Scouting Report: Ben Ijalana
Despite starting four years at left tackle, Ijalana is viewed as a project along the offensive line. Ijalana will likely be drafted to play either right tackle or guard, and will find his success as a road grading lineman regardless of which position he plays. His strength and run blocking abilities make him one of the draft’s best power linemen. Despite not projecting to left tackle, Ijalana could be drafted as early as the 2nd round. The former Wildcat would was unable to participate, and possibly raise his stock, in both the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine due to a hernia. If he is able to improve on a few technical flaws, Ijalana could become a dominant player along the interior line, or a very good right tackle.
Ijalana is fast in getting out of his stance and shuffling into protection. With 36” arms, he is able to keep defenders at a distance. Despite being relatively quick, Ijalana has a tendency to move backwards and collapse the pocket instead of forcing the rusher around the edge. He also tends to play too high, limiting his leverage and ability to fend the power rush. While he isn’t slow, Ijalana displays poor footwork and quick defensive ends are often able to take advantage of him off the edge.
Ijalana uses his superb strength to physical dominate defensive players. He explodes off the line of scrimmage and packs a powerful punch into the chest of the defender. His long arms are helpful as he pushes the defender away. His mean streak is evident as he pushes through blocks until the play is over. He does a good job of getting to the second level and finding a defender to eliminate. While he isn’t terrible in space, he isn’t overly quick and occasionally misses his man. His pad level is a minor issue as he sometimes fails to play as low as he should, but he is strong enough to make up for the loss of leverage and power through his blocks.
Despite his experience, Ijalana doesn’t appear to have mastered blocking schemes and may struggle with more complicated blitzes in the NFL. His difficulty in recognizing stunts and other complex defenses occasionally causes him get taken advantage of in pass protection. Ijalana does, however, do a good job in sticking with his assignment in the run game. He also seems to recognize the correct man to block when moving in the open field.
Technique is the main area where Ijalana really struggles and needs to improve. He tends to let his hands run too far outside and, in the process, lose leverage. Though he does possess an extremely powerful and quick punch, his hand placement is not up to par with most offensive tackles. If Ijalana can improve his technique, he could be come a truly dominant force, especially in the run game.
Ijalana possesses the athleticism and quickness to be decent in the second level, but his footwork is holding him back. His change of direction ability is good for a player of his size, and he does a good job adjusting to defenders. He probably isn’t the best fit for a zone blocking scheme that requires him to pull and consistently play in space, but in a power scheme he could be above average.
IJalana’s biggest problem is his sidestep in pass protection. Instead of shuffling to the side in order to drive the rusher to the outside, Ijalana takes a step back, allowing the rusher to collapse the pocket. In the run game, he needs to take shorter steps that would help him remain balanced and finish the play in the second level. He does, however, do a great job of shuffling his feet and powering through a block when engaged in the run game.
Ijalana is a very tough player who ignored injuries and started in 53 games during his career. Due to his inability to perform at the Senior Bowl, Ijalana faces questions about the competition he faced and his ability to fend off speed rushers. In the NFL, he may need to get in better shape as he carries some extra bulk around his midsection. During his time at Villanova, he helped the team to 40 wins and three consecutive playoff appearances during that time. A two time FCS All-American, Ijalana was the only FCS player to be on the Outland Trophy Watch List.
2010: Started in 14 games.
2009: Started in 15 games.
2008: Started in 13 games.
2007: Started in 11 games.
Ijalana is a Criminal Justice major.
Awards & Honors
2010: Consensus First Team FCS All-American, Fist Team All-CAA
2009: Consensus Fist Team FCS All-American, First Team All-CAA
2008: First Team All-CAA
Prospect Video Clips
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