Mayock mentioned North Carolina’s Robert Quinn as a defensive end who can do what Mathis does -- get low so fast that a blocker cannot control him. Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan is another pass-rush prospect who can out-leverage his blocker. The mathematics of the pass rush usually finds blockers facing defenders an inch or two shorter than them; pass blocking techniques are designed for that geometry. Change the height difference to four or five inches, and the blocker’s increased size can be negated by leverage and logistics.
Too much can be made of the stay-low concept, of course. Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn was upset that he only measured 6-foot-2 at the Combine, asserting that he is truly 6-foot-3. When I asked him if being a little shorter might work to a defender’s advantage, he chuckled. “Maybe if you’re Dwight Freeney,” he said. Given the choice, every NFL team wants players who are both big and fast. But keep in mind that “tall” is not quite the same as “big.”
Height certainly has its advantages for an offensive tackle. Long arms can steer pass rushers away from the quarterback and keep those shorter guys from getting under the blocker’s pads. “Carimi can really lock out with his arms,” the scout told me. “These guys can control [defenders] with their arms and put them on the ground.”
Successful NFL tackles like Long use their long arms to fend off defenders, making them take wider paths to the quarterback.
Height also brings the potential for weight. Loadholt plays at around 345 pounds and 6-foot-7. Chargers tackle Marcus McNeill weighs over 330 pounds. Indeed, Jonathan Ogden was a perennial All Pro at 6-foot-9, but he weighed 345 pounds, with much of that ballast in his thighs, hips, and butt. Weight, and weight distribution, is an important factor when assessing a tall offensive tackle, which is why the thickly-build Castonzo looks like a better prospect to me than Solder or Carimi, at least in shorts and warm-up gear. He has the frame to pack on 10 more pounds of muscle in his lower body, which can compensate for any leverage lost to height.
Some lower-profile linemen (if you’ll pardon the expression) are closer fits to recent tackle success stories like Roger Saffold of the Rams (6-foot-5, 318 pounds) and Brandon Albert of the Chiefs (6-foot-5, 316 pounds). Villanova’s Ijalana is three inches shorter than the big guys, but his arms (36 inches) are longer than Carimi’s, Solder’s, or Castonzo’s. That gives him the wingspan scouts crave, but none of the leverage worries.
Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod, who measured 6-foot-5 3/8 and 321 pounds, is an even better mold fit. Sherrod is “an inch or two shorter than a lot of this year's tackles, and you see the difference in the way he's able to get under pads,” wrote Yahoo’s Doug Farrar, who also told me that Sherrod is also the only top tackle in the draft without a “howling technical weakness.” When I asked Sherrod if being a little shorter gave him an advantage, he acknowledged that it helps him “get up under people” a little bit. “You know what we say: ‘low man wins,’” he added.
Sherrod is still behind Carimi and the others on most draft boards.
Come April, the “low man” who wins may be the general manager at the end of the first round who plucks Sherrod off the board after the tall timber is taken.
CSN: Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has been contacted by police investigating a possible homicide in North Attleboro, Mass. Hernandez is not believed to be a suspect but a rental car in his name is connected to the death.
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