In today’s post, Offensive Tackle Tips, we’re going to quickly take a look at what scouts look for when they’re analyzing college offensive tackles for the draft. This time around, I’m going to combine the near 30 years of NFL scouting wisdom from Greg Gabriel and another source.
From there, we’ll watch some film on a few of the best offensive tackles in the NFL, so you can visually see what scouts are looking for.
Here we go:
Intelligence. This was the first attribute listed in Greg’s post.
The one common trait, no matter what the offensive line position, is intelligence. As a whole, offensive linemen are very level-headed guys, and may have dominant personalities.
Offensive tackles tend to score higher on the Wonderlic than other positions. The average score for offensive tackles is 26. Heading into the draft, Anthony Castonzo, out of Boston College, scored a 41.
Size. Gabriel’s opinion on ideal tackle size:
In my view, the ideal tackles are guys that are in the 6-4 to 6-6 range and weigh around 310 to 320 pounds. In the past ten years, as zone-blocking schemes have become more popular, teams have been drafting taller guys (guys who may be 6-7 or 6-8) but many of those players don’t have the natural athleticism of a shorter player.
Average weight of top 10 NFL offensive tackles heading into 2011 NFL Draft = 322lbs.
Long arms. Greg says that o-tackles arms should be at least 33-inches, minimum, and the ideal length is 34 or 35 inches.
Avg. arm length of top 10 NFL offensive tackles heading into 2011 NFL Draft = 34 7/8”
Run blocking technique. When it comes to run blocking, scouts want to see the player’s back flat, with low pad level. They want “natural benders” that bend at their knees, not just at their waists.
Being labeled a waist bender is a guaranteed way to drop your draft stock. Scouts want to see you maintain leverage, control and balance throughout the block.
Balance. Gabriel’s take on the importance of balance:
Balance is extremely important. You can’t play the game on the ground. When I am scouting an offensive lineman that is one of the first things I look for. If he is on the ground a lot I refer to him as a “ground hog” and really lower his grade.
Ability to Sustain. Scouts pay close attention to o-tackle’s ability to show athleticism and the strength to maintain contact and finish blocks all the way into the second level (where linebackers line-up pre snap).
One-on-one blocking. Scouts want tackles that can beat defenders by themselves, without needing help to succeed. Let’s be real… If you can’t stop a guy one-on-one in college, what makes you think you’re NFL material?
Use of Hands. When it comes to hands, scouts want to see the hands used with quickness, with an emphasis on keeping the hands inside the defender’s hands. Tackles also need to be able to get their hands right back in position after they’re swatted down by the defender.
Offensive linemen need to be violent with their hands too, not just defensive linemen. Scouts look for tackles to know how to use their hands to strike heavy blows on their opponents to disrupt their moves and progression towards the quarterback.
Likable personality. I found Mr. Gabriel’s take on the importance of an offensive tackle having a likable personality interesting:
Unlike any other position or group on a team, the offensive line is a sum of the parts. Everything has to mesh together. For that reason it is important that the group all like each other. When you draft a lineman, you want to make sure he is going to fit in with the other guys in the group. It can be very difficult for a rookie lineman to blend in with the veterans if his personality doesn’t mesh with the vets. In the offensive line meeting room there is a cast system and a young player has to earn the respect of the vets. If he is a loner or an outcast, it can be difficult for him to help the team — he just won’t be accepted by the older players.
Now I don’t know Jake Long personally, but I know that he’s looked upon as a leader in the locker room, and is well-respected by his teammates and staff in Miami.
In his profile from the NFL’s Top 100 Players series below, his leadership is easy to see. And as Channing Crowder says, Jake is able to basically delete defensive linemen from the picture. BY HIMSELF.
At about the 1:35 mark in the video, check out his run blocking technique; back flat, knees bent. At the 2:20 mark, watch him get to the second level quickly, engage the db, and sustain the block.
At the :10 mark, check out how violent he is with his hands; at about the :14 second mark, the d-end’s reaction to his hands make it look like he was just punched!
I don’t even have to list all the things Jake does right in this video, because he exhibits every single trait mentioned above. Watch and learn.
Oh… and remember when Greg Gabriel said the ideal offensive tackle’s arms are at least 33 inches? Well Jake Long’s arms arms measure in at 35 ¾”.
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Greg Gabriel’s Scouting Offensive Linemen article at National Football Post
List of offensive linemen attributes listed at sportznutz.com.
Arm length grading scale courtesy of Wes Bunting at the National Football Post