Expert Opinion: OT Brian O’Neill’s Profile
Brian O’Neill is a high-riser on big boards among NFL experts. The offensive tackle from Pitt is 6’6” and 305 lbs. He has only played tackle for a short period of time, before that, he played tight end. In 2017, he was First Team All-ACC. He will have a lot to prove at the NFL Combine and should have a great week.
Brian O’Neill is athletic. Due to his athleticism, he does well on pull blocks and combo blocks in the running game. Additionally, he was able to show his athleticism on the occasional play when they threw him the ball. He is excellent at pass-blocking. According to Pro Football Focus, O’Neill has the 3rd highest pass-block efficiency rate among tackles eligible for the draft at 98.3. O’Neill’s quickness and agility are top-notch.
His biggest weakness at the moment are that he is raw and needs time to develop. Because he is new to playing tackle, he sometimes panics and gets out of position or becomes careless with his footwork. His technique needs to improve at the NFL level as the defensive players are much better across the board to what he is used to at the college level. During O’Neill’s week at the Senior Bowl, he struggled in some of the one on one drills, although he did interview well that week, so some positives came from the Senior Bowl week.
O’Neill will likely be drafted by a team who is willing to let him sit. If Joe Thomas returns, the Browns can draft O’Neill and allow him to learn from the future Hall of Famer. Additionally, when Thomas is healthy, he typically gets a day off from practice, which can now be given to O’Neill and will help his development. The other trait of a team who would be willing to draft O’Neill is a team who has extra draft capital. The Browns have 12 draft picks, eight of them in the first four rounds. Spending one of those picks on a player with high upside is a prudent choice to make.
I do foresee the Browns making a play at a tackle at some point in the draft and O’Neill makes sense in the later part of the 2nd or 3rd rounds. In a few years from now, when he is playing at the All-Pro caliber he is capable of, people will be questioning how he lasted so long in the draft.
Finally, I feel that if he is drafted by the Browns, new Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley will find a way to get him the ball. For instance, down by the goal-line, O’Neill will enter as an extra blocker. They will call a play-action pass and O’Neill will sneak behind the defense and make the catch for a touchdown. Whether he ends up with the Browns or not, O’Neill will make an impact in the NFL.