Draft Prospect #5

Continuing my series on the Packers most likely picks w/ the 32nd overall selection in the NFL draft...   This player enters the NFL draft after a highly productive 4 yr career in the very competitive SEC.  He is a player who fits a team and scheme need and is generally considered among the top  20-35 prospects.

Derek Sherrod is a 6'5"  320 lb OT from Miss. St...  Sherrod has many of the traits NFL teams look for in a protoypical LT.  He has 3 yrs starting experience in the ultra-competitive SEC,and what I consider to be near perfect height, wt and length for a LT!  He has a couple of blemishes on his profile that can be easy to overlook when considered against the potential of gaining a decade long starter at the all-important LT position.  The blemishes though come with a buyer beware label, due to them being among the likely culprits of a potential bust.  Sherrod is a high-cut OT.  By this I mean he has his best measurements somewhat upside down.  He has broad shoulders and somewhat narrow hips for an NFL OL, which can cause problems in both pass protection and run blocking.  His other issue is that he seems at times to lack a killer instinct and can be percieved as timid or lacking aggressiveness.  These traits tho, may simply be a bye-product of his build.

In run blocking, Sherrod is mostly viewed as a shield blocker.  He gets in front of a defender and shields him when blocking instead of driving his opponent backwards.  He simply is not the effective drive blocker that most teams prefer at OT.  Due to his upside down build, Sherrod lacks the "Junk in the Trunk" to power defenders backwards.  His percieved lack of aggressiveness, might simply be that he lacks the Bubble (wide hips and glute development) needed to dominate in run blocking.  Sherrod however isn't totally lacking in ability while run blocking.  He has the excellent feet and athleticism,  which allow him to block in space and be quite effective in combination blocking.  He uses his quickness and agility to get to the 2nd level and carry out his blocks downfield.  These are actually good traits for teams that use the zone blocking scheme and rely on athletic lineman who can block downfield.

While pass protecting is Sherrods strong suit his lack of a bubble causes him problems anchoring vs a bull rush.  Again, his high-cut build is in many ways the culprit for his lack of strength and power when a defender tries to run thru him to get to the QB.  It is something that Sherrod is likely to struggle with for the length of his career.  Sherrod does have a nice blend of good quick feet and length which he uses very well in most pass rush situations.  He is quick to get in his pass sets, using his kick step to protect and cut off the edge rush.  He has mostly good awareness and positioning, like you would expect of a 3 yr starter in the SEC.  Sherrod is adept using his feet to mirror the defender and push him past the pocket, either inside or outside.  He is also intelligent and has alot of experience against top competition to win far more often than he loses on a down to down basis. 

Sherrod enters the NFL draft w/ many of the traits to be a very efficient LT.  It comes down to how much emphasis the team that drafts him places on drive blocking and pass blocking.  Its impossible to know for sure how Sherrods build will impact his NFL career.  His seemingly perfect build for a typical male (broad shoulders and narrow waist and hips) simply doesn't always translate to success in the NFL, where a players bubble allows for greater power development.  There is no doubt that it will likely prevent Sherrod from ever becoming an elite LT.  He will always be seen as efficient and maybe lacking in aggressiveness.  While the lacking in aggressiveness is somewhat of a concern, it is entirely possible that it is due to Sherrods high-cut, upside down build for an NFL offensive lineman.  When looking at him, you see his height, length and athletic build and can easily forget his narrow hips, which prevent ideal power development seen in most NFL OLmen.

There is no doubt that Sherrod is going to be much better suited for a team that runs the zone blocking scheme.  In this scheme Sherrods deficiencies as a drive blocker will be muted and his athletic build will be minimized.  In many ways this makes Sherrod the best OT for the Packers in this draft.  The Packers use of the zbs will mask his weaknesses and accentuate his strengths, his overall athletic ability.

Sherrod is mostly considered a late 1st round pick in this somewhat weak (in elite LT), but deep OT draft class.  This class lacks any premier LT prospects and all the OT likely being drafted in the 1st round have weaknesses that will need to be compensated for either through scheme or by giving them help in certain situations.  I chose to profile Sherrod among the OT because, in my opinion, he is both the most likely candidate to be available and the best scheme fit for the Packers.  Sherrod is entering the NFL with the mental makeup and clean character that will attract teams.  He has no character concerns and was a team captain at Miss. St.

What do you think?  Should the Packers take a chance on Sherrod based on his scheme fit or pass on him due to a less than ideal build that will always be an issue when power is called for?

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