Last week, I looked at Geno Smith, who currently looks like the #1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. His primary competition? Baby-faced Luke Joeckel.
LT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
I noted in Smith’s preview that while he’s likely to be the first player taken overall, I wouldn’t consider him the best player in his class. Joeckel, however, makes that argument for himself. This preview may remind you of when I looked at Chance Warmack, because their “weaknesses” are more nitpicking than anything else.
First impressions are very important, and the first thing you look at when you see a prospect is their build, and whether or not they pass the eye test. Joeckel has a prototypical left tackle build. He’s got very long arms, which he uses effectively to extend and keep defenders at bay. His frame lends itself to his lateral movement and balance. Even at 310 lbs., Joeckel is very quick off the line. Combined with his strength, this allows him to handle both speed and power rushers. On the rare occasions that he is beat in protection, he’s got elite recovery skills, and generally can at least bother his opponent enough to prevent them from making a play.
But this isn’t the strength of his game. Joeckel is extremely intelligent and technically sound. He can identify stunts and blitzes very quickly, and is a top-notch cut blocker. It’s amazing just how NFL-ready he is. He will certainly be compared to Matt Kalil throughout the draft process, and may have the upper-hand in terms of his ability to step in on Day 1. However, while Joeckel is very athletic, he’s not quite on the level of a Kalil. If he was, he’d be a once-a-decade left tackle, and the Chiefs would be forced to take him at the top of the draft. As is, a team like the Eagles or Cardinals are likely to pick him, plug him in at left tackle as a rookie, and forget about him for the next 10-15 years.