The 1st week of Free Agency was fun. Here's to hoping the Chargers are able to bring another defensive lineman and an offensive tackle before the draft. Until then, I want to go over some prospects in the draft that I feel are being overrated. Offensive tackle is a good start. There's this sentiment that offensive tackles are safe picks early in the draft. Zach Whitman of Field Gulls has done research on this and put this myth to bed.
Studying data -- your hit rate on linemen is much better than WR/CB in rounds 5-7.— Zach Whitman (@zjwhitman) February 10, 2015
Without going too far on a tangent to qualify what "hit rate" is I believe Whitman used a variant of Pro Football References Approximate Value and took the 3 best years from that. As you can see from the chart, there's no correlation to offensive lineman being "safe" picks early on. That's next to 2 positions that are regarded as "less valuable", too.
Now, back to the prospect.
Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley is being lauded as this years safe top 10 pick. Some say if he would've came out last year he would've been a top 10 pick as well. There are times when I feel like we see a player ranked highly, or have lofty expectations of him coming in, and just ignore the signs during the season because we've already made up our mind on a player. I'm seeing a lot of that this year. In Mel Kiper's most recent mock draft he drafted Stanley to the Chargers at 3 overall. I don't think taking an offensive lineman in the top 10 is a wise investment in general but in this case, I don't think Stanley is worth the 33rd pick, let alone the 3rd pick.
Spotty in space
When you look at how Stanley tested out, his 3 cone and shuttle times were some of if not the worst in the draft.
Franklin showed this year that he really struggled on the move so that comparison is an interesting one. I know you see Tyron Smith on and before you get your hopes up he didn't test at the combine. His numbers at his pro day were a 4.68 shuttle and a 7.47 3 cone. So, worlds better. When watching Stanley in space he's spotty. He's lethargic. It's just not pretty.
This LT is being mocked at 3 overall. This is what it looks like when you run a 8.03 sec 3 come and a 4.9 SS. Yuck pic.twitter.com/jQqwMl5TcG— KP (@KP_Show) March 9, 2016
That was against one of the best defenses in the country and Stanley did not play well at all. You can see that in most of these clips he's leaning on guys and not bringing his weight with him. That didn't cut it in college it sure as hell isn't going to cut in in the NFL. Against Clemson it seemed like he was loafing. That's how slow he looked. I've heard people bring up the conditions but when you're the only one who is struggling to move I can't use that as an excuse. Also, it's football. The conditions aren't going to be ideal every game. The same was the case against Texas for Stanley.
Under much better conditions, the same issues were there. Struggling out in space. Not "running through" the player. On the 2nd play his hesitation hurts him. He needs to understand that if he can't get to his outside shoulder then Stanley needs to aim for that outside armpit and run that player to the sideline. The energy just wasn't there.
Inconsistent against the run
When I say "running through" the player I literally mean that. Watching offensive lineman you want to see everything come together from the ground up. You want to see them running their feet on contact, bringing their hips with them, and finishing through the play. You don't consistently see that with Stanley. Like in the clips above you won't see Stanley getting much push. In the other 2 games I watched of Stanley, USC and Boston College, the energy was there. You still saw some inconsistencies but there were plenty of positive flashes.
Stanley is inconsistent when it comes to getting movement in the run game. I don't want to put the soft label on him, but he's far from what I would call a finisher or a "nasty" lineman. If he's inconsistent as a senior in college with all those games under his belt why would I think that will be any different or better at the next level?
You saw it in both of the clips above. Stanley has a big time issue when it comes to being bull rushed. I think he actually does a very good job of getting into his pass set quickly. However he loses the first contact battle too often for my liking and compounds that with having his hands outside on the defenders shoulders. The defender can get his hands inside of him and usually walks him back in to the quarterback. Let's look at an example against the best pass rusher in the draft, Shaq Lawson.
Look at his hands. He has no shot to anchor with that type of placement. It doesn't matter how long your arms are if you're not making 1st contact or are unable to win with inside hands. In these clips where he's being driven back his core strength is being exposed. How long will it take to improve that?
What's his worth
"Big" media will tell you Stanley is worth a top 5-10 pick. Is a tackle that struggles in space, can't change direction, lacks core strength and proper hand placement worth that? Okay then. I don't hate Stanley. I think he does really well against speed rushers. I think there is enough good tape to show you he can be a starter in the league. There's also plenty of exposures and situations where he'll struggle immediately and I'm not sure if some of these issues will be fixed any time soon. I have a late 2nd round grade on Stanley. The buyer beware tag on him is real. I'm apologizing now for my overreaction if he's drafted in the 1st round.