With the zone blocking scheme installation coming in OTAs, Denver continues on their drive to improve the offensive line. Today, let's discuss former Oregon Ducks left tackle Jake Fisher.
He’s not related to Eric Fisher, the left tackle taken #1 overall in 2013 by Kansas City. Like Eric, though, he was a tight end before converting to tackle. The questions for Denver are whether he can develop the power that he’ll need for right tackle and the balance that he’ll need for the left side.
Usually, you want a power player at right tackle. Fisher uses technique rather than raw power. He does it so well, that I think he could come in and play right tackle as a rookie. If he adds enough power, he could also take over at left tackle when Ryan Clady’s contract runs out.
When you’re looking for a tackle, one of the biggest issues is his length. Fisher is 6’6”, which is right about where you’d like to see a tackle. He added eight pounds of muscle this season to reach 308, and I believe that he can add another 8-10. That puts him in the lower Goldilocks Zone for tackles. The optimal size is 6’5” to 6’7”, 315 to 325 lb. A 6’8” tackle can have trouble keeping his pad level low enough to mirror and anchor. Under 6’5” and you’re losing some of that length you’ll need on the edge.
NFL defensive linemen continue to get bigger and stronger. An offensive tackle needs all the help he can manage. Having an 82-inch wingspan helps out with Jake’s overall length.
Balance is the confluence of a number of factors. Part is innate. Part is developed through practice - Luke Richesson’s team has a wide range of exercises to improve it. Another factor is how quickly the lineman moves his feet - continuous, short, choppy steps are necessary in pass protection. Balance will get the OT’s hands up and controlling the centerline of the defender. Proprioception, the unconscious awareness of balance that comes from receptors in the body, is also essential.
Fisher was Oregon’s starter in a zone scheme, which is in his favor. He led all OL in the 20-yard shuttle (4.33 sec.). That’s a clue as to how athletic he is. Jake has the initial quickness to get across the defender’s face. He finishes well in the zone scheme. I like his core muscle potential - he’s already rolling his hips nicely into his blocks. He keeps his base wide enough to anchor against the bull rush.
He was timed at 5.01 seconds in the 40, second among the OL. More importantly for a zone blocker, he had a solid 10-yard split of 1.75 seconds. His second split was 1.78. That kind of quickness off the line gets the defensive line moving when the offensive line is in a full stretch zone.
His weaknesses are simple. He committed six holding penalties last year. He fails to bring his hands up strongly enough inside. With his outside hand sometimes swinging wide, he’s opening himself to the bull rush. He’ll have to add the aforementioned weight as strength. He’ll need to get his head into the game as well.
Overall, he tends to have good technique for a player at his level. Fisher should be able to handle right tackle immediately, although he’ll make his rookie mistakes. What’s in his favor are his length, his use of core muscles, and his zone experience. Denver needs all three. They’ll have to work with him on playing smart, but he’s a quality option for a late first- or second-round pick.
I’d been waiting to see his work at combine. If Denver takes him, he should start at right tackle immediately. He might get strong enough to take over from Clady later in his career. He certainly has the feet for it.