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.
Matt Kalil, LT, USC
Arms: 34 1/2"
- Good initial quicks
- Long arms and times punch well
- Good balance
- Drops outside foot on contact a little too much. Might indicate lack of anchor. Need to see him more.
- Very athletic and runs well in space
- Rolls hips on run blocks and fires out with quickness
- Shows some power
- Flexible and uses runs well in both run and pass
- Good lateral movement
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.
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Arms: 33 1/4"
- Not as fluid in pass set as Kalil or Martin
- Uses hands well in pass protection
- Re-direct is average
- Second level adjustment is just average
- Can pull and is good in space
- Good anchor at times but at other times, his anchor is a problem due to issues with his pass set
- Short kick step causes him to "back up" too much at times in pass pro
- Can make backside cutoff block in running game
- Good on B-gap blocks and shows good strength
- Good lateral movement
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.
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
- Shows good timing on punch most of the time
- Plays with good base and appears to be aware
- Great arm extension
- Shows problems with speed rushers
- Loses with hands in pass protection at times
- Problems with up and under moves
- Not a waist bender
- Uses quick, short steps
- Average redirect
- Sound technique
- Average run blocker
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.
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
- Pretty good athlete
- Good punch and good pass sets
- Not a waist-bender
- Doesn't play with great strength in the running game
- Can re-direct and appears to be a finisher
- Uses hands well in pass pro and has good initial quicks
- Plays with only decent leverage when run blocking
- Solid base in pass protection
- Very concerned about his problems with guys who get on his edge.
- Lacks power to re-direct when some players get into his edge.
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.
Bobby Massie, RT, Ole Miss
- Right off the bat, I'm not sure about his functional strength
- Shows good balance and good flexibility
- Can kick outside to wide rushers effectively
- Sustains his blocks
- Knee-bender who gets decent explosion
- Adjusts well on 2nd level in running game and is a good athlete
- Good quickness and lateral movement and can pull
- Big issue is anchor strength. Worried about ability to redirect with power.
- Has issues when guys get into his outside edge and that could be a problem for him his entire career
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.
Mitchell Schwartz, OT/OG, Cal
Arms: 33" 1/2
- Like him but understand he has limitations
- Marginal athlete with okay change of direction ability
- Has very good functional strength to bounce pass-rushers of course
- Stiff hips and lateral movement is just okay
- Average re-direct ability on the 2nd level in the running game
- Usually anchors well in pass protection, but did see some inconsistencies at times
- Not quick-footed on pass sets
- Okay puller but very good point of attack strength
- He has the power to play guard but his strength to re-direct rushers makes him a candidate to play right tackle
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.
Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
- Great size
- Slow twitch player
- Very marginal re-direct
- Average initial quicks
- Can engulf defenders
- Decent strength
- Will have problem with speed off of the edges
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.