UCLA redshirt senior Conor McDermott was entrusted with protecting the blindside of UCLA legend Brett Hundley and was given the same responsibility for premier quarterback prospect Josh Rosen.
There were rumblings heading into the season that McDermott could work his way into becoming a high draft pick with another solid season protecting Josh Rosen. However, things did not work out as planned. He started the season poorly against Texas A&M and was unable to rebound.
Standing at a behemoth 6’8″ 305lbs, Conor McDermott is a quality pass protector who uses his length and ballerina feet to good effect. He is hardly ever beaten around the edge and was trusted to play on an island against most opponents. He understands protection with regards to blitz and stunt pickups and gets good depth on his slide, showcasing agility and balance. His length and power allow him to control defenders and he anticipates counter moves well by keeping his feet lively and bending at the knees. These traits also help against the bull rush, despite his height being a natural disadvantage.
In the running game, he showed the ability to pull out in front on power plays and make lanes for teammates and use the cut block effectively. NFL evaluators will also really like his athletic background in basketball.
McDermott does not possess elite quickness. This is evident against speed rushers and in the running game when he is unable to beat linebackers to the play at the second level.
He needs to generate more power in the running game, either that or he lacks a nasty edge. He can seal off opponents but struggles to generate movement at the POA. Too often his opponent will make a play on the ball carrier as he is able to disengage. Working on his fundamentals and hours in the gym could help McDermott with this issue moving forward.
I noticed a big problem in the passing game. When McDermott sets his feet, he tends to lunge, leaving him flat-footed and vulnerable to counter moves. UCLA opened last season against Texas A&M and McDermott faced off against generational talent Myles Garrett. Garrett spun, bull-rushed, shoved and dipped his way past McDermott for six hurries, three hits, and two sacks. His blend of speed and power was too much for McDermott to handle.
Projection: Round 4-5
The Nashville, Tennessee native got his first start in college as a blocking tight end before becoming UCLA’s starting left tackle halfway through 2014. He played multiple positions in high school and only settled down as an offensive tackle in 2013. Therefore, one could argue that there is still room for McDermott to grow.
I like Conor McDermott as a prospect, but I don’t know where I’d play him at the next level. I don’t think he can remain a left tackle as he struggles against premier pass-rushers, but he needs to improve his functional power in the running game if he is to become a solid right tackle.