Some wonder about how long he wants to play football
Summary: Under Kansas State coaching legend Bill Snyder, the Wildcats produced a lot of technically sound offensive linemen for the NFL. Risner could be one of the last of those Snyder blockers, but once again, Snyder is giving the NFL a tough blocker who is smart and has received good coaching on technique for the next level. Risner is not an offensive lineman who wows with his athleticism, quickness, or other-worldly strength. However, he is solid player who could have a long NFL career.
For the passing-driven NFL, Risner is limited to being a right tackle or guard. He does not have the feet, athleticism, and agility to be a left tackle. Risner is too stiff and would be a liability against NFL speed rushers. However, he is a smart blocker who has good technique. Generally, he uses his technique to to keep a grasp of defenders and limit them from putting pressure on the quarterback. Risner should develop into a solid pass protector in the pros, but he probably won't be a shutout pass blocker who never gives up sacks or pressures.
In the ground game, Risner uses his strength to torque defenders and manipulate them at the point of attack. He is not an overwhelmingly power blocker who knocks defenders off the ball and is a road grader. However, he has good technique to latch onto defenders and turn them away from his running back. Risner employs good technique and is a smart blocker, so he often finds ways to win.
At the Senior Bowl, Risner had a solid week and helped himself with his practice performance. Some teams, however, had some concerns from his interviews that his focus is on his foundation and becoming a broadcaster at the end of his football career. Risner gave the impression to some that if his football career ended tomorrow he would be fine with it and eager to move on to those interests. Teams won't really hold that against him, but they do wonder if he is a player who loves football more than anything else and if he is a player who might chose to retire early.
For the NFL, Risner looks like a solid backup who could develop into a starter. He should be a starter at right tackle or guard. Risner also played some center in college, so he could be an emergency center. That versatility will make Risner a valuable game-day backup to start his career, and he probably will develop into a starter within a year or two.
Multiple team sources say they have graded Risner as a late third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Given the demand for tackles around the NFL, it would not be surprising if Risner ends up being selected in the second round or early third round. After his week in Mobile, Risner looks safe to go on the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Joe Thuney. Some team sources said that Risner reminded them of Thuney coming out of N.C. State. Thuney (6-5, 308) has found a home at guard in the NFL, and he has been a rock-solid blocker for the Patriots since being a third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Thuney and Risner are almost identical in size with similar skill sets. Risner could turn into a solid pro like Thuney, and Risner also could be a second-day pick.
NFL Matches: Arizona, San Francisco, New York Jets, Buffalo, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Philadelphia, Houston, Minnesota
There could be a lot of teams in the market for Risner because there are a lot of bad offensive lines in the NFL that need to add more talent at offensive tackle. Most of the teams that took quarterbacks in the first round last year could use a young tackle to protect their quarterbacks. Arizona has a terrible offensive line and needs to improve the blocking for Josh Rosen. Risner has another option in NFC West with San Francisco also needing to improve its blocking. Risner and Mike McGlinchey would give the 49ers long-term bookends. Risner could start out his career at guard and then when Joe Staley retires, move to right tackle with McGlinchey on the left side.
The Jets, the Bills and the Browns could all consider Risner to be their right tackle to protect their respective, young franchise quarterbacks. The Browns have missed the retired Joe Thomas, so Risner may not make as much sense for them considering Risner is limited to guard or right tackle.
In the NFC South, the Buccaneers have right tackle Demar Dotson aging. Risner could start out at guard for Tampa Bay and then eventually replace Dotson. Carolina could consider Risner as veteran right tackle Daryl Williams is entering free agency. The Panthers also could use help at guard.
Jason Peters is nearing the end of his great career, and Philadelphia could take Risner to pair with Lane Johnson. Johnson would move to the left side in that scenario. Down in Houston, Bill O'Brien has failed to develop a single quality offensive lineman during his 5-year run with the team. The Texans badly need to improve their protection for Deshaun Watson. Risner could make sense for one of Houston's three second-day picks.
Minnesota must get more talent to protect Kirk Cousins, so Risner could be of interest to the Vikings.