The Syracuse Orange bolstered its offensive line in a matter of hours over the weekend, snagging a trio of offensive line commitments within the class of 2015.
Each bringing different skills to the table – along with head-turning size – CuseNation.com takes a look at each based on available tape.
Colin Byrne | 6-foot-5, 295 lbs | Scout OT Projection | Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
What to like: Gritty, quick and powerful, there's plenty to like about the right tackle's game. He plays with a mean streak and motor that should be a standard for offensive linemen at any level, and he has solid technique as a run blocker, especially in a zone scheme. Though it's a bit weird to say, Byrne is a very good engager, meaning he's a latch-on type. When he gets his hands on a defender, it usually eliminates him from the play. Much more polished as a run blocker right now, the junior can get to the second level with ease and shows a good first-step before hand. As a pass blocker, he can cut and use good feet and balance to mirror the opposition. Though feisty, Byrne displays a good sense of patience given the play-call, which says plenty about his football IQ.
Still needs work: On tape as a junior, Byrne seems to rely on his immense size against opponents, instead of burying them with power. While he'll have time to work on it, his pure upper-body strength is something to keep an eye on, with a reported 305-pound bench press as somewhat of a confirmation. He's much stronger on the low-end, but it doesn't mean his base is always sturdy. Quicker defenders can cause him to overcompensate on his kick-step, dangerous for any offensive lineman. Byrne must use his long arms with strength and a good base to project as a tackle in the ACC.
Projection: Syracuse wants the STA product as a tackle, but that is tough to envision at this time. While right tackle is the more likely landing spot, guard could be where he projects best in a normal system. ‘Cuse does like to use zone schemes, which will help Byrne out, but his great mobility and shielding style translates more-so on the offensive interior. The 2015 class will have a big haul up front, so he could be asked to play multiple positions at the next level, something Byrne has the foundation to do, working from inside out.
Sam Clausman | 6-foot-3, 290 lbs | Scout OT Projection | Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
What to like: Plenty. Many high school offensive linemen struggle to keep a low base no matter the offensive play-call, but it's not an issue for Clausman. He excels with a low and very powerful base, making run blocking look effortless at times. The second-level isn't a problem, neither is pulling and making that "pop" upon arrival. If his base is his top strength, playing in space (pulls, screens, kick-out blocks) is a close second, as the rising-senior is polished at locating his assignment in space and engaging soon after. Clausman also played at least four offensive line spots in 2013, on a very good team, and he was often the point-man on a given run play -- illustrating the trust a coaching staff has in him to execute his assignment consistently.
Still needs work: Not so easy to break-down, the only glaring hole in Clasuman's game (again, from what is currently available to see), is his kick-step in pass protection. Not only is it a semi-labored one, but his steps aren't long, they're choppy, which means he doesn't give up the ground necessary to play tackle at the next level at this time. That's okay, but he relies on long arms and good upper-body strength against the pass instead of his feet.
Projection: SU wants Clausman as a guard, and it's very clear to see why. Movement is a strength, as is his base and contact at any level, which screams classic guard. His versatility to play nearly anywhere on the line, or at least have experience anywhere, will only help his development, but right guard seems to be the ideal slot for him in a run-oriented offense like Syracuse's.
Cody Conway | 6-foot-6, 280 lbs | Scout OT Projection | Plainfield (Ill.) Plainfield North
What to like: While raw, the tangibles for Conway are plentiful. Listed at 6-foot-6, his arms seem even proportionally longer than expected, and he uses them well vertically against an opponent. When he's on the move, he's at his best. The rising-senior is almost built like a defensive end, and his quickness could be mistaken for that premium position as well. Conway is a natural athlete that happens to play offensive tackle, so when the technique matches the tangibles, watch out.
Still needs work: A strength of Conway's was to use his length vertically, but it also means that he has a long way to go horizontally. This means he's tight with his extension, which is the goal at times, and that can hurt him against the new age of edge rusher that will hit him with a flurry of moves instead of bull-rushing more times than not. Playing wider than his shoulder pads could eventually become a strength with his length, but it's not at the moment. Conway is, as his height usually dictates, high in his kick-step. He nearly sands straight up on passing plays, almost shuffling his feet like a basketball player while waiting on the defender, instead of kick-sliding and giving ground like the position suggests.
Projection: The most unpolished and raw of the three offensive line commitments SU hauled in, Conway also has the highest ceiling. His length is demoralizing for any defender, so once his technique and strength mirrors a God-given advantage like that, sky is the limit. The three-star is a no-brainer tackle projection that could even play the blindside given the progress one could make with another year of high school and a first-year redshirt at the next level. It wouldn't surprise to see Conway as a starting tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2016 at a potential listing of 6-foot-7, 310 pounds.
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