When accounting for success in today’s pass-heavy offenses, the most vital position for an offensive unit is its tackles. They are in charge of protecting the quarterback from opposing pass rushers, and by doing so, allow the quarterback to orchestrate the entire offense effectively.
As it currently stands, the Fleet have six players on their official roster that are listed as offensive tackles. This number is a bit deceiving, however, as there are players as guards that already possess experience playing the tackle position.
Before diving into this breakdown, I would like to preface that this was the most demanding positional breakdown I have ever done. Without any stats to categorize offensive lineman, my observations and comments are based on film and scouting reports.
The first of these players is none other than Brett Boyko. The 26-year-old Boyko is a native of Canada who played college football at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. His junior and senior seasons he started every game at left tackle for the Running Rebels and earned second-team All-Mountain West honors. Boyko would end up going undrafted in the 2015 NFL draft, but would later sign with the Philadelphia Eagles. After being released by the Eagles, he also spent time with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Despite having phenomenal size and stature (6’7″ and 300 pounds), Boyko lacks physicality and strength to play tackle at the professional level. At the player’s combine, he only put up 17 reps on the bench press, which is severely underwhelming for someone of his size. From an overall athletic standpoint, Boyko is not necessarily a good athlete and is slow right off his blocks. While his technique is good, his footwork is lacking, and this causes him to get beaten easily by quicker edge rushers. Unless he bulks up tremendously and improves his footwork, Boyko will struggle to get consistent playing time and may find himself off of this roster.
One of the more interesting offensive tackles on this roster is Brandon Hodges. Starting his career at East Mississippi Community College, Hodges burst onto the scene as the right tackle in one of the best junior colleges in the country. While at EMCC, Hodges never lost a game; was an All-Region selection in 2014, and was a part of an elite offense that averaged over 50 points per game and 500 yards per game in his two seasons with the program.
After leaving EMCC, Hodges found himself at the University of Texas. He elected to redshirt the 2015 season and operate as the team’s primary right tackle in 2016. Hodges would ultimately enroll at the University of Pittsburgh as a graduate transfer in 2017, where he would appear in eight games and make three starts.
When looking at Hodges’ track record and film, the first thing that stands out is his dominance as a run blocker. While he played guard at Pitt, his ideal position is right tackle. Though he may be undersized to play tackle, standing at 6’4″ and 315 pounds, Hodges plays with a mean streak that enables him to create running lanes. He enjoys operating as the lead blocker and has a successful track record when it comes to anchoring good rushing offenses.
While he did only put up 17 reps on the bench press at the combine, his physicality erases any concerns that he is not strong enough to compete with talented pass rushers. He struggles in pass protection, which should be expected for his size, but does compensate for it with his level of run blocking. Hodges should not be asked to operate primarily as a pass protector because it does not fit his skill set and how he likes to play the game.
If head coach Mike Martz is willing to sacrifice pass protection from the right side of his offensive line and boost up his running attack, then Hodges has a legitimate chance of making this roster and could potentially crack the starting lineup. If Martz elects to go with a traditional pass blocker, however, Hodges may operate solely as a backup or find himself on the outside looking in.
Jeremiah Kolone is yet another player on this Fleet roster that comes from a small school, yet has some upside to him. Kolone played his collegiate ball at San Jose State, where he started 42 games for the Spartans.
Despite being listed as an offensive tackle, Kolone did not play the position in college. He operated primarily as a left guard and made a few starts at center. While that versatility is helpful, Kolone is listed as a tackle and has never actually played the position. At only 6’3″ and 300 pounds, he is also severely undersized at the position and physically bears more likeness to an offensive guard.
Kolone is a fantastic pass blocker and led the country with a pass-blocking efficiency of 99.7 while only allowing one pressure in 244 attempts. He is well-known for his pass-blocking abilities and relies on technique rather than power against pass rushers. Obviously, his ability to play both the center and guard position is very appealing and is especially attractive to a team with no real center on its roster. Kolone though a talented player, might be more of a depth piece, and his versatility alone could earn him a spot on this roster.
PAGE 2 LINK BELOW