Numbers: 6052/301, 5.06 forty, 2.90 twenty, 1.71 ten, 32 reps, 32.5 vertical, 9'9 long
2006 stats: 841 plays, 72 pancakes, 12 touchdown blocks, 7 downfield blocks, 7 pressures allowed, 1 sack allowed
The Player: The thing about offensive linemen, and left tackles in particular, is that there are so few people born with the size and the skills (balance, quick reflexes and vision) to play the position, that when one like Tony Ugoh comes along with an abundance of all of them, teams give him as many chances (and failures) as he needs to succeed. Consequently, many of them get by on power, athleticism and determination. They become comfortable with bad technique and poor work habits because they usually succeed with , or in spite of, them. Not surprisingly, these guys are usually in for a shock when they hit the NFL — that's why there are so few effective rookie starters on offensive lines.
The irony is that Ugoh wasn't even one of those guys for his first few years of college football. Instead, he was regularly beaten by players he should have buried. Few scouts paid much attention to him until his senior season, when he really put his game together. Prior to that, they acknowledged his excellent tools, but considered him a track and field guy (he has piles of records in discus, hammer and shot) who had to be coaxed to play football — and his technique and toughness showed it.
Maybe it was the thought of the draft and NFL riches, but Ugoh was a different player in 2006. Oh, he was still raw, but he played with much better aggression and attention to detail than he had in the past and looked very much like he had an NFL future.
As a pass blocker, Ugoh's got all the talent in the world, but needs to learn to harness it. His footwork (especially his initial kick and crossover) still need work, but his balance and uncanny recovery ability help him a great deal. He has no problem with bull rushers, mashing them with his enormous arms, and is adept at picking up stunts and blitzes. His slow initial set-up has led to some problems containing speedy edge rushers, but better coaching and more dedication to the game should improve his kick and get him into position quicker.
It's hard to argue against the run blocking abilities of the guy Darren McFadden preferred to run behind, but Ugoh could improve there too. While an excellent downfield blocker, Ugoh could be stronger and more belligerent at the point of attack.
A dedicated student, he made the honor roll as a senior. While I'm all for a player getting his degree and following his track and field dreams, it's clear that Ugoh's part-time dedication to football hindered his development at Arkansas.
Reminds me of: In workouts, I'd say Ugoh looks like Walter Jones, Seattle's first-round pick in 1997, who is arguably the best left tackle in the NFL. At other times, he looks like Wayne Hunter, Seattle's third-round pick in 2003, who has played three games in the NFL, starting none, and now finds himself fighting for a job with the Jaguars. But most of the time he looks like a young Levi Jones, a surprise No. 10 pick by the Bengals in 2002 who has developed into an elite left tackle.
How he fits: There's no way the Colts would spend 2008's first-round pick and 2007's fourth for a guy they don't expect to start at left tackle for a decade. Although Tarik Glenn continues to do an excellent job, he's got a lot of hard miles on his portly frame, is no conditioning freak and carries an enormous impact on the team's salary cap.
It's unlikely Ugoh would be trusted to protect Peyton Manning's backside as a rookie, but he will almost certainly be the man there in 2008. Although I'm not sure I'd recommend it because Ugoh's biggest problem at this point is understanding the left tackle position's nuances and he needs reps there to get better; the Colts say they will start him out at guard, the way they did with Glenn way back in 1997.
Still not convinced Ugoh represents the future at left tackle for the Colts? Moments after Ugoh was selected, the story goes, Manning text messaged team president Bill Polian and head coach Tony Dungy to say how much he liked the pick. Who am I to argue?