The Texans need an offensive tackle. The 2019 NFL Draft is just about here. The journey started yesterday where I, as your pilot, began to wade this wagon through the ‘Top 15’ available offensive linemen of this year’s draft. Here’s Part One if you missed it, and below are the fifteen sites to see.
11.) Chuma Edoga (Left Tackle—USC)
Pro Football Focus lies.
I watched USC’s left tackle, Chuma Edog,a because of Pro Football Focus’s draft guide. Their pre-draft handbook, filled with advanced stats like run-block success and total grade, loved this tackle from USC. He was credited with surrendering only three pressures, zero quarterback hits, and he led all NCAA tackles in pass blocking efficiency. This, plus a decent enough athletic profile, led to me searching for spliced up video.
And you know what? Edoga did not give up zero quarterback hits. He did not give up zero sacks.
Edoga isn’t the pure and perfect pass protector the charting factory propagates. Edoga has two severe problems when it comes to pass protection. In spite of moving well, he struggles to meet the defensive end at the point of attack. He’s constantly taking three angular slides and then turning to face the rusher. Rarely does he face the defender head on. This leaves him wide open and susceptible to inside moves. This is his second problem and perfectly illustrated by the first two clips above.
In the quarterback hit, Edoga is up against a defensive end close to the line of scrimmage. All this kick-sliding isn’t necessary. I don’t know if the USC coaching staff is putting this into his ear, or if it’s just what happens when the punch is weak. Regardless, Edoga kick-slides wide. He turns and overpursues. The end pops his chest, splits help from the guard, and craters into the quarterback.
On the sack he allows above, Edoga is in a tough spot. The defensive end is a wide ‘9’ jet rusher and the tight end heads out west right away. There’s no help or chipping. Rather than take a deeper pass set to take on the end head on, Edoga spins to survey the ice, catches, and hugs the defender. This is what it looks like in movies when the decorated hero returns home and can’t pick a box of cereal from the overwhelming grocery store. This hip slinging explosion takes the tackle into the quarterback and allows him to peel off and pick up half a sack.
Inside moves murder Edoga. The primary reason that crushes him against these blocks also hurts him against edge rushes. All this turning gives edge rushers a wide path to the quarterback. Edoga is rarely brick stacked and concrete spread in front of the quarterback. He’s always turning and shoving the rusher past the QB. Deeper drop sets lead to a wide turn, rip, and pressure. That long-haired longhorn almost strip-sacks his quarterback because of an immediate turn.
It’s a bummer. Edoga can take three pretty steps. He looks like an offensive tackle when he walks out the door, but he falls apart and cries in his car on the way there. He has the ability to sit, mirror, and remain in front of the rusher on the rare occasions when he does make decent enough contact. There’s also some pretty novel hand usage on display to bat the defender around.
Nobody is perfect. Players are going to miss blocks. The problem with Edoga is that he is neither a great pass blocker or a good enough run blocker to make up for his pass rush problems. In the run game, he has strength problems. He doesn’t create vertical movement on double teams. The only thing he does consistently is block the second level, which is a valuable skill that’s missing in too many offensive line repertoires nowadays.
Edoga doesn’t offer any help to his tight end. His left hand is an empty gesture. A cold “I’m so sorry” without looking up from his phone. Yet the second level block is perfect. He climbs well, lowers before he makes contact to create an initial surge of power, picks his head back up to stay with the defender, and he uses one arm to stretch the linebacker out of the play. The back runs behind him to score.
Edoga may have charted well. He may be able to do two things well. There’s just too much missing, and the tangible athletic traits aren’t wowee enough to expect much from him when he’s no longer playing for education and life experience.
10.) Bobby Evans (Left Tackle—Oklahoma)
If you can’t run block, you better not blow a pass block.
Evans suffers from the same overall problem as Edoga. He can’t run block at all, and he isn’t a great enough pass blocker to make up for it. At Oklahoma, every play was out of a two-point stance. With elbows on his hips, Evans was forced to turn a passive stance into an aggressive block. Rarely did he move anyone off the line of scrimmage, and often he was bullied back towards the football.
Here he is tasked with reaching the playside defensive end. The footwork is crisp. He gets his head on the outside shoulder. But when contact is made, nothing really happens. The car is out of gas. Evans is pushing. It won’t budge. The car is still in park. The defensive end is able to swing him inside after he sees the running back cut outside.
Evans doesn’t have the explosive strength to turn this stance into a driving run block. It leads to high pad level and running feet that take him nowhere.
As a pass blocker, Evans usually won blocks by being strong and getting in the way. Blocking for Kyler Murray was pretty easy. The future desert rat could evaporate around rushers, take off and slice through the defense for more, and he played in an offense that got the ball out of his hands quickly. Getting in the way was more than enough. Evans was stoic against bullrushes and hand fighting. He’d stand big, tough, and in the way.
Speed rushes could slip around him, though. His kick-slide wasn’t quick enough to beat the edge rusher to his spot. Like previous players we discussed, he’d be stuck turning and opening the gate instead of meeting the defender head on. He’d catch instead of punch, and then hope he could push the defender around the pocket, or that Murray had already placed the ball downfield. NFL rushers, in NFL pass rushing situations, are going to be a spiritual awakening for him.
I have Evans ranked here mainly because he showed more than enough functional strength. He wears big pants that are held up by a big belt. He is an obstacle to get around. Maybe NFL weight lifting and a three-point stance can turn all the size into movement. A move from left tackle to right tackle is going to be necessary for him to have a shot at the next level. It’s a lot of hopes and maybes. For now, Evans is a pass blocker who isn’t a good enough at it to provide nothing in the run game.
9.) Dennis Daley (Left Tackle—South Carolina)
There are some things here.
If you really love watching offensive line play, keeping your eyeballs roosted in your skull can be hard thing to do when you watch the kids. The college kids rarely run block. They pass protect in quick throwing offenses. Nuance, technical ability, and great blocks are rarely seen.
South Carolina’s left tackle Dennis Daley is a limited athlete. He ran his 40 in 5.23 seconds and benched 225 only 20 times. His punch is weak and he struggles to get extension. Against longer pass rushes, he has troubles sticking to his block.
In pass protection, the problems stem from his hands and upper body. Daley’s pass set is correct. It’s angular and takes into account what the defender is looking to do. He’s low, even, and attempts to punch the defensive end. It’s an actual punch, even if it’s meek. The end quickly snaps it away.
Daley knows how to play, though. He keeps his feet moving after the ineffective punch and is able to stay in front of the end, removing any path to the quarterback.
The technique often keeps the quarterback clean. Problems will arise against longer rushes and when the ball doesn’t get out quickly. In these situations, hands are vital. Punch and control keeps the defender from scampering away. Without this strangling, no one under the lineman’s protection is safe.
On this bootleg, Daley is blocking one gap over. He’s aggressive, but his punch is mainly close quarter kitten clawing. There’s no extension. No pop. Nothing definitive. The end is wide, blind, and horrifying, but the ball gets away. There are legitimate hand and punch problems. Daley needs more strength, extension, and grappling.
That being said, Daley, unlike the majority of the youths today, can make some technical blocks. He knows how to play the game some. In a world of Scharpings and Risners—turners and get in the wayers—Daley is refreshing.
I love this play so much. Daley jams the speed rush with a nice punch. His hands are inside and he’s extended. In this position, the end is searching to long arm and find an inside path. Daley has enough of it. He clubs the defender’s left arm and is an open burlap sack of crush dropped into check-step trail maintenance.
The occasional spat of violence is welcoming with so much doing just enough out there. Here Daley is blocking the inside gap. He and the center combine to stifle the gap pillaging defensive tackle. Daley has enough. The defensive tackle is overextended, his head way over his feet, and all of his energy is powering up the mountain. He turns this against him and slings the tackle to the ground.
Florida’s Jachai Polite is going to be a mid-round draft pick in this year’s draft. He is lined up tight to Daley’s shoulder; he attempts to blister past him. The typical collegiate offensive tackle would have a belly filled with fear, brain ravaged by flashback anxiety, and turn and run at this point. Daley doesn’t do this. He does the correct thing according to the manual. He gets aggressive and punches the end to cut him off. Polite tries to spin back inside, but Daley is there. From there, he watches himself watching TV.
Last one, I promise. South Carolina is running counter. Daley is blocking down on the defensive tackle. His pad level is perfect. He makes contact at a slightly inclined plane. His head is on the outside shoulder, and he’s lower than the defender. His contact buckles the tackle. The center and guard can both pull freely. Daley brings his legs back under him, his hands to the defender’s chest, and he turns him inside. With the center and guard pulling around, and the back following the pack, the defender has no chance to play the ball.
We all wish for a lot of things. Some wish to be prettier, skinnier, or happier. You may wish it was Friday already. Me? I just wish Daley was a better athlete. If he was stronger and a bit quicker, he could be worthy of a second round pick, a probable NFL starter. Instead, he’s an up and down offensive lineman. Down because of hands and upper body strength. Up because of a rare technical ability to play the game. Hopefully he hasn’t peaked and there’s potential to drill into something more.
8.) Dalton Risner (Right Tackle—Kansas State)
A Frankenstein monster, not an offensive lineman.
Someone is going to fall in love with Risner. They are going to look at the measurables: 6’5”, 312 pounds, 34” arms, 5.3 40, 23 reps, and big jumps. They’ll call him a behemoth, big, mean, and nasty. They’ll say you can’t teach aggression. If he bites as a puppy, he will bite as a dog. He’ll become someone’s weekend project. The shingled dog house, the youth reclaiming yellow car in the garage, the half-welded smoker. Dalton looks like an offensive lineman. He just doesn’t make enough blocks to be called one.
Risner’s biggest challenge is his pad level. He’s too high and lurching. Recently transmogrified, he’s not accustomed to his new body. There isn’t enough knee and hip flexibility to move like an offensive lineman should. Now that the NFL Combine is over, he should spend his summer cranking the “Yoga With Adrienne” instead of bending the barbell.
As the playside double on counter, you have to create vertical movement and get to the inside linebacker. Risner doesn’t get hip to hip with his guard. He’s shuffling and sizing up instead of attaching himself to his teammate. When he makes contact, he’s not creating movement. He’s just a band-aid slightly sealing off the yellow goopy infection.
At this point, he’s nearly standing straight up. A dog with shoes, his feet are floppy and all over the place. The second level block is just an attempt. He flails past the linebacker, and his lunging grab doesn’t prevent the defender from tackling the ball carrier.
This is another double team. Kansas State is running the zone read with Risner oriented with the quarterback keep. He blocks down and drives the tackle inside. At the second level, he takes too narrow of an angle. The linebacker is tentative and doesn’t react to the play quickly enough. Risner, with bolts sticking out of his neck, is able turn back inside and drive the linebacker out. 4th and 1 takes Kansas State to midfield because of Risner, but it probably shouldn’t have happened at all.
The shuffling feet. The high pad level. It all zaps Risner of his size and strength. Against smaller and less talented athletes, Risner can make up for it with sheer monstrosity. That crutch is knocked out from under him against other top players. Montez Sweat gets under him, flips him over like offseason tractor tires, and trips the running back up.
This set of ergonomics affects Risner’s pass blocking, too. Shuffling feet lead to a narrow base. The narrow base leads to leaning when he punches. Even when he’s able to meet the edge rusher head up, he’s usually overextended and falling forward. This allows rushers to shove his head in the dirt or yank him down and rip around his block.
Someone will look past all that rusty movement, crusty hips, and rigid moaning. They’ll commit to teaching Risner how to move in a perfect and correct manner or work around it by accentuating his strengths.
Risner doesn’t get his head and hands in the correct place often enough. But when he does, he scatters ashes across the field. Against this edge rush, his body and feet are a spaghetti mess. He’s contorted, lurching, turned and narrow. Yet he’s able to get his hands on the smaller defensive end. Often this is enough. Hands on the defender can win the block for Risner. When the edge rusher tries to turn the corner, Risner slings him past the quarterback and allows him to throw still sparkly.
Risner’s trunk is robust. Even if all the high movement and narrow bases should leave him exposed to inside moves, Risner is able to withstand them. He has the strength to toss his anchor and sit on bullrushes.
Getting Risner’s hands and head on defenders more often is the task a future coach faces. Risner can be an above average run blocker, and he’s a competent enough pass protector if someone can stretch him out and get him moving better. But most projects sit vacant and corroded with their utility never fully utilized. Risner is a great pick for a team that can take on a project, but not for one who needs competent performance now.
Part III comes tomorrow.