Now that we have looked at some of the top tier 3-4 outside linebacker prospects entering the 2012 draft, we will move on to what is perhaps the biggest position of need for the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards have struggled in finding the right mixture of tackles to protect the edges on their offensive line. They just re-signed the underwhelming Levi Brown to a new 5-year deal in the hopes that he has finally figured it out.
Still, the Cardinals need to seriously consider drafting an offensive lineman in the early stages of the draft. They need a stalwart that can be there for the next 10 years, protecting the blindside of whoever they choose to place at quarterback.
Matt Kalil could very well be that guy, but he will undoubtedly be off the board by the time the Cardinals select with the 13th overall pick. But one interesting name could very well still be there. Is Riley Reiff an option for Arizona?
As the NFL.com draft experts explain, Reiff was a tremendous player while attending Iowa. They ran the ball quite a bit, often to the left side so as to involve Reiff in their blocking scheme more heavily. He is described as having great body control in his hips, feet and his hands. As such, he knows when and where to use his power appropriately. One other thing that should be highly noted is that Reiff was very "durable" during his collegiate career.
So we know that Reiff was durable and played well in the run blocking department, but how about as a pass protector? Here is how NFL.com explains his pass blocking skills:
Reiff is not the strongest prospect at the position, as he is more of a catch blocker in pass protection and won't have the ability to decleat any ends in the NFL. If any type of foe will give him issues at the next level, it could be heavy 3-4 defensive ends who could blow him back.
CBS Sports gives their take on Reiff's pass protection abilities here:
Looks like an athletic NFL left tackle. Easily turned back most college pass rushers with lateral agility and length. Natural knee-bend and reach to escort edge rushers around the pocket. Recovers to cut off inside rush lane. Effective cut blocker despite his height. Loses his pad level and must concentrate on utilizing length and feet to find targets. Stronger defenders get into his pads to punch or drive him back when he misplaces hands. Could play with a more consistently wide base.
One issue that should be brought to the forefront is Reiff's arm length. More specifically, his arms measured in at 33 1/4" at the NFL Combine, which is rather short for a player looking to play offensive tackle. Compare his arm length to Matt Kalil, who has 34 1/2" long arms. It will make quite a difference and because of that, some believe that Reiff is destined to play guard in the NFL.
At 6'6" and 313 pounds, he does have ideal size and his overall intelligence and feel for the game cannot be overlooked. Still, I do worry that he could struggle in pass protection as a tackle. If that is the case, then whatever team drafts him will still receive a solid guard.
Here's a great scouting video of Reiff's 2010 season. I'll let you judge whether he is worthy of the 13th overall pick or not:
So what do you think? Should the Cardinals select Reiff where they currently stand in the 2012 NFL Draft? Would this be a selection based on best player available or is it a reach for need? Tell us what you think and vote in the poll.