Braden Smith - Auburn
The 2017 Season...Smith was an All-American first-team selection by The NFL Draft Report, Associated Press and CBS Sports
Body Structure...Smith has natural overall body thickness with a strong, muscular lower frame that allows him to maintain his anchor vs. the bull rush. He has the large wingspan and long arms needed to make reach blocks and more than enough upper body power and muscle tone to easily “rag doll” defenders when working in tight areas. He is a big body type with a big bubble, minimal girth, along with the big hips, thighs and calves to maintain his position when he stays down in his pads. He has an overall firm frame and while he is not explosive out of his stance, he has that very strong lower body base to firmly drive through his blocking assignments and maintain the integrity of the rush lanes.
Athletic Ability...There are times where Smith will get too tall in his stance or waist bend, causing him to fail in generating explosion off the snap, but he is quick enough to get into the second level on short pulls. With his change of direction agility, he builds his acceleration steadily when asked to log or down block. When he gets too tall in his stance, he is more apt to lean into his man and use his body as a crutch as the game wears on, but he has enough quickness and movement ability to get the job done coming off the snap when he maintains proper pad level. He is a naturally strong athlete, doing an excellent job of anchoring firmly vs. the bull rush. You will not see him show suddenness taking on double moves, but he has enough speed to execute the short pulls to the outside (just not as fluid getting into the second level or when he reverts to waist bending).
Football Sense...While Smith does not have great field vision, he does work well in unison with his center and tackle on double teams and/or maintaining the integrity of the rush lane. He needs just minimal reps to retain plays and is smart enough to be capable of calling blocking assignments in the trenches. He is very effective adjusting to line stunts and shows more than enough savvy to pick up the twists. He works well with others on double teams and keeps his head on a swivel moving into the second level. He is a low assignment type that easily takes plays from the chalk board to the playing field. He plays with good concentration (just one penalty in his last 27 games, coming in 2017) and is very alert to the defender’s movements.
Initial Quickness ...Smith lacks great long distance quickness, thanks to some balance issues (will get narrow and tall in his stance and lacks natural knee bend). Still, he comes off the snap with good quickness, showing a powerful forward thrust to get into the defender with force. As a senior, he showed marked improvement with a quick pass set, as he readily adjusted and reacted to movement (see 2017 Georgia Southern, Mississippi State, Ole Miss games). When he maintains a low pad level and sits into his stance, he is very effective at gaining an advantage on the defender, but when he fails to drop his pads, he will revert to bending at the waist, impeding his initial movement off the snap. His improvement as a senior demonstrated that Smith has enough functional initial quickness off the snap to gain advantage and good pop and explosion on contact (must sink his pads to be effective, though). He is a very good position blocker who uses his natural leverage to sustain blocks (must be conscious of staying low in his pads, for when he gets tall, he will get walked back or lose relationship with the bull rusher). He does not come off the snap with good explosion and if a quick defender gets a side on him, he will lose contact when he “short arms” (not quick getting his hands up or recoiling vs. counter moves), but for a big man, he moves well along the line and on short pulls into the second level to gain an advantage.
Lateral Movement...Despite good lateral numbers at the Combine, Smith’s waist bending prevents him from getting that sudden and fluid movement needed to pull and trap going long distances. He uses his natural strength to generate movement. When he gets too tall in his stance or does not drop his pads under his frame, he becomes just an adequate mover in space, especially when trying to mirror smaller, quicker opponents, as he does not have the ease of movement to recover when he lunges or over-extends (footwork and hip snap need refinement). He looks stiff in his movements down the line when he gets too upright in his stance and is better battling in the trenches than when asked to pull or trap. Still, he showed in 2017 (see Georgia Southern and Missouri games) that he can find his way around the center, even though he lacks ideal hip snap when having to redirect.
Balance/Stays On Feet...When Smith fails to roll his hips or stands up rather than maintaining a low pad level, he will struggle with his balance on the move. He is much more effective in a zone blocking scheme, where he can utilize his impressive power and incredible hand punch to finish. When he plays low with leverage, he is perfectly capable of hitting on his rise up and into the defender’s numbers. He will fall off after a long sustain on occasion, when on the move, but when battling stationary or in the trenches, he consistently gets good fits. He does have some balance concerns when he over-extends, but showed much better ability as a senior in attempts to play with a wider base and he has a very strong anchor to maintain position. He uses his leg drive and strength to get movement off the ball, as he is an efficient knee bender who might lack great flexibility, but to compensate for his penchant to waist-bend, at times, he has developed into a much more patient blocker than in the past, especially in his pass protection, as he can sink his weight and slide better when he keeps his pads true.
Explosion/Pop...Smith is a nasty, aggressive drive blocker, who plays with a “chip on his shoulder” when attacking defenders that find the “need” to play outside the rules with him. He will hustle and compete until the whistle and looks for secondary targets to attack when working off his main assignment or leading the short pulls into the second level. He works hard to finish his blocks and has that mean streak to establish his presence in the trenches and command respect from his opponent. When he is “on his game,” he plays with a nasty temperament and his aggression wears off on players lining up around him (they like to emulate his attitude). He works to finish and while he sometimes gets too anxious, he will not flail his arms wildly, but he can lose balance when he fails to prevent defenders from getting into his chest. He is just a tough, gritty athlete who has a few “tricks in his bag” that he uses to combat with the more physical opponent, as he loves the confrontations in the trenches.
Run Blocking...Smith has that short area foot speed to generate the range needed when pulling from the backside. He is quite effective executing the kick-out and fold blocks, and he could see some action at tackle, thanks to his ability to generate power on the move, along with keeping his head on a swivel to locate and neutralize second level defenders. He gets into blocks with good urgency and breaks down well as a run blocker, especially when asked to deliver movement on drive and down blocks. Smith is best when blocking for the run, as he might be a plodder, but shows the ability to get a good fit and drive the defender off the ball. His leg drive gets him good success to work for position. He is better on the short pull to the front side than when working as a trap blocker off tackle. In the run game, he is a good technician who comes off the ball well with some quickness to position and play with good leverage and hand usage. He has the leg drive to clear the rush lanes and shows good hand placement to root out the defender. Some coaches might want him to sink his weight and lower his pads more, especially in short yardage situations, as he does take false steps and that makes his leverage inconsistent. He was not asked to get out on the edge and impact for outside running plays at Auburn, as he does not have great timed speed, but he will not cross his feet, and compensates for lumbering into the second level by taking good blocking angles.
Pass Blocking...In a zone blocking scheme, Smith has capably performed with his movement skills to develop into a quality pass protector at the NFL level (see 2017 Georgia Southern, Mississippi, Texas A&M games). When he maintains low pad level, he has no problem shuffling, sliding and reacting to movement. He might struggle with the quick double move at times, but is generally efficient in pass protection, as he stays on his feet and anchors well. Some teams might look at him as a right tackle, but he does not have that natural balance or foot quickness to mirror edge rushers (best when not isolated on the outside). He could have problems vs. the speed rush at the next level, but he does sink his hips adequately and compensates by playing with a wide base to maintain his anchor. When he gets to upright in his stance and narrows his base, he relies more on pushing and leaning into the defender to gain advantage in pass protection. When he plays with good patience, he has better ability to neutralize, thanks to his anchor and kick slide.
Pulling/Trapping...Smith will struggle with his balance on long pulls, but when he comes out of his stance with proper ease-of-movement, he can pull and strike second level targets with great consistency (see 2017 Georgia Southern, Missouri, Texas A&M games). He has worked hard in 2017 in his attempts to move his feet and hips more when attempting to pull, trap and log. When pulling from the back side, he no longer will get caught in traffic as he used to pull too flat and that got him swallowed. He works hard to open his hips (still an issue) and move down the line, but he is just not quick enough to reach past a second level target.
Adjust on Linebacker Downfield...Smith will look defenders up down field and he has enough quickness to make contact on short pulls into the second level, but he will struggle with his balance to make plays going long distances. However, when he times his moves and takes proper angles on screens, he is better when working in space. He has the straight-line quickness to reach the second level, but if he gets too tall in his stance, he will struggle to adjust. He will only sustain when he achieves contact, though, and is quick to adjust to the line-backers on the blitz. He also works hard to generate good hand placement, as he made a conscious effort as a senior to not allow inside penetration (see 2017 Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama games).
Use of Hands/Punch...Smith can drill a hole through a defender with his impressive hand punch. He will sometimes rely more on his strength than grabbing his opponent, but when he keeps his hands inside his frame, he has good success locking on and controlling his opponent, especially when he gets good position with his hands. He creates tremendous pop with his punch, more than enough to move defenders off the line once he gets a hold on them. When he comes off the snap with good hand placement, he is quite effective at neutralizing the straight-line charge (will struggle vs. side movement due to inconsistent hip snap). He is a very effective reach blocker thanks to a long wingspan and does a good job of keeping his arms and hands active to gain separation. He gets good hand placement and generates strong force behind his punch, enough to get a good jolt (likes to use his hands as weapons). He needs to show better hand extension to control on the move, though.
Reactions/Awareness... Smith is a low rep assignment player who does a good job of keeping his head on a swivel and anticipating the defender’s moves in the trenches and is also aware of activity moving in space. He works well with other linemen on combo blocks, as he is an efficient contact seeker with impressive upper body strength. He also shows very good alertness to pick up stunts and blitzes, getting good position to sustain.
Compares To...David DeCastro-Pittsburgh Steelers...Smith has the strength to overpower even the biggest of defenders, but must continue to work on improving his lateral agility and staying lower in his pads. He has very good tenacity and a strong hand punch to shock and jolt, but there are times where he will struggle to handle speed moves, making a shift to offensive tackle not ideal for a player who is better suited working inside and in combination with other blockers rather than get beat by the edge rushers. With his ability to wall off defenders and widen the rush lanes, a team with a strong inside running game will benefit more from a player of his caliber.
Wyatt Teller - Virginia Tech
Body Structure...Teller has a tall frame with good arm length, quickness and balance, along with big hands to lock on and control the defender. He has a solid build with room to add more bulk without the additional weight affecting his impressive timed speed. He has good upper body shoulder and chest thickness, a wide neck and minimal body fat for a down lineman. He has decent sized legs and calves, but he could use more lower body strength to improve his drive blocking explosion.
Athletic Ability...Teller demonstrates very good knee bend and leverage, solid foot quickness and change of direction agility to get into the second level in a hurry. He does a nice job of shifting his weight, thanks to fluid hips and good explosion off the snap, when he keeps his pads down low (loses leverage battles when he narrows his base when getting too tall in his stance). It is rare to see him over-extend in pass protection, using his long arms well to lock on to his opponent. He shows very good acceleration when leading on pulls and traps (see 2017 West Virginia, East Carolina, Georgia Tech contests). He has the lateral movement to get out front quickly on traps and pulls. His balance and body control allow him to get down field and in position to neutralize the linebackers and he displays good knee bend and leverage, doing a nice job of shifting his weight when redirecting.
Football Sense...Teller plays with good instincts and field vision. He has the ability to slide and is very alert to the blitz. He understands games and twists and it is rare to see him over-extend or get out of position. He picks up the nuances of the game instantly and the ability to read and react quickly on stunts and games. He makes good adjustments on the field and needs just minimal reps in order to retain plays. He puts in the extra hours in the film room and is a good technique-oriented type, showing the foot slide to mirror his opponent.
Initial Quickness ... Teller has that sudden first step needed to consistent gain leverage on an opponent in pass protection. He shows good hip strike and suddenness out of his stance and even when he is late at the X’s, he has the field savvy to recover. He gets into his blocks with good aggression, but can fall off some hits when he gets too tall in his stance. He has the balance and change of direction agility to get out front on traps and pulls. He can gain advantage on scoop and reach blocks thanks to his quick first step. He shows good hip strike and suddenness getting out of his stance and moving up field (see 2017 West Virginia, East Carolina, North Carolina games).
Lateral Movement...Teller demonstrates good feet when moving laterally and in his kick slide. He shows good urgency getting out of his stance and pulling. He has the agility to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage, showing fluid hip snap when trying to plant and redirect. The thing you notice on film is the way he maintains balance on the short pull while displaying good lower body flexibility (see 2017 Old Dominion and Oklahoma State games).
Balance/Stays On Feet...Teller is a very effective position blocker, as he sustains well with his flexibility and knee bend. He shows nimble feet when shuffling and is very capable when sliding and mirroring throughout his blocks. He will get narrow and a bit straight-legged at times and will sometimes struggle to recover when he over-extends, but he generally plays with good base and balance. He has good knee bend and works hard to keep his feet on the move. He will sometimes flop around working long distances, but that only happens when he gets too narrow in his stance. He shows better body control when working on short pulls. At the line of scrimmage, Teller has the quick feet and balance to slide and sustain (see 2017 East Carolina, North Carolina, Oklahoma State games). He sustains with good flexibility and is a tough position blocker who shows consistency working to finish. When he gains position and keeps his base wide, he will generally win most battles.
Explosion/Pop...Teller has made very good strides in increasing his hand punch power, but still needs to keep his hands inside the frame in order to be more effective in leverage battles. When he keeps his pads down, he can instantly knock back the defender’s head or take his opponent off his feet (see 2017 East Carolina, North Carolina games). He has developed the hip rotation needed to stalk targets in space and shows very good pop to go with his hand punch, especially when helping out his center. He has shown steady improvement in getting his hands up quickly on the rise to jolt defenders with his punch. He is active with his arms in attempts to leverage and sustain. He uses his leg drive well to fire off the snap, showing good hip rotation and surge in short yardage situations. He can generate enough explosiveness to be effective on the short pull. His strength allows him to neutralize the defender’s charge and create movement. When he plays at a proper pad level, he shows the ability to sink his hips and use his lower body to explode into his man. When he gets too high in his stance, he fails to roll his hips and pop into blocks.
Run Blocking...Teller will lose base at the X’s when he gets too tall in his stance (see 2017 Clemson, Miami games), but he demonstrates good ability to wall off and screen, doing a nice job of rolling his hips on contact. When he locks on with his hands, he has the strength to drive his man off the ball. He has the hand punch to sustain blocks and maintain the rush lane. His improving lower body strength generally lets him flash into the defender and drive his opponent quickly off the ball, but only when he keeps his pad level down. He blocks with a flat back and locks on to the defender quickly to move his man out of level one. When he shows his ability to keep his pad level low and play with leverage, it lets him control the action with his quick initial step. He has made great strides in this area due to his ability to bend at the knees and drive to get movement when working in-line. When he keeps his weight down, he can excel at walling off and screening, especially when he rolls his hips on contact.
Pass Blocking...Teller has the leg drive and nimble feet to simply attack linebackers at will, when working into the second level. He can sink his hips and mirror vs. the bull rush and when he plays with a solid base, he will hit with good authority. He has outstanding awareness picking up stunts and with improved lower body power, he has the ability to anchor. He shows quick feet to redirect and uses his long arms well to counter vs. the quick swim move. Even when he overextends, he recovers nicely, using his feet to maintain position and mirror the defender. He plays flat-footed and can sink his hips to mirror and it is rare to see him drop his head at the X’s. He used to get a little straight-legged trying to adjust and recover, but he showed improved flexibility and balance as a junior. If he generates proper knee bend, he can anchor and slide when trying to set and base. He has allowed only four sacks through close to 2,800 snaps during his career.
Pulling/Trapping ...If you are looking for a guard to get out on the short pull and drive the defender off the ball on initial contact, Teller is your man. He is best working in the short area, as his quick first step usually allows him to gain advantage, but he is also quite effective on long pulls into the second level, as he has a good concept for angling and keeps his head on a swivel looking for targets to hit. With his good body quickness, he can “get out of the gate” in an instant and is the type who will land with violence at the X’s. When he sometimes gets his base too narrow and fails to keep his feet under him, he can be walked back, though.
Adjust on Linebacker Downfield...Teller’s outstanding change of direction agility and foot speed lets him redirect to track and land at the second level. He generally plays on his feet and takes good angles to shorten the field. When he connects with his hands, linebackers soon succumb to his punch. He is very good at locating and delivering a strong hand jolt in level one action on the short pull and working towards the edge. On long runs, he shows good ability to position and sustain (see 2017 West Virginia, East Carolina, North Carolina games). As a senior, you saw marked improvement in this area. He learned how to better utilize his change of direction agility to take better angles and shorten the field. When he maintains balance redirecting, he is capable of tracking and landing on the linebacker with good violence.
Use of Hands/Punch...Teller has a strong and powerful hand punch, but will lose relationship with the defender when he gets his base too narrow and lunges into his man. As a senior, he was much more active with his hands, keeping them inside his framework. He can knock defenders back once he makes contact and has very good recoil and recovery ability in 2017 than ever before. He can generate very good power to shock and jolt when he gets his hands into the defender’s chest. His hand speed is so quick, he could make a good move to center down the road. His powerful short punch has become a dangerous weapon when working in-line. As he became more confident in his hands, he was able to shock and knock down defenders with very good consistency. Thanks to his hand strength, when he locks on to a defender, he will usually control the play.
Reactions/Awareness...Teller’s does a very good job of staying in front of the defender. With his lateral agility, lower body flexibility and field alertness, he will generally do a very good job of redirecting and picking up stunts. He shows the vision to easily pick up twists and will pivot to recover when he misses a block. He works well with his center switching on stunts and also has the ability to combo with his tackles when picking up the outside blitz. He has the nimble feet to move out the pile and shuffles his feet with effectiveness to neutralize linebackers trying to shut down the rush lanes.
Compares To...Chris Snee-ex-New York Giants.
Late Day 2/Early Day 3
Sean Welsh - Iowa
Even with all of his experience as a guard, his incredible field smarts, enough to have called blocking assignments for the team since his junior year, could see Welsh shift inside to center at the next level. He has excellent athletic ability, displaying good initial explosion off the line. He is very nimble in the open field, as he gets out on traps and pulls in a hurry, maintaining balance throughout his stride. With his ability to engage defenders in an instant coming off the snap, he might be a better center candidate at the next level, once he gains experience.
Welsh shows impressive agility and balance on the move and has the change of direction flexibility to redirect and clear cut back lanes working into the second level. He’s a classic bar-room brawler who is light in the hips and can run well when pulling and trapping. Put him in a scheme where he can utilize his raw power and allow him to maul, he will excel. He is just not the type that fits in a finesse-style scheme.
Welsh has no trouble getting turned up field and locking on to linebackers in the second level. He is very alert when trapping and can drop his pads and snap hips to unload on a lethargic defender. While his pass protection is solid enough to handle emergency snaps as a tackle, he is much better suited as an interior lineman due to a lack of great arm length and just adequate overall size to play on the edge.
Welsh has natural strength and quickness. He shows ease of movement accelerating into the second level and excellent change of direction agility to make plays working down the line. He plays with a very good base, keeping his feet wide and pad level low to generate enough explosiveness coming off the snap. He plays on his feet and has the lateral range to make adjustments in his pass set.
Welsh bends his knees with good flexibility and shows that he has the quickness to get out on the edge and seal off the rush, along with getting into the second level to stalk line-backers (made twelve down field blocks). He has the agility to pull and trap with very good effectiveness from the offensive guard position. He shows good hand usage and the redirection skills to mirror on stunts and blitzes.
Welsh is a highly intelligent blocker who is quick to pick up defensive schemes, especially stunts and blitzes. He can handle the mental aspect of the game and is not the type who will make the same mistake twice. He is best when picking up games and chipping to the second level. He knows all of the assignments of the offensive lineman and has enough savvy to make blocking calls, if needed, along with the exceptional hand quickness that could make him a viable option to play center at the next level.
As a drive blocker, Welsh excels working in space, as he shows great explosion getting out in attempts to stalk and neutralize linebackers. He has above average leg drive and lateral movement to be quite effective maintaining rush lane integrity. Still, as a senior, he did not dominate the action in the trenches when trying to scope, sustain and make reach blocks like he did in the past. He gets very good hip roll, which lets him be physical and aggressive coming off the snap.
Once Welsh locks on to a defender, he will generally win the battle. He can drive with good initial force, but is best when accelerating to get to the second level. In pass protection, few guards possess the speed to mirror and square up with an opponent, like this Hawkeye. He has a very strong anchor, which lets him maintain position when trying to neutralize the pass rush charge.
With his lateral quickness, Welsh has no problems when trying to slide and readjust. He plays with good awareness and has the flexibility along with functional lower body strength to anchor. Few offensive guards at the collegiate level demonstrate the hand quickness he has. He comes out of his stance with good urgency and a solid base, opening his hips quickly to pivot and adjust to the speed rush.
Skyler Phillips - Idaho State
Phillips has a wide frame with a barrel chest, wide hips, thick thighs and calves. His frame is build more like an offensive guard’s and has more room for further development. He has enough short area quickness to get off the snap on running plays to hook the defensive ends. He shows a quick first step vs. the pass rush and good agility moving to his size. When working up field, he looks a little heavy-footed, but manages to get to his target.
Phillips has proven the last two seasons that he would make a better guard than a tackle at the pro level. He has the natural footwork and short area quickness to slide and sink. He is quick to redirect and uses his leg drive effectively to hold ground vs. stunts and blitzes. He also has natural knee bend that allows him to keep in a good football position most the time. He finds a way to stay on his feet, demonstrating very good balance, as you rarely ever see him on the ground.
Not only can Phillips generate good pop and explosion, but he also demonstrates great hand placement and balance. He flashes ability to kick and slide with decent quickness and can mirror (seems better on the left than right side). The thing you quickly notice on film is his ability to down block, thanks to his impressive strength. He works his feet to wall off and seal. Even when he gets overextended, he is quick to recover and stay off the ground.
Another evident factor is his ability to anchor, slide and adjust to the speed rush. He has very good balance, even when he occasionally bends at the waist. His base and foot movement allows him to seal off the edge rush. Phillips looks intense and very athletic when pulling. He may throw his hands at a defender a little early, at times, but is quick to recoil and reset. He has the sustained speed to consistently get out in front on pulls, and does so by taking proper blocking angles. He is very alert and is always looking to cut or seal.
Along with his balance and feet, Phillips’s hand placement and punch are very good for the guard position. He has good functional strength coming off the ball, getting his hands into the defender’s chest on the rise, to lock on and steer. One thing about this kid – he can find games. He is possibly the smartest blocker in the NCAA FCS ranks, showing good form and technique setting his base. He has enough quickness and kick slide to mirror. He is especially effective at sealing the corner since moving to right guard.
Phillips is blessed with natural ability with above average overall strength levels. He has a wide body, very good knee bend, and always seems to get the job done. He has competed against some very good defensive ends and continued to be efficient, even dominant. The thing you notice about him is his intensity. Phillips can be engaged with a defender and still punch to control a blitzing linebacker.
He struggles a bit when getting into the second level, but compensates by taking proper blocking angles. His quick first step off the ball allows him to gain advantage. He has the size and strength to move the larger defenders off the ball and plays with an almost perfect base and pad level. His active hands prove very beneficial when he works them to switch on stunts.
Taylor Hearn - Clemson
When Hearn stays squat, he generates quick lateral movement. He has the functional change of direction agility to redirect, but sometimes bends at the waist, causing him to struggle some bringing his feet. However, he has enough lateral-slide to get back and protect the pocket. When he fails to sink his hips, the right guard will overextend a bit, but he is quick to recoil and get back on his assignment.
Over the last two years, Hearn has shown improvement with his balance and you no longer see him getting narrow in his base or straight-legged. His strength prevents bull rushers from pushing him back into the pocket from the point of attack. He still needs to do a better job of sinking his hips with consistency, as he knows when he gets his base too narrow that he will have problems sustaining. He understands positioning very well and excels at neutralizing second level defenders. When he moves his feet on contact, he does a better job of wheeling his hips in attempts to control. He has the ability to make reach blocks and knows how to use his size and power to create space and finish blocks.
When Hearn gets too narrow in his stance, he will lose his base at the X’s. In 2017, he seemed to be much better at walling off and screening his man from the play. He does have some inconsistency finishing blocks in the past, but he shows great pop on contact and is learning to keep his base wider in order to prevent the defender from shedding. He can drive the man off the ball due to his lower body strength and hand punch, despite not sinking his hips regularly.
Hearn has also become better at using his hands to lock on and steer as a senior (was a former defensive tackle that played guard in high school, but concentrated more on defensive duties). With his punch and anchor skills, he simply mauls his opponent once he gets into the defender’s jersey. He does a good job of extending his arms and sliding his feet to maintain protection on the pocket. When he gets too high in his stance, he can be walked back, though.
The Tiger is an aggressive cut blocker when working in space and has the short area slide to beat his man on stunts. While he continues to work on improving his hip snap, he does an excellent job of locking out vs. the power rush. When Hearn plays on his feet, he can simply dominate and control the action working into the second level. He will revert to lunging when he gets too high in his stance, but will generally hit his target with good force. He does a good job of adjusting on the move and shows the vision and ability to make contact.
Cole Madison - Washington State
While most teams would like a player to be comfortable playing his projected pro position in college, Madison is regarded as a Day 3 right guard prospect, despite playing tackle during his WSU career. Scouts reasoning for the move is that in the Cougars’ spread offense, Madison has developed a good feel for traps and pulls. He is a road grader with adequate foot quickness, but displays a strong anchor and good hand usage to stave off the edge rushers. He shows just average foot quickness past the line of scrimmage and struggles at times maintaining his speed when trying to pull and get out in front.
It is rare to see him play tall in his stance or be on the ground much, but he has marginal change of direction agility and will have problems mirroring speedy edge rushers at the next level, unless he can stun them with his above average hand punch first. He gets a bit lazy and slows his feet when having to move long distances, but in the trenches, he is very hard to move out or push back into the pocket.
As an offensive tackle, Madison can get too straight-legged and tall in his stance, but with his hand punch, he will work to stun and jolt. He has enough balance to slide his feet and adjust to interior rushers, but must improve his hip snap if he hopes to handle the blitz pick-up and adjustments in the NFL. He does a good job of keeping his feet flat on the ground to hold leverage, but does not look pretty when having to redirect.
Even when he gets too high in his stance, defenders still can’t walk him back due to his anchor (four sacks given up in 2017 came off the bull rush). As a guard, he might have better cut blocking ability, decent knee bend, a strong and powerful hand punch and good hand placement. He is best working near the line, as he has trouble pass blocking in space. He uses his bulk and strength to generate movement. If moved to guard permanently at the next level, he has enough initial quickness to drive, steer and sustain. He shows a wide leg base and good balance in the short area. He will tend to fall off blocks when redirecting to the edge (lack of lateral agility), but when planting inside, he can wheel his hips and control the defensive tackles.
On short pulls and traps, Madison can get out and widen the rush lanes, but might labor when having to run long distances (has just 5.33 speed). He lacks the loose hips to adjust in space and on the move, but does deliver a lot of pop on contact (does get into trouble when he tries to cut too much, as he does not keep his head up when on the move). The WSU prospect seems to be much more effective working to the inside cutoff position, but he can scoop to the outside when he stays at a good pad level. When he gets too high, he pulls with poor explosion on contact, relying more on his body to get in the way of the defender. He keeps his feet and balance near the line, making good adjustments on the move for the short pull.
Madison does a good job of keeping his hands inside. He is active using them as his main weapon in the trenches and generates very good explosion and pop in his punch. He also displays good placement and strength to neutralize and stun the bull rushers. When he hits you, you know it. He is quick to recoil and reset, showing the ability to get underneath, lock on and steer.
Cody O’Connell - Washington State
O’Connell has a massive frame, with a wide waist and hips. He has thick, tree-trunk legs, long arms, large and powerful hands, thick chest and broad shoulders. He plays on his feet and has the functional speed to get out in front on short pulls and traps. Even though he lacks explosion off the ball, he knows how to use his body mass and above average strength to move defenders off the snap.
Despite his frame thickness, he plays with good knee bend and comes off the ball with good initial quickness. When playing in a zone blocking offense, he does a good job of working defenders on angles. He also shows very good pop and ability to sustain, thanks to his strength at the point of attack. When he locks on to a defender, he is quick to control and stalemate his man.
O’Connell uses his hands well to keep defenders off his body and has the hand power to latch on, pull and jerk his man away from the ball. He needs to improve his hand punch, but is capable of using his long arms to extend and lock. He has the ability to be a good run blocker, as he moves his feet on contact and has enough quickness to reach block, doing a nice job of wheeling his hips to control.
The Cougar takes good angles to compensate for a lack of second level speed and consistently finishes. He does a great job of using his size to occupy space and when he gets his pads down and drops his weight to anchor, it is impossible to move him out. He won’t punish you with his hand punch, but shows very good placement to gain position and control. He also has enough lateral slide to play in a phone booth and uses his body well to engulf the smaller defenders.
Still, O’Connell has had weight issues in the past, but has worked hard to keep it under 360 pounds the last two years. He can be a dominant drive blocker, but his motor runs hot and cold, as he does wear down late in games. He lacks the quickness and acceleration to get out front on second level blocks. He gets too narrow in his base and crosses his feet when trying to adjust when working in space, failing to cut off the linebackers at the next level. He has experience at tackle, but is best working in-line, as he does not have the retreat quickness to mirror vs. edge rushers.
O’Connell has very good upper body strength, but needs to punish the defender more with his punch. He labors when having to run long distances and while he’s effective at using his hands, he doesn’t have a real strong punch and can be a little high in short yardage situations. He has adequate lateral quickness to work the defender down the line of scrimmage, but at times, he can be slow cutting of backside penetration.
When O’Connell sets tight to the line of scrimmage, he is prone to turning his shoulder early. His quickness to slide the circle vs. a wide edge rush is poor and be does show some problems with his balance when having to run long distances. He’s a smart player who is like a sponge absorbing everything the coaches toss at him, but he will need a patient mentor to help him develop and must get on a better training program to insure that he maintains a proper weight level.
Colby Gossett - Appalachian State
Gossett is an aggressive right guard who seems to be more comfortable playing with a flat back on contact, rolling his hips with good base and leg drive. He needs work on lowering his pad level, but he is a more relentless finisher as an interior blocker, where he is much more capable of driving defenders off the line of scrimmage. As a guard, he demonstrates the ability to block quick first- and second-level defenders, as he seems to gain leverage when reach blocking and plays on his feet well in space, exhibiting good balance and body control.
One other reason to champion him for a professional guard position is that he has very good pull-&-trap potential. He can quick-set out of a three point stance and appears to have more nimble feet working in-line than on an island. He has the better ability to slide and play flat footed that his film indicate, as he has yet to embrace using his long arms to get into a defender’s chest. He also must improve his initial punch, location and extension.
Gossett has good straight-line quickness, but will struggle to mirror vs. the speedy edge rushers. He has impressive athletic ability, but with adequate timed speed he struggles with the speed moves. He will be asked to add bulk, and even though he has a good power base, as he does not have the hand punch to shock and jolt.
When isolated one-on-one with bull rushers, Gossett has adequate foot quickness and body control, but does not do a good job of changing direction and redirecting and combating counter moves. He lacks explosion when having to get to the second level there (much better when he can move into the second level with a straight-forward burst rather than having loop or scoop from the corner), but does compensate with good angles.
As a lead blocker, Gossett keeps his feet well when pulling in the short area, but looks a bit sluggish in his kick slide during pass protection on the edge. He might be better off working in closed quarters due to his speed. He also needs to distribute his weight better coming off the snap. Adding weight will only improve his future potential, but right now, he may need some time to develop physically and it is doubtful he will be an immediate starter. However with time this player could develop into first unit material – but more in the Ben Garland mold.
Tony Adams - North Carolina State
The two-time All-ACC selection might find a quicker route to the National Football League as a combination interior blocker, with a future possibly as a center. Adams has been “rock steady” as a performer with solid pass protection skills, allowing just one sack during his career, but with his short arms and a lack of ideal bulk, using him as a tackle or guard at the next level is not an option.
Still, this zone blocker is alert to stunts, twists and blitzes. He plays on his feet and has the first step needed to chip and seal the linebackers shooting the gaps. He also has functional upper body strength to neutralize the bull rush.
Adams has good balance along with proper hand placement, as he is quick to recoil and reset his hands, but must be more consistent delivering with power behind his punch to be effective in stalling the more powerful nose guards. He has a good feel for taking angles and comes off the snap low and with a wide base, doing a nice job of maintaining the rush lanes, but he can be pushed back in the pocket when he fails to make the initial move to get under a defender’s jersey.
The Wolfpack senior shows flexibility changing direction, but he must gain additional bulk to prevent the larger defenders from defeating his pop and explosion. He is athletic for the position, but needs work on his technique to correct his penchant for overextending with his hands. He is more of the type of player that must rely on his quickness to compensate for a lack of ideal bulk.
Adams is a good knee bender who gets decent space movement, but on drive blocks, he is not going to knock people off the ball, as he is more of a position-&-turn type who excels at getting on and cutting off linebackers. He has enough foot speed and body control to pull and lead on sweeps. He’s a little too light in his lower frame, failing to generate a power drive to anchor vs. a strong bull rush, though, evident by his struggles vs. power moves at the 2017 Clemson clash.
As a possible center, Adams can be smooth in his pass set and slide, but a poor hand punch results in some defenders slipping off his initial hit. He generates some snap in his hips along with good body control, balance and good feet. He shows good initial quickness in the drive block and stays after the defender, but has to out-smart rather than over-power his man.
Adams can be efficient on the combo block, reach and cutoff in space. He stays on his feet well, displaying good lateral movement and the ability to adjust on the move. He can pull and log block, showing good knee bend in his pass protection. His set is okay, but his punch and use of hands could be better. He can anchor adequately and shows a good mirror ability to pick up twists and blitzes.
Overall, Adams is a blue-collar guy who competes well, but needs to add more bulk to remain at guard. He has ability to be a capable backup at either guard center, but at this stage of his career, I do not see a starter developing until his career is down the road a bit. Still, his ability to fill a variety of roles will earn him a roster spot.