Archive for the ‘Offensive Tackle’ Category

By Jeff Vinton, Blogger/Editor, On the Clock

Offensive lineman Terron Armstead of Arkansas-Pine Bluff gets into his stance before running a NFL Scouting Combine offensive lineman record 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash this morning.

Offensive lineman Terron Armstead of Arkansas-Pine Bluff gets into his stance before running a NFL Scouting Combine offensive lineman record 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash this morning. (Picture courtesy of atlantafalcons.com)

The NFL Scouting Combine began today with groups one through three, which consisted of offensive linemen, tight ends, and special teams players, taking the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The primary story to come from the performances today was that of 305-pound Arkansas-Pine Bluff offensive lineman Terron Armstead in the 40-yard dash. Armstead, the second lineman to run the 40 this morning, ran a blistering time of 4.71 seconds. To put that time into perspective, last year’s top performer for offensive linemen in the 40 (Donald Stephenson, Oklahoma) ran a 4.94, the average time for offensive lineman today was a 5.23 and top prospect Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M ran a 5.30. Armstead’s time is the new record for offensive lineman at the Combine.

Armstead had already begun to shoot up draft boards because of his performance at the East-West Shrine Game last month. His 40 time, along with his 31 reps in the bench press, vertical jump of 34.5 inches and his broad jump of 112 inches will no doubt help make him rise up draft boards even more.

Other top performers on the day were Stanford’s Zach Ertz and Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, the consensus top two tight ends in this year’s draft class.

There has been much coverage by the media over these two, who are battling to become the top tight end taken in the Draft on April 25. And battle they did today, as they interchanged spots in the top performers group through the various drills. Eifert bested Ertz in the 40-yard dash with times of 4.68 seconds and 4.76 seconds respectively. Ertz toppled Eifert in the bench press test by two reps, 24-22. Eifert came back and beat Ertz by five inches in the vertical jump, 35.5-30.5. That trend continued in the broad jump as Eifert out leaped Ertz 119 inches-111 inches. Analysts from NFL Network said that Ertz looked more natural catching the ball, so the battle lives on.

A story from off the field was also a large story during the first day of the Combine.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o took to the podium at 2:15 p.m. EST, his first press conference since the Lennay Kekua incident and his first public appearance since his interview with Katie Couric. Te’o, whose press conference was called “a zoo” in a tweet by Miami Dolphins beat writer Ben Volin, was asked both questions about the incident and general football questions.

When asked if NFL teams had talked about the incident with him, Te’o said, “They all talked to me about it.”

Te’o also made it clear that he is done talking about the incident, first reported in January by Deadspin.com, and that he is moving on and focusing on football.

The NFL Scouting Combine consists of 11 groups each holding certain positions that take the field for drills over the course of four days. Group one has kickers, special teamers, and some offensive linemen. Group two is all offensive linemen, and group three is the tight ends. Groups four and five consist of quarterbacks and wide receivers, and the running backs are in group six. Groups seven and eight consist of defensive linemen and group nine has the linebackers. Groups 10 and 11 hold the defensive backs.

Tomorrow is the skill position day with groups four, five and six taking the field to participate in the various drills and impress NFL Scouts. Drills will begin at 9 a.m.

Coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine will continue through Tuesday, along with daily player previews on On the Clock: Your NFL Draft Destination.

Luke Joeckel (76) sits back in his pass blocking techinque against the LSU Tigers on Oct. 20, 2012 in a game the Aggies lost 24-19.

What better way to start off the player previews for me than with the man projected at #1 overall in the draft, Luke Joeckel. Joeckel was the left tackle on the offensive line for the 11-2 Texas A&M Aggies this past season and has impressed scouts with his technique, size (6′ 6″, 310 lbs.), and his quickness.

Now, I will evaluate him on these criteria: Size, Strength, Initial Quickness, Use of Hands, Overall technique,  Run Blocking, and Pass Blocking.

SIZE: 

One couldn’t really ask for more when it comes to size. As I said earlier. He’s 6′ 6″ and 310 lbs, which is pretty much exactly what NFL teams are looking for in a lineman coming out of college. He’ll probably put on a bit more when he gets to the NFL, and develop into a starting left tackle, protecting someone’s blindside. But for now, he’s about as perfect as it gets when it comes to size. 10.0/10.0

STRENGTH:

In the videos that I will post below, just watch Joeckel run block and you can see how strong he is. Now, I don’t know exactly how strong he is (i.e.: Bench/Squat/Clean maxes), but I’m betting we’re going to see a huge number go up when he drops under the bar at the Combine later this month. While he probably won’t beat 49 reps (the record set by Stephen Paea in 2011) we’ll probably see a number around the high thirties to mid forties, which will make teams very happy. 9.0/10.0

INITIAL QUICKNESS: 

There’s not many people that get off the ball faster than Luke Joeckel. From what I could tell in the videos I have watched of him, Joeckel   had the best get off on Texas A&M’s line. When A&M was passing (which is almost every play), Joeckel would be back waiting for his man to come at him in less than a second. Basically, if you blink when the ball is snapped, he’ll be in the backfield when you re-open your eyes. His quickness is also very evident in his run blocking. His quickness is one reason that he is such a great run blocker (which I will get into more detail later). All in all, very good initial quickness. 9.0/10.0

USE OF HANDS: 

Joeckel is very good at getting his hands inside and locking onto his man, especially in run blocking. He has insanely quick hands and that is one of the best elements an offensive lineman can have. He also has a very powerful punch that really helps him when it comes to pass blocking and keeping whichever defensive lineman he is blocking away from his quarterback. The accuracy of his punches could use some work though. Joeckel sometimes swings and misses at defensive linemen and allows them to get past him to the quarterback. More detail on that later. 8.5/10.0

OVERALL TECHNIQUE: 

When it comes to technique, Joeckel is very polished. He gets inside with his hands, puts his head on the lineman’s chest when he’s run blocking, he sits in his chair and punches at the d-linemen when they come at him. He does stand a little bit too tall when he pass blocks and sometimes he’s too far back on his heels. He will also need to become comfortable in a 3-point stance again when he makes the jump to the NFL, as most of A&M’s formations had him in a 2-point stance. So, overall, good technique, but not great. 8.5/10.0

RUN BLOCKING: 

This is where Luke Joeckel excels as an offensive lineman. Joeckel is one of the best run blockers I have seen in years. Any time A&M ran the ball, Joeckel was locked up, driving his man at least 5-7 yards down the field. That is exactly what you look for in a run blocker. As I said in the technique section above, Joeckel punches quickly and hard, gets his hands inside, puts his head in the lineman’s chest and drives him down the field. Joeckel is also extremely good at getting to the second level fast, when his assignment calls for that, and blocking linebackers to create more room for his running back or quarterback. He also has one hell of a reach block. In the LSU game, Joeckel was the reason that his running back got free and got a first down on a stretch run. He got all the way around his d-lineman and made himself a wall between the lineman and the running back. His run blocking is ready for NFL defensive linemen. 9.5/10.0

PASS BLOCKING: 

It really is too bad that the NFL is not really a running league anymore. If it was, this section wouldn’t mean as much as it does. When it comes to Joeckel’s pass blocking, I believe that there is a TON of room for improvement. Throughout the videos I watched, I saw Joeckel get beat countless times when he was pass blocking. He is very susceptible to rips, swims, spins, and basically any move, including a bull rush when he is pass blocking. I probably at most five good pass blocks and maybe 2 great pass blocks by Joeckel in the Florida and LSU games. I know those are great defenses with great defensive ends and linebackers, but a tackle who is being considered for the top overall pick in the draft should be able to keep those guys under control and Joeckel really wasn’t. He was on his heels all the time, he swings and misses with punches, and I even saw him give up after he got beat once and let Johnny Manziel get sacked. He was also helped out a ton by Manziel’s scrambling ability. Manziel would usually scramble to the right, and since Joeckel was the left tackle, the defensive end that beat him didn’t have the speed or time to get to Manziel. But in the NFL, which is a pocket passing league, that will translate to sacks and that is not good for Mr. Joeckel. 7.0/10.0

AVERAGE SCORE: 8.79/10.00 

Honestly, I can see Luke Joeckel as a first rounder, but I would not take him with the Number One overall pick. And it’s because of his pass blocking. The NFL is a passing league. That has become very evident over the past few years with how many quarterbacks are throwing for over 5,000 yards. Now, that’s not going to happen in Kansas City, barring a miracle, anytime soon, but still, a possible starting left tackle needs to be the best pass blocker on the line and Joeckel is nowhere near that. I think Joeckel would fit great with the Philadelphia Eagles in Chip Kelly’s system. In that system, if he has to pass block, it won’t be for very long and he’ll probably get to run block more than most teams in the league. Do I think he’ll be there when Philadelphia gets to pick on the 25th? Hopefully, but probably not. KC will probably fall in love with his strength and size and since they need basically everything, and there’s not really a franchise QB in this draft, they’ll probably pick him number one overall.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments and follow me on Twitter! @J_Vinton52

Tomorrow I’ll be profiling Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State!