Over the last few years, college offensive tackles have made for the best NFL guards. Is there still a place in the first round for a traditional guard prospect?
Indiana’s Dan Feeney made an immediate impression as a Freshman in 2012, starting all 12 games at right guard and not allowing a single sack. Following an injury that caused him to redshirt in 2013, he went on to start every game over the following three seasons.
He was a mainstay on the Hoosiers line, helping the likes of Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard to huge seasons running the ball. He showed some versatility as he was asked to play his final 5 games as a Senior at right tackle. He was named first team All-American in 2015 and 2016.
With Forrest Lamp going down with an injury in the Senior Bowl, Feeney showed that he was easily the best interior blocker on either team, excelling at guard as well as center.
Weight: 304 lbs
Arm Length: 33 1/8″
Hand Width: 10 1/4″
Wing Span: 80 5/8″
Games Started at RG: 41
Games Started at RT: 5
Feeney is one of those blue-collar offensive lineman that seems destined to be an NFL starter for the next decade. He is probably the most consistent and experienced offensive lineman in this draft, and he brings a lot of intangibles and leadership experience to the table.
He excels pass blocking, rarely getting beat cleanly and routinely putting himself in good position to shield defenders from the play. The most impressive part of his game is how well he gets down field on screens and pulls. When he gets his hands on a linebacker, they’re often times wiped out of the play entirely. He has the speed to get to the sideline and spring a big run, shown here against Ohio State:
One of the biggest things to note about Feeney’s tape was that he never completely failed on a given play, even against a scary Buckeyes’ front seven. He makes several huge blocks per game, and plays very consistently otherwise.
Feeney also excels in the run game, mostly due to his awareness and technique rather than sheer strength. He really does well with getting to the second level, latching on to linebackers and driving them downfield. Whoever drafts the Hoosier will undoubtedly utilize his blocking skills in space.
Feeney’s game against FIU was one of the best games I’ve watched from an interior line prospect. He didn’t have any negative plays, and I counted 13 impact blocks. He is a very smart lineman who is always aware who is rushing and where he needs to help out.
One of the most notable weaknesses with Feeney is lack of a punch in the run game. It didn’t show against a team like FIU, but current Buffalo Bill Adolphus Washington made several plays in the run game when lined up against him. He was also called for a few holds against Washington.
His struggles against power prevents him from getting much push in the run game. He wasn’t lined up against Joey Bosa much, but he also struggled with him in his limited reps. Part of the problem is due to not being in an athletic stance off the snap, becoming off balance and causing him to get pushed back or shed right away. In this clip, Washington easily gets around Feeney off the snap:
He doesn’t consistently bend at the knees with leads to issues with sustaining blocks and staying square to the rusher. Despite having some straight line speed, his change of direction skills leave something to be desired and he doesn’t always appear to be all that athletic.
Projection: 2nd Round
Pro Comparisons: Brandon Brooks, Texans
Feeney has all the makings of an NFL starter, likely sooner than later. The question is whether he will provide enough of an impact to be selected in the opening round of the draft.
First round guards are usually guys that have as much of an impact in the run game as they do in the pass. Feeney is a perfect fit for a zone blocking system, but definitely is not a mauler type of guard. However, he definitely has room to grow, as he weighed in at 304 lbs at the Senior Bowl. Adding weight to his lower body , and working on run blocking technique will go a long way to improving his all around game.
He can still be successful while run blocking, especially when pulling on outside runs and screens. Whatever team drafts him can maximize his value by getting him moving in space and having the chance to get to the second level against linebackers. His pass blocking will get him into a starting lineup early, and we should be seeing plenty of Feeney in the NFL for years to come.