Those teams near the top of the selection order in the 2013 NFL draft in need of offensive line help got a big boost when it was announced that Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel will make himself eligible for the upcoming draft. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Joeckel is NFLDraftScout’s number-one draft prospect, and may very well be the best player in the draft when all is said and done. Without a marquee quarterback this year as there was in 2012 with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, Joeckel has a chance of hearing his name called with the first pick, which is currently owned by the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I love my teammates and we have such a great team coming back,” Joeckel said earlier this month about his potential decision. “It’d just be so hard to leave College Station and leave my friends. We have a lot back, too. We do lose [defensive end] Damontre [Moore] and we have senior linebackers, but we think we have some guys that will step up. “It’s just a rough decision both ways. There are so many pros and cons. It’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of prayer.”
Joeckel has the kind of excellent pass-blocking technique that made USC’s Matt Kalil attractive as the highest-picked offensive lineman in 2012 (selected fourth overall by the Minnesota Vikings), but he’s also a bit nastier in the run game. As the primary protector for two mobile quarterbacks in Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel, Joeckel is also asked to run-block with authority and sustain blocks longer than some other left tackles, and he does these things with great authority.
Coming out of a low stance, Joeckel establishes leverage on potential pass-rushers, and his best and most consistent trait might be his ability to set the edge on running plays. He’s very good at re-establishing position after taking a first blow from a defender, and he’ll often keep his blocks going past the normal expiration point. Joeckel is physical and forceful when firing out to run-block, and he has the lateral agility to pin inside and take out a defensive tackle. He would work well in a zone system, as he has the second-level quickness to get upfield and deal with linebackers. He’ll also get mobile in a big hurry to block on screen passes.
The 2012 Outland Trophy winner was the pointman in an offense that was dynamic enough to allow Manziel to become the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy. Texas A&M right tackle Jake Matthews, the son of NFL Hall-of-Famer Bruce Matthews, is considered to be perhaps the best at his position in college football.
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