Spencer Burford, OT, UTSA
If the Carolina Panthers pick a quarterback at #6 overall, they will almost surely select a tackle with one of their later round selections. Spencer Burford out of the University of Texas at San Antonio would be a solid pick, especially if he’s available in the sixth round, which is where multiple projections have him being selected.
UTSA had a fantastic year in Conference USA last season. They won the conference, finished with a 12-2 record and ranked 12th in the country in points scored per game at 36.9. They had a 3,000-yard passer (Frank Harris) and a 1,400-yard rusher (Sincere McCormick). Spencer Burford was integral to the success of the Roadrunner offense in 2021. He was named first team all-conference for Conference USA last year and should hear his name called on the third day of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Burford is actually a bit undersized as an NFL tackle (6’5” 293), but he showed improvement as the season went along, especially when it came to pass blocking. His lighter weight provided him with more agile feet than many offensive tackles, and Burford showed that he can move side-to-side quickly as well.
This becomes relevant on certain plays where he is forced to pull or get up to the second level on combination blocks, as well as on screen passes. Burford’s hand technique got better as the season went on, as he understood where to engage edge rushers, and how to keep himself in the play even when he wasn’t perfect getting out of his stance.
There are a few areas for improvement when it comes to Spencer Burford’s game and these qualities are likely why he’ll still be available on day three of the 2022 NFL Draft. He’ll definitely need to bulk up and add weight to be able to handle the strength of NFL edge rushers.
He’s not exceptionally long, which can be a problem for NFL tackles, as long edge rushers can use a reach advantage to get their hands into them and gain the upper hand. Burford could also play with a better pad level and could work on staying square against pass rushers as that would allow him to stay in front of them better.
Burford is young though (he’ll be 22 for the entire 2022-23 NFL season), and he’s started at right tackle and guard in addition to left tackle. He could thrive in a zone blocking scheme like the one the Carolina Panthers run, especially if he’s not forced to play right away.