Film Room Friday: Michigan's Mason Graham and Oregon's Josh Conerly Jr.

Graham was the 2024 Rose Bowl Defensive MVP for his performance against Alabama.
Graham was the 2024 Rose Bowl Defensive MVP for his performance against Alabama. / Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/GettyImages

I am continuing to try some new things this summer. Each of the past three years, I have spent more and more time watching film. I am still a bit of a novice, but I have watched enough football to know what I am looking for a lot of the time.

As we head into the heart of summer scouting, I wanted to find a way to do some deeper dives on prospects I am watching each week, leading us to Film Room Fridays. Each week, I am going to break down a couple of prospects I have been watching and include some embedded highlights that I have cut together and shared on Twitter. The goal is to provide a visual element to the written analysis.

In these early weeks, the focus will likely be on a lot of linemen, as it is much easier to find All-22 film of those players at this stage. Although, I will probably mix in a few running backs and linebackers when I can. For the highlights, I am focusing on one game at a time and trying to boil everything down to about two minutes and 15 seconds, or less. (Twitter won't allow videos over 2:20 unless you pay them).

This week (really last week, but I was traveling), I had a chance to watch a couple of exciting prospects who could both wind up going in the first round of the 2025 draft. I will continue to tinker with the format and setup for this piece, but let's kick off our first Film Room Friday with the No. 1 player on my big board right now.

Mason Graham, DL, Michigan

Let's start with a potential top-five pick and a real star in the making. Graham is coming off a stellar finish to his sophomore campaign, capped by Defensive MVP honors in the Rose Bowl win vs. Alabama and a national championship. He is set to be one of the best defensive players in college football this season.

At 6'3", and 318 pounds, Graham can move much faster than you would expect. He flashes incredible quickness off the snap and regularly fools much slower interior offensive linemen with his agility. In the first play of this clip, you can see him get past the right guard with ease. Even though he gets cleaned up by the center, it just goes to show how difficult it is to block Graham one-on-one.

Additionally, Graham has good strength at the point of attack. If you watch the tape against Ohio State, you will see him consistently stem the initial punch from the guard or center and then disengage to make a play against the run. There are some moments where he can get a bit washed out on outside zone plays, but he is stout enough that it is not a major concern.

Mason Graham, Kyle McCord
Graham took over in his matchup with Ohio State in 2023. / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Graham is also fairly developed as a pass rusher. In this cut-up alone, you will see him break out a swim, an arm-over, a spin, and a bull rush. For an interior lineman, that is a fairly deep bag of moves. Even if he does not get home, he usually draws the attention of additional blockers. Graham plays with good leverage as well, making it difficult for blockers to get into his chest. Creating pressure on the interior is incredibly valuable. Even if it does not result in a sack, it can throw off the timing of a play.

For all of us who watch the NFL these days, we know how difficult it is for these pass rushers to get to the quarterback without drawing a flag for roughing the passer. That being said, I don't think that will be an issue for Graham. He hits hard but does not need to throw his whole body at a player to bring them down. If you jump to the 1:04 mark on the clip, you will see him flatten Kyle McCord, but at the same time, he pulls back to avoid landing on him. He does it again around the 1:24 mark, hammering McCord, but making sure he brings him down in a way that he does not land on him. He also keeps his strike zone focused on McCord's rib cage. Hard to draw a flag playing like that.

Josh Conerly Jr., OT, Oregon

Conerly is not the first name you will see when you read through rankings at this stage. However, he is very much in the first-round conversation. A smooth mover with good length and enticing power, Conerly was a first-year starter for the Ducks as a true sophomore. What excites me most about Conerly is his potential. He is a former five-star recruit from Washington who was one of the top tackle recruits in his class.

The game I watched from Conerly was against Utah this past season. The Utes boasted a good defense with some obvious NFL talent. Led by Jonah Elliss, this was a good test for the young left tackle. Conerly primarily drew Connor O'Toole, a player I am intrigued by heading into this 2025 draft class. Both O'Toole and Elliss were held without a sack in the contest.

If we turn to the film, right off the bat, you can see Conerly's athleticism on display. He does an excellent job jumping inside to help on the defensive tackle before wheeling around to get a piece of the linebacker who jumped into the outside gap. That type of footwork and change of direction is special in a player that size. You get to see those skills jump out again around the 33-second mark, where Conerly expertly mirrors a much smaller defender to keep good positioning in the run game.

Conerly returns to Eugene to play left tackle again, this time protecting Dillon Gabriel's blindside.
Oregon State v Oregon / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

However, the next play featured immediately underlines why Conerly is not in the same conversation as top tackle prospects like Will Campbell and Kelvin Banks at this point. His hand placement is poor and his punch lacks power. O'Toole blows right past him and winds up making contact with Bo Nix. Around the 51-second mark, O'Toole hits him with a cross chop and Conerly is left grasping at air. Nix gets it out quickly, but he is forced to throw a quick, short, contested pass that winds up falling incomplete.

Despite the inconsistencies in his technique, there are some promising moments on this tape. Fast forward to the 1:03 mark and you will see Conerly easily handle a speed-to-power move attempted by O'Toole. Conerly absorbs the initial contact and uses his length to keep the defender away from his chest. An expert spin move by Elliss on the other side forces Nix to get the ball out quickly, but it was a fantastic rep from Conerly.

The following play is a strong one as well. Conerly jumps out to meet Elliss and flashes his strength. Elliss comes to a complete stop and then tries to reinitiate the pressure. Conerly slides easily to keep him in front and pushes him out of the play behind Nix.

All in all, it was a bit of an uneven showing from Conerly, but the positives are what make him a potential first-round pick. Finding a play with that build who can move the way he can is difficult. Add in his clear power and you have a potential starting left tackle at the NFL level. There is a lot of work to be done on his hand placement and he is not in the most traditional run scheme, but there is hope that Conerly will show some improvement in his second year as a starter and answer those questions. If the technique shows signs of trending in the right direction, I think Conerly will wind up as a top-20 pick.