I still think Bryce has that higher upside of assuredness where he's done it at the highest level, and the best team in the last decade, the last couple years and gotten them very far. He's got, I think, a very high floor. But he's also got a high ceiling as well.
For me, he probably be the number one guy, but again, I'm not the one that has to take him when you're sitting in those meetings. You go through your checklist.
For lineman I remember when I was coming out, you're doing the bench press, you're doing all these other things. Did they really care how many reps of 225 pounds you can bench? No, but they care that you can do 20. Because if you can do 20, that means you have some level of strength, that means you have some level of caring in the weight room, and you're committed to it.
They just want you to kind of check these boxes and Bryce doesn't quite check that size and or that weight and height box. And so that's something where you have to feel really comfortable as the GM to turn in that card.
NFL Draft Offensive Lineman 2023 prospects
Who’s your favorite OL in this year’s draft class?
Mitchell Schwartz: I think Skoronski, you mentioned him to me. You know, you hate putting the word safe on the guy because it feels like there's not as much upside but again, you're talking about what's that floor? What's that ceiling? Like, it feels like Skowronski, the floor is exceptionally high.
I don't see much probability of him not being a high-level starter whether it's a tackle or guard. I will leave him out of tackle. I know he's, again talking about outliers and certain things, he's got pretty short arms, all things considered for an offensive tackle on what we typically see in high level tackles and guys getting drafted in the first round. But he goes to Northwestern, and he plays a lot of good teams.
He's gone up against this Ohio State defense who has a first rounder every year, and so you would have seen that lack of length show up on film. He had to go up against Lukas Van Ness from Iowa last couple years and he’s a big, strong, long guy. So you would see that come out in certain areas, if it was a true deficiency. And aside from a couple times where he can give up his chest a little bit, I just don't really see the arm length becoming a factor for him.
I think that's technique stuff. You know, I've talked to him in the past as well. And he's a guy who tends to kind of grab more than truly punching. And so if you're more of a grabber in terms of technique, you are going to expose your chest a little bit like you have to wait until they're close enough to grasp on to them. But 6’5, 310. You know, the fluidity of the movement, the 35-36 inch arms, everything that scouts drool over. But I think there's a little bit of coaching involved there. There's a little bit of meshing with a certain scheme. I just think Skoronski can step in and kind of be that guy from day one.
Again, when you're looking at what do you want on an offensive tackle, you know some guys going to value those traits a little bit more because you're going to bet on the 6’5 310 guy who runs a four and his agility is through the roof. And his arms are 35-36 inches, you're going to say “all right, you know if it gets down to him against Von Miller in space, I'm probably going to trust the guy who may be a Von gets an edge or maybe Vaughn has an inside move.
He's just got that pure bursts of athleticism, kind of a lane Johnson or some of these other kind of Trent Williams freak show guys that you don't see them get to be very often because they're so proficient, they blend technique with athleticism. But if they do get beat, they have some serious bursts and I think Skowronski has enough of that, but he doesn't necessarily have what the other guys have.
That's where I get into him being kind of that “safer” pick the guy that's going to step in day one and can kind of blend in any scheme and play really well. Tackle or guard. But I think pure-upside-wise, a guy like Paris or guy like Broderick probably gives you that slight bit more potential. It's just if they're going to reach it.
2023 NFL Draft Sleeper Prospects We have guys like Brock Purdy and Isiah Pacheco who were taken late and had fantastic rookie seasons. Is there a player in this draft class that could be a day 2 or a day 3 pick that you think could have the same impact?
Mitchell Schwartz: Well, I think when I think of offensive lineman, you talked about Cody Mauch, North Dakota State. He's maybe getting a little bit more publicity. I don't think he's going to be a fifth, sixth, seventh rounder. He seems like he's kind of more in that third-round range with the potential of a team loves him kind of low second. Maybe he slips a bit and goes day three in the fourth round. But those guys from the lower divisions who don't get to face the same talent that we've started just talking about like Bryce young going to Alabama and playing against all those defenses.
He’s a guy who's at a D3 school. It's not just that you're maybe playing a simpler division, you're going up against guys who physically just don't fit the profile of what you see on a Sunday week in and week out in the NFL. That was the biggest thing for me getting to the NFL. The best guy I ever faced in college barely even had a career in the NFL. Like, you're just facing such better guys week to week that it's hard sometimes to project if you haven't seen it from one of these lower guys, but I think Cody's got that ability. He's got that potential. I think he is going to be able to kind of work through those growing pains in the first month of training camp the first few weeks of the season where you get a bit overwhelmed.
I remember it took me about five or six weeks until you get that proverbial “game slows down” moment. That actually happened for me and I started to realize like, “hey, this, this is slowing down. Like I can actually run to the line like, alright, it's 35 on the left tackle and it's coming to me. The running backs going to be here, I'm going to go block my guy. And then by the middle of season a nice 35, you know. I know all those things now I can see. I can see that safety rotating over the top. Maybe I gotta make a nice call because my guy's going to go inside and the guy off the slot is going to blitz”. So that's where that's slowing down comes into play.
For guy like Cody working through those kind of rough moments where the level of competition is a lot higher, I think he's got the ability like you're talking about Pacheco. And we see these running backs and receivers every year, this kind of fifth, sixth, seventh rounders. I think the thing is to look out there and not necessarily a specific name, but just guys who are dynamic with the ball in their hand, and also have strength and balance through contact, especially in the running back position where every single play you're going to get tackled.
Receivers as well. I mean, we see that pretty much everybody needs to be dynamic with the ball in their hands these days. Guys who can either break tackles or kind of fight through contact, stay on their feet, get those extra few yards, I think that's something that translates. If you're able to make guys miss, you're able to fight through tackles in college, you're probably going to be able to do it in the NFL.
It's hard to not make guys miss in college and start doing in the pros. And it's also relatively hard to be a dynamic guy in college who makes guys miss and then just completely not be able to do that in the NFL. So whatever reason those guys slipped down a bit, I think looking at them with the ball in their hands, what they do at the contact point, are they're able to make misses and/or fight through tackles physically and stay on their feet. I think that's probably the biggest trait that allows those lower-level guys, shouldn’t say lower-level but lower draft pick guys, to be successful to next level.
Mitchell Schwartz describes being drafted to the Cleveland Browns and his NFL rookie season experience.
Any interesting or funny draft or rookie season stories from your time?
Mitchell Schwartz: Oh yeah, we had a really good group in Cleveland. That was the thing, I got lucky I was drafted there. And honestly, I went higher than I expected to. I kind of got lucky with that as well.
I projected somewhere to be around the 6th through 10th offensive tackle taken so usually that second round, maybe third round. For some reason in my draft, there were only two tackles taken in the first round, which is like a really low number. And especially when you think the next year there were three tackles taken in the top four picks. So we got a pretty low amount of tackles taken and I'm sitting there like, “6 through 10, only two were taken. Not looking so good for me, I might have to wait a bit.” And I was lucky enough to have Cleveland Pick me with the fifth pick in the second round. So I got taken right off the board early.
I never got to the point where I was like worried or stressed or starting think “I'm better than these guys. Why are they getting drafted over me?” It was a really smooth draft process for me.
The luck part is going to Cleveland, where I had a lot of different things working in my favor. One, obviously the organization liked me enough to draft me there. And so they had a plan for me, had a really good offensive line coach, George Warhop. He kind of taught me a lot of things that lasted the rest of my career in terms of pass setting and change ups and how to use your hands, how to use your feet.
Joe Thomas, as we all know soon to be Hall of Fame Inductee already been announced for it. You know, I get to play across from him be in that meeting room every day with him ask him any question I want. He's there to mentor me and does a great job with it.
Alex Mack is our center who I went to college with and so I show up right away and there's a guy in the room that I've been with before. I'm friends with. I played ball with him as center when he’s running things. And so there's that familiarity there that I think really benefited me more from the personal side, even going into a new room and a new team. Obviously never been in the NFL when you're first drafted. Like it's stressful. It's- it's anxiety filled. And you got someone you consider a friend who can kind of walk you through things and make sure that everything's going well.
And then just the rest of the room in general. I mean, John Greco, Jason Pinkston. We just had such a tremendous room that I really got lucky. And so we had so much fun every day. But again, it was good teaching, it was good to get the fundamentals down before the kind of the craziness of practice started. And so we started to do a word of the day thing where every day when we were doing our warmup 20 minutes before everybody else, we would have just go down the list and if it's your day, you got to bring a word, you got to teach everybody about it, spell it, tell us the country of origin, what's the definition. There's just kind of stuff like that where we just found a way to have fun.
You could go out there and you could be better if you could be fun. You might think you had to practice 10, 15, 20 minutes early, and be like “I don't want to do this, this is, you know, more than we need to”. But we embraced it. We knew how much those base fundamentals meant to us and we made the best of it. And I think that's one of the things I always remember with that group is how much fun we had together and how we were able to kind of make any situation. And obviously, the team record is what it is. We're able to make any situation into something that was fun and enjoyable.
Looking for a place to eat and watch the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas? Mitchell reveals his Top 10 Best BBQ restaurants in Kansas City, MO
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