A starting offensive tackle is one of the most sought-after commodities in the NFL. A good offensive tackle can be a foundation piece for a franchise and a player around which a team can build for years.
Of course, a starting caliber tackle is also one of the hardest players to find — which is why they’re such a valuable commodity. Teams search high and low for players with the skill set and athletic profile to be a starting tackle, and will comb the rosters of football factories and small schools alike to find them.
Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere certainly has the “powerhouse” pedigree on his resume. Likewise, his experience starting at both left and right tackle should be attractive to teams as well.
As it so happens, the New York Giants are in the market for a right tackle. Could Petit-Frere be an option for them after the first round?
Prospect: Nicholas Petit-Frere (78)
Games Watched: vs. Minnesota (2021), vs. Purdue (2021), vs. Penn State (2021), vs. Michigan (2021)
Career Games Played (Starts): 34 (20 starts)
2021 Games Played (Starts): 12 (12 starts)
Best: Foot quickness, versatility, competitive toughness, zone blocking
Worst: Play strength, leverage, consistency
Projection: A reserve swing tackle with the potential to develop further in a zone scheme.
Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere is a good-sized, quick, experienced, and versatile offensive line prospect. Petit-Frere played the left tackle position for Ohio State in 2021, though he has experience at right tackle as well and started there for the 2020 season.
Petit-Frere has adequate length and size for the position, is relatively quick out of his stance, and features very quick feet for a player his size.
Petit-Frere features quick, choppy steps and a wide base in pass protection. His foot quickness allows him to effectively mirror speed rushers off the edge and he has the agility to redirect and match rushers who attempt an inside move. Petit-Frere is also surprisingly capable on reach blocks and slide protections.
Petit-Frere’s movement skills also make him a capable zone blocker. He does a good job of getting the defenders in front of him flowing in the correct direction while he stays in phase with his teammates. He has the agility to make good use of his positioning to physically wall off defenders in man-gap or inside zone runs. Petit-Frere is also a capable blocker at the second level, quickly climbing past the line of scrimmage and getting into position against linebackers or defensive backs.
He shows good competitive toughness throughout the game, with consistent effort and a drive to sustain his blocks through the whistle.
While Petit-Frere is an agile blocker, he lacks play strength on tape. He struggles to effectively deal with power rushers and lacks a good anchor. He attempts to use his footwork to absorb bull rushes, but often needs to give up too much ground and can be pushed back into the quarterback. Likewise, he simply isn’t a people-mover as a run blocker and defenders are able to shed his blocks to make plays on ball carriers.
Petit-Frere’s issues with play strength are also likely related to some lower body stiffness he displays on tape. Petit-Frere can be a “waist bender” with a tendency to lunge at defenders, sacrificing his play strength and balance in the process. He also has a tendency to allow his knees to straighten over the course of a play, and loses leverage on longer reps.
Petit-Frere can also allow his hands to drift wide, opening himself up to holding calls or his chest plate to defenders, and has a tendency to not gain ground in his pass protection sets. He has very quick feet, but he doesn’t move them far in his kick-slide. As a result, he doesn’t widen the pocket much, nor does he put himself in a good position to force rushers around the pocket.
Overall Grade: 6.5
Nicholas Petit-Frere likely projects as a backup offensive tackle at the NFL level, and could occupy the “swing tackle” role for a team.
His versatility and experience playing left and right tackle should allow him to effectively be a depth player for both positions and save a team a spot on the game-day roster. Petit-Frere appears to be a smart player and has a solid skill set to step on the field and not be a liability in an emergency. However, his issues with play strength and inconsistencies with his leverage and hand placement, will make it difficult for teams to trust him as a starter.
Petit-Frere has the look of a starting tackle at first blush, but too often it looks as though the offense is functioning in spite of him rather than because of him.
He does have some upside in an offense that relies more on mobility in its blocking schemes. If Petit-Frere is going to develop into a starting tackle, it’s going to happen in an offense that uses a zone blocking scheme as its foundation. Even so, he will need coaching on his technique – most notably in bending at the knees as opposed to the hips and on firing his punch into defenders’ chests – in order to make a push up the depth chart.