Draft Breakdown: Let's Talk Guards

It's been far too long, Stampede Blue. The doldrums of the offseason are in full swing, and, due to some unexpected extra time I have stumbled upon lately, I have decided to get back in the film breakdown game. For those of you who remember, I was the writer of the "Tale of the Tape" articles during the preseason of last year.

The NFL Draft is a great passion of mine, and today, I got the itch to watch some tape. I will be commenting on three prospects that are well-known around these parts: Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson, Baylor's Cyril Richardson, and Stanford's David Yankey. For each prospect, I watched three games of film. For Richardson and Yankey, I evaluated two games from 2013 and one from 2012. For Jackson, I was only able to find one 2013 game, so there are two 2012 games listed. At the end of the article, I will give my verdict on the possibility of drafting one of these three with either of the Colts' first two draft picks. First, however, it is necessary to understand my grading system.

In order to grade a player, I watch each snap that he plays during a game (usually in slow motion, multiple times), giving him a positive (+) grade if he successfully completed his task, or a negative (-) grade if he failed to do so. For the final grade, I divide the number of (+) snaps by the total number of snaps. Sometimes, though, I give an "asterisk" grade (*) for any of three reasons:

- The lineman 'technically' completed his task, but he could have done so better.

- I, as an evaluator, failed to make a decision as to whether the grade was positive or negative.

- The lineman started the play well and ended badly or vice versa.

If an asterisk grade is received, the play is disregarded from a player's final grade, as to avoid it affecting him positively or negatively. With that said, it's time to evaluate. Let's get started!

(All final grades are based on a 100-90: A, 89-80: B, 79-70 C, 69-60 D, 59 and below: F grading scale).

Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State:

Let me begin by saying that Jackson was a bit disadvantaged in that he had two 2012 games in his evaluation; that is reflected in the final grade. He is by far the most athletic prospect of the three, which is demonstrated in his pass protection. He shows remarkably quick feet for someone that is 330+ pounds, and he regularly keeps his head on a swivel. Additionally, he possesses unnaturally long arms for someone of his height that he uses to keep oncoming rushers at bay. He is very active in both the pass and run game, and he plays to the whistle. His best attribute, though, is his fantastic center of gravity and knowledge of leverage. Jackson shows great technique and regularly gets knock-down blocks. He is also a very smart (and very mean) offensive guard.

Jackson's positives far outweigh his negatives, but that does not mean he is perfect. His biggest flaw is one that is probably not correctable: he just isn't fast enough in space. On pulls, and at the next level, Jackson struggles to make and maintain contact. He can also be walked back by a bigger defensive lineman. One minute potential issue I see: he can let the placement of his right hand get too wide. It's not called often, but that puts him at risk for holding penalties. Overall, Gabe Jackson is a solid technical prospect that showed growth in 2013. He is better than his final score, which is affected by struggles against Alabama.


LSU 2013: 42/51, 82%, B-, 14*

Alabama 2012: 24/38, 63%, D, 9*

Tennessee 2012: 42/59, 71%, C-, 18*

Cyril Richardson, Baylor:

At 6'5" 345 pounds, Cyril Richardson is a very large human being. As such, when he locks on to a defender, it's over. In the run and pass game, he shows decent awareness of what is going on around him. It's also quite evident that he is able to perform in the weight room, as he just appears physically stronger than most of his opponents. His best asset is his obvious conditioning in a blazing Baylor offense. Unfortunately, that is where the positives end.

On tape, Richardson has the look of a massive underachiever. First, he is much more technically raw than anyone seems to realize. He bends at the waist and plays with bad leverage. This leads to Richardson not dominating on the field as much as he should. He also looks very unnatural when he comes out of his stance. Second, Richardson needs to lose weight. He is incredibly heavy-footed and lacks any semblance of lateral agility and struggles against counter moves. Finally, Cyril Richardson lacks a mean streak. He has a reputation as a mauler, but I just don't see it. There is far too much time spent playing patty-cake from him, when he should be burying people. He often seems lazy on the field. With all of that said, there is an upside to Richardson due to his build and aforementioned rawness. And oddly enough, he seems to often get the job done, even if it doesn't look nice at all.


UCF 2014: 40/57, 70%, C-, 25*

Oklahoma State 2013: 42/61, 69%, D+, 24*

Texas 2012: 44/62, 71%, C-, 24*

David Yankey, Stanford:

David Yankey has the look of a well-seasoned veteran in Stanford's offense. For the Colts, his familiarity with the offense is the first positive when examining his potential NFL outlook. Sticking with the theme of familiarity, Yankey has played multiple positions along the offensive front, and he seems to do decently with all of them. In terms of actual on-field attributes, David Yankey is excellent at pulling finishing blocks (things you'd expect out of a Stanford offensive lineman). There were a number of times that I got excited watching him due to a violent pancake block. Specifically, on short-yardage plays and QB sneaks, he absolutely blows defenders backwards. Yankey is aided by the offense in the passing game, but he is adequate in pass protection.

Looking at the negative side of things, Yankey just has a lack of natural athleticism. This is evident in his inability to effectively get out in front of screens. Similarly, at the second level, Yankey can't recover if he doesn't take a perfect angle; defenders just go right by him. In the end, David Yankey seems as if he has worked incredibly hard to achieve his success. He is also valuable because I truly think he could play right tackle in the NFL. (In fact, his 2012 game versus Wisconsin, in which he played left tackle, was his most highly scored game). Yet, a lack of athleticism limits his upside in the NFL. Yankey is a great run blocker and okay pass blocker,but he's about as good as he's going to be.


UCLA 2013: 11/17, 65%, D, 10* (For whatever reason, this game had very few plays).

Notre Dame 2013: 29/44, 66%, D, 18*

Wisconsin 2012: 29/38, 76%, C, 13*

Overall Grades

Jackson: 108/151, 72%, C-

Richardson: 126/180, 70%, C-

Yankey: 69/99, 70%, C-

Bottom Line

After my evaluation, there are aspects of each player that I really like. As such, I would be okay with any of them as the Colts' round 3 pick (although, I'd have to be sold a bit more on Richardson). However, I would only be open to Gabe Jackson at pick 59. What does Colts Nation think?

Thanks for reading! And of course, Go Colts!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.

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