Turn on Laremy Tunsil's film and it doesn't take very long to see why so many scouts and analysts are high on the Ole Miss left tackle. At first glance it's apparent that he is a pretty big dude, but while that may be the first thing that catches your eye, it quickly becomes clear that his size isn't the main attraction here. This dude is athletic, mane. I mean really athletic. That kind of athleticism for a guy that big is definitely in short supply.
Don't get me wrong, I know people often associate "athletic" big men with being a tad bit "soft," but that couldn't be any further from the truth with Tunsil. You can see his power and aggressiveness on film, without a doubt. It's just that his athleticism blows you away. I saw this several times in each game when Tunsil would sift up to a linebacker and then block him either off the screen or damn close to it. That's power. However, you just can't sustain blocks like that on little guys without a lot of athleticism, no matter how much you bench press. After awhile it was clear that if he locked onto a guy on the second level, that dude was going for a ride not of his own choosing.
That's called consistently kicking ass, right there.
It is at this point that I feel the need to go off on a tangent, because one thing I didn't like about Tunsil's film wasn't really his fault and isn't particular just to him these days. A lot of these read option, zone read, etc. schemes that have taken college football by storm don't ask the offensive linemen to make some of the kinds of blocks they will have to make in the NFL. My colleague Danny Kelly and I talked about how this is negatively affecting offensive line play across the league during this past season, and as I watched Tunsil's film, it made more and more sense.
I also got more and more frustrated.
With Tunsil in particular, I'm not sure it matters all that much because his athleticism is readily apparent throughout his film. You can coach up athletic offensive linemen to block however you want them to block, usually. For other guys, they won't all be athletic enough for you to feel comfortable in projecting how they will do when they have to make some of these other blocks.
In four games I only saw Tunsil attempt one reach block (an attempt to get outside leverage on an defender who is already lined up on an outside edge in the running game). Even then, there really was no edge defender, so he ended up going up for a linebacker. He made a hell of a block on that play, but it doesn't tell me much about how he would fare against an edge defender like Everson Griffen or Khalil Mack on the same block.
That's kind of a big deal.
I didn't see many double teams involving Tunsil in those games. The ones I did see were usually with him and the guard. On the next level, he is likely going to have to learn how to work double teams with tight ends a hell of a lot more than he did in college.
You may be thinking to yourself "who gives a shit, double teams should be easy," but you would be wrong as hell. Well maybe not wrong about the should part, but there are a lot of things that should happen that don't in this life and double teams always being easy is one of them.
When guys have to work together on any kind of blocks it can be an absolute shit show if they aren't used to it. One guy comes off the ball too hard or the other guys comes off the ball too soft and all of a sudden they are on different levels. The next thing you know, the defensive lineman they were supposed to block is roaming around in the backfield. Or, and stop me if you've seen this before, both guys decide they are supposed to be the one to come off the double team and sift up to the linebacker. You end up with two guys on the second level blocking the same guy while the dude who was supposed to be combo blocked is gifted a tackle for a loss.
I bet team scouts hate watching these kinds of schemes and trying to evaluate offensive linemen. Their job literally hinges on them being able to project whether those guys can play on the next level, but these schemes don't give them much to go on.
Tunsil basically only had to make like four different kinds of run blocks, and he did a great job with those. He shouldn't have any problems adjusting other kinds of blocks, but you just never really know until you see a guy actually do it.
For an offensive tackle to get consideration for the first overall pick, their run blocking isn't usually their best attribute anyway. Their pass blocking gets 'em paid. Unfortunately, those same offensive schemes also make it harder to evaluate offensive linemen as pass blockers because so many of the passes are thrown while the linemen are actually run blocking. There were enough plays where Tunsil was pass blocking on an island one-on-one in those four games for me to give a decent evaluation on his abilities in that area.
Quite frankly, he has some work to do.
The good news is that what I did see is a guy who is comfortable out in space. He knew he was athletic enough to block most edge rushers, so he didn't really panic. He also had pretty consistent footwork with his pass set which is something I always put a premium on.
I think everybody would rather have the big, athletic guy with average technique over the unathletic guy with great technique, given the choice, because most folks assume an NFL offensive line coach can get an athletic guy up to speed with his technique. That is debatable in my experience, but the truth is that the most coveted guys are the ones who have both athleticism and at least decent technique. That's who I see when I watch Tunsil's tape.
His stance looks a little weird, but hey, it works for him.
When I say Tunsil has some work to do, I'm talking specifically about his hands and punch. When I watch a guy who is 6'5 and well over 300 pounds shoot his hands at an undersized speed rusher, I want to see that punch knock the smaller dude off his track, if not on his ass. Even for a guy like Tunsil, who moves around more like a tight end than an offensive tackle, trying to block speed rushers on the edge with just his feet is a fool's errand. The good footwork is supposed to enable a pass blocker to be able to really put some power into their punch without having to put all of their upper body into it. That's important because when guys have to over commit to their punch that usually means they will get caught slipping when guys can knock their hands down and run around them because they are leaning forward too much.
Both Texas A&M's Myles Garrett and Auburn's Carl Lawson were able to beat Tunsil around the corner primarily because his punch failed to knock either guy, off course. Garrett just did a simple rip and run move that forced Tunsil into a holding call after Tunsil gave up the soft shoulder and had to tackle the guy.
Lawson, on the other hand, was able to stick a long arm into Tunsil's chest with his inside arm and then swat away Tunsil's outside hand before his punch could get there. Lawson ended up missing the sack, after what looked like what might've been a missing holding call on Tunsil, but there is no question he beat Tunsil like a drum on that play.
I want to keep this in perspective because those were the only two plays in four games where I saw this. There was one other where Garrett sorta kinda ran over Tunsil, but both of them fell down. So, lets say two and a half plays in three games, which isn't bad at all, especially when none of those plays resulted in a sack. Tunsil did not actually give up any sacks in these four games, but that holding penalty on Garrett does count for something.
I can't act like I didn't also see those two and a half plays, especially when Ole Miss' scheme didn't necessarily give Tunsil a whole lot of opportunities to pass block one-on-one against a good pass rusher. He is going to have to work on his punch to be effective on the next level, plain and simple.
The reason why I'm still very high on Tunsil is because of his physicality in the run game. That tells me he should be strong enough to knock guys off course with his punch when pass blocking. It's a technique issue more than anything else. Plenty of guys are able to tweak their technique to be successful in the NFL. I worry more about those guys whose technique is so poor that you almost have to start all over with them. That's something Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable lamented earlier this year.
There is one last thing nagging me. I wish I had at least one game of coaches film to watch of this kid, because I'm not sure if I'm seeing something that's not there or if maybe I'm actually seeing what is happening. Tunsil is almost always very good initially on all of his blocks. I mean on base blocks you see him driving his feet hard and moving folks out of the way. Same goes for his down blocks inside. I've already complimented him on his blocks on the second level as well. All good. But then sometimes it looks like he has a clock in his head on how long he is going to go hard and once that timer goes off, he just stops.
It's so weird.
There's a chance, however, that on some of those plays the camera angle is playing a trick and the guy Tunsil is blocking just escapes off the block. Maybe instead of stopping in the middle of a play for no reason, he's actually stopping because he lost the block. At least that could be what is going on.
I know Tunsil was suspended for the early part of the season which means his conditioning likely wasn't up to par when he first came back, but y'all that have read me over the years also know how I feel about effort. So I'm kind of torn on that one because a lazy offensive linemen is baaaaaad news, brother.
I hate to admit it but offensive lineman work almost as hard as defensive linemen to get better every day. They have to, not only to fine tune their technique, but to maintain it. Rare is the guy on an offensive or defensive line who won't put in the work, but still balls on Sundays. It just hardly ever happens.
I'm going to be charitable this time and give Tunsil a pass though. He certainly isn't soft in any way, shape or form when it comes to his initial pop off the ball, so I kinda have a hard time believing his effort would be soft. That is something that will stick in the back of my mind for awhile though, especially if I see similar stuff from him as an NFL player.
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Since I don't have access to all-22 for college football games, I use the next best thing for my draft profiles and go to Draft Breakdown where they the TV copy of a bunch of top prospects' already cut up and ready to go. Also their site is compatible with the new NoHuddle app which turns your cell phone into a "cowboy clicker" which is pretty damn neat. For the purposes of this breakdown I watched Tunsil play against Texas A&M, Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma State. Those represented the eighth, ninth, 11th and 13th games on Ole Miss' schedule last season, respectively.