While picking the brain of his friend Alec, Stoner shares thoughts of his own about Peat, the state of tackle play, scouting quirks, and NFL Draft philosophies that he’s kept locked away until this post.
Eric: Thoughts on Peat?
Alec: Honestly, I still don’t think he’s very good. I wanted to like him because his body type and athleticism are really appealing. But he’s not very strong and his pass pro is kind of a mess.
E: I really don’t think his pass pro is that bad, to be honest. He has length and foot speed, so he recovers even when he goofs.
I’ve written about this before, but cornerback and offensive tackle are both incredibly similar – and both are comparable to playing perimeter defense in basketball. When you’re going against a player who is an inherently better athlete (edge players and defensive linemen are the best athletes in the NFL, and corners tend to be smaller than wide receivers), you’re going to eventually get beat to your spot. Do you have the ability to recover after that? I notice this bias in my own scouting – and I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but I know that I have it -but I tend to not mind flaws/inconsistency as long as a player’s strengths are overwhelming enough to overcome them. With preventive positions played on an island like offensive tackle and corner, I value guys who show the ability to recover when things go wrong.
A: He definitely has the length and foot speed and athleticism to recover, but his sets and hands aren’t very good. He’s got a big base, but he leans because he doesn’t anchor very well. Also, the strength and technique issues are correctable, but Fisher/Joeckel/Lane are scaring me off OL who “need to get stronger.”
E: I think his strength and anchor are better than Fisher and Joeckel. And he plays meaner than them.
A: In theory, all his issues are correctable, and he has really impressive tools. A year ago, I probably would have been a bigger fan.
Over-correction (n.) over-correcting (v.)
Over-correction is a term Andrew Parsons (@ap575) and I coined when observing the wild swings in a players’ perceived stock when the player himself largely remained unchanged. There are two instances that usually result in over-correction:
- a run of players with similar flaws bust or disappoint, resulting in a rush to label the player archetype as fatal
- the backlash when too much projection/assumed development is factored into an underclassman’s evaluation, and the prospect fails to progress up to the evaluator’s level of expectation
 The player who inspired the term (for reason #2) was Anthony Barr. After switching from TE/RB to LB, people assumed he would continue to progress across the board and become a top 3 pick (and potentially challenge Clowney as the first defender selected). The expected development was factored into his projection early. He actually did improve in some areas, but largely remained unchanged as a player (a very good player, at that). Because his progression didn’t reach many peoples’ level of expectation, there was a huge backlash against him during the 2013 season and during months leading up to the draft (although to be fair, BIG DRAFT remained generally high on him).
Alec actually admits he may be over-correcting later on in the conversation, but we’ll get to that.
A: Also, on Peat I just don’t like him in the context of being a top 15-ish pick. I’m fine with him in the early second. I’m sure I’ll flip flop on him several times. Although, objectively, he SHOULD be a top 15-20 pick even if I personally don’t like him there, right now. Just off of tools/upside.
E: I would be fine with him in the top 10. I dunno, but I really like him.
A quick tangent on offensive tackles in general – most modern era offensive tackle prospects are overrated. There are no traditional stats to measure an individual offensive lineman’s play. Something that Ryan Riddle has postulated that I agree with is that once you get to the “acceptable starter” threshold, there’s little difference between a replacement level offensive lineman and a good offensive lineman’s impact on the game.
I put the cutoff at “good” because I think it’s getting more and more rare to see truly elite offensive tackle prospects. The previous generation contained the best collection of talent at offensive tackle the league will probably ever see. Orlando Pace, Jonathan Ogden, Willie Roaf, Walter Jones, Tony Boselli are all Hall of Famers and each one has an argument for being the best player ever at the position. There was so much talent at the position that players like Lincoln Kennedy, Tra Thomas, and Tarik Glenn – players who would likely be top 3 players at the position in the current NFL – were afterthoughts. We will likely never see another talent run like that at the position again, the main reason being that big, elite athletes are getting converted to defensive line in way more often, something Lance Zierlein pointed out on Josh Norris’ podcast.
So there are very few elite offensive tackle prospects, coupled with the fact that the position is mostly barren from a talent standpoint in the current NFL. It’s a position with no quantifiable statistic in the box score, which contributes to the notion that it’s a “safe” position to draft. Add all this up, and you’re looking at position with a value almost as warped as quarterback in terms of supply and demand and also in terms clarity of evaluation.
A: Solely off the Notre Dame game, I could get on board. But the more games I watch, bleh….for now.
E: The Michigan State Rose Bowl Game (from his sophomore season) was awful.
A: I’ve honestly avoided that game because I’ve seen you say it was terrible so I didn’t want it to skew my perception too much.
E: What other games did you watch that you didn’t like?
A: He was really good vs. Notre Dame, ok vs. Wazzu, and Jon Martin-ish vs. Washington (which I watched first). I might’ve been too hard on him, but still in that UDub game…
This is something that Alec and I have talked about before – we both try to be self-aware of the fact that the order in which you watch games impacts your perception of a player. Notre Dame was the first game I watched of Peat. Washington was the first game Alec watched. It can be tough to shake a first impression when it’s an extreme (good or bad).
There’s also the question as to whether a game that is “too good” or “too bad” is even a fair representation of a player, and how seeing those games affects our perception of the player. Weaknesses don’t become strengths, and player performance often falls along a bell curve of sorts in terms of variance (sometimes a guy will play out of his mind, sometimes he’ll have a bad day, and most days will be around his usual level of play). Obviously, some players are more high-variance than others. Their peaks and valleys are more pronounced on a week-to-week or play-to-play basis. Seeing the player at his worst is important because it will tell you how not to use a player. But seeing the peaks is arguably more important because it helps answer the question surrounding every prospect (especially potentially high draft picks): are his gifts integrated enough into his game to give him a peak that makes the inconsistency worth dealing with.
E: Yeah, the Washington game wasn’t great, I’ll admit it.
A: No punch, turned out and tried to wash too quickly vs speed, questionable COD, non-factor positional blocker in the run game.
If you added on “stops his feet dead on contact) this would literally be an exact description of Luke Joeckel as a prospect. However,…
E: He still showed some elite traits too, whereas Joeckel/Martin never really did.
A: I agree. Much more talented.
E: The thing is, I think his hands and feet are synched up very well. Even when he’s beat or opens the gate vs speed, he can turn and run the guy up field without losing balance. And he can re-anchor vs the bull rush.
Can you recover when you’re beat?
A: See, but he has to re-anchor more than he should with that base because he doesn’t strike with his punch. He catches too much and then tried to readjust or just turn out. He doesn’t have to kill the guy, but catching will kill you vs speed-to-power guys.
E: I just see a guy with so much more to work with than what we had out of Fisher, Joeckel, or (Jake) Matthews.
A: He’s more toolsy than the past Texas A&M guys, that’s for sure. Maybe I’m overcorrecting, but it seems like the correlation between the failures for recent OTs is a lack of strength/power in their games. Even going back to Kalil.
The player archetype in question here is the finesse, athletic offensive tackle. I think this player archetype has been historically overvalued, but I don’t think that being a player of this archetype is necessarily a fatal flaw.
E: Yeah, but Peat isn’t really weak, his punch timing just sucks.
A: That’s true, but he’s a non-factor in getting movement in the run game despite effort/aggressiveness, which might be an indicator.
E: True. He might be zone scheme only.
Contrast this with LSU’s La’el Collins, who I feel has to go to a team that relies more heavily on gap-blocking. He struggles reaching defensive linemen, but his area of strength is moving people vertically off the line of scrimmage – an essential trait in gap schemes because this reduces the distance a potential pulling lineman has to travel behind him.
I think Collins and Peat are in a tier above the other offensive tackle prospects in the draft, but neither one is particularly scheme-versatile.
A: Maybe he’s just Dontari Poe, and has a huge lower body that he doesn’t know how to use yet. But that’s being pretty optimistic.
The combine pretty much proved this not to be true. On the other hand, playing offensive line is largely about functional athleticism, strength, and balance.
E: That’s kinda how I felt about his after seeing that Rose Bowl game his sophomore year. He looked like a sloppy teenager. And he still kinda has that awkwardness in 2014, but he’s much more under control and comfortable. It’s not like he’s frantic getting into his kickstep, he glides now.
A: I’ll probably end up warming up to him because of the tools. Notre Dame game was really impressive but….
E: The Notre Dame game was the first one I watched. I can’t shake it, like you can’t shake the Washington game after watching it first.
A: My overall worry is that he lacks a level of strength/power, but isn’t technically proficient enough to be really efficient as a finesse player. So if you wanna take him, you’re betting on the lump of clay, and hoping he can improve enough both in terms of strength and technique.
Opinions on Peat are all over the board. Like Anthony Barr, BIG DRAFT still seems to be high on him (which leads me to believe that the NFL is high on him), whereas Draft Twitter seems pretty down on him. While he’s not a rare athlete like Barr is, I think he has a special and rare combination of length and foot speed, and the synchronization to use the two in unison even when he’s beat.
The first two pieces I’ve written here have been very offensive line heavy. It’s the position I focused on most pre-combine. Now that the combine is wrapped up, I’ll get into some fun stuff, starting with the quarterbacks next week.
You can follow Stoner on Twitter (for Football, Hip-Hop, his defense of chicken and waffles over pancakes, and other oddities) at @BeauxJaxson.