Could Jake Witt be the 2023 draft’s offensive tackle version of Anthony Richardson? Like Richardson, Witt only made 13 college starts at the position he’s expected to play at the next level. Like Richardson, he’s an athletic freak who is only being mentioned for the draft because of what he could be and not necessarily what he’s proven yet.
Richardson played at Florida, but he didn’t play well.
Witt played at Northern Michigan, meaning that he didn’t face any pro competition, but he did play well.
How do you balance that? For Richardson fans, it means using an early draft pick on him because he’s a quarterback coming out of a major college program and he was dominant at the combine. For Witt fans, it’s a hope and a prayer because similar maybe to Jordan Mailata of the Philadelphia Eagles, a team will stick a dart on a sixth or seventh round pick because they believe in their coaching staff’s ability to transform him unique frame and athleticism into an NFL starter at a premium position.
Do the Los Angeles Rams believe they have such a coaching staff?
Witt played tight end for the Northern Michigan Wildcats but injuries forced him into a role at right tackle at the end of the 2021 season. He was so good at it that the team asked him to pack on weight and do it again for 2022. Over the next 18 months, Witt added 40 lbs of mostly lean muscle to get up to 302 lbs on a 6’7 frame.
While Richardson dominated the combine, Witt didn’t get an invite. Instead, he went to the Central Michigan pro day and ran a ridiculous 4.89 40-yard dash, nearly .10 seconds faster than any offensive lineman at the combine. He added a 10’3 broad jump, a 1.71 10-yard split, and he did 22 reps on the bench with his 33.5” arms. Witt has the size, length, and athleticism to be an NFL starting tackle and he’s shown impressive improvement in a short period of time at the position.
Unconfirmed—I repeat, UNCONFIRMED—rumors have said that the Rams are interested in Witt. But they have to get in line. He’s had quite a few top-30 visits from teams that want to know more because he wasn’t invited to the combine. It doesn’t really matter if L.A. had a real visit or real interest or not... the Rams have 11 draft picks and most of them are on day three. Of course they should be interested.
UPDATE: Northern Michigan University standout OT Jake Witt has a Top-30 visit with the Cincinnati #Bengals, source says.— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) April 17, 2023
The Wildcats star has a private workout with the Indianapolis #Colts later this week, per league sources.
Witt has already had Top-30 Visits with the… pic.twitter.com/ePYpdwJ64l
Here’s what The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote about Witt in his draft guide known as “The Beast”:
STRENGTHS: Tall, athletic frame with functional length … had an “outstanding” pro-day workout, according to NFL scouts in attendance … displays above-average lateral agility on inside/outside zone … his slide quickness in pass protection allows him to mirror and stay centered against pass rushers (his basketball background is evident) … impressive lower-body explosion (his 10’3” broad jump would have ranked the best among all offensive linemen at the combine over the last 10 years) … keeps his hands ready to go at all times with a competent punch … added 40 pounds of good weight over the last 18 months and his conditioning/training speaks for itself … tested well mentally with NFL scouts and exhibits the processing skills and desire of a quick learner … a former basketball coach described him as “super humble.”
WEAKNESSES: His inconsistent tape reflects his marginal football and offensive line experience … will require extensive technique and muscle memory work … needs to stay under control in his pass sets to avoid lunging with his upper half … gives up his “square” too quickly, creating short corners … has the hip flexibility to sink mid-stride, but lacks girth in his lower half and often plays tall, negating his base strength … his pad level, hand leverage and angle blocking in the run game are works in progress … needs to continue strengthening his core to better steer his target and match up with NFL power … plays with natural athletic instincts, but his positional awareness and timing aren’t NFL ready … only faced Division II competition (although that includes Ferris State’s Caleb Murphy).
SUMMARY: A one-year starter at left tackle at Northern Michigan, Witt made the transition from tight end to tackle in the Wildcats’ pro-style scheme. One of the wildest prospect backstories in this draft class, he was a little-used tight end in 2021 before he flourished at tackle when he was pushed to the offensive line by injuries. With only 13 career starts on the offensive line, his tape is understandably inconsistent, and he played much lighter than his current weight. However, Witt’s pro-day workout created a buzz among NFL scouts because of his remarkable testing numbers and movement skills in the positional drills. Overall, Witt is on the basement level in terms of his development on the offensive line. But with his athletic traits and natural talent, his ceiling for a patient coaching staff might be the penthouse. He is a draft-and-stash prospect worth a dart throw.
It’s been a couple of years since we’ve heard anything from International Pathway Program prospect Max Pircher, himself an athletic marvel on a huge frame. If that project didn’t work out, Witt could be the next.