Is NC State’s underrated tackle a potential late-round sleeper?
Most of the NFL’s draft process is concerned with finding out who prospects are on and off the field. Seeing what they can do as players, who they are as young men, and deciding where and how they fit in at the next level (if they do at all).
Part of that process is determining which players fall within teams’ thresholds for a given position. Different teams value different measurable thresholds. The New York Giants, somewhat famously, favor hand size (almost above all else) when it comes to drafting wide receivers.
The problem with this is that sometimes talented players can slip through cracks if they fall outside teams’ thresholds. In those cases, it might be possible for teams to find potential steals a bit later if they’re willing to look at players who don’t exactly fit within their established archetypes.
With that in mind, it could be wise to keep an eye on NC State left tackle Tyler Jones. Jones will likely be too short to play tackle for most NFL teams, but he is a talented lineman who has played well against some of the top competition in college football. Could he wind up being a diamond in the rough for a Giants team in desperate need of help on their offensive line?
Weight: 303 pounds
- Athletic blocker with good feet and smooth technique.
- Does a great job of staying parallel to the line of scrimmage.
- Uses his hands well to fight off rushers.
- Flashes the ability to deliver a jolt with his punch.
- Plays stunts and twists well.
- Plays with good pad level and leverage.
- Versatile build which could play at guard or center at the next level.
- Routinely faced elite pass rushers in the ACC.
- Body-type will be likely force a move from tackle to guard in the NFL
- Measureables will be a concern and could have him off some teams’ boards entirely.
- Occasionally dips his head into contact.
- Can bite on fakes and be beaten by speed.
- Isn’t a mauler in the run game.
(Jones is the left tackle, number 53)
What They’re Saying
“Jones is a relatively athletic college left tackle who I feel will be a good zone-blocking guard at the next level. I stamped him as a third-round prospect, much higher than scouts who feel he’s a better fit in round six.”
– Tony Pauline, DraftAnalyst.com
Does He Fit The Giants?
He should be able to fit what the Giants want to do schematically. The question is whether or not he will be too small for them.
He reminds a bit of former Georgia left tackle Isaiah Wynn (drafted by the New England Patriots last year) in that he is undersized for most teams at offensive tackle, but he plays the position well against top competition. He isn’t really limited athletically, and has a knack for turning his height into an advantage in leverage. His position in the NFL will likely be in the eye of the beholder. Some teams might be okay with him at tackle, while others will see a move inside to guard, or possibly even center (if he can learn to snap the ball effectively).
Schematically, he will be best in a zone blocking scheme, but he has the natural leverage to (at least) hold up on man-gap plays. Jones is a capable pass protector, though it might take him a season to build the strength base to stand up to defensive tackles on an every-down basis.
Assuming he doesn’t fall below the Giants’ physical thresholds, and he slips to the third day of the draft, his versatility would present intriguing value to the Giants. As it stands now, they need starters and depth at center, right guard, and right tackle (as of this writing, Jamon Brown is still scheduled to be a free agent). Jones could potentially fill any of the three positions — though his best fit might be center for the Giants — or be a “super-sub” who can come off the bench to fill in anywhere on the line, or be a sixth lineman on heavy packages.