Early indications point to Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley and Mississippi’s Laremy Tunsil being the top two offensive tackles in the 2016 class should they declare early. Per Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, Stanley will declare for the 2016 NFL Draft and we are awaiting news regarding Tunsil’s intentions. These two prospects are regarded as high first round picks – as they should be.
Over the past eight NFL Drafts (2008-2015) an average of 4.5 offensive tackles have been selected in the first round with many quality starters drafted outside of the top two. Who is that “next” offensive tackle that should be selected after Tunsil and Stanley? If you ask 10 different NFL Draft Analysts you could get as many as five or six different responses. My answer? Let me introduce you to Indiana’s Jason Spriggs.
A four-year starter, Spriggs played his best football as a senior in his final season as a Hoosier. Spriggs collegiate career will culminate with an accepted invitation to participate in the 2016 Senior Bowl and has already been named to the All-Big 10 Second Team as voted on by the coaches. Impressively, Spriggs has started nearly 50 games at left tackle in the Big 10 Conference. Spriggs was a multi-sport standout in high school as he played basketball, lacrosse and track and field in addition to football.
There are many factors that make Spriggs such an appealing NFL prospect. Listed at 6’7’’ and 305 pounds, Spriggs has tremendous length and a well-proportioned frame that the NFL desires. To compliment his length and stature, Spriggs has easy movements skills, impressive quickness, agility and balance. His feet are quick and has plus overall athletic ability.
As a pass blocker, Spriggs wins from the ground up. His base is wide and his kick step is efficient. The aforementioned physical traits blend nicely with his ability to mirror pass rushers with good angles and a well-timed punch. A natural pass blocker, Spriggs is patient and initiates contact to keep his man away from the passer.
Spriggs isn’t a mauler in the run game but he wins in that area with superb hand positioning and synchronization between his upper and lower body to create movement. He is savvy at taking proper angles on zone plays to help establish body position and keep his head between his man and the ball carrier. He has a strong anchor to execute hinge blocks and prevent penetration.
One area that Spriggs shows advanced ability that sets him apart from most offensive tackle prospects is his overall timing. From timing in his punch, to carrying out combo blocks, sealing linebackers at the second level or execution of cut blocks, Spriggs functions at a high level. These skills were a major factor in Indiana having the Big 10’s leading offense in both yards and points per game this season.
There are two key areas of concern that I have with Spriggs at this point. First, Spriggs has a tendency to over-commit to the outside rush which leaves him susceptible to getting beat inside. Secondly, there can be too much patience with his hands while run blocking.
Spriggs has the upside of a quality NFL starter on the left side. I fully expect Spriggs to dominate the offseason with a standout performance in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and his physical ability displayed on the field should lead to a stellar showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. Look for Spriggs to be an ascending prospect over the next few months as we lead up to the 2016 NFL Draft.