This is the first in a series. Between now and April’s draft, we’ll profile as many prospects as possible.
Size? Check. Experience? Check. Pedigree? Check.
It’s easy to see why Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel projects as one of the first players to go off the board in April’s draft. At 6-6, 310 pounds, Joeckel had offers from several major programs coming out of high school, including Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma.
He chose the Aggies and flourished immediately, starting all 13 games as a freshman. Joeckel leaves school after his junior season with 38 starts (all at left tackle) under his belt. In 2012, he won the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top offensive lineman – especially impressive considering he was going up against SEC competition.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
ESPN’s Todd McShay has Joeckel as his No. 2 overall prospect:
Joeckel fared well against the likes of Alabama and LSU this season. His balance and ability to recover in pass protection stand out, and he takes good angles and is able to get to the second level in the run game.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Joeckel third:
Joeckel has the ability to take away good pass-rushers. There’s very little to not like. He has a ton of experience, starting on the left since his freshman season. He can really drive people in the run game, even if he gets questions on how nasty he is as a finisher. The feeling now is he’s a safe bet to be the first OT taken.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com has Joeckel ranked as his top prospect:
Joeckel is the same type of player as Jake Long, who was taken with the No. 1 overall pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2008. A junior, Joeckel has great size and athletic ability, as well as really good hand placement.
Former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has Joeckel ranked as his top underclassman:
Strong candidate for the first overall pick. Three-year starter at left tackle in the Big 12 and never red-shirted. A true height-weight-speed prospect who plays with good athleticism and body control. Will play early while he develops better hip and core strength. Good teammate too.
NFL.com compares Joeckel to Denver’s Ryan Clady:
A technician with an athletic build, Joeckel excels as a pass protector for the Aggies and displays enough of a temper in the run game to be one of the top picks in this draft class, and a long-time NFL starter at left tackle, especially as he continues to add bulk in an NFL strength and conditioning program.
AN EAGLES SLANT
While we still have a couple months before the draft, there seems to be a pretty good chance that Joeckel will be gone by the time the Eagles pick.
If he’s still on the board, Howie Roseman would have to give the athletic offensive tackle a long, hard look. Roseman has emphasized the Eagles’ focus on taking the best player available, regardless of position. Jason Peters recently turned 31 and is coming off an Achilles injury that sidelined him for all of the 2012 season. Todd Herremans is 30 and suffered a season-ending foot injury last year.
The expectation is for both guys to be healthy in 2013. If that happens, Herremans could swing back inside to guard (where he was more effective) and Joeckel could start his career out at right tackle. If Peters or Herremans were to suffer any setbacks, Joeckel would be available to fill in and potentially play at a high level.
It’s also worth noting that like Oregon, Texas A&M ran an up-tempo offense. The Aggies averaged 78.8 plays per game last season, while the Ducks averaged 81.5. In other words, if Chip Kelly brings that pace to the NFL, Joeckel would likely have a pretty easy time adjusting.
Kiper has Joeckel going first to the Chiefs.
McShay has him falling to the Eagles at No. 4.
Tony Pauline of USA Today has Joeckel going No. 1.
Rob Rang of CBSSports.com has Joeckel falling to No. 4.
And Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has him going first.
The guys over at DraftBreakdown.com do a great job with their video cut-ups. Below are condensed versions of Joeckel’s games against Alabama and LSU. Unfortunately, no All-22 of college games available to the public just yet (unless someone has a hook-up!).
I’m no scout, but a few plays that stood out. In the first video, check out how Joeckel picks up the stunt flawlessly at the 8:38 mark.
In the second video, you can see him out in space on a screen at the 2:00 mark. He does a nice job in the run game at 6:10 and gets to the second level at 7:37.