Miami Hurricanes OTs Zion Nelson and DJ Scaife in PFF Top 15 nationally

Oct 16, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Miami Hurricanes offensive tackles Zion Nelson and D.J. Scaife are ranked in the top 15 nationally at the position entering the 2022 season by Pro Football Focus. Nelson is eighth and Scaife 15th in the rankings that PFF noted do not consider NFL potential. Several sites have Nelson projected as a first-round 2023 NFL Draft pick.

Nelson is the second-ranked OT in the ACC behind Jordan McFadden of Clemson. Trevor Reid of Louisville is the third-ranked OT in the ACC entering the 2022 season by PFF with Scaife fourth. Ohio State and Notre Dame are the only other programs nationally with a pair of OTs ranked in the PFF top 15.

Dawand Jones of Ohio State is the second-ranked OT in the nation for 2022. The Buckeyes’ Paris Johnson Jr. is fifth. Notre Dame has Blake Fisher 10th and Joe Alt 14th in the ranking of the best OTs in college football for 2022 by PFF. Miami should have an improved 2022 OL under Mario Cristobal and Alex Mirabal.

Cristobal as the head coach places an emphasis on the play at the line of scrimmage as a former OL. Mirabal who worked under Cristobal at Florida International and Oregon as the OL coach will have the same position with the Miami Hurricanes. Miami needs to improve on the OL allowing negative plays.

Miami finished 92nd nationally in 2021 allowing 6.75 tackles for loss. The Hurricanes were 80th in 2021 allowing 2.5 sacks per game. Per PFF via Sports Illustrated “During the last seven games of the 2021 season, Nelson allowed zero sacks and received a 90.8 pass-blocking grade.” Nelson needs to continue to develop.

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Nelson and Scaife lead an experienced returning Miami OL with over 5,000 career snaps combined between them. Scaife has 40 career starts combined on the right side of the OL at guard and tackle. The versatility Scaife has provided Miami during his collegiate career has been important in getting the OL playing their best positions.