Offensive tackle Kaleb McGary is moving up NFL draft boards after a compelling NFL Combine and solid Pro Day. According to the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, McGary is set to meet with 14 NFL teams by the time the 2019 NFL Draft begins. Although the Texans are not specifically mentioned as a stop on McGary’s trip around the NFL, he could be a potential option for Houston in either the first or second rounds.
McGary’s resume is quite robust. He’s a three year starter at right tackle for the Washington Huskies, a two-time All Pac-12 selection, and one of the best stories of this draft class. Measuring in at 6’7” and 317 pounds, he has the build of a starting right tackle in the league. In his three years starting, McGary played against fourteen ranked opponents, so you can't say that he has faced elite talent
McGary is a beast at the point of contact. He understands leverage and how to effectively combo block with his fellow lineman.
On this play against Utah, McGary (#58) blasts the defensive tackle out of the hole in a counter run and then works his way up to steamroll a smaller linebacker.
He is the type of lineman who's only intention is to bury you. That tenacity is more than welcome at any level of football, and certainly in the NFL. McGary does a good job staying low and driving his feet throughout the play to create a massive hole for his running back. His inside run blocking game is top notch when everything is working in tandem.
What McGary is not: a polished pass protector who can maintain blocks and knows how to anchor down against adept pass rushers. McGary’s Kryptonite in the pass blocking game is speed. Let’s roll the film.
Yikes Play No. 1: McGary is at right tackle with a wing back to his outside. This forces the defender to play a wide-9 technique instead of being directly on top of the offensive tackle. This creates a longer route for the defensive end to get to the QB, but it also creates more distance between him and McGary.
On this play, McGary whiffs because he lunges at the defensive end as he moves up the field instead of kick-sliding back to meet the DE where he is trying to go.
Yikes Play No. 2: McGary gets beat around the corner by a speedy DE. All the defender does is emphatically swipe at McGary’s hands and dip his shoulders. That was enough to get by him.
Without being able to grab onto the DE, McGary has to drop his shoulders to extend further out. He crosses his feet and forces the QB to run up into the pocket too early.
Yikes Play No. 3: The kick-slide. The few plays where Washington throws the ball more than 12 yards down the field offer the best view into McGary’s current pass blocking technique.
From this play, it’s apparent that McGary has some learning to do before NFL pass rushers come calling. Imagine Bradley Chubb going against McGary at this point. A player like Chubb, who will normally line up against the right tackle, could have some serious success against McGary if the young lineman cannot learn to get depth in his kick slide.
Yikes Play No 4: To be fair, I actually am a fan of McGary and his run blocking film, but the Texans need to know that the hype train running McGary’s stock up may be masking some flaws in his game.
Here the Huskies have three players blocking two Buckeyes, which allows two linebackers to run untouched into the backfield. Now, there were other definite lapses in protection on this play, but McGary recognizing delayed blitzes such as this play will be critical for him if he wants to stay on the outside on the next level.
I rarely believe that a player who has played tackle his entire career can seamlessly transition inside to guard and realistically thrive there, yet McGary may be one of those cases where guard could be a better fit than tackle in the NFL. A 6’7” guard may cause some vision problems for the QB, but his ability to combo-block and mauler mentality make him a good fit at right guard.
The Texans’ first and foremost need right now is offensive linemen with the ability to maintain a block. No holding. No cut blocking (which you see quite often in the UW-OSU game from McGary). No watching the QB get sacked.
Washington’s system didn't prepare McGary to be a Day One starter in the NFL, and the Texans need a Day One starter. With the league-wide interest in McGary peaking right before the draft, the Texans will likely only get one shot at drafting McGary: in the first round. With that in mind, I wouldn’t want to see McGary wearing a Texans hat after the 23rd pick is announced.
If he falls into the second round, however, I would not be afraid of the Texans taking him with one of their two picks there and pairing him with another early round offensive lineman. Still, there would need to be a plan in place to let McGary shine in the run game and develop in pass protection. The team that takes a flier on McGary needs to focus on developing his technique, not submerging him in a fledgling offensive line.