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2023 NFL draft: BYU offensive tackle Blake Freeland selected by Indianapolis Colts

Freeland, a 4-year starter, becomes the 2nd former Cougar offensive tackle drafted in the past 3 years

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BYU’s Blake Freeland became the second former Cougars offensive tackle to be selected in the NFL draft in the past three years.

BYU’s Blake Freeland became the second former Cougars offensive tackle to be selected in the NFL draft in the past three years.

Andy Nelson, Associated Press

Blake Freeland impressed scouts with his performance at the NFL combine back in March.

Now, he’ll be trying to make a similar positive impression at his new home in Indianapolis, after the Colts drafted Freeland in the fourth round (No. 106 overall pick) of the 2023 NFL draft on Saturday.

The 6-foot-8, 302-pound Freeland was a four-year starter for BYU, starting in 41 of the 44 games he played in his college career.

Freeland earned third team Associated Press All-America honors in 2022 during a season in which he gave up zero sacks and was flagged just twice for penalties.

He was also one of three BYU players to play in and start in all 13 games last year.

During the NFL combine last month, his 37-inch vertical jump was the best mark for an offensive lineman at the event since at least 2003. Freeland also recorded a 10-foot broad jump, a 4.98-second 40 and a 7.46-second three-cone time.

Freeland joins Brady Christensen in becoming the second offensive tackle out of BYU drafted in the past three years — Christensen was a third-round selection (70th overall) by the Carolina Panthers in 2021.

Prior to BYU, Freeland played a variety of positions (tight end, defensive end and even some quarterback) at Herriman High and was also a multisport athlete in high school — he played basketball and won state in shot put and javelin in track.

What experts said about Blake Freeland

“Freeland has the quickness to take the edge away from speed rushers, and he has all the tools to develop into an effective pass blocker at the NFL level.” — ESPN’s Steve Muench.

“Freeland is a high-end athlete at the position who has a unique skill set to develop. That showed in the run game, where he earned an 87.9 grade in 2022. He, unfortunately, has serious play-strength concerns that showed up in a big way at the Senior Bowl.” — Michael Renner, for Pro Football Focus.

“Freeland’s inexperience and the lesser developed aspects of his game (leverage points, play strength, etc.) will be exposed by NFL talent, but he has the feet, length and upside to warrant being a midround draft pick. He is a work in progress who should eventually compete for an NFL team’s No. 3 tackle spot and potentially more.” — The Athletic’s Dane Brugler.

What experts said about the selection

“Freeland struggled in one-on-one pass-block drills at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, but his rare length and athletic traits make him a solid dart throw here. The Colts needed more insurance at tackle.” — Eric Edholm, NFL.com.

“Not ready to play right now but is a long, supremely gifted athlete. Anchor is scary bad right now and not balanced. Think Kolton Miller or Brian O’Neill upside if he gets more powerful. I like addressing the OL for Indy.” — Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports.

BYU offensive linemen previously taken in the NFL draft, past 25 years

Year — Player, Pos., Round, Pick No., Team

2021 — Brady Christensen, OT, Round 3, No. 70, Carolina Panthers.

2005 — Scott Young, G, Round 5, No. 172, Philadelphia Eagles.

2003 — Dustin Rykert, OT, Round 6, No. 204, Oakland Raiders.

2000 — Matt Johnson, G, Round 5, No. 138, Indianapolis Colts.

1999 — John Tait, OT, Round 1, No. 14, Kansas City Chiefs.

1999 — Joe Wong, G, Round 7, No. 244, Miami Dolphins.

1998 — Eric Bateman, OT, Round 5, No. 149, New York Jets.

1998 — Jason Andersen, C, Round 7, No. 211, New England Patriots.