Alabama IOL Landon Dickerson could be NFL’s next Quenton Nelson, says NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger

NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger has labelled Alabama’s Landon Dickerson as his favourite prospect at the 2021 Draft, but feels uncertainty over his injury woes could see a first-round talent slip into the second round.

The interior offensive lineman saw his season come to a halt after 11 games in 2020 as he underwent surgery on a knee injury suffered in the SEC Championship Game victory over Florida.

It followed on from an outstanding 2019 campaign in which Dickerson was awarded the Rimington Trophy as the country’s top center alongside earning first-team All-American honours in his first season since transferring from Florida State.

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His time with Seminoles had also been cruelly disrupted by injury setbacks, Dickerson sustaining a season-ending ACL injury after seven games in 2016, requiring season-ending surgery on an ankle problem after four games in 2017 and managing just two games in 2018 before picking up another ankle issue.

Landon Dickerson tore his ACL in the SEC Championship Game.

Today, he’s doing cartwheels in the middle of Mac Jones' interview 😂 pic.twitter.com/PU6u9F5f8O

Despite his track record, the 22-year-old’s talent continues to demand attention.

“My favourite lineman in this whole draft and from any position is Landon Dickerson,” Baldinger told Sky Sports. “I think Landon Dickerson at Alabama for me may be the next Quenton Nelson, I just think he’s that powerful, that nasty.

“Nobody plays their game in this Draft the way Landon Dickerson plays the game. Albeit he’s had a bunch of injuries and you have to factor that in, but if he stays healthy I think somebody is going to get themselves a guy who is going to help change the whole culture of the football team around.

“Everybody looks at it differently. Some people will probably red flag him and say ‘we love this player but we’re just not going to Draft him, we’re not going to wait for the next knee injury to happen’. Some teams will take him off. He’s probably a first-round talent.

“He’s an explosive, strong, powerful player who knows how to move people off the ball, everybody is looking for guys like that. He’s a first-round talent that probably won’t be taken in the first round, he’ll probably go in the second round and suddenly the gamble becomes a bit more palatable.”

What a moment 👏

After injuring his knee in the SEC Championship game, @Landon_2012 gets his National Championship moment. pic.twitter.com/lx5ZO04wlU

Offensive tackles became a prominent feature at the 2020 Draft as four offensive tackles were taken inside the first 13 picks and five inside the first 18, Iowa product Tristan Wirfs notably starring at right tackle en route to Super Bowl glory with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Baldinger believes it is difficult to compare the two classes based on the two leading tackles in Oregon’s Penei Sewell and Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater having sat out the season due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

“You just can’t get better without playing,” he said. “They might have gone and worked out and all sorts but you aren’t going to become a better player by sitting out.

“Penei Sewell is a very talented player but when he went up against Auburn in 2019 in the opening game, I thought he struggled and I thought when he went against Wisconsin he saw a totally different type of player to what he sees in the PAC-12, again I thought he struggled. I just think there’s something there with improvement that has to be done.

“I think Rashawn Slater right now is a better player, he’s not as talented but he runs well enough, he’s got enough size, I think he could be like Zack Martin, a Pro Bowl guard, he’s got good power, I think he’s really smart, he takes good angles, he can play tackle too.”

A dominant blocker out of @HokiesFB.

Where will OT Christian Darrisaw land in the @NFLDraft?

📺: 2021 #NFLDraft — 4/29 to 5/1 on NFLN/ESPN/ABC pic.twitter.com/8fgxto89a1

The stock of Christian Darrisaw has also been rising of late, with the Virginia Tech tackle looming as a potential mid-first round prospect alongside the likes of Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins and USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, who offers the versatility to play both guard and tackle.

“I think Christian Darrisaw is going to be a good football player, I thought he got better throughout the year at Virginia Tech and I think he’s going to continue to get better,” continued Baldinger. “He’s got a good attitude, he’s got good size and it’s hard to run through him, I’ll like to see who’s going to coach him.

“He reminds me a lot of Dion Dawkins at Buffalo, nobody thought Dion Dawkins coming out of the Draft could play tackle, they all thought he would play guard, and he’s played three years at left tackle and been a really good tackle on an improved team.

“Jalen Mayfield was the right tackle at Michigan, he’s got some flaws to him, he’s a powerful guy, a good size, he’s got to improve his technique. Teven Jenkins at Oklahoma State is a really talented guy but I see him getting pushed around from time to time.”

For updates on the Draft, be sure to follow along at skysports.com/nfl and on Twitter @SkySportsNFL.

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