As a part of what I’d like to henceforth refer to as the Essential Football Skills, I decided to add the Pass Blocker Rating (PBR) to the Pass Rusher Rating. This second installment in the series tells the story of the offensive tackle prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Just as the Pass Rusher Rating quantified the amount of pressure said players applied throughout the season, the PBR will investigate how much pressure a given offensive tackle allowed.
The scoring system remains nearly unchanged, except that in this case a low score is preferable to a high score:
- Sacks allowed=1.0 point
- Hits and hurries on the QB=0.75 points
- Holding penalties=0.75 points
Using Youtube videos showing every offensive snap for each game, I was able to review between two and four 2012 games for each prospect on this list . If the game was posted, it was included in the calculation. This study is ongoing, and I will update the player ratings as more game tape becomes available for me to review.
|Eric Fisher||Central Michigan||2/91||1.9|
|Matt Kalil (2011)||USC||5/126||3.2|
|Menelik Watson||Florida State||9/122||5.7|
|Riley Reiff (2011)||Iowa||5/65||6.5|
|Luke Joeckel||Texas A&M||13/156||6.7|
Observations on the offensive tackles:
Eric Fisher is a dominant offensive lineman. In pass protection he shows excellent balance, and has the foot quickness to shut down speed rushers. Against the run, he not only gets great push but he can make some very difficult blocks look routine. I’ll admit that he was helped by having a calm quarterback behind him, but that PBR of 1.9 is off the charts good. Against top competition (Michigan St, Iowa) his play did not drop off at all.
Mike Mayock has given high praise for Justin Pugh, LT from Syracuse based on his sound fundamentals, and it showed up in his score. He struggled against Rutgers, yielding 3 hits and 1 sack against their speedy, 230 pound DE Ka’Lial Glaud. There have been discussions about whether Pugh is best suited for guard, largely based on less than ideal arm length. Wherever he lines up at the next level, he should be a very good player.
I’ll admit, this was my first real look at Lane Johnson, not counting Senior Bowl practice. This guy can play football. Johnson is so much more than JUST a phenomenal athlete. The former quarterback matched up against two of the nation’s top pass rushers in Alex Okafor (Texas) and Damontre Moore (Texas A&M) and totally erased them (minus 1 questionable pressure against Moore). His kick slide is among the cream of the crop. He is relatively new to the position of OT, but he acquitted himself nicely by making leaps and bounds as the season progressed.
Boy, there are some athletic tackles in this group. Menelik Watson is a former basketball player and boxer from Europe. Although he is inexperienced just like Lane Johnson, he put up a better score than 2012 first rounder Riley Reiff. Watson can make blocks in the run game that other tackles simply cannot due to his explosiveness and agility. Of all the tackles I evaluated, Watson was most impressive at getting to the 2nd level and making downfield blocks. Once he cuts down on the missed assignments, he could be a special player at the next level.
Easily the most unheralded on this list, Oday Aboushi took me by surprise. His production was very good in the two games I tracked him. Yet, his athleticism is not on par with the others on this list. Nevertheless, he has the skills to excel on the right side where he can match power against power. I’d like to watch more games of his to get a better feel for his ability.
D.J. Fluker is one huge human being. He plays right tackle in Alabama’s run-heavy offense, and can move some folks out of the way. For a big man, he slides pretty well, but more than makes up for it with 36 inch arms. As a frame of reference, I’ve never seen a player with arms longer than that. Such length allows him to latch onto or punch into defenders well before they can. I didn’t expect him to hit a home run in pass protection. What you are getting with D.J. Fluker is a Phil Loadholt-type. His run blocking is so good, he only needs to be decent against the pass.
Finally, the big surprise of the group was Luke Joeckel. As the reigning Outland trophy winner, I expected Joeckel to be anywhere but here on the list. Against Florida and LSU, he allowed 9 hurries. In his defense, he is blocking for a very mobile quarterback in Johnny Manziel, which makes Joeckel’s assignment even more challenging. Sometimes Manziel would start to scramble and walk into pressure. Then there is the fact that Joeckel matched up against some of the most dangerous rushers in college football (Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery). Those things could easily sway the score a bit.
This group is loaded with talent. Probably five or six of these linemen will be selected in the first round alone. Eric Fisher showed me he is the class of this group, yet the two uber athletic tackles (Watson and Johnson) may prove to be the most accomplished several years from now. If your favorite team is in need of blockers, this is certainly a great year to be in need of one.