Tagged: Offensive Tackle

LT BRANDON SCHERFF, IOWA

LT #68 BRANDON SCHERFF, IOWA

6’5” – 320 lbs. – 5.10e

Redshirted in 2010, then started four games at left guard in 2011. Started seven games at left tackle in 2012 before injuring his right leg and missing the remainder of the season, then started all thirteen games in 2013. Adequate height for a pro tackle, with a thick, muscular build; would also make for a prototypical guard size-wise. Plays with a nasty, physical demeanor. Competes through the whistle; gets a little bit chippy after the play at times. Projects as a quality run blocker at the next level; aggressiveness, athleticism, power, and technique are all positives. Extraordinary range in the run game; can execute hook blocks with ease. Capable of chipping a defensive lineman and reaching a second-level defender; dominates linebackers and defensive backs. Not just an obstruction downfield, but someone who can engage opponents with his hands. Generates pop on contact; keeps his feet churning once engaged, which allows him to drive defenders off the ball. Pancakes plenty of defenders. Good work ethic in the weight room. Leverage is a bit better as a pass protector than as a run blocker; can bend his knees, bends his knees when protecting, but has a tendency to get a bit upright in the run game. Looks comfortable mirroring; lateral agility is adequate, with a quick punch. A bit more powerful when it comes to drive-blocking than in terms of anchoring versus power. Has some experience executing cut blocks. Versatile; has played left tackle and left guard, could potentially project to the right side, and looks like a good fit for any type of blocking scheme. Height and length measurements will be important to confirm, as 6’5” is on the short side for a pro offensive tackle; like former Hawkeyes blindside protector Riley Reiff before him, may receive some interest as a conversation candidate, especially if his arms measure shorter than average for the position. Surgically-repaired right leg will require further medical investigation at the Combine. Not quite the refined pass-protector teams seek in a pro left tackle, but is capable of getting the job done; regardless of whether or not he remains on the left side upon reaching the pros, should be able to stick somewhere on the line thanks to his outstanding run blocking. A likely first-round pick whose best fit may come at guard, but is worth trying at tackle.

Games watched: Michigan St. (’13), Ohio St. (’13), Wisconsin (’13)

RT BOBBY HART, FLORIDA ST.

RT #51 BOBBY HART, FLORIDA ST.

6’4” – 318 lbs. – 5.15e

Started one game at left tackle in 2011, along with the following eight games at right tackle. Worked as a reserve guard in 2012, then started all fourteen games at right tackle in 2013. Knee-bender who gets adequate depth on his kickslide, with the athleticism and lateral agility to defend against opposing speed rushers; movement skills are used to compensate for his lack of ideal length. Great speed; has impressive range as a blocker, with the ability to get out in front of screens or pull in the run game. Can make blocks at the second level. Upside is still considerable given his movement skills, intelligence, and relative lack of experience. Has started one game at left tackle and spent time at guard, neither of which is completely out of the realm of possibility as an ultimate destination given further development. Overall size and bulk are only adequate for an offensive tackle; Combine measurements will be important in confirming his listed height. Would really benefit from a pro strength program. More of a finesse blocker than a mauler; lacks a nasty disposition and can be overwhelmed by power. Wall-off blocker who doesn’t generate push in the run game; doesn’t offer much to teams with power running schemes. Ends up on the ground more often than a nearly 320-pound offensive tackle should; below-average anchor given his frame. Technique in pass protection could use work; athleticism is used to mask a choppy kickslide. More reactive than anticipatory versus stunts and blitzes. Also tends to abandon his fundamentals against wide speed rushes. Inconsistent on a play-to-play basis. Doesn’t sustain blocks well. A bit of a positional ‘tweener; not quite long enough to easily protect the edge, not strong enough to create movement at guard. Has a long way to go, but could end up outperforming his draft position, as he has been restricted to the right side by his more highly-touted teammate, Cameron Erving. Will likely have to begin his career as a swing reserve, but has the potential to break into a starting lineup given time to improve his strength and technique. A low-floor, high-ceiling option for zone-blocking teams on the draft’s third day.

Games watched: Clemson (’13), Florida (’13), North Carolina St. (’13)

LT SEAN HICKEY, SYRACUSE

LT #60 SEAN HICKEY, SYRACUSE

6’5” – 291 lbs. – 5.25e

Missed 2011 with an injury, then started four games at left tackle in 2012 before moving to the right side upon Justin Pugh’s return. Started all thirteen games at left tackle in 2013. Has a fairly thick build; should arrive at the Combine weighing a bit more than the figure listed by Syracuse’s athletic site. However, arm length may be a bit shorter than his desirable for the position. A hard worker who plays through the whistle and, when combined with his adequate athleticism, has the range to secure blocks out at the second level in the run game, although he is not consistent in terms of getting his hands on second-level defenders. Will fall off of some blocks in the run game because he bends at the waist and possesses below-average grip strength, but is generally able to turn defenders out of the hole before doing so. Needs to do a better job of keeping his head up into contact on a consistent basis to prevent defenders from crossing his face. Not a dominant drive-blocker, but keeps his feet churning and can create a bit of push, especially when down-blocking and attacking a defensive tackle’s outside shoulder. Has experience executing inside pulls and cut blocks and therefore makes the most sense as a zone blocker, where his athleticism would be highlighted and his inability to dominate defenders at the point of attack would be masked. As a pass protector, gets good arm extension and is capable of sticking with his man through multiple moves, but doesn’t cover as much ground in his kickslide as would be suggested by his athleticism. Consequently, looks much more comfortable when he is afforded the opportunity to delegate the outermost rusher to a tight end or back, which allows him to anchor against an interior rusher instead. Mentally, seems to have a pretty good grasp of who he should be blocking when defenses bring extra rushers. Quality of anchor is dependent on initial positioning; can be ragdolled around when he is caught of position, but is capable of withstanding a defender’s bull rush when he beats his man to the spot. Prior experience playing in a pro-style, run-heavy offense under head coach Doug Marrone prior to Marrone’s departure to join the Buffalo Bills in the same capacity should help him convince teams that he’s one of the more pro-ready linemen in the draft, although it’s debatable whether or not he’ll be able to stick outside at the next level. Wouldn’t generate the type of push that top guards do, but wouldn’t have to answer questions about whether he is long and athletic enough to mirror pro speed rushers on the outside.

Games watched: Minnesota (’13), Northwestern (’13), Penn St. (’13)

LT LA’EL COLLINS, LOUISIANA ST.

LT #70 LA’EL COLLINS, LOUISIANA ST.

6’5” – 315 lbs. – 5.20e

Tall, long-limbed left tackle who carries his weight well. Gets good extension with his arms to keep blockers at bay. Strong grip allows him to sustain his blocks once engaged. Has a powerful initial punch which can overwhelm smaller defenders; capable of knocking down defenders on chip blocks. As a run blocker, keeps his feet churning on contact and can generate some push, even though he tends to have some trouble staying low; for this reason, full potential in the run game remains unrealized, but is nonetheless already an effective player. However, doesn’t consistently seek to dominate defenders; more powerful than nasty. Fairly athletic for his size, but has some trouble beating speed rushers to the edge and is often forced to try and push them wide of the quarterback rather than mirroring them in protection. Capable of chipping a defensive lineman and reaching a second-level player for an additional block. Inconsistent kick-slide; tends to lumber a bit and labors to set up wide, but flashes the ability to do so, albeit on an inconsistent basis. Tends to end up on the ground a bit more often than expected, although the problem tends to be his balance rather than an inability to anchor against power, an area where he looks comfortable. Can be a bit of a waist-bender. Instincts as a left tackle are still developing, likely because 2013 was his first season at the position; can be overwhelmed by additional rushers and can be observed double-teaming an inside rusher when he would be best-served picking up an outside rusher and delegating the inside man to the left guard. Has an interesting blend of finesse and power traits which, combined with his impressive size and underrated athletic ability, should interest teams as a high-upside project. Floor is relatively high as well, considering his prior experience as a guard, offering him a fallback option which would more effectively mask some of the technique/awareness issues evident when he plays on the outside. Probably not much of a zone option except at guard; in an inline, power scheme, would be better-suited to the right side or inside but might eventually be able to survive on the blindside and could very well be drafted with the intention of grooming him for that role.

Games watched: Alabama (’13), Arkansas (’13), Georgia (’13)

OT JOEL BITONIO, NEVADA

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6’4” – 315 lbs. – 5.30e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: 14 GP / 0 GS (OT)
2011: 13 GP / 13 GS (RT)
2012: 13 GP / 13 GS (RT)

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then appeared in a reserve capacity in 2010. Took over as the team’s starting right tackle in 2011, a position he played through 2012 due to the presence of Jeff Nady, an undrafted free agent in 2013 (Jaguars.) Transitioned to left tackle as a senior, being named to the All-MWC First Team.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having started for three seasons, earning all-conference honors in 2013.
•    Has experience playing both tackle positions: right tackle in 2011, 2012, left in 2013.
•    Many of his flaws as a tackle could be masked by transitioning to offensive guard.
•    Possesses good bulk, thick lower body; height would be solid if converted to guard.
•    Pretty powerful, capable of sealing defenders inside, getting push when run-blocking.
•    Does a nice job of keeping his feet churning once he’s locked onto a defender.
•    Attacks the outside shoulder well when slide-blocking, can control with his grip.
•    Has been asked to pull as a run-blocker, capable of getting out in front of the play.
•    Certainly doesn’t look pretty but generally gets the job done in pass protection.

NEGATIVES:

•    A little bit shorter than your typical tackle prospect, measurements will be important.
•    Arm length also looks a bit shorter than average for an offensive tackle prospect.
•    Poor lateral quickness, takes very short steps in kickslide, and struggles vs. speed.
•    Overextends when trying to block defenders at the second level, regular waist-bender.
•    Has some trouble with his overall balance/weight distribution, herky-jerky movements.
•    Consequently, ends up on the ground far more than he should, especially downfield.
•    Arms tend to find their way outside frequently, could get flagged for holding often.

SUMMARY:

Due to his lack of ideal height, length, athleticism, and balance, Bitonio doesn’t project as a particularly effective tackle at the next level, but fortunately many of his deficiencies would be masked by a shift to offensive guard, where he is almost overqualified from having played tackle, as his lateral quickness and kickslide would be hidden if he did not have to block edge rushers. As a run blocker, Bitonio is impressive, with a strong grip, active feet, and the power to drive defenders back considerably; he has also pulled frequently. Solid swing reserve type.

OT GREG ROBINSON, AUBURN**

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6’5” – 320 lbs. – 5.20e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2011: Redshirt
2012: 12 GP / 11 GS (LT)

OVERVIEW:

Was an offensive guard in high school. Redshirted in 2011, then took over as Auburn’s starting left tackle in 2012 for eleven of the twelve games he played in. Was named a first-team All-SEC selection as a redshirt sophomore in 2013.

POSITIVES:

•    Would be entering the draft with two productive seasons of SEC starting experience.
•    Massive left tackle who certainly looks the part, especially in terms of his bulk.
•    Does a nice job of keeping his legs churning once he’s got a grip, driving his man back.
•    Strong grip allows him to sustain blocks well, routinely plays through the whistle.
•    Despite his size, is athletic enough to pull or make second-level blocks down the field.
•    Has a strong initial punch which can knock defenders off-balance or to the ground.
•    Aggressive player who relishes the opportunity to finish off his blocks with a pancake.
•    Very successful when it comes to down-blocking and executing blocks against tackles.
•    Routinely asked to seal defenders inside on edge rushes, does a good job there.
•    Can easily anchor against power, doesn’t get driven back by opposing bull rushes.
•    Effectively maneuvers defenders by attacking their outside shoulder in the run game.
•    So powerful that he is capable of demoralizing opponents over the course of the game.
•    Hasn’t had any problems with durability over the two years he’s played at Auburn.

NEGATIVES:

•    Height, arm length may not be ideal for a left tackle, Combine measurements important.
•    Not quite as well-versed in pass protection as he is as a run blocker at this point.
•    Hasn’t been asked to mirror edge rushers in pass protection too often (scheme.)
•    In an effort to sustain his blocks, will let his hands get outside a little bit too often.
•    Occasionally has trouble squaring up and hitting moving targets with initial punch.

SUMMARY:

Robinson flew under the radar last year, but has emerged as a legitimate first-round pick should he decide to enter the draft. A massive road-grader who moves significantly better than anticipated given his size, Robinson does job about everything well in the run game, dominating defenders while successfully executing various different assignments in Auburn’s run-oriented offense. There isn’t much bad film of Robinson, but as the NFL increasingly moves towards the passing game, that Robinson hasn’t been asked to protect the edge too much makes it somewhat difficult to evaluate his ability to protect the edge at the next level, forcing considerable projection based on his physical tools; he will also need to measure out at 6’5” with arm length sufficient to avoid being labeled as a future guard.

OT BILLY TURNER, NORTH DAKOTA ST.

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6’6” – 314 lbs. – 5.00e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 13 GP / 12 GS
2011: 14 GP / 14 GS
2012: 15 GP / 15 GS

OVERVIEW:

Started in twelve of thirteen games as a true freshman, then all fourteen games as a sophomore in 2011. Started every game again (fifteen in total) as a junior, being named to the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first team.

POSITIVES:

•    Will be entering the draft with four years of college starting experience under his belt.
•    Possesses good height and bulk for a lineman, although his arms may be a bit short.
•    Mobile with surprising top speed, will pursue defenders downfield on long runs.
•    Works through the whistle, which sometimes results in overcoming an initial mistake.
•    Aggressive player who has the temperament and power to finish in the run game.
•    Gets good arm extension as a run blocker, keeps his feet churning after initial contact.
•    Despite mechanical issues, is fairly effective at getting to the edge when pass blocking.
•    Didn’t look too out-of-place against FBS competition (see Kansas State game in 2013.)
•    Low level of competition may convince coaches that they can mold his raw talent.

NEGATIVES:

•    Overall level of competition at North Dakota St. has been generally unimpressive.
•    Weight distribution is a bit strange, his upper-body is significantly more developed.
•    Arm length could force him to move inside, where he is a bit taller than you’d like.
•    Has some awkward, inconsistent kickslide mechanics; needs to work on footwork.
•    Distributes too much weight backwards while moving, bends at waist on contact.
•    Occasionally has some trouble identifying which defender to block in pass protection.
•    Whiffs on too many blocks, overruns targets by getting too aggressive in the run game.
•    Needs to do a better job of keeping his head up when initiating contact vs. defenders.

SUMMARY:

Turner has four seasons of starting experience under his belt, but hasn’t been exposed to much quality competition at North Dakota St. At this point, he complements his height with impressive mobility, with a strong work ethic, and with an aggressive on-field demeanor. However, the team which drafts him will have to break many of the bad habits he’s developed, as his overall footwork, balance/weight distribution, and awareness need plenty of work. Those flaws, combined with the fact that he will have to make a substantial leap in the level of competition he’s facing, not to mention potentially transition to a different position, make him a risky long-term developmental prospect who likely won’t contribute anything for years.

OT ANTONIO RICHARDSON, TENNESSEE*

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6’6” – 327 lbs. – 5.30e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2011: 12 GP / 0 GS (OL)
2012: 12 GP / 12 GS (LT)

OVERVIEW:

Saw action in twelve games in a reserve capacity in 2011, primarily on special teams units, then took over as the team’s starting left tackle during his sophomore season, forcing eventual Miami Dolphins 2013 third-round pick Dallas Thomas to left guard.

STRENGTHS:

•    Will graduate with two years of SEC starting experience at left tackle.
•    Massive, possesses oustanding height, bulk, and length for a tackle.
•    Forced third-rounder Dallas Thomas to shift to left guard last season.
•    Has an outstanding anchor, can easily handle power/bull rushers.
•    Is a quality run blocker, something of a brick wall when in position.
•    Does a good job of attacking his opponent’s shoulder to control them.
•    A little bit more nimble/laterally agile than expected given his size.
•    Gets good arm extension, doesn’t let defenders get inside on him.
•    Nice initial punch, can knock pass rushers off-balance with his power.

WEAKNESSES:

•    May ultimately be better-suited to the right tackle position as a pro.
•    Doesn’t offer much value to teams looking for zone-blocking personnel.
•    Lumbers a little when asked to get to the second level, pull for screens.
•    Overall awareness in pass protection can be questionable at times.
•    Not quick enough to recover when beat to the inside on passing downs.
•    Could be a little bit more active with his feet when blocking for runners.
•    Exploited by South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney this year.

SUMMARY:

A two-year starter at left tackle for the Volunteers, Richardson possesses desirable height, bulk, and length for teams seeking an inline tackle. He is a relatively polished player, with above-average athleticism considering his size and effective mirror skills in pass protection, contributing as an efficient run blocker as well. Richardson may ultimately be relegated to the right side as a pro, and he must improve his awareness in pass protection and deal with the inside rush better, but is a pretty consistent blocker with rare size. RD 1-2

OT JAMES HURST, NORTH CAROLINA

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6’7” – 305 lbs. – 5.30e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 13 GP / 12 GS (LT)
2011: 13 GP / 13 GS (LT)
2012: 11 GP / 11 GS (LT)

OVERVIEW:

Has started at left tackle since the second game of his true freshman season, earning All-ACC Second Team honors as a sophomore as well as All-ACC First Team honors as a junior. Concluded his junior season having started 36 career games and is on pace to finish with nearly 50 starts.

STRENGTHS:

•    Will graduate with three years of starting experience at left tackle.
•    Very tall with a thick build, definietly projects to tackle rather than guard.
•    Was able to keep 2013 third-round pick Brennan Williams on the right.
•    Generally technically sound, particularly against power rushers.
•    Is well-versed in zone-blocking concepts despite lack of ideal athleticism.
•    Can drive players off the ball at times by attacking their shoulder.
•    High-effort player with active footwork, plays through the whistle.
•    Better than his athleticism would indicate in getting to the second level.
•    Surprisingly did a pretty good job against Jadeveon Clowney this year.

WEAKNESSES:

•    Has a controlled kickslide but has heavy feet, lacks great lateral agility.
•    Technique drops off when confronted with quality speed rushers.
•    Struggles with assignments against creative rushes (stunts, blitzes.)
•    Has some trouble squaring up and sustaining his blocks consistently.
•    May be better suited to an inline/man blocking scheme in the pros.
•    Lack of ideal athleticism will probably relegate him to the right side.

SUMMARY:

Hurst entered the season with an inflated first-round projection from many draft analysts, likely because of his size, polish, and extensive starting experience, but his lack of athleticism should prevent him from playing left tackle at the next level, except in a less-than-ideal situation. However, he could possibly start at right tackle, particularly for a team with an inline blocking scheme. Unfortunately, he hasn’t played there in college, but teams typically tend to favor shifting collegiate left tackles to other positions. Hurst should ultimately earn a draft slot ahead of Brennan Williams. RD 2-3

OT CAMERON ERVING, FLORIDA ST.*

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6’6” – 320 lbs. – 5.20e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 1 – 0 – 0 (Redshirt) (DT)
2011: 20 – 2.5 – 1.0, 1 QBH (DT)
2012: 14 GP / 14 GS (LT)

OVERVIEW:

Defensive lineman recruit out of high school. Redshirted in 2010 after suffering a season-ending back injury. Worked as a reserve/rotational defensive tackle in 2011, then transition to left tackle in the spring of 2012, starting all fourteen games.

STRENGTHS:

•    Possesses ideal height and bulk for a professional offensive tackle.
•    Has gained twenty-five pounds of bulk since his freshman season.
•    In only his second year on the offensive line, is already a quality starter.
•    Despite his inexperience, exhibits good awareness in pass protection.
•    Demonstrates active hand use when employed in pass protection.
•    Does a nice job of keeping his legs moving while blocking for runners.
•    Consistently attacks an opponent’s shoulder when given the opportunity.
•    Capable of getting out to the second level to make blocks in the run game.
•    Could potentially fit into either a man-or-zone scheme at the next level.

WEAKNESSES:

•    Relatively inexperienced player who has only played tackle for two years.
•    Generally not a dominant run-blocker, although he has his moments.
•    Susceptible to inside moves as a run blocker or cutbacks in protection.
•    Can be knocked off-balance, fall to the ground a little bit too frequently.
•    Occasionally overextends and gets caught bending at the waist.
•    Season-ending back injury sustained in 2010 will require evaluation.

SUMMARY:

Erving only recently shifted to the offensive line, but has already established himself as an effective blindside protector. He complements his prototypical size, length, and bulk with above-average athleticism and is an assignment-sound player with good awareness in pass protection. At this point, his technique occasionally gets a little bit sloppy, and he’s not a dominant drive blocker in the run game despite his size, but he possesses considerable potential and should find a place in the first round given the NFL’s obsession with investing high picks in left tackles. Best in a zone blocking scheme. RD 1