Last month, the Jets signed rookie offensive lineman Myron Cunningham to their practice squad. Today, we break down Cunningham in detail.
The 25-year old Cunningham is listed at 6’6” and 325 pounds and was undrafted out of Arkansas. He played in two preseason games with the Houston Texas, but has yet to make his NFL debut.
Cunningham was a three-star recruit out of high school and the 6th-ranked tackle recruit in the nation according to ESPN. However, he only ended up at Western Illinois where he redshirted his first year and then couldn’t get on the field in the following season.
Having transferred to Iowa Central Community College, Cunningham started all 12 games in 2018 and earned first team National College all-American honors. This earned him another transfer, this time to Arkansas, where he was a three-year starter.
He played in 34 games for the Razorbacks, starting 33 of them. He could have entered the NFL draft in 2021, but opted to return for a sixth season.
Having been invited to the scouting combine, Cunningham wasn’t selected in the 2022 NFL draft, but signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent. He was with the team in training camp, but got released after the second preseason game as the team cut down from 85 to 80.
He worked out for a few teams since then, but remained unsigned until the Jets added him to their practice squad last week.
Now let’s take a look at what Cunningham brings to the table, divided into categories.
Cunningham was 290 pounds when he arrived at Arkansas, but packed on 35 pounds over the next three years and now has a powerful 325-pound frame. He also has long arms and big hands.
During his combine workout, his numbers were poor. He ran 5.38 in the 40-yard dash and posted bad explosiveness and agility numbers. However, he improved his vertical from 20 to 29.5 inches at his pro day and also managed a solid 26 bench press reps.
Cunningham mostly played left tackle at Arkansas, although many draft analysts felt he would project better to right tackle at the NFL level. He started three games at right guard with the Razorbacks and also played 15 snaps at right tackle and six as a jumbo package tight end.
In preseason action with the Texans, he played 15 snaps at left tackle and 10 at right tackle but did not play inside.
Cunningham’s pass blocking numbers in college were pretty good, as he gave up just six sacks in three seasons. However, three of these were in his final season. Nevertheless, he improved dramatically in terms of the rate of pressure he allowed.
His length is an asset and he keeps his feet moving to stay in front of his man in pass protection.
However, his technique can be sloppy and he is susceptible to speed rushers off the edge at times.
Cunningham can also have some problems going up against spin moves and on inside counters.
His size enables him to anchor against a bull rush, although he admits this is something he got better at as he added weight and got stronger towards the end of his career.
He flashed some ability to hold up against NFL-level talent with a solid display against Travon Walker and just three pressures surrendered in three career games against Alabama.
Cunningham is a big body you can run behind and someone that will lock onto a block and shows signs of being able to drive his man back.
While not a natural athlete, he can get out and move on pulling blocks and shows good power when engaging in space.
He does flash some surprising athleticism on reach blocks, however, showing an ability to move laterally to get ahead of his man and the technique to reset his angle and seal him off.
His biggest negative in the running game is a lack of balance and body control which can cause him to lose at the point of attack.
Cunningham’s size and power make him a viable option to run behind in short yardage situations. On this play, he drives his man well out of the play.
Arkansas had some pretty good success in the screen game over the past few years, although most of that was on receiver screens to Treylon Burks with the other receivers as the lead blockers. Even on running back screens, Cunningham would often stay in to pass protect as other linemen leaked out. Here’s a rare example of him leaking out on a screen pass, but without much direct success.
As noted, Cunningham will keep his feet moving but his footwork can be sloppy at times and affects his ability to balance and recover.
Inconsistent pad level can be another issue that affects Cunningham’s ability to win at the point of attack.
One thing he does well is hand usage and he has a strong first punch. While he uses his length well and will extend his arms to buy himself time, if he is knocked off balance, this can cause him to lose control of his man, leading to a loss of leverage.
Cunningham’s on-field discipline has been solid, with no penalties in preseason action and only nine in three years at Arkansas. He had four in 2021, with two false starts and two holding penalties. One of the holding penalties negated a touchdown though.
Cunningham didn’t play any special teams in preseason and only featured as a blocker on the placekicking unit while in college. He had no penalties and allowed no pressure.
Having played multiple positions, Cunningham’s football IQ should be solid. However, there are times when he looks a little lost when trying to decide who to block.
His teammates and coaches at Arkansas praised his consistency, dependability and attention to detail, though.
On this play, Cunningham did a good job of keeping his head on a swivel to help out his teammate and prevent a hit on the quarterback.
Cunningham was regarded as a reliable player with toughness and a good work ethic. He developed into a leader at Arkansas, where he was named an offensive captain in his final season. He has shown drive and determination to make it to the NFL considering how his college career began.
Cunningham has been a durable player at the college level. He missed just one game in his four years as a starter.
While he perhaps lacks the natural athleticism the Jets tend to look for in their offensive line, Cunningham could be a valuable depth piece as he has some versatility and is considered reliable. His athletic ability may be better than his numbers would indicate too, based on some of his film.
Cunningham was a teammate of current Jet Jonathan Marshall in college and Cedric Ogbuehi while with the Texans.
While the Jets have desperately needed depth at the tackle position in recent weeks, Cunningham has probably been brought in more as a longer-term developmental project.
Interestingly, the draft advisory board had given him a mid-round grade after the 2020 season so he had returned to school hoping to improve his position, but obviously teams were turned off by his age and poor athletic numbers. The Jets may still see some potential upside here though.
It’s unlikely Cunningham actually sees any action this year, unless the Jets fall out of the race, clinch a postseason spot early or suffer a catastrophic series of injury issues on the line. His best bet is to do well enough to stick around and get an invitation to camp next season, where he can earn a longer look.