After appearing in ten games as a true freshman in 2012, Jack Mewhort started all thirteen of Ohio State's games in 2011, the first five at left guard, the final eight at right guard. He moved over to left tackle in 2012 and proceeded to start the next 26 games protecting the "blind side" for Buckeye QB Braxton Miller. Mewhort concluded his career in Columbus with 39 consecutive starts, playing in 49 straight game.
Mewhort's a tough, hard-nosed player (he suffered two broken ribs in 2011 when teammate Carlos Hyde slammed into him on a play against Nebraska but did not miss any games). Moreover, he possesses two qualities that will endear him to the Cowboys: versatility (he started multiple games for the Buckeyes at left tackle, right guard and right guard) and "RKG" status (Mewhort is highly coachable and was elected team captain as a senior).
Mewhort boasts NFL size (6-6, 306 pounds) and length (80 1/4 inch wingspan), which he uses to engage and lock out would-be rushers. In Senior Bowl practices, he kicked over to right tackle, and did an excellent job sinking his lower body and anchoring at the point of attack. You can see these attributes on tape; the Pigskin Poobahs at Draft Breakdown have seven of Mewhort's games, all from 2013. Check out a couple of thrilling late-season tilts: a squeaker against arch-rival Michigan and the Buckeye's Orange Bowl loss to Clemson.
What does our fearsome fivesome think of Mewhort's on-field exploits? Read on, faithful BTBers...
Rob Rang (CBSSports.com): 9th -ranked OT; 91st overall
Strengths: Excellent size, strength and technique to quietly star up front for the Buckeyes. Latches onto opponents and easily controls them, showing off the long arms, strong hands and subtle combination of lateral agility and balance to handle pass-blocking duties at tackle in the NFL. Plays higher than scouts would like but shows surprisingly flexibility and core strength to absorb bull rushers at this level. Generates movement at the point of attack as a drive blocker and will bury his opponent when he senses the defender losing balance. Versatile. Has played each of the four exterior positions along the offensive line, logging starts at left tackle (27), right guard (eight) and left guard (three) over his career. Durable. Started the final 39 consecutive games of his career for the Buckeyes and played in 49 straight. Voted a captain by teammates and lauded for his leadership by head coach Urban Meyer.
Weaknesses: Doesn't possess elite athleticism and therefore projects best at right tackle in the NFL. Relies on his length and strength, rather than top-notch quickness and agility to contain speed rushers and is susceptible to stutter-steps back to the inside. Plays high, negating his power in the running game at times and leaving himself vulnerable to the more powerful bull rushes he'll face in the NFL. A bit of a dancing bear when blocking in space, showing just average change of direction skills. Arrested once for public urination and for evading police.
Gary Horton (ESPN.com): 10th-ranked OT; 63rd overall
Pass Protection: Right tackle prospect with enough length and initial quickness to protect edge and push defenders past quarterback. Sets high and can get knocked back initially but absorbs, resets and digs in. Can shoot hands inside, lock onto chest plate and stone defenders. Hand placement is inconsistent though. Enough balance to stay in front once engaged but struggles to counter when defender shoots or redirects inside before he can get his hands on them.
Run Blocking: Effective. Gets into position and walls off assignment. Wide base and good hands. Drives legs once locked on and can move defender off ball when keeps pads down but frequently plays high. Average athlete that struggles to adjust to moving targets but adequate second level blocker that takes sound angles and cuts off linebackers.
Awareness: Picks up almost all line stunts and blitzes in pass pro. Above average adjusting on fly when zone blocking. Keeps head up and adequate at locating linebacker combination blocking up to second level. Experience playing every position along offensive line except center and ability to play multiple positions is testament to football I.Q.
Toughness: Blue collar player that blocks through the whistle and competes on every snap but would like to see more of a killer instinct. Doesn't back down but not an instigator that looks to get under defenders' skin.
Intangibles: Pronounced MEW-hort. Voted team captain in 2013. Team leader that bought into Urban Meyer's system early on. Arrested on charge of obstructing official business June 2012. Accountable and took responsibility for actions. Suspended 2012 summer and had to pay own way to summer school that year.
Dan Shonka (Ourlads): 7th-ranked OT; 55th overall
Three-year starter and team captain. Versatile with experience at right and left guard. He now starts at left tackle. An angular but physical player who is quick enough to seal the edge. Plays with a good base and long arms. Aggressive on down blocks and combos to the second level. Uses his hands well to lock up pass rusher. Quick on cut blocks to get the ends' hands down. Patient and smooth picking up twists and edge stunts. Good enough feet to maintain base and balance to run a pass rusher up the field past the quarterback.
Senior Bowl notes: played left tackle in college but worked at right tackle in the Senior Bowl where he appears to be better suited. Played with an aggressive and physical demeanor. Showed good effort and tenacity finishing in-line run blocks. A little tight and lacked some total body and change of direction hip flexion playing quickness. Worked feet to stay in front of defenders on run and pass. Showed strong initial punch. Can play in a bent knee athletic position as a pass protector.
Long Ball (Drafttek.com): 10th-ranked OT; 96th overall
Mewhort gets good grades for size, strength and toughness, but he plays too damned high for my taste. He has played 4 of the 5 OL positions in college, which would make him a solid back-up, but his only position in the NFL would be ROT, as DT's would bowl him over at OG. Just to be blunt, I would rather have Ryan Groy from Wisconsin; he has also played 4 of the 5 OL positions in college and has much better technique that Mewhort.
Nolan Nawrocki (NFL.com): 8th-ranked OT; 58th overall
Strengths: Good size. Engages with urgency. Reestablishes the line of scrimmage in the run game. Can drive block, widen the hole and seal lanes. Stout base -- good anchor strength. Plays with a load in his hands to jar defenders. Locks on and controls. Good enough feet to slide and mirror. Alert to stunts and blitzes. Versatile. Has an ideal temperament for the trenches -- breathes fire. Smart, tough and competitive. Three-year starter. Is passionate about the game and works at his craft. Highly respected vocal leader.
Weaknesses: Has a soft midsection. Stronger than he is explosive. Lacks ideal length and foot quickness for the left side (not a dancing bear). Vulnerable to strong bull rush when he gets tall and narrow-based. Occasionally gets top-heavy and slips off blocks. Average blocking range. Tight hips and ankles show when he pulls or climbs to the second level. Struggles to cut off fast-flowing linebackers. Lets his pads rise outside the phone booth. Recorded a very ordinary 1.92-second 10-yard split at the combine, indicating average short-area quickness for the left side.
Draft Projection: Rounds 2-3
Bottom Line: Thickly built, physical, highly competitive lineman who manned left tackle competently in college, but is better suited for the right side in the pros. Has starter-caliber strength, athleticism and technique supplemented with desirable intangibles. Versatility to play guard or left tackle in a pinch adds to value.
Our panel is in agreement with Nawrocki's assessment of Mewhort: that he's a second- or third-rounder. Given the overall talent in this draft (especially the quality late in the second day) and the fact that there are several offensive linemen with more athletic upside in that same range, I'm going to slot Mewhort in the third round on my "little board," but with the full cognizance that he could be drafted earlier than the Cowboys selection at #78.
As the above assessments note, Mewhort played both guard positions as well as left tackle for the Buckeyes. Thus, he, like the rest of the O-line candidates who were invited to Valley Ranch, exhibits a history of position flexibility. That said, he seems unlike the others in that his best pro position might be right tackle, not guard (whereas guys like Zack Martin and Billy Turner are college tackles that most scouts project inside); as Long Ball points out, Mewhort might not have the necessary lower-body power and heft to anchor against big interior rushers at the NFL level.
Then again, the last time the Cowboys drafted a Big Ten O-lineman with physical limitations he turned out pretty well; let's be clear here: Mewhort is no Sam Young. If the Cowboys can secure a Frederick-style right tackle of the future in round three - especially if they do so after fortifying their defensive line - I'm not going to complain. No, siree.
Later today: Now that you've seen how the national draftniks rate Mewhort, stay tuned for our in-house scout, Joey Ickes, who will post a detailed film study of the former Buckeye. Also, we'll have a profile piece on two late-round wide receiver possibilities: Oregon's Josh Huff and Texas's Mike Davis.