Player: Luke Joeckel
School: Texas A&M
Position: Left Tackle
Height, Weight: 6'6", 306 lbs.
Games Watched: Texas (2011), Florida and LSU (2012)
Joeckel played far above the competition while at Texas A&M. Some would argue against that statement (though not too many). Joeckel laid waste to most competition. At times during games, Joeckel completely locked down the left side of the offensive line and kept close to his left guard along the edge to better form a pocket, other times Joeckel struggled with speed rushers. Speed rushers can be the bane of Joeckel's existence. The larger, more powerful rushers hardly gave Joeckel any trouble.
After being noticed in 2011 with a second team selection to the All-Big 12 team, Joeckel got better. He improved awareness, strength and technique to truly become a good all-around left tackle. I found Joeckel to be worthy of most pre-draft hype and praise that many have bestowed upon him, but I do not see a player capable of being better than the top-end left tackles in the league. Don't take that statement too negatively. I would take Joeckel over a significant number of tackles currently manning their QB's blind side. I merely wish to convey that Joeckel does not seem to be the next Jonathan Ogden.
The main flaws from 2011 that Joeckel improved upon rested in two things: his attack and stance. Joeckel has no lack in ability or desire to attack--it's obvious from the tape. The problem lied in how he attacked. A good predator/football player knows that sometimes you need to wait before you attack and as a lineman you need to form that pocket for your quarterback and then keep it formed. There were occasions where Joeckel would take a step or two away from where he should be to attack the rusher--he wasn't patient enough. This leaves a hole in the pocket and while it didn't prove detrimental against Texas, it was something to keep an eye on as a team could key in on this and set Joeckel up for a very bad play or series of plays. The problem with Joeckel's stance lied in his willingness to lean out/forward. This gives the defender an opening to push Joeckel to the side. This still pops up every once in a while, but Joeckel mainly has this under control by keeping his back straight and letting the defender come into his body.
His awareness, as it pertains to the defender, was fantastic in 2011. He didn't focus on anything other than the defender(s). I was truly impressed, but the great part about Joeckel is that his awareness actually improved from 2011 to 2012. In 2012 he became as aware of the QB as he was of his defender. This is fantastic! You can see him constantly understanding the play and then adapting when QB Johnny Manziel would take off and change the angles between Joeckel and his QB. Joeckel always presented himself as ready to adjust to another defender, providing that resting assurance a QB needs from his left tackle.
- Absorbs a good advance
- A very, very focused player
- Willing to attack
- Mostly keeps engagement with defender away from the QB
- Hunts D-lineman but stays in his area, no longer leaves his assigned area
- Very good in ability to move down the field and through traffic to help block and set up the screens
- Fantastic balance recovery as he possesses good agility for a man his size.
- High Motor
- High Awareness, as mentioned Joeckel keeps high awareness of his defender and his QB. He is also very willing to switch defenders but doesn't do it recklessly. He makes sure his initial guy is taken care of first.
- Not amazing upper body strength, though he uses what he possesses very well
- Not amazing speed, but an aggressive try-hard runner
- Now a rare instance, but he does occasionally tilt upper body too far forward when blocking
- Can be easy to read when moving forward to take out defenders knees. This could be taken advantage of, but in Joeckel's defense he got much more patient in 2012 and waited on the arrival of the defender.
Seemed tired very late against Florida (though still very aggressive) and allowed a sack and pressure inside after being turned outside. Joeckel failed to turn hips back in time, allowing the defender the opportunity to pursue the QB. The speed rusher used a swim technique forcing Joeckel out and then he moved in. This happens to a large number of tackles and it shows how great Joeckel is that I am nitpicking these two instances. Though, this can occur frequently later in games when Joeckel is ready to bounce the defender outside and punish him with punches.
In short, Joeckel obviously has areas that need improvement but he has shown that he will focus on this improvement and get better at these areas. Joeckel will be very sought after as the draft clock starts for the Chiefs who hold the first overall pick. I believe Joeckel will be a near-elite left tackle in the NFL because of focus, aggressiveness and a propensity to improve, but he will struggle as a rookie against speed rushers--both outside and inside. Joeckel also has great footwork and handwork. His main problems stem from being too aggressive and too easily swayed into the routine of bouncing a defender a certain direction--both are fixable with decent coaching.
I found a play against Florida in 2012 (before the 4th quarter where he was beat twice) and he got handled but never let the defender past him. I was so impressed but wondered what happened to him because it to looked awkward. There was defensive holding... that's the reason it looked bad. Joeckel managed to keep a speed rusher off his QB despite being aggressively held. He is very impressive and will be drafted within the first 5 picks.
Joeckel won't be the top LT in the league but he will most likely be top-15 as a rookie. With the LT position in high demand, I don't doubt Joeckel will be highly valued.
NFL Comparison: An athletic version of Andre Smith, who was moved to right tackle and played there at an elite level in 2012.