The draft is coming! The draft is coming!
I've barely had time to talk about any prospects this season, what with the new member of the MNchiefsfam (see what I did there? Did you see it?) and that whole day job thing. I've talked about Paxton Lynch and his upside-but-concerns-abound tools, and Ryan Kelly being ridiculously good.
That's it. That's all I've had time for.
So we're going to do a speed dating version of this today, looking at three interior offensive line prospects. I asked Twitter who people wanted to see, and these three got the most votes: Kansas State G Cody Whitehair, Stanford G Joshua Garnett and Mizzou G Connor McGovern.
This will be interesting, because of the three, only Garnett is actually listed as a guard on Draft Breakdown. That said, it's well known how much Andy Reid loves to take so-so tackle prospects and turn them into guards.
Do I think the Chiefs feel that guard is a need? No idea. For all I know, they love LDT and Zach Fulton as their LG options and love Jah Reid as the RG option. All I know is this; I've reviewed quite a bit of LDT and Fulton's film at this point, and I'm not too enthused. So we'll look at interior OL.
This will be a lot less in-depth than what I normally do, given the time constraints we've got. I'll try to find the time for a GIF or two, but no promises. Let's get moving with Cody Whitehair.
Cody Whitehair's film
It's interesting to me that Whitehair is considered predestined to be a guard in the NFL. From what everyone has said (including Whitehair himself, according to some guy named BJ Kissel), no one is talking about keeping him at tackle when he goes to the next level.
The reason that's interesting is that Whitehair was a really good left tackle in college. Generally speaking, you'd think that someone would at least TRY him at tackle. But arm length, etc., and here we are.
Whitehair knows how to play offensive line. He does everything textbook. His feet, his hands, his punch, his knowledge of blitzes and stunts (didn't see a single miss) ... he is a very polished player. He also has some strength and athleticism to go along with this, which is a necessity to succeed against the big boys.
I don't think there's anything Whitehair is BAD at. He's not terribly athletic, but he moves pretty well in space and has the ability to move laterally you'd expect from a successful college LT. I don't see him mauling guys (well, yeah I do. But not as often as you do with some players), but he's definitely got some strength.
But really, it's the technique area where Whitehair sets himself apart. One area he demonstrates his knowledge of how to play the game is how great he is at picking up blocks in space at the second level.
Whitehair locates and locks in in space way better than most players I've watched. Almost never whiffs (watch LT) pic.twitter.com/cbAAmcZ0Q5— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) April 28, 2016
Here, Whitehair gets to the second level, finds his defender, and (and this is critical) ... WAITS. He doesn't lunge, he doesn't overrun the defender. He gets into position and waits.
That is very, very rare even at the pro level. Most offensive linemen want to make a big block or try and lock onto a defender immediately. However, linebackers and secondary players are too quick. You lunge at all and they'll dodge you. Get off balance and they'll toss you aside. Whitehair gets to where he's in position to make the block, but often makes the defender make the first move.
That's how his game works. Whitehair understands angles, momentum, leverage, and all the nuances that go into winning against guys who are faster or stronger. He's incredibly patient as both a pass blocker and run blocker.
The best comparison of that kind of patience I can come with at the pro level (at least that I've seen) is new Chief Mitch Schwartz. I commented when I wrote about Schwartz that he succeeds as a pass blocker by always sending the rusher away from where he wants to go, rather than trying to pancake or dominate the guy. And it works. Remember, as an offensive lineman you generally don't have to WIN. You just have to keep the defender from winning. Whitehair does just that, over and over, while having enough physical gifts to win plenty of battles along the way.
Am I saying Whitehair will be a stud like Schwartz? No, that's impossible to predict. But I wouldn't bet against him being a good player quickly. Whitehair doesn't jump out on film the way Ryan Kelly does, but he is definitely a guy who SEEMS like he could come in and start immediately. If the Chiefs called his name at 28 I wouldn't be upset.
Joshua Garnett's film
If you want a player you KNOW can perform the necessary blocks in Andy Reid's offense, Garnett is your guy. He did a ton of pulling in space at Stanford, and has pretty nimble feet to move laterally along the line and get where he needs to go.
He's also a big, physical player who gets quite a few pancakes. This happens even when he's put in a rough spot.
Garnett (LG) gets put in a bad spot when his teammate misses a block. Makes lemonade by pancaking the defender. pic.twitter.com/AVzcVb88cJ— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) April 28, 2016
Here, Garnett isn't supposed to be blocking the defender he gets stuck on (that would be the job of the TE, who fails at the line of scrimmage. However, Garnett doesn't let the fact that he's engaged sooner than expected hold him back. He sees the unblocked defender, changes his body to square up, and proceeds to level the guy. Its fun to watch.
Garnett isn't the technician Whitehair is by my eyes, but he's definitely been well coached. His hand placement is solid, and I generally like the way he punches without leaning in pass protection. He doesn't show Whitehair's ability to engage in space, though. He tends to lunge or over-pursue too often (which I discussed above is a problem most offensive linemen have), leaving him off balance against savvy defenders. However, when he locks on he wins pretty much every battle.
Garnett is going to pile up wins at a higher rate than a guy like Whitehair, and he's going to make more of the "ohhhhh" pancakes we love to see. However, he does lose more often based on the small sample size I observed. Any time he lost seemed to be when he'd get caught off balance after being a tad too aggressive.
Now, I want to clarify something; Garnett is absolutely a technician as an offensive lineman, and is far ahead of most college players. It's just in comparison to what I watched on Whitehair, he's a step behind in that department in my opinion. However, he's a little bigger and more physically dominating. So the question you ask yourself is this; which is the more important trait if neither player is WEAK in their non-dominant trait?
This is where fans will differ. Some prefer a guy with a higher ceiling, which I think Garnett is out of the two. However, I think Whitehair is a bit more of a sure thing to succeed, both in the short and the long term. However, both are really good interior linemen already, both are technicians, and both have the physical traits necessary to succeed in the NFL. Neither is weak in any area, they just have different strengths. I'd peg Whitehair as the superior prospect, though it's not a blowout.
And then there was one...
Connor McGovern's film
It's interesting, after reviewing the two available games on McGovern I looked at some scouting profiles, where he's described as one of the strongest players in the draft. I guess I didn't see that reflected on the field.
Make no mistake, McGovern has strength. He's able to muscle defensive linemen off him using just his arms (undoubtedly that legendary weight training strength of his), and even with a single arm he can hold guys at bay. However, when I think of a powerful player I think of a guy who is driving defenders back and pancaking them consistently. That's just not what I saw out of McGovern.
McGovern moves laterally pretty well, and you can see he's pretty athletic for a guy whose strength is ... uh, strength. However, he's more stiff in space than Whitehair or Garnett. Perhaps it's not a fair comparison, given the dissimilarities in style, but it stands out when watching all of them on film back to back to back. He also doesn't locate as well as either of the other two guys, sometimes failing to get a hat on someone before the whistle.
McGovern is a guy who, in my opinion, you'd be drafting based on upside and physical talent. He's got good hand use and a powerful punch, so it's not like you're starting from scratch. That said, I would be surprised if he were able to contribute immediately, and I'm not sure he's a terrific fit in Reid's offense given his movement skills in space. He may be a guy who is more of a power blocking scheme player, where he can use brute force to win the day.
Of the three, I'd be least excited about McGovern (please don't hurt me, Mizzou fans. Small sample size. Just tell me why I'm wrong. I'm all ears, I swear!). I have read that McGovern looks significantly better on the inside than at LT, so I'm open to the idea that a move to G is exactly what he needs to flourish. I'm just not sure I see him as a sure thing.
You CAN see the raw material there with the strength, punch, lateral foot speed, and hand fighting, but I think the Chiefs are pretty set on guys with potential at the moment.
Now watch, they draft McGovern and he morphs into Mitch Morse 2.0. That would absolutely figure (and no one would be more thrilled than I).
One thing can be certain, no matter who the Chiefs draft, SOMEONE is going to be mad about it. Enjoy the draft, folks.