Each and every year Ohio State is one of the leaders in total players drafted to the NFL. In this series, I am going to be profiling the former Ohio State Buckeyes who have declared for the NFL Draft.
The rare four-year starter in college and one of the few five-year contributors in college football history, Thayer Munford leaves a legacy of leadership and consistency at Ohio State as he gets ready to head to the NFL. In 2021, Munford was awarded the “Block O” jersey number for his leadership and excellence on the field for Ohio State. When it comes to intangibles, you won’t find many players who have exemplified the identity of their program the way Munford does.
On top of the intangibles, Munford has played three positions on the offensive line and made a sacrifice this past season moving inside to guard. His positional versatility will make him an interesting draft prospect as a potential swing offensive lineman, adding value to any room he enters. Teams will be drafting a left tackle with a solid physical and athletic profile, but his final season left a lot to be desired. Munford struggled at times with strength against better edge defenders and in short yardage situations. Adjusting to life at a new position is never easy, but it led to some more question marks.
Munford was a great player in college and made an impact at Ohio State. When looking at his career, he was a talented tackle who overachieved his recruiting ranking. In the NFL, he will try to do that again.
Thayer Munford Draft Round Projection: 4th-5th Round Pick
NFL offensive tackles are some of the most physically gifted athletes in the world, especially when taking their size into consideration. Thayer Munford fits into that category and is an incredibly smooth athlete for his size, which will translate to the NFL. He has ideal tackle size at 6-foot-6 and weighing 320 pounds, but needs to play like his size. There were times where smaller players were able to beat Munford with physicality in the run game. In the passing game at tackle, Munford went two seasons without giving up a sack. NFL evaluators have plenty of film to watch, and his 2020 season showed he has long term NFL potential.
In the NFL, the more value a player brings to an offensive line room the better, as most NFL teams only carry around nine offensive linemen on their active rosters. We won’t be looking at film on this one, because this is more about what he’s done collectively than on any individual play.
When we talk about positional versatility, this means that being able to play multiple positions is arguably the most valuable trait for a non-first or second round offensive lineman. Even though his tenure at guard was not successful, it showed that he had a willingness to play another position and the ability to learn that other position on the fly.
As the draft approaches this will come up in interviews, and his move to guard will be a differentiator between Munford and other tackle prospects with similar grades.
As a multi-year starter at tackle, Thayer Munford showed a versatile skill set and immediate physicality from the tackle position from the jump. In the first play we’re going to look back to one of his earliest games as a starter against Florida Atlantic.
In this play, Munford is down blocking on his man who is lined up inside him. We see his explosiveness off the ball and he gets into the defenders pads immediately with his first step. He wins with leverage here and washes his responsibility inside. Ohio State’s running back J.K. Dobbins is able to get the first down. This play shows that Munford can be a dominant run blocker, but too many times when he was inside at guard did he lose out on leverage in the run game. This is something that will be talked about, but since he will be a tackle at the next level his older film is what evaluators will watch.
The next play on the run-blocking list shows Munford’s athleticism. As a run-blocker at the next level, he will be tasked with blocking linebackers and other second level defenders in space, which is no easy task.
Against Nebraska he was playing left tackle, and Ohio State runs an inside zone run. Munford is lined up on the read defender, which means he is leaving him unblocked. With him not blocking the defensive end, this means he has second level run blocking responsibility. Munford gets to the second level and into the linebacker quickly, he then gains leverage and pushes the linebacker up field, creating a nice running lane.
In the NFL, he will be asked to do this a lot more than he was in school. His athleticism will make him a great puller at the next level in gap schemes, and some of these things are what a lot of players struggles with at the position.
Munford played left tackle for his first three seasons as a starter at Ohio State, but this example of him in pass protection stood out to me when he was playing guard. Munford (No. 75) is in at left guard on this play and is up against a true nose tackle.
The reason this play was impressive was because at times in 2021 when Munford was playing guard, he had trouble with his strength against the run game. This example in pass protection shows not only his strength, but he shows great fundamentals in his first start at the position. This is no small task, and this is a reason he’ll be extremely valuable at the next level. In his career, you can count the sacks he gave up on one hand, and not a lot of players can hang their hats on a stat like that.
Scheme and Team Fits
Munford played in a zone heavy run scheme at Ohio State, which means for the best immediate success playing for team with a lot of base zone run concepts would be an ideal fit. Munford is well above-average when it comes to pass protection, but seems to translate more to the right tackle position in the NFL rather than the left tackle position. His athleticism and size make him an interesting prospect, and a team looking for a sixth-man type lineman would be a solid place for Munford to call home early in his career.
Dallas Cowboys (Round 4): The Dallas Cowboys had one of the best offensive lines, but age has finally caught up with them. The Cowboys will be looking to add depth and their potential long term replacement in the draft. Munford provides value and the potential the Cowboys are looking for.
Washington Commanders (Round 4): After losing All-Pro tackle Trent Williams a few seasons ago, the Commanders have yet to find a viable replacement. If Munford is available in the later rounds this could be an extremely valuable pick for them. Munford could be the long term solution and the Commanders can get great value in the middle rounds.
Cincinnati Bengals (Round 4): This is more fan service than anything else, but the Bengals need to improve this position to protect Joe Burrow. Who better to do it than a player who shared a locker room with Joe Burrow. If the Bengals are looking to improve their offensive line this late in the draft, they’ve messed up, but Munford can very well be a potential solution.
Chris Hubbard (Cleveland Browns): The former Pittsburgh Steeler and Cleveland Brown has made a career as a spot starter and swing tackle in the NFL. Playing for nine seasons, Hubbard has built a reputation of being a reliable option for any franchise. If Munford, isn’t able to reach his ceiling, Hubbard’s career has been a definitive success from a longevity stand point.
Cam Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars): With an almost identical athletic profile, Cam Robinson has been relatively inconsistent. When he has been healthy he has been a solid starter, flashing elite athleticism and providing reliability as a pass-blocker. Despite his health issues, he’s been a serviceable left tackle, which is how Munford projects.
In the name of fairness, here are some other evaluations from “NFL Draft Experts”:
Kyle Crabbs (The Draft Network): “There’s prototypical size here for Munford but his movement skills appeared to regress in 2021. I do appreciate the flexibility and willingness to kick inside to guard this past season but that sacrifice, combined with his play, has left a bit of a sour taste; I’m hoping to see a more dynamic and fluid version of Munford at the pro level, particularly if he’s left inside for his NFL home.”
BR NFL Scouting Department (Bleacher Report): “Munford’s size, length, grip strength and experience at multiple positions make him a worthwhile developmental piece for an offensive line. Several bad habits in his game will need to be ironed out for him to have a chance at carving out a long-term role, though.”
Ian Cummings (Pro Football Network): “Munford’s hands are prevalent in his game. While he can further refine his usage, his hands are calculated in pass protection. He hones in and counters rush moves, and he can react quickly to moves that stack on top of one another.”
Thayer Munford has all the makings of an NFL tackle from a physical ability standpoint, but there are some questions as he heads into the draft process. The former Buckeye has been a consistent player for Ohio State, but never flashed a truly dominant trait. As a player, he moves well in space and has shown the capability of being a high level pass protector. In the run game, the limited zone scheme could lead to some questions adjusting to the next level, but as the league transitions to more zone heavy schemes he should be ready.
An ideal swing tackle prospect, Munford can play both sides and can also provide spot duty at guard. His ceiling is a fringe NFL starter, but he can become a long time contributor in the league. If drafted to the right team, Munford can develop his strength and improve as a player while playing when needed or out of necessity over being a starter. This would be best case scenario for him to adjust to the league. As a player prospect, his middle round grade won’t change with the combine or testing well, but he can solidify his position on teams’ draft boards removing any question marks physically.
The leader and embodiment of what Ohio State wants in their players as people will have a lot to bring to the league. Look for him to be drafted on Day 3, and we’ll see if he can find his way into a starting lineup somewhere.