Offensive line takes
Iíve been on the Cody Habben bandwagon so far up to this point. The Washington right tackle looked like a good enough athlete on junior tape to reach the edge, showcased natural bend and fluidity in pass protection and was balanced when asked to redirect. However, he missed this spring because of shoulder surgery and has struggled throughout the early part of the 2010 season. Therefore, he found his way onto the bench this weekend vs. Oregon State and there is no timetable when he could be back in the starting lineup. And as one scout told me, back when I first startedÖ if the guy isnít good enough to start for his college team, how can he start in the NFL? Which is a great point when looking toward the next level and is a major reason why I am starting to creep off the Habben bandwagon at this stage.
South Carolina offensive tackle Jarriel King still has yet to improve at all in his overall awareness off the snap. The guy is a talented athlete who has some decent range and body control to his game, with the natural strength to anchor. However, every time I have watched him on TV or seen tape of him heís consistently the last offensive lineman moving off the snap and rarely gets a good jump off the football. Itís a trait that has popped up ever since I first saw him in 2008, and is one of the biggest reasons I see him as nothing more than a late round/free agent type pick.
One offensive tackle who has shown well in recent weeks is Michigan Stateís D.J. Young. Young is a 6-5, 300-pound kid who possesses good bend, is coordinated out of his stance and off the edge and does a nice job staying calm with his hands and mirroring through contact. Now, he isnít the most physical of in-line run blockers and has a tendency to fall off blocks too quickly when trying to get a push. But, he possesses the kind of lower half that can get stronger and he does a nice job staying low and blocking with leverage. Plus, heís still learning not only the left tackle position after making the move from the right side this year, but also the tackle position as a whole after making the move from the defensive side of the ball in 2007. But besides from getting a bit overextended at times when asked to quickset, Young looks like a pretty intriguing pass blocker who has the frame and flexibility to mature into a much better run guy. Heís one of the more intriguing offensive tackles I have seen this season and sits right in the mix of that second-tier tackle group for the upcoming draft.
For those looking to get into NFL scouting, one of the few pieces of advice I have to offer is to simply keep an open mind when looking at a prospect, especially at the tight end position. While watching Marshall tight end Lee Smith this week I saw a big 6-6, 267-pound kid with good body control and coordination as a pass catcher. But even more impressive was his ability to bend, gain leverage and create a real jolt on contact as a run guy. He played nasty, finished blocks and rarely let his man (defensive end or linebacker) get a sniff off the play. Therefore at his size, does he have more potential as a number 2/3 tight end at the next level or is this a guy who has the frame to add some weight and make the move to left tackle? Now, it does take a special kind of person to want to make this kind of move, but the end results could far outweigh the potential wait and development. Either way, Smith is a guy who can serve a purpose on an NFL roster either as a TE or as a developmental OT.