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NFL Draft 2017: A scout’s perspective on this draft’s top offensive linemen

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Brandon Thorn from Inside the Pylon and the Scouting Academy breaks down his thoughts on Cam Robinson, Garrett Bolles, and Pat Elflein.

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It’s no secret that Denver needs help on the offensive line, particularly at tackle.

With over 50% of mocks around the web projecting Denver to take a tackle, and Head Coach, Vance Joseph mentioning that they believe several could start day 1, the buzz around these prospects will continue to rise for the next 12 days.

Given that tackle is probably the most likely pick at #20 for Denver, I want to know as much about the top prospects as possible. My go-to offensive line guru is Brandon Thorn, a writer/scout for Inside the Pylon and the Scouting Academy.

Brandon joined the “Locked on NFL Draft” podcast a few weeks ago to discuss Cam Robinson, Garrett Bolles, and Pat Elflien. The entire interview is below and I would recommend checking it out in its entirety.

Here are my takeaways and thoughts from the interview.

Cam Robinson is a Left Tackle

There has been a lot of speculation with this Oline class about where they will end up playing in the NFL. Guys like Forest Lamp who played OT in college, will likely end up moving to guard at the NFL level. For awhile, that was some of the conversation around Robinson.

NFL Network’s draft guru, Mike Mayock’s rankings as of a month ago had Robinson as the #2 ranked Interior Oline prospect, and not even listed as a tackle.

Others think that Robinson projects as only a RT in the NFL. A lot of this stem from Robinson’s tendency to get beat at times around the edge and seemingly struggling with speed on the outside.

Technique vs. Ability

However, Thorn’s opinion is that Robinson’s struggles in this area has everything to do with his technique, particularly in his stance, and nothing to do with his athletic ability or talent to play the left tackle position.

He describes how Robinson’s stance is inconsistent, and when he starts his stance too wide, it does not allow him to get out as quickly on the edge against speed rushes lining up at the wide 9-technique. This can lead to Robinson getting beat pretty badly, and can at times look ugly, which prompts most draftniks to assume that he just doesn’t have the goods at LT and has to be moved inside or over to RT.

What they aren’t seeing is that when Robinson starts with a correct stance, he is able to easily counter speed rushers, and looks every bit a left tackle. The inconsistency in Robinson’s game comes from his technique and stance, not his ability to play the position.

Now obviously this issue needs to be corrected and coached out at the next level, but that is a much more fixable issue than him lacking the pure athleticism to play the position.

From an athletic perspective, Cam Robinson has everything you want in a Left Tackle and Thorn believes he’s “pretty special” in that area.

It was after listening to this podcast and re-watching some of the tape, that I have since got on board with the possibility of Denver taking a tackle at #20; but only if that tackle’s name is Cam Robinson.

Garrett Bolles has potential, but is a major project

Overall, Thorn really liked Garrett Bolles and detailed some of the athletic ability he shows on tape like his foot quickness and ability to fire out of his stance.

However, his two biggest concerns on Bolles are his functional play strength, and hand usage; the combination of which is concerning. Thorn mentioned that Bolles struggles to get movement at the point of attack in the run game, and the two biggest factors that play into that are strength and hand usage.

The top four most important qualities he looks for in an offensive lineman are:

  • Competitive toughness
  • Mental processing
  • Hand usage
  • Play strength

And Bolles is average/below average in two of those four areas, in Thorn’s opinion.

So while Bolles has potential and natural ability, I don’t feel comfortable with Denver taking him early, due to the development required.

That was the two biggest takeaways I had from the interview.

He also has some really good comments about Pat Elflein that you should check out in the audio link above. If Denver decided to go with a guard/center, I would feel really good about Elflein plugging in immediately as a starter.

Hopefully this gives some additional insight into two of the major tackles that Denver could be considering early in the draft.

As always, let’s discuss below!