A true franchise left tackle is one of the most sought after commodities in the whole of the NFL. Some prospects are known well in advance of the draft, some of whom are anticipated as early as their freshman seasons. Other players, however, don’t emerge to take advantage of their athletic tools until their final seasons.
That was the development arc for Christian Darrisaw of Virginia Tech. While his potential was known as early as 2018 or 2019, it wasn’t until the 2020 season that emerged as a top tackle prospect. Darrisaw not only took a step forward in his development, but he did so at a time when other top prospects had opted out of the season.
He might not be the top tackle prospect in the draft, but he is going to be one of the first linemen selected. But could Darrisaw not only be a starting left tackle, but a franchise player?
Prospect: Christian Darrisaw
Games Watched: vs. North Carolina (2020), vs. Boston College (2020), vs. Miami (2020)
Red Flags: Groin 2020
Best: Length, athleticism, leverage, pass protection, run blocking
Worst: Hand placement, balance
Projection: Starting left tackle with scheme diversity.
Virginia Tech left tackle has a good blend of length, leverage, and athleticism to play the position at the NFL level.
Darrisaw was Virginia Tech’s starting left tackle for the last two seasons, starting at the position every game in which he played in 2019 and 2020. He did also align as a jumbo tight end on the right side in unbalanced formations.
Darrisaw shows good lower-body flexibility, easily maintaining good knee bend throughout the play. He has a compact build with natural leverage, which he maximizes by playing with good hip and pad level. Darrisaw is a good athlete for the offensive tackle position, moving easily in his pass protection, as a run blocker, and in space. He is a reliable pass protector, with his combination of easy movement skills and long (34 ½-inch) arms allow him to match up with most rushers. Darrisaw is a confident blocker and remains calm when faced with speed off the edge. His natural leverage and wide base also allow him to anchor against power without giving much ground.
Darrisaw is a good run blocker as well, showing comfort and effectiveness in both zone and man blocking schemes. While not an overpowering blocker, Darrisaw has the play strength to create movement at the line of scrimmage in power schemes. Likewise, he has the athleticism to be an effective zone blocker, as well as a pulling blocker or playing in space on screen plays.
Darrisaw shows good competitive toughness, giving consistent effort throughout the play. He consistently looks for work if he doesn’t have anyone to block and looks to finish his blocks with the defender on the ground.
Darrisaw needs to improve his hand placement as a blocker. He has a tendency to allow his hands drift apart, landing outside the defenders’ framework. When that happens he can be prone to giving up his chest plate, which can let defenders slip past him. That could also open him up to holding penalties at the NFL level. Darrisaw can also have a slight tendency to lunge at defenders.
Overall Grade: 8.8 - This prospect should be an immediate starter with the upside to be a good starter early in his career.
Christian Darrisaw projects as a starting left tackle with scheme diversity at the NFL level.
He has some experience playing on the right side, but his shortest path to the field will be to stay at the left tackle position as a pro. Darrisaw is slightly short for a left tackle, but he makes up with long arms which gives him a great blend of natural leverage and length. He also has a nice combination of athleticism and play strength to execute in any blocking scheme he is likely to play in at the NFL level.
Darrisaw should be able to start Day 1 as a rookie, and while he will likely face some growing pains early in his career, he has the upside to be a good starter with a bit of development. He appears remarkably comfortable playing against speed, not panicking with the ability to mirror pass rushers and usher them around the pocket.
Teams will want to make improving his hand usage a priority, as NFL defenders will certainly take advantage of that flaw early in his career. That being said, he has all the tools that scouts and coaches alike love in a tackle prospect.