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2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Illinois OT Julian Pearl

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From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, a scouting report on Illinois OT Julian Pearl.

#54 Julian Pearl/OT Illinois – 6054, 314 pounds (Senior)

East/West Shrine Game

MEASUREMENTS

Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Julian Pearl 6054/314 10 1/8″ 35″ 85 3/4″
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
N/A N/A N/A N/A
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
N/A N/A N/A

The Good

– Thick lower half, wide base, and excellent length
– Creates torque as a blocker, powerful hands and can jolt defenders with his punch
– Shows leg drive and desire to finish
– Engulfs and bullies smaller defenders, routinely put EDGE players into the ground
– Good ID and recognition of stunts and blitzes
– Capable puller and able to hit a target in space
– Able to use length to seal
– Effectively washes defenders on down blocks
– Tons of starting experience with versatility

The Bad

– Inconsistent game overall
– Hands are too wide and he struggles to consistently strike; opens up chest, making him vulnerable to catching too many blocks
– Plays with forward lean as a blocker; bends at the waist and tends to lunge, reducing power on punch and causing him to fall off
– Trouble redirecting and changing direction against inside counters, knocked off balance and easily beat
– Average foot speed and lateral quickness; twitchy and athletic edge rushers will win the edge
– Can play too tall as a run blocker
– Tends to be late off the ball in pass protection
– Poor cut blocker
– Will be one of the draft’s oldest prospects

Bio

– 39 career starts (last 24 at left tackle, four at right tackle in 2020, five at right guard in 2021)
– Spent six years in college; turns 25 in October 2024
– Two-star recruit from Danville, Ill., only other FBS offer was Northern Illinois (originally committed there before flipping two months later)
– Listed at 245 pounds as a high school senior
– Played center for high school basketball team
– Two brothers played college sports (one D-III football, one D-III basketball)
– Played offensive line and defensive line in high school
– Had lived in three different cities by the eighth grade

Tape Breakdown

Julian Pearl was a relatively small-time recruit coming out of college. A two-way player with some debate about his NFL home and certainly questions over his weight, he flipped from Northern Illinois to Illinois in the spring of 2017. Throughout his college career, he’s packed on the pounds and filled out his frame, now looking the part of an NFL lineman.

Pearl packs a powerful punch and is able to stun, jolt, and send defenders to the ground. When he displays an accurate strike, his heavy hands are able to win in quick order. He’s strong and finishes, repeatedly putting defenders on the ground in the run and pass game. Cut-up of those moments. Pearl is No. 54, the left tackle in all these clips.

He’s highly experienced and versatile, too. Right tackle to begin his career, played right guard early on, finished out at left tackle. Pearl nearly declared for the 2023 NFL Draft but returned to school for one more season. It probably was a good thing, but it also makes him an old prospect, Pearl turning 25 early in his rookie year.

Overall, Pearl’s inconsistent tape is frustrating. His technique is all over the place, starting with his punch. Hands are too wide, and he gives up his chest too easily. Causes him to get walked back and not be in control of the block.

Pearl plays with too much forward lean and lunges in the run game but especially in pass protection. And he struggles to redirect and mirror against inside counters, often getting beat. His snap-timing is also average to below, and while he can work in space to a degree, he isn’t especially athletic and will struggle against speed rushes off the edge when he can’t get hands on them. Cut-up of those problems here.

Conclusion

Overall, Pearl can throw his weight around and make an impact when he plays with tight hands. But his game is too up and down to trust and he’s not a raw player. He’s started nearly 40 games against good competition and will be one of the draft’s oldest prospects. His best tape came against weaker competition, a really good game against Northwestern, but Penn State’s toolsy EDGE rushers gave him fits.

There are traits to like but he’s not well-rounded enough. Pearl could move to guard though without cleaning up his technique, he won’t be a starter. Maybe his versatility and experience can make him an effective backup. My NFL comp, in style and size a little more than NFL projection, is Daryl Williams.

Projection: Early Day 3
Depot Draft Grade: 6.8 – Backup/Special Teamer (Fifth Round)
Games Watched: vs Penn State (2023), vs Toledo (2023), vs Northwestern (2023)

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