Kyle Long   OT/OG   Oregon

TALENT BOARD ROUND  2

 

STRENGTHS

Kyle has good size and overall athletic ability to play more than one position on the offensive line for the team that drafts him.  He has played both guard and tackle positions for his college team and, in spite of the fact that he has not played either of those positions for any length of time, he has done a better job blocking both for the run and pass than a lot of offensive linemen who have played offensive line all of their football lives.  He shows solid mental toughness and stamina; he improved from game to game over the course of his collegiate career.  He has the athleticism to be used for sweeps and screen plays as well as the the potential to be used in a pulling offensive line system.  He is smart and a quick study.  Although he is a better run blocker right now than a pass blocker, Kyle seems to understand the pass blocking techniques that are being taught to him and he is able to take what he learns in practice to the game.  Right now, Kyle now is one of the better combo blocking offensive lineman in this draft.  He has excellent timing and a feel for when to move to the next level, which is the key to making the blocks at the next level against defenses that springs running backs to gain big yardage.  Kyle still has a lot to learn, but in the field it looks like he is a bit of a perfectionist which makes it easy to see his potential to be an excellent, technically sound offensive lineman. 

 

CONCERNS

Kyle just needs more repetitions at one position on the offensive line so that he can settle mentally and learn the techniques to become an impact offensive lineman.  Right now, Kyle doesn't stay with his blocks long enough which is his biggest negative in his game.  When he is pass blocking and blocking for sweeps, he seems to lack the aggressiveness he shows blocking for the run.  He looks unsure of his blocking assignment and given the lack of playing football in general, this is to be expected.  Kyle also is very inconsistent and not sure at times what to do with his hands when he pulls and is used on sweeps and screens.  He has no problem getting out to make blocks, but gets confused at times when identifying his assignment.  If the player he is supposed to block is not there, Kyle pulls up and struggles to keep going until the whistle.  All of these issues are repetition related, not due to a lack of effort on the field. It looks to me like Kyle's impact position will be at left guard because he does not possess the lateral agility or the techniques to play tackle.  Eventually, because of his perfectionist attitude, I suspect that Kyle will either learn the techniques to mask this athletic limitation and play right tackle or he will just become a Pro Bowl left guard.  Kyle has some off field baggage that teams will have to evaluate to ensure the issues are in his past and will not be a problem in his future. 

 

BOTTOM LINE

We've all heard the stories -- blah blah blah, yada yada yada, who gives a rat's ass?  I don't care who his father is or his brother or that he played baseball or what his dog's name is or anything else about Kyle you can come up with.  All I care about is what I see on film.  I see an athletic kid who was moved from right tackle to left guard during the season because he struggled blocking for the pass and was an excellent run blocker.  My initial thought in this move was that Kyle would be too tall for that position and not quick enough off the snap to be effective as a guard.  At first I was correct, but by the end of the college season, he improved so much at getting off the ball that he is now considered one of the better run blocking guards in this draft.  His natural understanding and timing of combo blocks is rare and he seems to understand leverage.  He bends his knees, fires out and dominates his man when he is run blocking. Most big men, when pass blocking, have a bad habit of reaching, bending over at the waist and losing balance because they don't move their feet quickly enough. This is why the scouts look for long arms in a tackle because its hard for a big player to not do this.  Kyle doesn't over reach and set his hips like he is sitting on a stool when he is pass blocking.  This technique has been taught to him and he is consistent (sometimes to a fault) in using it, which is how I know he is a bit of a perfectionist.  There are a lot of little technique skills that Kyle needs to learn.  Of course, learning to play more in concert with his offensive line teammates is a priority, but all of this is not much different than most players coming out of college.  There is no doubt that Kyle is in for a bit of a shock because most of the defensive linemen he will go up against in the NFL have athletic talent equal or better to his. Here is the catch: Kyle has the foot speed to recover as a guard when he gets beat pass blocking. All he has to do is stay with his blocks longer and turn and use that speed.  This will allow his quarterback to slide and extend plays in the pocket, which is the key to a guard becoming an excellent pass blocker.  Add to that Kyle's ability to dominate when run blocking and that equals a potential Pro Bowl left guard in the future.  

 

Drew "The B.S. Detector" Boylhart

Mar/2013