Fans would love to see Chris Williams or Branden Albert step in to solidify the LT spot on the Texans Oline. It's been rumored that with a deep draft at OT, the Texans may look to later rounds to take their Tackle. So who else could fill the need at LT?
Take a look at the graphs below and see which prospects stood out at the combine as good Zone Blocking prospects.
40 yard splits
Look a little deeper than the 40 time. See who showed burst in the first 10 yards. See who's surge held through 20 yards. See who finished strong across the 40 yard mark.
10 yds: Rarely do you expect any Olinemen to move more than 10 yds on a given play, so their initial burst off the ball is important. None of the tackles, even the elite ones, really separate.
20 yds: Here's where you start to see a 2nd gear, an extra push to drive the defender off the ball. The 3 elite tackles are all in the 2.9 range. Duane Brown, Jeremy Zuttah and Kirk Barton all a small cut above in the 2.8 range.
40 yds: Several later round tackles finish strong and do better than the elite tackles 5.1 range. Brown, Zuttah and Barton all finished with strong 5.0 times. You'd hope to see them finish blocks as well as get down field.
I look at the 40 for offensive lineman more as a measure of where exertion meets endurance. I'm more interested to see who has a consistent burst across 10, 20 and 40 yard splits.
This graph compares upper body strength for the initial punch with lower body power for drive blocking and getting to the 2nd level. I'm looking for spikes that show a prospect excelling compared to other tackles in the draft.
Yellow = Bench Press Maroon = High Jump Purple = Long Jump
Jake Long is the class of the draft with 37 reps on the bench press and solid jumps. Kirk Barton's 34 and Jeremy Zuttah's 35 also showed a lot of upper body strength. Duane Brown doesn't show the same upper body strength, but obviously has a strong lower body.
Putting the 3 cone drill and the 20 yd shuttle on an XY grid gives a rough approximation of each prospects "feet". The hypothesis being that the more agile players will better handle edge rushers and be able to get to the 2nd level.
There's a big cluster of agile tackles in the lower left section of the graph. Brown, Zuttah and Barton are all tightly packed together showing themselves to be a little more agile than the rest. In Gibb's Zone Blocking scheme, agility is said to be a premium.
Here's a raw look at the numbers I was working with.
So after a little sifting, we find 3 diamonds in the rough. Maybe Gibbs could polish these prospects into solid Zone Blocking Olinemen.
A tight end before he changed positions to Tackle. Having former TEs as bookends would probably work well in a Zone Blocking scheme. He doesn't have the top-end upper body strength, so he may be susceptible to the bull rush, but he does have the lower body strength to drive block in the running game. He's got the agility to keep up with Dwight Freeney.
He's played LT, RG and RT for Rutgers. He led the way on Ray Rice's 2,000+ yd campaign. Most people consider him too small for a power scheme, a la Green Bay, but he seems ideal for an Alex Gibbs Oline. He's got upper and lower body strength. He can play multiple positions and he's a solid run blocker.
He may be a workout warrior, but by the numbers, he's the total package. He's played as a Right Tackle. With Eric Winston established on the right side of the line, Kirk Barton could try to transition to Left Tackle. He's got the strength and agility to hold up there. As a later round pick, he could serve as a solid backup for Winston if he doesn't make the transition.
The Texans may not take any of these guys, but remember them if the Texans pass through the first 2 rounds of the draft without taking a LT.
* I haven't had the opportunity to watch film on any of these players. This is purely a "by the numbers" analysis.