By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Texas A&M has been a factory for first-round offensive tackles in recent years. If Ifedi goes on Thursday night during the 2016 NFL Draft, that will mark the fourth straight year in which an Aggies offensive tackle was a first-round pick. The results, however, haven’t been stellar for those players. Luke Joeckel has been a big disappointment for the Jaguars, and Jake Matthews hasn’t been overwhelming for the Falcons. Cedric Ogbuehi was a backup last year for the Bengals, so it is too early to judge him. Those three blockers are all quick and athletic, but they’ve had a common problem for the next level. The big problem for Joeckel and Matthews has been that they are soft, finesse blockers who lack power and nastiness. Ifedi isn’t in that mold as he has more strength and nastiness than the other recent blockers from Texas A&M.
The past few seasons, Ifedi moved around the line and was a solid blocker for Texas A&M. He didn’t always play up to his skill set in 2014, but he was better as a junior. In 2015, Ifedi played his best as he was effective in the ground game and reliable in pass protection.
For the NFL, Ifedi looks like a starter at right tackle. He isn’t as quick or athletic as Joeckel, Matthews or Ogbuehi. However, Ifedi is stronger than them and much nastier. He can drive block defenders out of their gaps and also is quick to the second level. Ifedi could be an asset as a run blocker in a zone- or man-blocking scheme.
Ifedi flashes good skills in pass protection but he’s inconsistent. Sometimes, he shows quick feet and is adept at getting depth in kick sliding around the edge. Other times though, he lunges and reaches rather than letting his feet get him in good position. Ifedi shows nice knee bend at times and not so much at others. Between the inconsistent bending, feet and reaching, he can have some problems with speed rushers. Ifedi does have upside to improve, so a good offensive line coach could get more out of him.
In speaking with sources, Ifedi is projected to right tackle or guard in the NFL. They feel he could turn into a good starter at either position. With his skill set, Ifedi could turn into a good right tackle. In the 2016 NFL Draft, Ifedi could go as high as the back half of the first round to early in the second round.
Player Comparison: Michael Oher. Ifedi reminds me of Oher. Oher (6-4, 315) can get movement in the ground game and do a solid job of blocking on the edge. However, Oher is inconsistent and can have rough stretches. Ifedi can be inconsistent as well, but doesn’t seem as volatile as Oher. Oher was a late first-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, and Ifedi could go in that same area.
NFL Matches: Atlanta, Indianapolis, New York Jets, Houston, Seattle, Kansas City, Carolina, Tennessee, Cleveland and San Francisco
Late in the first round and early in the second round, there are a lot of options for Ifedi. Atlanta could use an improved offensive line to protect Matt Ryan, and Ifedi would give the team better run blocking for Devonta Freeman. Obviously, the Colts have to get better at protecting Andrew Luck. Ifedi could be in play for them act as a bookend with Anthony Castanzo.
The Jets scouted offensive tackles hard before the last draft. Ifedi could be in play as a competitor at guard or right tackle immediately.
Houston could use more offensive line talent. They could play Ifedi at right tackle with Derek Newton moving to guard and Xavier Su’a-Filo moving to center.
Seattle could use more talent for its offensive line. The right side needed some work, and Ifedi would fit the Seahawks’ power ground game. Kansas City signed Mitchell Schwartz to play right tackle, but lost Jeff Allen at free agency. Ifedi could fill that void for the Chiefs.
Carolina’s offensive line lost the Panthers the Super Bowl. Michael Oher wasn’t signed long term, and they need a better right tackle for Cam Newton.
Early in the second round, Ifedi could easily go to the Titans or Browns. Cleveland has a hole at right tackle after losing Mitchell Schwartz in free agency. If Tennessee takes Jalen Ramsey in the first round, Ifedi could be the organization’s pick to improve its right tackle spot. Ifedi could be a nice bookend with Taylor Lewan. The 49ers need offensive line help, while Ifedi could be a good fit for Chip Kelly.
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