Luke Joeckel | Offensive tackle | Texas A&M | 6'6, 306 pounds
As the 2012 college football season progressed, Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel seemed to get better each week. His play was often overshadowed by Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, but Joeckel is arguably the best player in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Joeckel had some issues in A&M's season opener against Florida as he learned to block for the mobile Manziel. He had to sustain his blocks longer and that made him adjust his blocking style some. But as the season wore along, Joeckel developed into a first-team All-American and was given the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, awarded to the top lineman in the Southeastern Conference, and the Outland Trophy.
Joeckel is a true left tackle prospect. He may not have had a head-turning performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, but his tape is impressive.
At Texas A&M, Joeckel started all 38 games at left tackle he played in. With possible top 10 pick Jake Matthews also playing tackle, that's no small feat.
In pass blocking, Joeckel prefers an attacking style instead of letting a defender come to him. Joeckel is effortless and quick out of his stance. Mirrors pass rushers and can anticipate counter moves to the outside. Possesses good handwork to get inside a defenders chest and move them around.
On passing situations, Manziel rarely utilized a traditional seven stop drop. Because he was often moving the pocket, it was important for the A&M offensive line to hold their blocks longer. That's something Joeckel excelled at last season. When he gets his hands on a defender, especially on the outside rush, he locks on and finishes.
As a run blocker, Joeckel often demonstrated natural movement skills. At times he showed the skill to drop down and cut block. On the move to the second level, he excels at locating a defender and making an impact block. Keeps a wide base to maintain balance.
Knows when to work the defender to the inside to help create a faster edge for the runner. Although he's more regarded as a pass blocker, Joeckel knows how to open run lanes.
In 2012, A&M used wide splits its offensive linemen. While it did force Joeckel into one-on-one situations regularly, it was rare for him to play with a hand in the ground. Playing from a two-point stance, Joeckel can come off the line high and lose against stronger defenders. This happened a few times against LSU and Sam Montgomery in particular in 2012. Joeckel had a tendency at times to get flat footed in pass protection.
Doesn't arc out his pass protection that well. He could get deeper in his sets, especially against speed rushers. Has been susceptible to counter pass rush moves to the inside – namely spins. It makes you wonder a little bit about Joeckel's hip flexibility to quickly turn back inside after he's committed outside. This could be less of an issue in the NFL as the gap between the tackle and guard narrows. Still, it's something to note.
Conclusion: At times, Joeckel makes pass blocking look easy. Combine timing stats don't tell the story of Joeckel's ability. He has quick feet and plays with power. He should stick at left tackle in the NFL because he moves so well in space and mirrors pass rushers to the outside.
While he is very good, Joeckel isn't the next Duane Brown or Joe Thomas. He's been beaten some by speed rushers, and can get bested by inside moves. Like many players coming out of college, it would help Joeckel to get stronger.But in a draft class low on true top talent, Joeckel is more than simply a safe pick. He's a franchise left tackle prospect, one of the most coveted positions in the NFL.
Pro comparison: Jake Long, free agent
While Joeckel isn't the drive blocking mauler Long was coming out of Michigan, the two are similar athletically and in size. But more than anything else, Joeckel has Long's temperament on the field. He can get down in dirty in the trenches and should only get more physical as he adds power.