Picking up where we last left off, today’s fare includes a talented converted tight end, a small school player who didn’t get a Combine invite (but probably should have), and one of the elite tackles in this year’s draft. Let’s dig right in:
Reid Fragel - Ohio State - 6-8, 308 lb
Fragel has slipped under the radar so far in pre-draft coverage. Ohio State lost both of its tackles after the 2011 season, and Fragel was converted from tight end to offensive tackle to help pick up the slack. He took to the change nicely, although he is still raw in his footwork and technique, as you would expect. That’s okay - he played right tackle during the 2012 season and showed a lot of promise as an OT.
For a guy with only a single year at the position, he looked very good. His height is a mixed blessing - he’ll have to work to keep his pad level low, but he’s got a wide wingspan. He’ll still have to put on more muscle weight for the NFL.
Moving from tight end to tackle was surprisingly easy for Fragel. He seemed to have no trouble adding the necessary weight to his frame (58 lb. over his college career) in the form of muscle, rather than fat, which suggest to me that he’ll fill out well in the pros. You’ll notice immediately upon watching him that he still has the athleticism in his footwork from his tight end days. He puts it to excellent use.
Although he is sometimes not technically correct with that footwork, I can't deny his quickness. Given his athletic ability and how recently he came to the right tackle position, I expect that he will develop rapidly, gain the strength that wasn't required of him in college, and learn to use his hands better. He might be a developmental player and he should start off at RT, but he has a big upside.
Ryan Jensen - CSU Pueblo - 6-5, 305 lb.
Jensen did not get an invitation to the Combine, but that shouldn't scare off any potential suitors. Playing in a small school, off the beaten track, Jensen still showed unusual talent. He was a starter for all four years of his college career and also can work as a long snapper, a sought-after skill.
I expect Jensen to move inside as an NFL player - his long snapper skills are being supplemented with some center and guard work. He’s already got the chops for a zone blocking guard. In that respect, he's got an advantage: swing players who can handle guard and center are always going to be in demand.
Someone is going to pick this man up and give him a chance, and they should see a very good player resulting from that decision. When you add his abilities as a long snapper to his other skills and abilities, you get a player who is going to be in demand in the later rounds of the draft.
Luke Joeckel - Texas A&M - 6-6, 306 lb.
What can you say about one of the best combinations of size, speed and skill in the 2013 draft? As it turns out, lots.
Joeckel has excellent footwork and mirrors precisely. I have some concerns with his level of strength, not unlike the situation with Matt Kalil last year, and I expect him to benefit greatly from professional training and coaching. He started every game for the Aggies from the time he was a freshman onward, and it shows in his ease with the position. He picks up the blitz beautifully, and there is probably not a tackle in this class that uses his hands and feet together better than Luke does. He has a textbook kickslide.
By the way, that particular technique was developed by Jerry Wampfler, the former head coach of Colorado State University (from 1970 to 1972). Wampfler was teaching the kickslide over 40 years ago and was a former offensive tackle himself. He also invented the ‘post step’, which is usually used in terms of run blocking, particularly for combination blocks.
Every young player has weaknesses, and Luke still shows a few. In addition to needing to put on strength, his reach block isn't as good as it needs to be. He also doesn't show the power in the run game that I expect he'll have in a few more years. These are problems that an NFL program can help him overcome. Despite still needing to get stronger, I love the width of his base.
He’s impressive with how quickly he can move on that base and then recover if he misses on a particular technique. If he has to pull or trap, he keeps his hips low (which keeps his helmet from raising up, a sure way to tell the defenders what you’re doing) and corners well. Every young player tends to overextend on his punch at times, and Luke is no exception there.
I've heard it said that if you read enough scouting reports on a player, you'll always end up believing that his weaknesses outweigh his strengths. Luke is a good example of that. While I see the weaknesses that he still has, it doesn't in any way diminish what a remarkable prospect he is. Denver may get to see a lot of him if the Chiefs decide to go OT with the number-one-overall pick, as many are predicting.