Scouting Long Term Left Tackle options in the 2022 NFL Draft
We’re back with part 2 in our search for long-term tackle options available in the 2022 NFL Draft. In part 1 I gave context surrounding why Chris Ballard may be looking at a toolsy tackle prospect on day 2 or 3 of the draft, and how that player could fit the important swing tackle role in the upcoming season even if he isn’t asked to start right away.
In part 1, I highlighted Southern Utah’s Braxton Jones, TCU’s Obinna Eze, and Arizona State’s Kellen Diesch. Today I will cover 4 more prospects who seemingly fit the Ballard mold, and could end up being day 3 or even day 2 selections if the Colts elect to attack the offensive tackle position early.
I could see Chris Ballard going a number of different ways in the draft when addressing tackle, and the search will certainly not be limited to the 7 players I’m underscoring in this mini-series. Other prospects I’m interested in but haven’t had the time to do a full evaluation on include:
- Jean Delance- Florida
- Tyler Smith- Tulsa (Could be listed at guard)
- Daniel Faalele- Minnesota
- Zach Tom- Wake Forest
- Luke Tenuta- Virginia Tech
- Luke Goedeke- Central Michigan
We’ll see where the chips fall come April, but I would bet on the Colts taking a chance on someone in this class that is rich with raw, underdeveloped players with a couple of elite traits.
Waletzko is a towering left tackle prospect who has equally impressive arm length, measuring in at just over 36 inches. Waletzko does a good job at using his length to fend off FCS rushers, and also displayed adequate foot speed to keep defenders from running the corner on him. His foot speed is going to have to improve at the NFL level, however, as it will be well below average compared to his peers. I do think there is an upside to Waletzko’s game, as North Dakota ran a lot of quick games, bootlegs, and throwbacks in the games I watched. This is important because Waletzko wasn’t asked to take many true pass sets, rather he jumped setting a lot of the time to sell a play-action run fake. With some technical refinement from an NFL offensive line coach, Waletzko has the makeup to be an above-average swing tackle in the league.
In run blocking, I found the North Dakota product to be aggressive, but not always channeling that aggressiveness towards productive drive blocking. While he has strong hands at the point of attack, those strong hands can get him into trouble when he places them outside of the defenders’ chest. He also ended up on the ground multiple times in the Utah State game because he misunderstood the leverage of his defender when he was run blocking, leading to him being stacked and shredded. If Waletzko could add some mass to the lower half of his body, then his drive blocking ability could improve, and with it his outlook on making an NFL roster.
Grade: Round 6
The possibilities with Dare Rosenthal are endless, and I could see Chris Ballard falling in love with this kid and taking him somewhere mid-late day 3. Everything is a projection right now for Rosenthal, as he is relatively new to the position. Originally a four-star defensive tackle who played at LSU, Rosenthal transferred to Kentucky and started 12 games at left tackle for them this year. His athleticism is apparent watching the tape, as he moves extremely well in space and is nasty in the run game. He’ll need to get stronger and add weight though because his anchor was overrun far too often against SEC competition. He is always looking to bury people in the run game with a road grader mentality, which is something you can’t teach.
Offensive line coaches will go to town on Rosenthal’s hands and pass setting technique. He leaves his hands down which often leads to bad punch timing and then getting beat swiftly with quick chops or swims. He turns his shoulders almost immediately in pass pro because his pass sets are too shallow, but he usually has the athleticism to make up for these shortcomings and technical deficiencies. Much like Obinna Eze, Rosenthal is going to need a ton of work to be a productive NFL tackle. The difference between the two at this point is that I’d rather bet on (as I’m sure Chris Ballard would) the superior athletic traits that Rosenthal possesses.
Grade: Round 6, but I’d take him in the 4th purely based on traits
Abraham Lucas, Washington State- 6’6″, 315 lbs, 33 7/8″ arms
With all of that being said, Abraham Lucas is far from a complete player. There are times on film where he leaves his hands too low in pass pro opening him to quick losses via well-timed hand swats. He also struggles against pure speed on the outside because he isn’t an elite athlete. Lucas tries to overcompensate for this deficiency by getting off quickly when he knows a rusher’s trump card is speed. This has led him to being charged with more false start penalties than normal for a redshirt senior with plenty of game experience. Finally, while Lucas is generally patient with his punches in pass pro he had trouble defending the inside-out jab step to club. He would press hard inside with his momentum on the jab step which left him off balance when a defender would club over back to the outside.
I would feel comfortable with the Colts taking Lucas at 73 if they envisioned him being the swing tackle this year. Then next year with proper development, the former Washington State product could compete for the starting left tackle position.
Grade: Late Round 3
Max Mitchell is an athletic, zone scheme tackle at the next level who could use some more mass in his lower body to improve his overall anchor. He is great on kick-out blocks and moves fluidly to the second level in the run game to move linebackers out of the way. In the Texas game, he showed the versatility to play both left and right tackle, displaying his ability to step in and be a swing tackle for some teams right away. Mitchell looks athletic on film, and his feet move fluidly in pass pro as well as in space. However Mitchell didn’t test well at the combine, meaning teams will probably go back to his tape to decide what type of athlete he truly is. I liked the latch strength and strong hands that he played with, as well as his continuous motor to keep pushing defenders around while run blocking.
Despite his supposed athletic prowess, Mitchell showed he can be beaten with speed around the edge. There were also times when he seemed overenthusiastic in his pass sets. He then overset and was caught off-balance, leading to a loss on those reps. I think Max Mitchell will be drafted by a team like the 49ers who utilize a variety of zone blocking schemes with athletic, technically refined offensive lineman who may not always be the biggest people movers. I actually had the opportunity to talk to a scout who mentioned that he wasn’t the biggest fan of Mitchell because he didn’t have enough “sand in his pants”. This attribute can show up on film when he is tasked with stopping power rushers, but some teams may be able to minimize this shortcoming by the scheme they run.
As for his fit with the Colts, I could see him being brought in early on in day 3 to be a backup at both guard or tackle spots in his rookie year. From there I would envision him being an average starter on the interior of the offensive line, and maybe even spot starting at right tackle if Braden Smith can’t go.
Grade: Round 4