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  1. #1
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    Interesting take on arm length .. Not much difference between Munroe & Smith ..

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    Arm length, hand quickness dictate OLT success

    By Nolan Nawrocki
    April 14, 2009


    Many traits are required for an offensive tackle to successfully be able to handle edge speed — quick hands and feet, balance and natural knee bend. The one physical trait that is most often taken for granted, however, is arm length.

    Without good arm length, generally considered at least 33½ inches on the left side and preferably 34 inches, it is difficult for blockers to be able to handle inside counters and recover quickly to keep a pocket clean.

    PFW calculated the average arm length of every starting left tackle in the NFL last season, and it was 34½ inches. The average arm length of the Pro Bowl tackles in the NFC, all of whom were left tackles, was 33¾ inches, while the average of AFC Pro Bowlers, also all left tackles, was 34 inches.

    To overcome average arm length, offensive tackles must be very smart, understand angles and be technique-sound, which describes Titans All-Pro OLT Michael Roos to a T. That is why he can overcome having a league OLT-worst 32½-inch arms and only give up one sack, according to STATS LLC. Other factors in Roos' success that were cited by evaluators included good coaching and sound protection schemes, with Mike Munchak being regarded as one of the top OL coaches in the game.

    Those with long arms, however, continue to excel. For example, Denver's Ryan Clady, who possesses an NFL-best 36¾-inch arms as measured at the Combine last year, allowed a league-best half-sack in 16 starts as a rookie. Clady's combination of length, quickness and athletic ability allowed him to adapt very seamlessly to the pro game.
    The ability of quarterbacks to feel pressure, buy time with their feet and get rid of the ball quickly also affects a blind-side protector’s success. That is why Philadelphia OLT Tra Thomas, despite really struggling last season and appearing to decline every game, was able to get by, giving up only two sacks. Few coaches help their tackles on the edges like Eagles coach Andy Reid does. And even if Donovan McNabb has shown some signs of aging, he still shows great escapability in the pocket.

    Having long arms, however, does not always matter if a tackle has slow hands. Browns OLT Joe Thomas appears effortless with his hands. Seahawks OT Walter Jones is extremely efficient with his hand use. Flozell Adams, however, does not have great hand quickness, but he does have extremely long arms and is generally able to get by using his length.

    With 32½-inch arms and average quickness, it is easy to understand why the Lions are considering moving Jeff Backus inside rather than having him continue to protect the edges.

    The following chart is sorted by arm length and includes the number of sacks allowed last season, according to STATS. Players highlighted in blue were selected to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Players in red represented the AFC. The arm length of Pro Bowl players is boldfaced.

    Team Left tackle Arm length Sacks
    allowed Starts Sacks per game
    Denver Broncos Ryan Clady 36 3/4 0.5 16 0.03
    Philadelphia Eagles Tra Thomas 36 1/2 2 16 0.13
    Dallas Cowboys Flozell Adams 36 1/2 7.25 16 0.45
    St. Louis Rams Orlando Pace 36 1/4 2 14 0.14 New York Jets D'Brickashaw Ferguson 36 1/4 4 16 0.25
    Indianapolis Colts Tony Ugoh 36 3 12 0.25
    Baltimore Ravens Jared Gaither 36 3 15 0.20
    Miami Dolphins Jake Long 35 3/4 2.5 16 0.16
    San Diego Chargers Marcus McNeill 35 1/2 3 14 0.21
    Minnesota Vikings Bryant McKinnie 35 1/2 4 12 0.33
    Pittsburgh Steelers Max Starks 35 1/2 4 11 0.36
    Kansas City Chiefs Branden Albert 35 1/2 4.5 15 0.30
    New Orleans Saints Jammal Brown 34 3/4 3 15 0.20
    Cincinnati Bengals Levi Jones 34 3/4 5.5 10 0.55
    Jacksonville Jaguars Khalif Barnes 34 3/4 7.5 16 0.47
    Seattle Seahawks Walter Jones 34 1/2 3.5 12 0.29
    Oakland Raiders Kwame Harris 34 1/4 7.5 11 0.68
    San Francisco ***** Joe Staley 34 1/4 8.5 16 0.53
    Houston Texans Duane Brown 34 1/4 11.5 16 0.72
    Arizona Cardinals Mike Gandy 34 6.25 16 0.39
    Chicago Bears John St. Clair 34 9.25 16 0.58
    Cleveland Browns Joe Thomas 33 3/4 4.5 16 0.28
    New York Giants David Diehl 33 3/4 6.5 16 0.41
    Washington Redskins Chris Samuels 33 1/2 3 12 0.25
    New England Patriots Matt Light 33 1/2 7.5 16 0.47
    Carolina Panthers Jordan Gross 33 1/4 3 15 0.20
    Buffalo Bills Jason Peters 33 1/8 11.5 13 0.88
    Green Bay Packers Chad Clifton 33 7.5 15 0.50
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers Donald Penn 33 8.5 16 0.53
    Atlanta Falcons Sam Baker 32 3/4 1 5 0.20
    Detroit Lions Jeff Backus 32 1/2 9.25 16 0.58
    Tennessee Titans Michael Roos 32 1/4 1 16 0.06

    Following is a breakdown of the arm length of the tackle and guard prospects in this year's class as measured at the Combine and classified by where they are projected to play in the pros.

    Three of the top four OT prospects in this year's draft — Eugene Monroe, Jason Smith and Michael Oher — have arm lengths that measure less than 34 inches, but all show the quickness desired to play on the edges in the pros. The tackle with the longest arms, Andre Smith, could be the most likely to kick inside because of his overall lack of quickness and susceptibility against counter moves.

    Left tackles School Arm length
    Gerald Cadogan Penn State 35
    Andre Smith Alabama 35
    Will Beatty Connecticut 34 3/4
    Joel Bell Furman 34
    Jamon Meredith South Carolina 34
    Eugene Monroe Virginia 33 7/8
    Jason Smith Baylor 33 3/4
    Michael Oher Mississippi 33 1/2
    Xavier Fulton Illinois 33 1/2
    Troy Kropog Tulane 33 1/4

    Phil Loadholt's rare length is what gives some evaluators comfort thinking he might be able to play on the left side. However, his lack of quickness was exposed this season, and he projects best to the right side in the pros. Many others, such as Ramon Foster, Andrew Gardner, Alex Boone and Jose Valdez, all of whom played outside in college, could be forced to play inside because of their lack of quickness. Eben Britton's lack of arm length remains a big concern to NFL teams

    Right tackles School Arm length
    Phil Loadholt Oklahoma 36 1/2 Gus Parrish Kent State 35
    Ramon Foster Tennessee 34 1/2
    Andrew Gardner Georgia Tech 34 1/2
    Garrett Reynolds North Carolina 34 1/2
    Alex Boone Ohio State 34 3/8
    Jose Valdez Arkansas 34
    Lydon Murtha Nebraska 33 7/8
    Eben Britton Arizona 32 3/4

    Seeing Herman Johnson's rare length at the Combine left some coaches believing they could get away with playing Johnson at tackle with enough chip help. However, his feet are very heavy, and he could always have issues handling quickness on and island.

    Oklahoma's Duke Robinson, conversely, shows enough quickness and length, with nearly 35-inch arms, to help a team outside in a pinch. Andy Levitre, who started at left tackle for Oregon State, clearly projects best to guard, in part because of his short arms (32½ inches).

    Guards School Arm length
    Herman Johnson LSU 36 1/2
    Paul Fanaika Arizona State 35
    Jaimie Thomas Maryland 35
    Roger Allen Missouri Western 34 3/4
    Duke Robinson Oklahoma 34 3/4
    Louis Vasquez Texas Tech 34 3/4
    Brandon Walker Oklahoma 34 1/2
    Jason Watkins Florida 34 3/8
    Andy Kemp Wisconsin 34 1/8
    Anthony Parker Tennessee 34 1/8
    Robert Brewster Ball State 34
    Travis Bright Brigham Young 33 7/8
    Kraig Urbik Wisconsin 33 3/4
    Tyronne Green Auburn 33 3/4
    Dan Gay Baylor 33 1/2
    Ryan McKee Southern Mississippi 33 1/2
    Cornelius Lewis Tennessee State 33 1/2
    Rey Feinga Brigham Young 33 1/2
    Seth Olsen Iowa 33 1/8
    Matt Slauson Nebraska 33 1/8
    C.J. Davis Pittsburgh 32 3/4
    Andy Levitre Oregon State 32 1/2
    Greg Isdaner West Virginia 32 1/2
    Kyle Link McNeese State 32
    Trevor Canfield Cincinnati 32


  2. #2
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    Re: Interesting take on arm length .. Not much difference between Munroe & Smith ..

    NFL Matchup's Greg Cosell on OTs
    Offensive tackles take on more prominent role in NFL
    April 9, 2009
    By Greg Cosell

    There is no question that left tackle has become a premium position in the NFL. Its emergence as a cornerstone was a direct consequence of the NFL's transition, proceeding rapidly through the 1990s and the first decade of the new century, to a quarterback-driven passing league, and the resulting response of defensive coordinators to break down the finely-tuned coordination of pass protection schemes, quarterback drops (3, 5 and 7 steps) and receiver route combinations.

    We have seen how successful Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has been in recent years (actually going back more than 20), with the conception of a simple idea, brilliantly executed: pressure the quarterback with as few rushers as possible so that you do not compromise coverage on the back end.

    Of course, LeBeau is not the only one formulating such sophisticated pass-rush concepts. The general principle, although implemented differently throughout the league, has become the norm.

    For the passing game to remain aggressive and proactive, rather than reactive to defensive pressure, it was imperative that offenses counter with as few blockers as possible.

    A critical component to this was the left tackle.

    The left tackle had to be able to work on an island, singularly neutralizing the opponent's best pass rusher. If he could not do that, then the offense would be forced to assign too many bodies to pass protection, limiting the options in the passing game. It would eventually have a domino effect, severely limiting the choices available to offensive play callers.

    The impact of this evolution has been that left tackle is a pass-protection position, first and foremost. They are, with rare exceptions, drafted for that reason, and that reason alone.

    One exception is Jake Long, who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Miami Dolphins last year. Long, although physical and nasty as a run blocker, was not prototypical as a pass protector. He was not a top athlete for the position. He was more mechanical and robotic than smooth and fluid. He was not naturally quick with his feet. He could not have survived in Denver, for instance, where fellow first-round pick Ryan Clady was asked to pass block play after play in a high percentage passing offense that featured 5 and 7 step drops.

    Long would have been exposed in that system. Yet, he fit the tough, ornery profile Bill Parcells desired. And Long's value was enhanced, and his limitations minimized, when Chad Pennington became the quarterback.

    The passing game accentuated short drops, and play action, both of which reduced the pass blocking responsibilities of Long. It was the perfect storm. It will be interesting to monitor's Long's growth and development as the Dolphins make the eventual transition from Pennington to Chad Henne, a strong armed passer whose skill set is a better match for an intermediate and vertical passing game with 5 and 7 step drops.

    The point is that college left tackles must be evaluated with an understanding of how they best fit in the NFL, what kind of offensive system maximizes their strengths, while camouflaging their limitations. But to achieve long-term success at a high level, there are certain attributes NFL left tackles must possess regardless of system and offensive concept.

    At the top of that list is the lateral quickness and change of direction demanded to block elite pass rushers one-on-one.

    There are three offensive tackles in the 2009 draft that consistently showcased these traits on their college tape: Virginia's Eugene Monroe, Baylor's Jason Smith and Connecticut's William Beatty.

    Monroe was a very comfortable looking player. He rarely looked like he was exerting himself in pass protection. He was patient, under control, never reactive or defensive. He dictated the terms of engagement. In that regard, he reminded me of Joe Thomas when I evaluated him a few years ago at Wisconsin; and remember, Thomas was the third overall pick to the Browns. No player is a finished product entering the NFL, but Monroe has no flaws or limitations. He fits every offensive scheme.

    Smith is a better body athlete than Monroe, but not quite as polished and consistent with his technique and footwork. While the smoothness and fluidity of movement were clearly present on tape, there were games in which Smith was a little choppy, and thus slower with his pass sets. That will need to be refined in the NFL, so that he's not vulnerable to speed pass rushers like Dwight Freeney, DeMarcus Ware and John Abraham who can really push the edge.

    From an athletic standpoint, Beatty is an NFL left tackle. He jumps out on film with his quick feet, and natural and easy movement skills. Beatty, however, was very raw and inconsistent with his footwork, with a recurring problem of widening his base too much in pass protection. With his feet wider than his shoulders, he could not maintain his core balance and body control. That negated his excellent athleticism. This can be coached, but Beatty has a longer stretch of road to navigate than Monroe and Smith.

    A quick word about Andre Smith of Alabama: Overall, he is not a top athlete for the position. He does not have naturally quick feet, and he consistently struggled with his balance and change of direction skills. He pass protects with a run-blocking mentality, engaging with, and leaning into pass rushers rather than striking, sliding and mirroring. Smith, a road grader in the run game, is clearly a scheme-specific left tackle, more like Jake Long, although Long was much further advanced both fundamentally and mentally. Ultimately, I believe Smith is better suited to play right tackle in the NFL.

    One thing is certain: On the first day of the draft, offensive tackles will come off the board quickly, whether they deserve to or not. It's one of the NFL's glamour positions, one teams reach for more than they should.

    Greg Cosell of NFL Films analyzes coaching tape and is executive producer of State Farm NFL Matchup. He is a frequent contributor to Sporting News.

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    Re: Interesting take on arm length .. Not much difference between Munroe & Smith ..

    I thought this old thread was worth a bump.

    I was discussing the merits of the Rams drafting Matt Kalil in the upcoming 2012 draft and got to thinking about Saffold and Smith's struggles.

    It's interesting to me that both of their arm lengths are below the league standard. Could this be one of the reasons why neither have made their mark at OLT? PFW makes an interesting point about tackles with average arm length needing strong fundamentals and good protection schemes. That also might be why Saffold looked so good in his rookie season and not so good now.

    I noticed Michael Oher's(now seemingly staying on the right side in Baltimore) arm length is similar to Saffold's while tackles with longer arms in McKinnie and Gaither handled the left side. Makes me wonder if RT is not Saffold's destination as well.

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    Re: Interesting take on arm length .. Not much difference between Munroe & Smith ..

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDrake View Post
    I thought this old thread was worth a bump.

    I was discussing the merits of the Rams drafting Matt Kalil in the upcoming 2012 draft and got to thinking about Saffold and Smith's struggles.

    It's interesting to me that both of their arm lengths are below the league standard. Could this be one of the reasons why neither have made their mark at OLT? PFW makes an interesting point about tackles with average arm length needing strong fundamentals and good protection schemes. That also might be why Saffold looked so good in his rookie season and not so good now.

    I noticed Michael Oher's(now seemingly staying on the right side in Baltimore) arm length is similar to Saffold's while tackles with longer arms in McKinnie and Gaither handled the left side. Makes me wonder if RT is not Saffold's destination as well.
    To me, Saffold's weaknesses are his upper and lower body strength, his height, his leverage, and his arm length.

    He's not a strong tackle, and you add that to his less than ideal height for a left tackle and his weak leverage and short arms = Not an ideal LT

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    Re: Interesting take on arm length .. Not much difference between Munroe & Smith ..

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDrake View Post
    I thought this old thread was worth a bump.

    I was discussing the merits of the Rams drafting Matt Kalil in the upcoming 2012 draft and got to thinking about Saffold and Smith's struggles.

    It's interesting to me that both of their arm lengths are below the league standard. Could this be one of the reasons why neither have made their mark at OLT? PFW makes an interesting point about tackles with average arm length needing strong fundamentals and good protection schemes. That also might be why Saffold looked so good in his rookie season and not so good now.

    I noticed Michael Oher's(now seemingly staying on the right side in Baltimore) arm length is similar to Saffold's while tackles with longer arms in McKinnie and Gaither handled the left side. Makes me wonder if RT is not Saffold's destination as well.
    Saffold needs to go back to RT IMO he's just been over matched facing the best pass rusher from the opposing team each week.

    I'm still hoping we end up with Matt Kalil to play LT and protect Sam blind side...
    Last edited by Rambos; -11-24-2011 at 03:18 PM.

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