Position: Offensive Guard
Weight: 324 lbs.
Last year Chattanooga sent an offensive lineman to the NFL in the first round of the draft with Cole Strange and, while it may not be that early this time, the Mocs are poised to see Strange’s former teammate McClendon Curtis do the same. Curtis, the big offensive guard, spent six seasons at Chattanooga (2017-2022) where he took home several awards including three First-Team All-SoCon honors and the 2022 Jacobs Blocking Award.
Standing at 6-foot-6, Curtis has the size and frame of an NFL-level guard, weighing in at 324 pounds. Scouts have lauded his muscle mass and length noting that he is able to effectively control much of what happens in his area at the line of scrimmage. His aforementioned muscle mass gives him the strength to steer defenders with his hands when blocking and, in doing so, create wider rushing lanes for ball carriers.
Curtis is quick off the snap and adjusts quickly to square up to opposing defenders. The cerebral facet of his game is just as solid as the physical part as is demonstrated by his awareness to help his teammates on the line when he is uncovered. He recognizes defensive formations quickly and efficiently, making him an asset in not only run blocking but pass protection as well.
McClendon Curtis (@McclendonCurti1) is going to be one of the best interior OL in the 2023 #NFLDraft. He is very tough, physical, and mean.. But at the same time, he also has outstanding reach ability, which will allow him to excel in multiple NFL Schemes. pic.twitter.com/UGLf79nWjP— Sanjit T. (@Sanjit__T) February 14, 2023
For his size and strength, Curtis is also fleet-footed and possesses a fair amount of speed. At the NFL Combine he ran a 5.24 40-yard dash and a 4.97 in the 20-yard shuttle drill. His speed, while not the best of his position class, is certainly still impressive given the sheer size of his frame. Once he has a head of steam behind him, slowing Curtis down is no easy task.
For all he does well, NFL scouts have noted some areas in which Curtis will need work if he is to be a starter in the league, the main point of concern being his fluidity when absorbing contact. He was often described as “too straight-legged” when it comes to blocking in pass protection. Concerns have also risen over his coordination when taking contact. As with most offensive line prospects, however, these are areas of doubt that will be addressed once he enters an NFL training routine.
Final Analysis: What he may lack in balance, Curtis makes up for tenfold in his strength and stature. He is built for the pros and should only get stronger once he begins NFL training. He is a big, strong and fiery force up front and that’s what you’re looking for at the next level. It may admittedly be a while before he works his way into a starting role but Curtis’ potential is sky high. He is smart and, pending he stays healthy, he should have no issue learning to improve the technical aspects of his game. He will serve as a challenge to many of the defensive linemen he goes up against in the years to come.
Projected Selection: 6th Round (Day 3)