Scouting the 2013 Draft: SJSU tackle David Quessenberry

Here are our previous columns on tackle prospects:

We'll conclude our examination of tackle prospects with a look at David Quessenberry, a 6-5, 302-pounder out of San Jose State (NFL, NFLDS).

David was born in my current home town of Carlsbad, CA. He didn’t enter college on a scholarship, but played in all 12 of his games as a redshirt freshman (mostly on STs), and then moved to left tackle in his sophomore year (2010), earning a second-team All-WAC designation while on a poor SJSU team. He also played that position over his junior and senior years. The Spartans finished 11-2 in his senior year, and the left tackle earned a first-team All-WAC ranking for 2012.

A co-captain for SJSU, Quessenberry is the first offensive lineman from San Jose St. to have received an invitation to the Senior Bowl. During practices leading up to that game, the coaches asked him to move around to different positions along the line. Quessenberry responded well, showing them that he has the rare ability to play every OL position. He’s not unlike the remarkable Barrett Jones of Alabama in that respect. Combined with excellent play at LT over the last three years, his versatility is catching attention.

Several onlookers commented that he spent the week getting noticeably better at each practice. He’s probably not ready to step in and become an NFL starter immediately, but he showed talent at both guard and tackle (the notes from the Senior Bowl that I could find didn’t specify whether he handled center). His pass blocking is superior to his run blocking - he’s more of a technician than a mauler, and his technique is still a work in progress. His size and weight will be a factor there - he has the height, but he’ll have to put on muscle to make it in the NFL.

When I watched him against BYU, I noticed that he moves smoothly from one target to the next when faced with a stunting pass rush. He often uses his hands on the arms or outer shoulders of rushers, a technique which he’ll have to change at the next level. He needs to learn how to get his hands inside, where he can control the defender.

I also saw him ragdolled on one play by BYU’s Kyle Van Noy, who is a 235-lb. junior linebacker. That was embarrassing, but it points to two things that Quessenberry needs to develop - better balance and better technique. If David gets his hands up and into the LB, he should be able to easily control him. Van Noy’s speed and his own hand use were big factors - he just slapped Quessenberry aside, ripped nicely to keep Quessenberry’s hands off him as he passed, and made the tackle for a sack on the QB. Later that quarter, though, Quessenberry got a nice fit onto him and shut Van Noy down. it showed up in other games as well - handling speed rushers off the edge was a problem for David on several occasions.

I noticed problems with balance in multiple games as well. He struggled to turn his man on inside zone run blocking at times; that was a technique problem in using his hands and footwork together. He works hard to get to the second level in the run game, which is to his credit. He had trouble finding his target at times once he was there, though. That’s a film study/assignment issue - he should know who he’s looking for before the snap is made.

You can coach him up on several things, but one glaring factor is that he was playing at or below 300 pounds last year. He’s not going to be successful against NFL size, speed, and talent until he can add muscle weight. He’s athletic, though, and he anchors surprisingly well - in his combine performance, I noticed that his legs are on the thin side, but he usually makes up for it by keeping them wide and lowering his pad level, almost crouching in order to keep his base solid. As long as he’s able to keep his shoulders back behind his knees and his feet moving, that’s a good way to strengthen his anchoring. He has a naturally low pad level, which is very much in his favor. He’s not very flexible, however, which negates some of the advantage that he achieves with his pad level.

He could have a rough time with NFL players until he can develop more physically, but he’s offsetting that temporary weakness with his ability to move around the line at need. Quessenberry comes from a military family and that has shown in his level of discipline in approaching the game. That combination of factors will pay dividends at the next level and could easily move him up in the draft. If you’re looking for, say, a swing tackle, and want to have an option at tackle in a year or two, he’s the kind of player that you know you can develop enough to be valuable as a multi-positional swing player in the mode of Russ Hochstein, and who might have the chops to make the jump to starting at tackle.

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