The 2023 NFL Draft boasts a truly impressive offensive tackle class. There will be multiple tackles drafted highly, and the glut of talent could force players who might have carried first round grades in prior drafts could slip down draft boards.
Some of those tackles who slip are players who could benefit from moving to the offensive interior. For instance, Kansas left tackle Dominick Puni could compete for a starting job at tackle for some teams, but he also has plenty of experience at guard and could step in as a starter there as well.
The New York Giants could certainly use a long term answer at guard, and they could decide they need one at right tackle as well. Could Puni give them the flexibility to field their “best five”?
Height: 6-foot-4 3/8 inches
Weight: 334 pounds
Arm length: 33 3⁄4 inches
Hand size: 10 inches
- Hand usage
- Play strength
- Competitive toughness
Dominick Puni is a big, agile, and versatile offensive line prospect.
Puni has a stout, powerful frame at 6-foot-4, 334 pounds, yet carries his weight very well. He has experience at both (left) guard and tackle, with the traits that allowed him to play both positions at a high level in college. He has natural leverage thanks to his frame as well as a surprisingly flexible lower body for his size. That allows him to sink his hips and maintain good pad level throughout the play. Puni also has impressive movement skills which allow him to mirror speed in pass protection, position himself to deliver punches with a firm foundation, and quickly get into position as a pulling blocker.
Puni has good play strength which allows him to move defenders as a run blocker or absorb bull rushes in pass protection. Likewise, he has a definite mean streak and looked to finish his blocks with the defender on the ground. He seemed to relish blocking in space and opportunities to send linebackers or defensive backs reeling.
All of those traits combine to give him impressive scheme and positional versatility. He was able to move from guard to tackle for Kansas. Their offensive scheme asked him to execute man-gap and outside zone blocking schemes, and he was able to do so well. Likewise, he has the athleticism to pull, work off of double teams at the second level, or get out in space and block for screens. Likewise, he is also a dependable pass protector who was able to match up against most rushers. He also has the awareness to pick up late pressure from blitzes or stunts.
- Redirection vs. speed
Puni’s biggest weakness is his length. At 6-foot-4 with sub-34 inch arms, he might come in below some teams thresholds for the offensive tackle position.
There are some instances on tape where longer or particularly athletic defenders are able to gain access to his chest plate and give him some trouble. He has the power and athleticism to match up well with defenders, but when he struggled it was because they were able to gain inside leverage and some measure of control over him.
Puni also showed some slight issues with redirecting when playing offensive tackle. He’s able to move laterally to expand the pocket and pick up speed rushers to the outside. However, he can get “stuck” if he’s forced to quickly move back inside to account for a surprising inside rush or some other source of pressure through the B-gap.
(Puni is Kansas LT, number 67)
Dominick Puni projects as a starting offensive lineman at the NFL level, though “at what position” is a viable question.
Some teams will be willing to give him the chance to compete for an offensive tackle job. Other teams, however, might immediately move him inside to guard. Guard might be his best position as a pro, as it takes full advantage of his natural leverage, play strength, competitive toughness, and doesn’t overly punish his relative lack of length.
That said, Puni would be a very athletic guard, which isn’t a bad thing at all. He should be able to match up athletically with most interior rushers in the NFL, as well as absorb power. He’s very good when working off of double teams, and can be used as something of a “hammer” in blocking schemes. His movement skills allow him to easily pull to either edge, climb to the second level, or get out in space on screens. There were several instances where Kansas would have him pull from the left guard or tackle spot to be the lone blocker for their quarterback on a bootleg rollout.
Dominick Puni is flying under the radar right now, but he could make some team very happy.
Does he fit the Giants?
Yes. He can start at guard while providing depth at tackle.
Final Word: A solid second round value