In analyzing OT prospects, Ryan Clady is Shanahan’s prototype
There’s a solid chance that the Redskins will go on the clock Thursday night with the ability to choose from every offensive tackle prospect in the draft.
If that’s the case, it might serve us well to look back at Ryan Clady—the left tackle Mike Shanahan drafted 12th overall out of Boise State in 2008—for hints about whether Shanahan would select Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung or Oklahoma’s Trent Williams. Washington has scouted both prospects extensively.
Clady made the Pro Bowl last season and has started all 32 games in his nascent career. He was the second tackle taken two years ago, behind No. 1 overall pick Jake Long.
“Everybody would love a Ryan Clady,” Shanahan said on Sunday. “They don’t happen very often. In fact, I’ve been fortunate enough to be around a couple guys, Gary Zimmerman and Ryan Clady. And at the same time, [if] you win a lot of football games you don’t usually get a guy like that unless you’re very fortunate.”
First, let’s set the hypothetical: if St. Louis selects quarterback Sam Bradford first, and if Detroit and Tampa Bay follow by taking defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, the Redskins would face what some league observers consider to be their best-case scenario. They would have their pick of a quality crop of offensive linemen and would have to decide whether to address that key area of need or draft quarterback Jimmy Clausen or safety Eric Berry.
Next, let’s establish what the Redskins are looking for in an offensive lineman. Mike Shanahan sidestepped this question on Sunday, but offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan provided us some insight.
“Everyone thinks you want them small and quick,” Kyle said. “Well, we want them fast. They have to be able to run. We want a big guy, too. Not all big guys can run; if you can get a big guy who can run, then you’ve got Pro Bowl-type players.”
And we can’t let Mike get off that easy, so here’s what he had to say about Clady immediately after drafting him.
“The thing that impresses you is his feet,” Shanahan was quoted as saying by the Denver Post. “I haven’t been around a tackle that has that type of feet. He’s got the longest arms in the draft.”
With that in mind, Okung and Williams are widely considered the top two tackle prospects this year. Okung has been at the top of the tackle rankings throughout the pre-draft process. Williams’s stock rose significantly after some stellar pre-draft workouts.
So how do they compare to Clady? Well, check out this chart I put together this chart to compare their measurables. (Clady’s figures are from his pre-draft workouts from two years ago.)
|HEIGHT||WEIGHT||ARM REACH||BENCH PRESS||40-YARD||20-YARD||10-YARD||3-CONE||20-YD SHUTTLE|
|Ryan Clady (2008)||6-6||309||36.75″||24**||5.18||2.96||1.81||7.07||4.73|
**Clady strained his right pectoral muscle during the bench press at the combine, and he did not bench press at his pro day.
A couple things jump out at me. The first is that Clady and Okung ran the exact same 40-yard dash time (5.18 seconds). Meanwhile, Williams was significantly faster in the 40, the 20, the 10 and the 20-yard shuttle. Clady was the fastest in the three-cone drill by a wide margin. Ultimately, I think we can say that Williams is faster than Clady, while Clady and Okung appear equally fast.
The height and weight of all three are relatively close. Okung and Clady, in particular, are quite similar in these categories, as well.
The arm reach (a.k.a. wingspan) stands out to me. Clady was heralded for his 36¾-inch reach, which I believe still stands as the longest in the NFL. Okung’s is 36 inches, which is considered ideal. Williams’s, meanwhile, is 34¼, which is considered only good.
The final standout category is the bench press. Okung threw up 225 pounds an incredible 38 times at the combine, second-most of any offensive lineman. That’s way more reps than Williams did. Clady did 24, but there’s an asterisk there because of the muscle strain he suffered.
Now, let’s put aside some of the scouting reports and film reviews on Okung and Williams and consider what their measurables mean when compared to Clady’s.
If Mike and Kyle Shanahan value speed the most, Williams has the edge. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock recently said that Williams is a better fit for Mike Shanahan’s offense, and speed is the main reason. However, considering that Okung’s speed is equal to that of Clady’s, I wonder how significant Williams’s edge here is.
In terms of arm reach, Okung clearly compares more favorably to Clady than Williams does. This has proven to be a very important trait, and Mike Shanahan lauded Clady’s arm reach on draft day two years ago.
Regarding strength, Okung also has a significant edge over Williams. I can’t get over how many more bench press reps he did. It’s too bad that we don’t have a clean comparison to Clady, but Okung’s strength is elite.
In the final analysis—and again, we’re talking only measurables here, not actual on-field play—the biggest question is whether Williams’ speed advantage outweighs Okung’s advantages in reach and strength, considering Okung is as fast as Clady.
When compared to Clady, Okung is as fast and close in arm reach. Williams is faster than Clady but his reach falls short.
Of course, Mike Shanahan’s decision will be based on more than measurables. Considering that Williams played left tackle for only one year in college and struggled at times in the transition, Okung seems like the safer pick. But Williams is thought to have a bigger upside, and his speed might be enough to attract Shanahan.
One thing is certain, though. If the Redskins draft Okung or Williams and he ends up close to as good as Clady is, the pick would be a success.