Profiles are back! And we're moving back to the position that most of you have been clamoring for: Offensive tackle. This one is actually quite long overdue for my Spartan brethren. Yep, you guessed it. I'm talking about Jack Conklin. I was going to do my best job of quickly trying to describe Conklin in this introduction, but I don't think I can top my fellow NFL Draft compadre Dan Turner, who sums him up perfectly:
"He's a glass-eating, vinegar-chugging, bone-breaking, grown-man-mauling, physical young chap."
- Dan Turner (@dtsturner)
That's right, Conklin eats lesser competition for breakfast and is arguably the most dominating run grader in this year's class. He proved so during the biggest game of his career against Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game to solidify their spot in the College Football Playoff.
Here's Conklin taking over as the lead blocker on a crucial 4th-and-2 run that kept MSU's hopes alive to make the CFB Playoff. Conklin absolutely dominated Iowa's D-line all game long. Even despite not gaining the right amount of leverage and losing his footing toward the end of the play, Conklin still wipes out his assignment. He's an eraser, plain and simple.
More pancakes, please.
Yup. Okay, we get it, Alex. Conklin likes to throw people to the ground. What else can you tell us?
Well... here's the thing. Conklin has his limitations, to the point where he probably has no shot at playing left tackle in the NFL, where you're generally competing against speed rushers more often than not. That's not where Conklin excels as a pass protector. His limited athleticism forces him to get a perfect jump off the snap or else he's already lost. I like him a lot more on the right side or at guard where he'll generally face slower, more powerful pass rushers.
Above is a perfect example of Conklin's limitations in pass protection. Even a guy like Shawn Oakman, who has the body type of a Tank from Left 4 Dead is able to embarrass him around the edge for an easy sack. Conklin is simply unable to recover from a late reaction off the snap and completely whiffs on his lunge, falling flat on his face.
Bottom line, NFL scouts are going to love what Conklin brings to the table with his mean streak, toughness and tenacity. Despite his physical limitations, Conklin's technique and smarts help mitigate his lack of foot quickness and is enough to label him as a Day 1-2 prospect.
How He Fits
This may come as a shock to some, but the Lions could really use some help at offensive tackle. If Bob Quinn is smart, he'll do everything in his power to try and fix the OL problem via free agency and use the draft to acquire some young pieces to develop. Jack Conklin would be a perfect addition as a backup OT that can fill in on either side, and also has the ability to move inside and play guard if necessary.
Let's say the Lions choose to ignore FA and draft Conklin to be their starting right tackle. In all likelihood, they'd be in for yet another rude awakening and see their RT struggles continue, but it's something that can work. I just wouldn't put a ton of faith in hoping for a happy ending.
The fact of the matter here is that playing in the trenches is arguably the most physically demanding job in any sport. It's where games are won and it's crucial to have depth there moreso than any other position. Adding a young, powerful O-lineman like Conklin would be a step in the right direction for Detroit, and I wouldn't be surprised if they try to "double-dip" and look that same direction later in the draft as well.
Grade: 2nd-3rd round
Games watched: 2014 vs. Michigan, 2014 vs. Ohio State, 2014 vs. Baylor, 2015 vs. Iowa, 2015 vs. Ohio State, 2015 vs. Oregon
2016 NFL Draft profiles: DL Jonathan Bullard (Florida), LB Reggie Ragland (Alabama), WR Mike Thomas (Southern Mississippi), DL Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), OT Taylor Decker (Ohio State), S Justin Simmons (Boston College), DT Sheldon Rankins (Louisville)