2021 NFL Draft Profile: Penn State Offensive Lineman Will Fries

By Matthew Filipovits on April 26, 2021 at 12:50 pm
Sep 29, 2018; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions offensive linesmen Will Fries (71) blocks during the fourth quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Beaver Stadium. Ohio State defeated Penn State 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
© Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
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Will Fries has been a staple along Penn State's offensive line for the past four seasons, appearing in 46 games and starting 42 of them (26 at right tackle, nine at left tackle, six at right guard, one at left guard). It's that type of versatility durability that makes him an attractive NFL prospect.

Will Fries
Will Fries
Position: Offensive Lineman
Height/Weight: 6'6/302 lbs.
Hometown: Cranford (NJ)
Recruiting Ranking: ★★★(0.8761)
Strengths At a Glance: Strength, Durability, Versatility
Weaknesses At a Glance:  Pass blocking, Consistency

Career Summary

Will Fries redshirted his first season at Penn State and never really had time to ease into his redshirt freshman season. He was thrust into the starting lineup in the third game of the 2017 season and would stay there for essentially the remainder of his career.

Fries Career Stats
  Games Starts
2017 13 9
2018 13 11
2019 13 13
2020 9 9
TOTAL 48 42

He split time between both tackle spots over the next few seasons, with the majority of his reps coming on the right side. He helped pave the way for Saquon Barkley and protected Trace McSorley for each of their best seasons in State College. 2019 was the lone season he started every game at one position - right tackle. He took his lumps at times (trying to handle Chase Young will do that to a guy), but was still named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention by both the coaches and the media.

The 2020 campaign got off to a rocky start for Fries, as it was clear he was still trying to adjust to the new style Phil Trautwein was installing. He was pulled from a few games in favor of Caedan Wallace and eventually made the position switch to right guard, where he started the final six games of the season. He thrived in his new role, and Penn State's offensive line began clicking, helping rattle off four straight wins and allowing just three sacks over their final three games. He was named second team All-Big Ten at the conclusion of the regular season.

Strengths

Strength...Durability...Plays low...Run blocking...Experienced...Can play multiple positions

Weaknesses

Pass blocking...Consistency...Tendency to hold

Summary

If you're a team looking to add some solid offensive line depth in the middle or late rounds of the draft, Will Fries is a no-brainer. He doesn't do anything at an elite level, but you know what you're getting with him on the field. He can hold things down at tackle in a pinch, but his better position in the NFL is likely at guard. With the league expanding to a 17-game season in 2021, a player who is always available like Fries could have a lot of value.

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