Offensive line play is perhaps the most technical and misunderstood part of the NFL. Yet, it is critical to the success of any offense. With the New York Giants in need of offensive line upgrades this offseason, information about top offensive line prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft is at a premium.
So, input from analysts who really understand what they are seeing when watching offensive linemen play is valuable. Two of the best when it comes to assessing offensive line play are consultant Duke Manyweather and talent evaluator Brandon Thorn. Both were guests this week on the “Breaking the Plane” podcast hosted by Jon Ledyard and Matt Williamson.
The duo broke down the three offensive tackles expected to be draft in the first round — Ryan Ramczyk of Wisconsin, Garett Bolles of Utah and Cam Robinson of Alabama. What Manyweather said about Robinson in particular should get the attention of Giants’ fans.
The draft section of the podcast begins around the 28-minute mark if you want to listen.
A player at one time thought to be a lock to be selected in the top 10, Robinson has been picked apart during the course of the past year. There is a school of thought that Robinson will have to play right tackle, or perhaps kick inside to guard, to succeed in the NFL. There has also been a comparison made between Robinson and a player that would make Giants’ fans cringe.
“People have started to make the lazy comparison of him and another Ereck Flowers. It’s not. His technique is by far head and shoulders beyond Ereck Flowers, and the things that he struggles with can be fixed.
“His technique is so much farther along than some of the recent guys who show those traits. He’s not them.”
Manyweather believes Robinson “checks those boxes” for what teams should want in a left tackle.
“When you talk about the traits you want a left tackle to have in the first round, especially top 15, Cam Robinson checks those boxes.
“In terms of skill set and ability it’s all there. I think there are some technique things that need to be cleaned up, at times there’s consistency issues. Sometimes it just looks like he’s disengaged and just kinda checked out, I’m not sure if he gets bored or what, but when he turns it on I don’t think people give him enough credit. There’s a lot of things that he makes look very easy.
“If his off the field checks out it would be hard to pass on him in the first round, especially in the top 20.”
“The first thing I saw when I saw him as a freshman I remember thinking that’s a No. 1 overall pick type talent. He has that type of ability, it’s just a matter of if he puts it together and refines his technique and becomes consistent.”
Robinson does have an arrest in his background teams will be checking into.
“I think you definitely draft this guy high if those things check out. On the field he has everything you could possible want in an NFL left tackle. I don’t see much that he doesn’t have.”
The Wisconsin offensive tackle has only one year of Division I football, but may have the best fundamentals of any tackle in this draft class.
“When you turn on the film of Ramczyk he’s very technically sound. He has the traits there as far as physical traits, and then when you marry that with how technically sound he is in almost every aspect it just jumps off the screen.”
Ramczyk did have post-season hip surgery.
“His 2016 tape is very good. Now, this is what you have to ask yourself. If his medical clears what you saw on tape definitely warrants a look and a kick of the tires to be somewhere in the first round. You don’t get that later on in the draft.
“I do think Ramczyk’s medical is going to be pretty key for him.”
“He’s very good with his hands, he plays the game with good leverage, understands angles well. He’s just a very clean prospect in my opinion.”
Bolles is another prospect with limited collegiate experience.
“Garret Bolles is 24, will be 25 here I think in May or June. The thing about him is the freaky athletic ability that jumps off the screen. You don’t see that a lot past the first round. You just don’t see it, period.
“He’s probably the best finisher, it doesn’t matter if it’s run blocking or pass protection, he’s probably the best finisher in the draft.”
“Also, high volume footwork in terms of pass protection and in run blocking, so he’s intriguing. If everything checks out with him I think teams are going to look past his age simply again because of the state of where the CBA is.
“You’re telling me in three or four years when it’s time to re-up and this guy’s 28, 29 and probably at the peak of his game that you’re going to get another three or four years out of him. That you’re not going to be happy with a guy that just played eight years and is essentially going to be 33 years old? I think you’ll be fine with that.
“I’m not buying the whole age thing with him.”
“I don’t think his age is a big deal, either ... you draft that guy in the first round, for sure.”
“I think his athleticism really jumps off. When he gets out in space and he’s pulling and he’s at the second level he moves incredibly well, and he’s nasty as a finisher.”