Cowboys Draft: Offensive Tackle Prospects & Strategies ✭
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Cowboys Draft: Offensive Tackle Prospects & Strategies

NFL Draft - Cowboys Draft: Offensive Tackle Prospects & Strategies

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Offensive Tackle Prospects & Strategies

In previous articles, we looked at the running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. So now it’s time to look at the big guys. The guys who make the offense run smoothly and make the running backs and quarterbacks stars. Show me a bad team and I will show you a bad line. Look no further than the Patriots last year. The worse their line got, the worse Tom Brady looked.

Let’s start with the tackles. The Cowboys are in pretty good shape at tackle, but if the right prospect falls to them, don’t be surprised to see them make a move. Doug Free will be done in two years and Chaz Green is still unproven. The Cowboys will need to start thinking about the depth of the position soon.

Before we look at the various prospects available in this year’s NFL Draft, let’s look at some of the attributes that are important when analyzing the tackle position:

  1. Balance/Knee Bend – Do they move with balance? Do they keep their feet under them at all time. Do they keep their knees bent and butt low.
  2. Feet – Do they have quick, light feet to keep in front of defender
  3. Hands – Do they have ‘heavy” hands? Do they have a good punch to shock and awe rusher. Are the hands on the inside?
  4. Athleticism – Can they pull, get to the second level, can they handle seed rushers
  5. Power/Physicality – Can the handle bull rushers, can they drive DEs back on run plays
  6. Size – The bigger the better
  7. Technique – Are they polished and understand how to win with proper technique
  8. Vision – Do they see stunts, blitzes, and lanes
  9. Intelligence – Do they understand their assignments
  10. Character/Work Ethic – Are they the right kind of guy

Now let’s take a look at some of the prospects that will be available to the Cowboys:

Laremy Tunsil

Strengths

  • Great feet. Kick step is as good as it gets
  • Body control, stays in balance and does not over extend
  • Really good knee bend and balance
  • Pass protection is text book
  • Able to get to second level with ease
  • Can drive DEs back. Good movement, creates holes.
  • Functional strength. Wins the leverage battle
  • Heavy hands, punch has some pop to it
  • If he gets hands on you it is over
  • Can sit down on a power rusher
  • Athletic for size

Weaknesses

  • Tends to anticipate snap count and will get motion penalties
  • If he gets beat it is when he over extends on his kick step and the rusher get inside of it
  • Will get handsy and draw holding penalties
  • Not the best engine. Will stop during play if he thinks the play is away from him

Summary

  • Better pass blocker than run blocker right now
  • Athletic and strong, he should be an all pro caliber player
  • Could be character concerns
  • For Cowboys would make a bookend tackle with Smith
  • I have him as a top 5 player

Ronnie Stanley

Strengths

  • Quick off the ball. Whether it is a run or he is in his kick stance
  • Plays with good power
  • Can get to second level to cut off linebackers. Quick feet
  • Heavy hands. Defenders are knocked off balance when hit with them
  • Good technician. Plays with fundamental techniques
  • Disciplined. Will not draw many holding penalties
  • Intelligence. Understands his assignment
  • Aware. Picks up stunts.
  • Can set down on the power rush or handle speed of outside edge rush
  • Good feet
  • Stays engaged on block. Tries to finish

Weaknesses

  • Inside power rush can give him issues
  • Seems to get distracted at times
  • Has an unusual set up at times. Seems to take extra step
  • Can overextend and get off balance when run blocking

Summary

    • Solid against both run and pass
    • Would like to see him play with more anger
    • Will be starting left tackle for a long time in league. May not be all pro level
    • For Cowboys would make a bookend tackle with Smith
    • I have him as a top 10 – 15 player

Jack Conklin

Strengths

  • Good at run blocking. He create holes. He pancakes DEs
  • He plays to the whistle
  • He plays with nastiness, wants to finish play
  • Can sit down on a power rusher
  • Good pass protector, but not great
  • Fundamentally sound, has good footwork
  • Assignment sound, understand who he needs to block at snap
  • Handles stunts will. Knows how to pass rushers to guard

Weaknesses

  • Speed rush can give him issues
  • Will lose balance from time to time
  • Can overextend and whiff
  • Not as athletic as top two OTs

Summary

    • Solid against both run and pass
    • He will be a starting LT or may be an all pro RT
    • Should be able to start early in his career
    • For Cowboys would make a bookend tackle with Smith
    • I have him as a top 15 -20 player

Taylor Decker

Strengths

  • Good length
  • Good balance and feet
  • Can pull and get to second level
  • Can sit down on a power rusher
  • Good initial kick step
  • Long arms, keeps rushers frim his body
  • Functional strength
  • Competitive, can play with edge
  • Understands how to use body to shield and turn blockers
  • Plays with shoulder over his toes. Good lean which helps with leverage

Weaknesses

  • Is hesitant on who to block when he sees blitz
  • Can be overpowered if defender gets into his body
  • Can get over extended
  • Plays tall and loses inside leverage
  • Does not have a powerful punch

Summary

    • Good movement skills. Is a natural left tackle
    • Will get better with a couple of years in a NFL system
    • Is equally consistent against run and pass
    • For Cowboys would be a swing tackle, eventually taking over for Free
    • I have him as a top 30 player

Jason Spriggs

Strengths

  • A natural athlete
  • Good size for position
  • Good feet for his size. Quick.
  • Can pull and take the right angle in the open field
  • Can get to the second level and take on linebacker
  • Good kick step. Natural pass blocker
  • Skilled, knows how to use body to shield and redirect
  • Can sit down on a power rusher
  • Effort is good
  • Plays with some attitude

Weaknesses

  • Can play tall and lose leverage
  • Will struggle against stronger DEs
  • Played in spread, will need to learn to play in NFL sets
  • Hands are weak. Needs better punch.

Summary

    • Good movement skills. Is a natural left tackle
    • Needs to get stronger and more physical
    • Very athletic
    • For Cowboys would be a swing tackle, eventually taking over for Free
    • I have him as a top 45 player

Shon Coleman

Strengths

  • Thick upper body, quick feet
  • Natural pass protector
  • Good feet and balance
  • Good shock with his arms. Can stop rushers in their tracks
  • One of the most physical tackles in this draft
  • Has the feet to get to second level
  • Effort is there
  • Good hands to fight blockers
  • Can sit down when power rushed

Weaknesses

  • Over extends and loses balance
  • Gets to second level but then misses too often
  • Not a power blocker. Is always in a pass set. Will need to learn to get low
  • Needs to add strength
  • Is immature technique wise

Summary

    • Could be left or right tackle
    • Immediate pass blocker, but will need to work on run blocking
    • As much upside as any tackle in the draft
    • For Cowboys would be a swing tackle, eventually taking over for Free
    • I have him as a top 50 player

Germain Ifedi

Strengths

  • Big, physical tackle. Strong upper body
  • Can protect the QB. Sets quick, uses feet well to stay in front
  • Long arms, uses them to keep defenders away from him
  • Heavy hands; they pack a wallop
  • Stands his ground well, see very little push
  • Good redirecting rushers past the play
  • Plays with some attitude
  • Will wall off rusher on draw plays

Weaknesses

  • Can play tall and lose leverage
  • Lunges and misses more than you would like
  • Has no concept of run blocking NFL style
  • Plays tall at times
  • Starts taking short choppy steps when engaged
  • Can struggle with speed to edge

Summary

    • I think he will be a right tackle in the NFL
    • Really needs to develop run blocking techniques
    • Will bring physicality
    • For Cowboys would be a swing tackle, eventually taking over for Free at right
    • I have him as a top 60 player

Le’Raven Clark

Strengths

  • Big body, good size and strength
  • Surprisingly quick set up.
  • For his size, he plays with good knee bend
  • Good feet for his size
  • Can maul rushers when he gets hands on them
  • Long arms helps him route rushers
  • Good in pass protection
  • Will put effort in blocking for run game

Weaknesses

  • Plays tall and stiff
  • Because of Texas Tech’s offense, has no idea how to run block
  • Misses in space quite a bit
  • Not someone who can easily get to second level
  • Better going back than going forward

Summary

    • I think he will be a right tackle in the NFL
    • Really needs to develop run blocking techniques
    • Can pass protect now
    • I have him as a top 75 player

Jerald Hawkins

Strengths

  • Versatile, can play either tackle position
  • Quick setting in pass protection
  • Understands how to use body to shield in the run game
  • Can get low and fight for leverage
  • Good functional strength
  • Athletic frame and footwork for his size
  • Long arms helps him route rushers
  • Can set down and anchor against power rushers
  • Can pull and get into the second level

Weaknesses

  • Needs to add more strength
  • Misses in space too often. Needs better angles
  • Needs heavy hands. Hands are a work in progress
  • Thinner frame than you would prefer
  • Can hesitate at times

Summary

    • Big power tackle that could eventually start in NFL
    • Needs more technique and power
    • Will make a backup swing tackle to start
    • For Cowboys would be a swing tackle, eventually could take over for Free at right
    • I have him as a top 90 player

John Theus

Strengths

  • Run blocking
  • Good lateral quickness to cut off DT on stretch plays.
  • Versatile, played left and right tackle
  • Has high motor, effort
  • Strong initial punch
  • Handles stunts well
  • Has good knee bend and plays with balance on initial set up
  • Has strength and technique to handle the bull rush

Weaknesses

  • Struggles getting to second level
  • Isn’t good in space. Too many times he just whiffs on blocks in space.
  • Can be slow, struggles with quickness
  • Will get beat off edge and has to lunge to try to guide rusher past QB.
  • Can be set up to worry about outside speed rush, then get beat with an inside move
  • Does not sustain blocks well

Summary

    • An anomaly, he is a better run blocker than pass protector. Best suited for teams that like to run.
    • Played left and right tackle, so can play the swing position. But natural position in NFL will probably be right tackle.
    • Experienced and technically sound, could start fairly quickly, but will have limited upside.
    • For Cowboys he would compete with Green for the third tackle spot
    • I have him as a top 100 player

Fahn Cooper

Strengths

  • Demonstrated good movement skills at combine.
  • While not an elite athlete, he does play with functional strength
  • Plays with good power, balance and leverage
  • Good run blocker. Will sustain his blocks
  • Can play tackle or guard. This versatility reduces the risk of missing on him and increases his draft value.
  • Versatile, having played right and left tackle
  • Gets to second level pretty easily.
  • He will engage, come off and reengage at second level

Weaknesses

  • Not an elite athlete
  • Is not always aware of blitzes and stunts
  • Can struggle with speed at times around edge
  • Can get beat on a hard inside move
  • Not as strong as you would like

Summary

    • A right tackle in the NFL or a right guard
    • Needs to add strength
    • Needs to work on technique with hands.
    • For Cowboys he would compete with Green for the third tackle spot and possibly fourth guard
    • I have him as a top 110-120 player

Joe Haeg

Strengths

  • Athletic and quick
  • Played in pro-style offense and can run block and protect.
  • Versatile, played left and right tackle
  • Gets to second level and can finish the play
  • Can pull
  • Quick set up in pass protection
  • Knows how to shield and deflect rusher pass QB
  • Good engine and sustains blocks
  • Gets movement in stretch plays
  • Can get out on screens

Weaknesses

  • Struggles against power
  • Lacks strength
  • Needs to be able to drive block better
  • Hands are not heavy
  • Competition was not strong

Summary

    • He showed quickness, but is that because he played inferior competition. At combine he looked  above average athletically
    • Needs to add strength to go along his quickness
    • He will need time to acclimate to better competition level
    • Played left and right tackle, so can play the swing position. But natural position in NFL will probably be left tackle.
    • A developmental player with high risk, high reward potential
    • For Cowboys he would compete with Green for the third tackle spot
    • I have him rated in the top 120

Kyle Murphy

Strengths

  • Decent at all phases of run and pass blocking
  • Durable and experienced in a pro set
  • Bends knees and plays with good leverage
  • Sound fundamentals
  • Versatile, having played right and left tackle
  • Knows how to use body to shield blockers
  • Knows how to change things up. Can cut block, quick set, drive block, shield, etc. Can keep rusher off balance
  • Gets to second level pretty easily

Weaknesses

  • While sound in all phases of blocking, he is not great at any
  • Limited upside athletically
  • Struggles with speed
  • When he get to second level, he does not finish the play.
  • Can lunge and get off balance

Summary

    • A right tackle in the NFL
    • Comes from an offense that uses a pro set. He can block and pass protect now
    • Limited upside. Will probably be a third tackle with potential to possible start one day.
    • For Cowboys he would compete with Green for the third tackle spot
    • I have him as a top 130 player

The Cowboys will probably not be in the market for a top tackle, but if one is available and a great value, then the Cowboys could be compelled to take one. However, the more likely scenario is if a projected second or third rounder falls into the fourth (Ifedi, Clark, Theus, Hawkins).

If the Cowboys do not draft a tackle in the first four rounds, they may try to draft a tackle in the sixth round that they can stash on the practice squad.

That’s all for the tackles, look for the next article which will have interior offensive linemen.

Tommy Simon

Tommy Simon is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and sports enthusiast. He is currently CEO of TechBAA, an investor and board member of TPC Technical and CommunitesFIrst, and acting CFO for ALS Communities. In addition to investing and advising companies, Tommy is also a Sales Management coach and is working with companies as a Fractional CMO/CSO. Tommy is a life long football player, coach and Cowboy fan. He currently coaches and sponsors several 7 on 7 teams. He manages/coaches an adult flag football team that is the top team in Florida one of the highest ranked teams in the country. Tommy's hobbies include international travel, fantasy football, reading, and engaging in intelligent political discourse. He is married to a wonderful women for 18 years; which is the best thing he has ever accomplished. He has a dog that is the best dog ever. He also has 9 siblings and roughly 30 nieces and nephews. For more information about tommy, or to request him to speak, please contact him at info@techbaa.com

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