Welcome to the third in a series of articles profiling small-school and undervalued draft prospects you may not be familiar with but who I follow extensively throughout the season and think you should know about.
I’ll do my best to profile prospects who will be “rising up draft boards” between now and pro days, and who might be drafted on day 3, or sign as UDFAs. At worst, if you follow this column, you’ll recognize a name or two when you watch the USFL & XFL. You might even see a player who “comes out of nowhere” to be a solid NFL player, like Robert Tonyan or Aaron Jones. These are my people.
C/G Orlando Umana (6037, 325lb, 10 1/4″ hand, 32 1/4’” arm) who played the 2021 season at Ole Miss after transferring from Utah this past offseason is the kind of prospect I think of as a “mystifying oversight”. Not invited to Senior Bowl nor combine despite being an All-Pac 12 performer in Salt Lake and then anchoring the OL for a nationally-ranked SEC team. Scouts certainly saw a lot of Ole Miss, with their high-profile QB garnering a lot of round 1 buzz, and they must have seen the season Umana put up, yet here we are talking about him being a combine snub and “sleeper”.
Orlando Simione Limiteti Umana was an OL & DL, 2-way playing, 3-star recruit at Grant Union High School in Sacramento. He was twice named all-Sacramento & was a first-team all-Sectional honoree. Aside from football, Umana also was all-Delta League in the discus and shot put.
This is what it looks like when some poor high school kid has to go up against a 6’4″ 311lb OL on the move:
Arriving to the Utah campus already 6’4” and 311lbs, Umana quickly built a robust OL body in the weight room, while getting in the playing time mix. He got playing time in 2018, then won the starting job at center in the following season and was named to the All Pac-12 team.
Going into 2020, he was poised to be the anchor of the OL and its longest-tenured starter. Unfortunately, an injury in week one of the shortened COVID season ended his tenure, and he took advantage of the graduate transfer rules to move to SEC competition, with a chance to start “as a one-year rental” for Mississippi. Bringing in Umana allowed fellow NFL prospect Ben Brown to move to his natural OG position and generally solidified the Rebel’s rushing attack while protecting its star QB.
Without an invite to the Senior Bowl, Umana was invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, which turned out to be another good move on his part. His name was heard on the sidelines and in the stands during the week of practice, with current and former NFL people marveling at his “anchor” and success in OL vs DL drills, where he went undefeated over several days of practices.
Orlando Umana vs NFLPA & Senior Bowl standout DL Eric Johnson (pretty much unblockable all week) in practice 1-on-1s:
HOW HE WINS:
Umana’s ability to anchor and re-anchor in pass protection or wall-off blocks vs an impressive array of DT types is obvious in every rep. He has a classic IOL build, with bulk that is hard to get through/around and mass that is difficult if not impossible to grab onto or get under for leverage. He seems at ease when snapping and seamlessly getting to his assignment. He is the ultimate anchor as a Center, both figuratively and literally.
He succeeds at the center position because of not only his strength but with excellent short-area footwork. He consistently get position on interior defenders, gets them turned, seals them off with his massive size and length, and will plant them on the ground if they try to work free.
Umana (C #50) turns the very-talented NFL prospect Otito Ogbonnia (DT #91) around in circles and then plants him into the turf:
Although primarily winning reps in his phone booth, Umana also demonstrates smooth transitions to the second level, where he can overpower and knock smaller defenders backward. He also was surprisingly active downfield on screens and long runs, showing off hustle and some speed––then coming right back to effectiveness without a break to recover. This despite playing in an offense that was intentionally snapping the ball as quickly as possible after each play––often only 10 -11 seconds after the previous play had ended!
Here is Umana stiff-arming another Senior Bowl DL prospect (#99 John Ridgeway) off-balance with his initial punch, then getting to the second level and sealing the ILB––springing a big run:
Umana also has impressive upper body strength. I have yet to see a 1-on-1 pass protection rep he lost … basically, if you go into him, the rep ends and if you try to go by, he will likely hold you off or redirect you with a one-arm bench press. The combination of massive size and positional footwork forces defenders to either get walled-off or try to work around and under him… not usually successful unless the goal was to eat some dirt:
You can’t beat him with a bull rush, and if you think you’re going to go by, the guy next to him, don’t get within range or he’ll earhole you:
THINGS TO WORK ON:
Although his lateral movement in small spaces is very good, on occasion when picking up or transitioning to a nearby defender, his hands can get ahead of his feet, causing him to lose power because of the uneven base. He’s not by nature a waist-bender, but occasionally on the move he will reach and get over his toes in an effort to get to a second or third-level defender he might have gotten to with better angles. Overall, his balance is excellent and he moves well in a zone-blocking system but he isn’t built for a consistent role on the move.
Can’t quite reach the blitzing LB a few gaps to his right… there is a limit to his lateral quickness at 6’4″ 325 coming off the snap:
Here he gets to the second level but loses leverage and can’t sustain his block.
Ogbonnia gets into Umana before Umana can get out of his stance, Umana stands straight up and gets walked back, despite a valiant effort at re-anchoring.
Not being a combine invitee, his chances of being drafted go way down. Despite the lack of high-profile pure center prospects beyond Tyler Linderbaum, it is a banner year for IOL prospects like him who can play C & G at a high level. Those two factors alone probably mean he is a late-round-7 selection or a UDFA.
Damien Woody/Travis Frederick/Deuce Lutui. A plug and play starting or gameday backup C/G for a power-based run & PA team interested in a bigger C.
When Umana gets out of his stance and uses his feet to maintain balance, he is elegantly immovable. He’s not a graceful, pulling-Center athlete but he’s an extremely effective mauler with great size and quick feet.
For a power run team who values the ability to seal off the interior and anchor vs. big IDL, he could be a solid starter for years. If the NFL’s move toward more mobile OL devalues phone-booth fighters, then he will have to fight for a role as a gameday backup at C & G.
2019 Pac-12 Honorable Mention
2022 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl