Analyzing New York Jets offensive tackle Max Mitchell’s strengths and weaknesses
A day-three offensive tackle prospect from the Sun Belt Conference, Max Mitchell certainly isn’t considered to be among the flashiest prospects that the New York Jets added in the 2022 NFL draft. Few Jets fans had ever heard of the Louisiana product before the moment that Nick Mangold announced the team was taking him with its early fourth-round selection (111th overall).
But here’s the funny truth: from purely a statistical perspective, Mitchell actually is one of the flashiest prospects that the Jets selected this year. He owns some very gaudy numbers that you would not expect to see from a fourth-round pick.
Let’s analyze some of the stellar production that helped Mitchell climb into the fourth round of the draft. After that, we’ll go into Mitchell’s overall profile as a player, breaking down some of his most notable strengths and weaknesses.
Max Mitchell’s shocking production
If you’re going to make it into the NFL as an offensive lineman from a weaker conference, you have to really stand out.
And that’s exactly what Mitchell did. His statistical resume is top-notch and compares favorably against any offensive line prospect in this draft class.
Pro Football Focus awarded Mitchell with an overall grade of 94.8 in 2021, which ranked No. 1 among all FBS offensive tackles. He dominated his small-school competition.
Here are the top 11 highest-graded FBS tackles at PFF in 2021. Mitchell is joined by some fellow 2022 draft picks.
- Max Mitchell, Louisiana (94.8) – Drafted R4-111 by N.Y. Jets
- Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan (94.6) – R3-77 by Indianapolis
- Tyler Smith, Tulsa (92.3) – Drafted R1-24 by Dallas
- Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan (92.2) – Drafted R2-57 by Tampa Bay
- Darian Kinnard, Kentucky (91.9) – Drafted R5-145 by Kansas City
- Khalil Keith, Baylor (91.7)
- Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State (91.6) – Drafted R1-6 by Carolina
- Everett Smalley, Air Force (87.9)
- Jordan McFadden, Clemson (87.4)
- Kellen Diesch, Arizona State (87.2) – Signed as UDFA with Miami
- Zachary Thomas, San Diego State (87.2) – Drafted R6-186 by Chicago
To become the highest-graded tackle in college football, Mitchell performed excellently in many areas during his standout senior season.
One of the best aspects of Mitchell’s game was his ability to play clean football. Mitchell did not commit a single penalty over 879 offensive snaps. That ranked as the greatest total of snaps played without a penalty among FBS offensive tackles.
Between pass protection and run-blocking, Mitchell thrived in both areas but was more spectacular in the run game.
Mitchell’s 95.0 run-blocking grade at PFF led all FBS tackles. Considering that 75.5% of his run-blocking snaps came on zone-blocking concepts, he is ready to step into the Jets’ zone-based offensive scheme.
The right-side edge (the area to the outside of Mitchell, who played right tackle) was Louisiana’s most effective rushing direction. Out of the eight rushing directions charted by PFF, Louisiana scored its most touchdowns (9) and averaged its most yards per carry (6.7) when aiming for the right-side edge.
With much thanks to Mitchell, the Louisiana run game ranked ninth among FBS teams with 34 rushing touchdowns. Louisiana’s running backs gained 2.43 yards before contact per carry, which is over 27% higher than the 2021 FBS average of 1.91.
Mitchell ranked at the 92nd percentile among qualified FBS tackles with a pass-blocking grade of 82.5 at PFF. He gave up 13 pressures over 430 pass-blocking snaps, an allowed pressure rate of 3.03% that ranked at the 81st percentile among qualifiers. Mitchell yielded three sacks, one hit, and nine hurries.
Of course, all of Mitchell’s numbers have to be analyzed with the understanding that he was not facing the greatest competition.
With that being said, you can only play the people in front of you. Mitchell did the best he could to take advantage of his inferior opponents. It would be one thing if Mitchell was merely “good” in the Sun Belt, but he wasn’t. He was dominant. The bar is high for an NFL prospect who comes from a weak conference, and Mitchell cleared it.
We’ll see how well that dominance translates to the NFL.
The main reason that Mitchell slipped to the fourth round despite his excellent production is his physical profile. He is a little light, doesn’t have remarkable length, and posted some poor numbers in athletic testing drills.
Standing at 6-foot-6 and 307 pounds, Mitchell has the height that teams crave in their tackles but his 307-pound weight ranks at the 27th percentile among offensive tackles in the history of the NFL Scouting Combine.
Length is another concern. Mitchell’s 33.5-inch arm length only ranks at the 26th percentile for his position.
Mitchell earned a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 5.55 out of 10, which is fairly low for a drafted prospect. The average score for players who get drafted (regardless of position) is usually about 7.5.
Seen below is Mitchell’s RAS profile, showing how he compares in various areas to the average offensive tackle prospect. You can see that he failed to stand out in any category except for the 10-yard split (1.78), where he showed solid burst at the start of the 40-yard dash before slowing down over the final 30 yards of the run. He struggled in the vertical jump, three-cone drill, and bench press.
Considering the combination of his below-average weight and lackluster performance in the bench press, it seems likely that adding strength will be a focal point for Mitchell at the next level.
Mitchell played both tackle positions at Louisiana. Here is a breakdown of his career snaps:
- 1,799 snaps at right tackle
- 783 snaps at left tackle
- 84 snaps at left guard
- 32 snaps at tight end/extra lineman
Mitchell played left tackle over his first season-and-a-half before switching to right tackle midway through his 2019 sophomore season. He remained predominantly at right tackle throughout 2020 and 2021, making occasional fill-in appearances on the left side.
In his sophomore season, Mitchell filled in at left guard a few times. Louisiana also deployed him as a tight end/sixth lineman every once in a while during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Mitchell did not reach elite status until his senior year, but he was still a good player in his sophomore and junior years. We also saw some yearly improvement from him.
Here are Mitchell’s overall PFF grades in each season of his career:
- 2021: 94.8
- 2020: 84.3
- 2019: 81.9
- 2018: 55.6
Max Mitchell is an intriguing developmental tackle
Mitchell was a worthwhile selection at the top of the fourth round. Although he does not boast remarkable physical traits and comes from a smaller conference, his track record of tremendous production suggests he has the pure skill to develop into either a useful backup or a solid starter at the NFL level.