By Larry Zierlein
April 16, 2012
Editor's Note: Author Larry Zierlein was a college and NFL offensive line coach for 32 years. His career is highlighted by a Super Bowl win in 2008 with the Pittsburgh Steelers under Mike Tomlin. We asked Coach Zierlein to take a look at several offensive line prospects from this year's draft and share with us what he saw.
He watched multiple cut-ups for each prospect listed, but wants to remind the reader that for a final evaluation, it takes even more film work, interviewing the player to get a feel for his character, checking on the player's background and working linemen out whenever possible. Coach Zierlein gave us the order that he would rank each of the tackles and guards based on what he saw from each prospect. The only player's he evaluated are the ones listed.
Coach Zierlein is retired and working Under Armour's "Football University" camps along with other former NFL coaches. This was also his first year working out offensive line draft prospects in preparation for the Senior Bowl and Combine. If you are an agent interested in contacting Coach Zierlein for work with future clients, please email us and we'll pass the info along to him.
Arms: 34 1/2"
Overall: Early 1st round talent. Not quite as technically sound as I expected but great athleticism. He can block on all levels and doesn't show any obvious weaknesses. Easily the best tackle of all the ones I looked at.
Arms: 33 1/4"
Overall: Looks like an excellent run blocker with the ability to make backside cutoff blocks. Doesn't appear to have any limitations in terms of his run blocking. Pass sets get him in trouble at times. He can play LT but is ideally suited for RT. Speed and power rushers could very well give him problems if his pass set issues aren't corrected. Looks like a 1st rounder in the 20s.
Overall: Looks like he has the ability to play left tackle in the NFL, but there are concerns about how he handles edge rushers. Bends fairly well but not great on the second level in the running game. Technically sound with a good base, but needs more work with pass protection. Might be best-suited for the right side, but not a "right only" prospect.
Overall: Good pass blocking potential, but seems to lack strength. Could be a first rounder because of lack of depth at the tackle position this year, but I would feel better about taking him later than 1st. His issues with players who muscle in on his edge in pass protection is a concern.
Overall: Massie has the length, foot-quickness, flexibility and athleticism you want, but on tape, his strength is a problem. He tends to get walked back at times in pass protection. Has traits that you want, but functional strength is a concern. Talented and worthy of a 2nd round grade. Best fit would be with a team who ran a full-time zone scheme.
Arms: 33" 1/2
Overall: He played much better against Nick Perry from USC than Jonathan Martin did and the reason is because he has better strength and re-direct capability when guys get on his edge. Okay fit for a zone team but probably best suited for a power team. Guys end up on the ground when they play against him. His ceiling isn't high due to marginal athleticism, but his strength makes his floor higher. Feels like a safe pick.
Overall: Not a big fan of him from what I saw on tape. He is big with some strength which means he should go in the second round, but he doesn't look above average at any one area of his game.