For offensive linemen, physicality is the name of the game. Finishing blocks is non-negotiable, and the ability to move someone against their will is a critical part of the job.
For Northwestern offensive lineman Peter Skoronski, that physicality is a point of pride.
Skornoski met with the media on Saturday morning at the 2023 NFL Combine, and taled at length about his physical style of play and, well, his length. We will get to the issue of his arm length in a moment, an issue which has dominated his pre-draft discussion, but we first have to take you back to Aviva Stadium, in Dublin, for Northwestern’s 2022 season-opening game against Nebraska.
Why does this matter? Because when asked by Doug Farrar of USA Today/Touchdown Wire about what his best blocks in college football were, Skoronski did not talk about pass protection, he did not talk about shutting down a talented edge rusher, and he did dive into blitz pickup.
He talked about running out the clock against Nebraska in Ireland.
“I think back to maybe our Nebraska game this year in Ireland. There were a few blocks ... we were in a four minute mode, trying to run the ball, and just kind of milk the clock a little bit. I think I had a few nice run blocks on that drive. Usually in that four-minute mode they stack the box, it’s hard to run the ball. I think I had a few blocks to open up holes, and got us moving a little bit.”
“A few nice run blocks” might be underselling that a bit.
Because when you turn on that game, you see Skoronski showing the physical style of play that is a hallmark of his days at Northwestern. On this frun from that drive, watch as the left tackle explodes out of his stance — another point of pride he discussed Saturday morning — to take on the second-level defender. Skoronski’s block clears the way for an 11-yard gain from running back Cam Porter:
On this next run, watch as Skoronski works a double-team at the point of attack, and finishes his block through the whistle, clearing the way for another six-yard gain for Northwestern:
Or even this short run, where Skoronski has the power to reset the line of scrimmage against the defensive tackle, but the vision and awareness to see the linebacker scrape down, so he uses his left arm to get a hand on the second-level defender:
Why might a play like that be notable? Because as mentioned earlier, arm length is one of the issues commonly discussed regarding Skoronski. Sure, he played left tackle at a high level in college, but because his arms might be shorter than what you see from the average NFL tackle, that means he automatically must kick inside to guard.
This is something Skoronski has talked about with teams, and he mentioned Saturday morning that he is willing and versatile, and will do whatever a team will ask of him. But his answer when asked about arm length is certainly worth noting:
Peter Skoronski talking about arm length: pic.twitter.com/mLjwnE1gUn— Mark Schofield (@MarkSchofield) March 4, 2023
And of course, anytime the arm length discussion surfaces, it is good to note what former New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia had to say about the topic. When the Patriots drafted Isaiah Wynn, who also faced questions about his arm length, the coach had some thoughts to share:
“We’d like to see them as tall and as long as they can possibly be. But does he have the skill to play it? Does he have enough length to play it? What’s long enough? So if my arms are 35 inches and every time I hit you, I hit you like that,” Scarnecchia said while demonstrating to the media. “My arms aren’t 35 inches, are they? Measure it. 20? But if I have you here [with arms fully extended], my arms are 35 inches. You tell me a guy has 35-inch arms, and every time he goes to pass block, he goes [with arms bent], his arms aren’t 35. So what good are they? So my point is, the guy’s got 33, but he uses them as well as a guy who’s got 37-inch arms.”
So yes, size does matter. But so too does physicality.
Something that Skoronski prides himself on. “I think my intelligence, physicality, stands out for sure. Those are two things I pride myself on.”
And he has the film to back that up.