While the Denver Broncos didn’t draft an offensive tackle for the sixth straight draft, they did sign three players who could potentially play offensive tackle as undrafted free agents. I mentioned two of them yesterday in my article, but I left off the one who is the most intriguing to me, Demontrey Jacobs. (The team does not have any mention of undrafted player signings on the team website as of the time that I am writing this.)
Jacobs, who played his college ball at South Florida and Grambling, is not all that tall or all that heavy (78.5” tall and 312 pounds) for an OT in the NFL, but he does have really long arms (see the photo) and a massive wingspan. His arms measured 36.0” which was tied for the second longest of the OTs that Dane Brugler reviewed in his “The Beast” draft prospect review. Only Dawand Jones from Ohio St. had longer arms in this draft (36.375”) among OTs. Jacobs’ wingspan of 87.375” is also the second largest of any OT in this draft. Again Jones has a larger wingspan at 87.875”. Of course, Jones is an inch and a half taller than Jacobs and 62 lbs heavier. About Jones Brugler writes:
Extraordinary frame and mass with the wingspan of a Boeing 747
Jones, who had a second round grade from many draft analysts, fell to the 4th round where he was taken by the Browns. The Broncos could have taken the massive human, but we instead decided to draft a cornerback with the 83rd pick. Jones lasted until the 111th pick. Many teams were scared off by his weight. (If you want to see the argument for drafting Riley Moss instead of Dawand Jones, see the comments from my no tackle in the draft post from Tuesday.)
Despite his massive wingspan and long arms, Jacobs went undrafted. There were two OTs taken in the 6th and three guys taken in the 7th who NFL.com lists as OTs. By round there were also
- 5 OTs taken in the 1st
- 2 taken in the 2nd and the 3rd
- 3 taken in the 4th and the 5th
So with 22 total offensive tackles drafted, every team in the NFL looked at Jacobs, Alex Palczewski, and Henry Byrd and passed on them because they saw more potential in either another OT or in a player at another position. Three teams drafted two offensive tackles last week: Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Tennessee. Admittedly some of those tackles will play guard in the NFL like Dalton Risner, but at least for now, the NFL is counting them as tackles.
Let’s look at the prospect report that Brugler put together for our three undrafted rookie tackles signees. Neither of them were invited to the NFL combine.
Demontrey “Trey” Jacobs played multiple sports growing up, and his mother (Venessa) has been the head volleyball coach at Southern the last 10 years. He played both ways as a senior at East Ascension High, but at 250 pounds, he was primarily known as a pass rusher. He signed with FCS Grambling and transitioned to offensive line. Once the pandemic hit, he transferred up to South Florida and the FBS level prior to the 2020 season. He started at both left and right tackle over his final two seasons and combined for only two penalties. Jacobs has elite arm length and hand size with adequate strength once in position. However, he struggles to maintain knee bend in his pass sets, which leads to immediate balance and control issues. He will need to shed multiple bad habits to stick in the NFL. Overall, Jacobs has a tough time keeping his upper and lower halves on the same page, but his movement potential and size/length could land him on an NFL practice squad.
Jacobs put up 22 reps on the bench at his pro-day, which is impressive given his arm length. The longer your arms, the more energy you have to expend to do one rep at 225. Long arms at tackle and a bunch of reps on the bench (30 or more) is a rare combination. Only two OTs in the history of the combine have had 36” or longer arms and were able to put up 225 lbs 30 or more times - Bruce Campbell (36.25”, 34 reps) and Dominique Robertson (36”, 30 reps). For perspective, 30 reps of 225 lbs is impressive regardless of arm length. Only 90 OTs in the history of the combine have matched or beaten 30 reps. The record for OTs is 40 reps, set by Zach PIller in 1999.
Trey has the most potential to make it in the NFL based on his arm length, but he will have to quickly develop his fundamentals during his time on the Bronco practice squad (assuming he makes our practice squad). Jacobs has college experience starting at both OT spots: 19 LT, 27 RT.
Alex played for the Illini in college. Brugler’s analysis of the tackle with the hard-to-pronounce last name is below:
Alex Palczewski (pal-CHESS-key), who is one of three boys, is the son of Polish immigrants who came to the U.S. in the mid-1980s. At Prospect, he was a four-sport letterman (football, track, water polo, wrestling), although he missed most of his junior season with a fractured vertebra. He was a starting senior right guard in Prospect’s option offense. A three-star recruit, Palczewski committed to Illinois where he set a Big Ten record with 65 career starts cross three different positions (finished his career with 4,390 offensive snaps). He has physical, insistent hands at the point of attack and stays after his blocks to spring runs. Although he plays with quickness, his footwork gets sloppy in his pass sets and he finds himself out of control at the second level. His wide hands invite rushers to bully him.
Overall, Palczewski has played a lot of football with experience at both tackle and guard, but he can too easily be knocked off balance and struggles to sustain.
Coming from the Big Ten, Alex has played against higher level d line and linebackers than Trey (USF is in the AAC). Alex at 303 lbs is light for his height, but his advanced hand technique might allow him to find a spot on our practice squad. Alex’ other main asset besides his hands is his quickness. He ran the short shuttle in 4.57s at his pro day. While that is not quick enough to be in the “sweet spot” for OL players, it was close. For perspective the average OT at the combine this year ran the short shuttle in 4.74 seconds.
Alex has started games at both guard and tackle during his college career, although he played almost exclusively on the right side of the line: 49 RT, 9 RG, 7 LG
Byrd played his college ball at Princeton so his mental game should already by NFL-level. Byrd does not have long arms (33.675”) for a tackle but he was able to put up 225 lbs 32 times at his pro day. That’s impressive given the information that we saw earlier about the bench at the combine and tackles. Brugler has this to say about Byrd:
Henry Byrd was a three-sport standout (basketball, football, lacrosse) at Ensworth High, where he played left tackle, right tackle and defensive tackle. His father (William) played football at Vanderbilt in the mid-70s. A two-star recruit, Henry was just 260 pounds and committed to Princeton over Air Force and several other Ivy League programs. He was pushed into action in the final game of the 2018 season at right tackle and then moved to left tackle for his final three seasons, earning All-Ivy League honors each year. Byrd is quick out of his stance with the agility and body control to answer edge speed and adjust to moving targets. His Ivy League education translates to the field in his ability to quickly process and sort everything. He is strong but not always stout, and he needs to make some technical fixes.
Overall, Byrd is viewed as a guard/center prospect, but regardless of where he plays, he has the intelligence and athletic tools worth developing.
Byrd started almost all of his games at LT for the Tigers during his career. His lone start at RT was the only game he started as a freshman.
Byrd is not as quick a Alex P., at least in terms of the short shuttle, but he had a quick enough first step to dominate against Ivy league defenders. He also had the best vertical among our three undrafted OTs getting 33”. Vertical leap measures lower body power. Byrd jumped 7 inches higher than Jacobs and 4.5” higher than Alex P.
Of course any vertical looks good in comparison to Alex Forsyth. Forsyth was only credited with a vertical of 20.5” but I found out from “the Beast” that he injured himself while jumping (hamstring). I have heard of players getting injured at the combine, but this is the first time I heard of someone hurting their hammy doing the vertical leap. I’m guessing that Forsyth could jump much higher than 20.5” when healthy.
Which OL guy from the 2023 draft has the best chance of making the 53-man roster for the Broncos this year?
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