28 Feb Charles Cross Scouting Report
Charles Cross was a 5-star recruit from Mississippi in the 2019 recruiting class who decided to stay close to home and attend Mississippi State. After redshirting for his first season (sitting behind senior and future third-round pick Tyre Phillips). He became the full-time starter at LT in 2020 and has held the job since.
The Mississippi State offense and Air Raid offenses make for challenging evaluations concerning offensive linemen. The massive splits cause the timings on run plays to be off compared to most teams. Furthermore, the pass sets are different in terms of landmarks and priorities since tackles are a lot wider than they usually would be. So Cross might struggle a little in his rookie year from having to readjust to a more normal offense.
- Great athlete who showcases top-tier movement skills with fluidity.
- Extremely cerebral player. Has extensive knowledge of different blocks and techniques; mixes and matches everything to tailor each block to each opponent and assignment on every play.
- Has a lot of different punches and executes all of them well. He keeps his hands and feet independent when pass blocking; he has excellent placement and a good understanding of hand fighting.
- Showcases impressive length for a player with a smaller frame. Players with his frame usually struggle using two-hand and outside high punches, but that’s not an issue for him. He can use his long arms to generate space, giving him more time to reset his hands against the bull rush.
- Good awareness and is quite good at handling stunts.
- Plays with an excellent base at all times and does an exceptional job of mirroring rushers’ agility and bend.
- Very good anchor against power. His base helps him handle the initial burst; after that, he does an outstanding job of walking back while staying controlled, reestablishing his hands, and never compromising.
- Exceptionally crisp and controlled in his kick slide, he gets to his landmarks extremely quickly while staying in a body position, allowing him to react to rushers’ moves efficiently.
- Good run blocker for a tackle. Has the movement and footwork to excel on leverage-based blocks in particular. But more importantly, he puts a lot of thought into the techniques he uses in the run game and adjusts his footwork and angles exceptionally well based on the defensive look
Areas to Improve:
- Lacks size: while he has relatively long limbs, his body is already filled out, making it challenging for him to add weight and strength moving forward.
- Struggles after the turn in pass protection. His lack of strength and size makes him exceptionally reliant on having perfect technique. This reduces the margin of error or tools he can use to recover against inside moves (especially those set up with speed to power) and push people past the quarterback (which leaves him particularly vulnerable to euro step setups).
- Not overly violent or powerful as a blocker. Lack of strength can be an issue on some blocks. He makes up for a lot of it with movement skills and smarts, but those are not always enough.
- Has a bit of an issue where he sometimes overhelps on stunt pass-off but should improve with the tighter splits used in the NFL.
- May have some issues adjusting to the tighter splits in the NFL early on. The wide splits give tackles easier angles in the passing game and more time to recover against bullrushes. But his movement skills and anchoring ability are two of his biggest assets as a player. So it shouldn’t be a problem
Charles Cross is an excellent mover who shines the most with his exceptional understanding of OL play and technique. His superior knowledge of technique for a young player allows him to perform at a very consistent level. Cross projects to be a starter-level player on Day One in any scheme, but as a run blocker, he would shine the most on wide zone-based teams. There are concerns with his lack of recovery tools in size and strength, but those do not necessarily limit how high his ceiling is. Instead, it means that Cross will need to rely almost solely on technical consistency to become a Pro Bowl-level player.
Floor: Riley Reiff
Ceiling: Ryan Ramczyk
Mitchell Wolfe is from Central Pennsylvania but loves all things Pittsburgh. He recently earned a Master’s degree in Sport Business with a concentration in Sports Analytics from Temple University. Mitch is a graduate of The Scouting Academy and has worked for Pro Football Focus as well. He is interested in developing ways to incorporate data-based decision-making into the scouting and drafting process. In his spare time, Mitch likes to play video games, read about history, or spend time with his fiance and their pets.