Every year players who were flying under the radar make a move from the shadows to the spotlight over the course of the draft process. On the defensive side, the biggest mover so far has been lineman Jihad Ward, while Vernon Butler made waves at the Senior Bowl as well.
On the offensive side of the ball, Indiana offensive tackle Jason Spriggs surprised with his ability to stand up to the talented cast of linemen in both practice and in the game itself.
With the cutting of offensive tackle Will Beatty, the Giants seem to have committed to Ereck Flowers at left tackl and opened a hole at right tackle. Could Spriggs fill that hole?
Height: 6 foot, 5 3/4 inches (Senior Bowl)
Weight: 301 pounds (Senior Bowl)
Arm Length: 34 1/8 inches
Hand Size: 9 1/2 inches
40 Time: 5.07 seconds (projected)
- Prototypical length for an offensive lineman. Tall with long arms
- Good, quick feet. Quick out of his stance with good agility and balance
- Nasty. Plays with an edge, is tenacious in pass protection and looks for pancake blocks in the run game
- Played against a high level of competition in the Big 10.
- Agile enough to be an effective blocker at the second level
- Played in a spread offense. Will have to adjust to NFL protections and techniques.
- A former tight end, Spriggs will need to get stronger in the NFL. Particularly in his upper body.
- Needs to work on hand usage. Sometimes lets his hands get wide.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - Not in Top 50
Mocking The Draft - 44th
CBS - 42nd
Draft Tek - 52nd
Does He Fit With the Giants?
If the Giants strike out in free agency or believe that the draft is a better place to find a long-term right tackle, then Spriggs could be a fit.
With Ben McAdoo taking over as head coach, there is a bit of a mystery regarding what kind of offensive line he wants. Flowers, John Jerry, and Bobby Hart are all around 330 pounds, and the Giants had the heaviest (projected) starting offensive line in the league last year at an average weight of 322.4 pounds.
Spriggs is a very lean lineman, who still looks more like an over-sized tight end. If McAdoo wants a beefy line, then Spriggs might not be his guy. It also comes down to the kind of blocking schemes the Giants want to run. Mike McCarthy, who McAdoo learned under prior to coming to the Giants, has transitioned the Packers from a zone blocking scheme to a blended scheme that uses both zone and man blocking concepts.
This is more of a note on how I am evaluating offensive linemen, and tackles in particular. Historically, right tackles have been the bigger, less athletic, but more powerful tackles ... Or tackles who couldn't cut it on the left side and the team is trying to get some value out of them.
Left tackle has long been considered one of the "premier" positions because of concerns regarding pressure from the quarterback's blind side -- given that most quarterbacks are right handed. However, the times they are a-changing. In recent years, NFL defense have been moving pass rushers all around the defensive front. Per Pro Football Focus, in 2012, the right tackle position gave up the most sacks, the highest sack percentage, and the most yards lost due to sacks. From 2008-2012 however, that wasn't the case. Before 2012, offenses did indeed face more pressure and surrender more sacks from the left side than the right side.
This culminated -- in the data I could find -- in 2014 when the top seven sack producers (and eight of the top 11) all faced primarily right tackles.
So in response to this new reality, I'm adjusting my thoughts on the offensive line. As far as I am now concerned, the right tackle is as important as the left, and NFL teams should be looking for the same traits in both. Ideally, you would want a tackle who is capable in both run and pass blocking, but if I have to err to one side, the importance of the quarterback means that I'm going for the superior pass protector.