Drafted: ROUND: 3 - Pick Number: 65 (JAX)
Draft Profile: BioIn high school, Luke Fortner was a dominant player at guard, center, and tackle and was awarded a three-star grade at offensive tackle by ESPN, Rivals, and 247sports Rated as the 69th best offensive lineman nationally and the 36th best prospect in Ohio by 247sports.
He joined Kentucky in 2016 and redshirted his first year and played in only limited action in 2018. It was in 2018 when Fortner was finally involved in the action as he played in 11 of 13 games and a total of 223 snaps.
As a junior in 2019, he started in all 13 games at both guard spots and was part of the "Big Blue Wall" who helped four Wildcats rush for at least 500 yards, only the second time in school history. In 2020 as a senior Fortner played on 538 snaps at left and right guard and allowed just 2 sacks and 9 total hurries on the season. As a result, he was recognized as a Wuerffel Trophy semifinalist and was also a Campbell Trophy semifinalist.
He elected to return for a sixth year, taking advantage of the NCAA's ruling to grant an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic and made it count. Fortner switched from playing right guard to center during fall camp and on 848 blocking snaps allowed just 2 sacks and only 5 total pressures. He was a Campbell Trophy semifinalist and made the Rimington Trophy Watch List for the nation's top center as a result.
Scouting Report: Strengths
- Outstanding movement skills with excellent quick feet and agility
- Has nice smooth hips and a good bend with great overall balance
- Good strong hands with nice well developed technique
- Has a high football IQ who is like a coach on the field and makes protection calls at the line
- Effective in space and usually drops his hips to get leverage and sustain against shorter defenders.
- Outstanding lateral movement ability and his second-level location skills are elite
- Good in space and excels a blocker in the screen game
- Solid positional run blocker who flashes the nasty demeanor and killer instinct scouts covet.
- Super versatile has played all the positions across the line but fits in best at center
- Plays with appropriate wide base and intelligence, instincts and agility to seal the edge. Aggressive extending with power to punch and looks comfortable in space.
- Awareness is above-average for his limited experience. Sells trap block and can turn to seal. Fluid getting to and adjust at the second level.
- Has put up elite pass protection numbers during his final year as a center - seems like his ideal spot on the line
Scouting Report: Weaknesses
- Does not have elite strength and can be bull-rushed by bigger nose tackles
- Only an average athlete who gets by with technique over strength
- Loses leverage battles and plays with high pad level. Can be late off the snap.
- Has shown a lack of discipline with keeping his hands inside his frame
- Limits ability to mirror by leaning forward with his upper body and neglecting his lower body. Not strong enough
- Is sometimes late high with his hands in pass protection, which can allow rushers to gain access to his body and force his aside
- Lacks a finishing attitude and is not a mauler.
Scouting Report: SummaryLuke Fortner is an older prospect who has been in college since 2016 and in that time has managed to hone his overall technique and now is regarded as a quality prospect with starting potential at the pro level.
As a center, he has put up elite numbers in pass protection he however has some physical limitations and will likely need to become stronger if he wants to hold up at the next level. Fortner will likely quickly become a starter in the NFL, although it's unlikely will ever be elite and will be looked at as a mid-round prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft
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