David Diehl is still a work in progress, but we may be witnessing a legend in the making. If he keeps improving at this pace, Diehl may become one of the elite left tackles in the league. No one on this team has been a more pleasant surprise than Diehl. He started the year as a question mark regarding his ability to move from left guard to left tackle. Quite honestly, the Giants weren't even sure what they had in Diehl. There was even talk of New York trading for a left tackle just in case he was not able to stand up to the rigors of the new position. Diehl played tackle at Illinois so he had that experience going for him, but it was actually his guard play with the Giants that may have helped him the most. There, he got to learn the speed of the game before he was thrust into a difficult position like left tackle.
Does anyone miss Luke Petitgout? No more false starts that drove everyone crazy. So far Diehl has gone against some formidable defensive ends and he has exceeded expectations. His most notable performance came against the Eagles' dynamite pass rusher, Trent Cole. If you remember last year, Cole caused all kinds of havoc against the Giants. This year Diehl shut him out.
Now let's run Diehl through our scouting points and see how he stacks up. Our scale ranges from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
Initial quickness – While straight-ahead foot speed is not necessary for a tackle, initial quickness is essential. Diehl shows good initial quickness. We've seen him use a quick first step to gain position on the defender. He can flash quickness when on the move to adjust on blocks. Grade: 7
Explosion – Generally Diehl comes off the ball well on running plays. He can explode when necessary and he can punch well. We've seen him get his hat up into the chin and chest of the defender and jolt him. He is decisive in his thrust. He is big and strong and he can control smaller defenders easily. Grade: 7.5
Position/Sustain – Diehl is a very good technician, which is the key to his success to date. He has to be because he is not a great athlete. It is very important that a tackle be a knee bender and not a waist bender. When a tackle can bend his knees, he can move well and block with balance. Diehl is a knee bender. He is a good turn and sustain blocker. Sometimes he will overextend on blocks and he needs to work on that. On in-line blocks he gains position well. When in space he sometimes struggles a bit to control and finish. At times he will play tall, but that is rare. Grade: 7
Run block – The experience he gained while playing guard has helped him with his run blocking at tackle. Blocking is about position and his technical skills help him a lot. On his in-line blocks he can gain good position and he is aggressive while working to gain control. He is good at getting movement, especially on smaller DEs. He has the size and strength to control any defender. Grade: 8
Pulling/Trapping – He is not called on a lot to pull and trap. Mostly, that is handled by the guards and center, but he has to move in-line to pick up slides and stunts. He shows good agility to reach the block, but he sometimes struggles to engage and maintain the body control necessary to sustain and finish the block. Grade: 5
Downfield – Diehl is not asked to go downfield a lot on running plays, but he needs to get downfield when the play is away from him or if there is a cutback to his side. He does an adequate job here, but it's not a strong part of his game. He has the experience of getting into the second level from his days as a guard. He is patient setting up his blocks. However, at times he gets a bit overextended and will fall off his block. Grade: 5
Pass block – This is where Diehl has been the biggest surprise. When they moved him to left tackle we envisioned smaller, quicker defensive ends beating him with speed to the outside. That hasn't happened at all. This is another facet of the game where he is aided by being a knee bender. He flashes awareness and an ability to pick up stunts. He is also good at picking up a speed rush and a quick counter move across his face. He has a very good kick-step, retreat and set, and his balance is also good. He is good at setting and popping with his hands. Because he has good strength and balance, it is not easy to bull rush him. Don't underestimate the benefit of him going against Osi Umenyiora every day in practice. Grade: 9
Hands/Punch – This is one of Diehl's strong suits. He really uses his hands well. One-half of pass protection is the use of hands. He has a good strong punch, which helps him neutralize the rusher; he directs well with his hands. Sometimes he will "catch" the defender, but most of the times he will jolt him. He uses his hand strength well to control the rusher. We've also seen him push a rusher to the ground when the rusher comes low on him. Grade: 8.5
Footwork – A tackle cannot be a great blocker without great footwork. It's what separates the great ones from the average ones. Diehl has remarkably good footwork for a man his size. He can slide easily inside and out. He can handle inside penetration by the rusher. He can mirror the rusher. His key is very good initial foot quickness to slide and adjust. Rarely does his technique get him into trouble. Grade: 9
In summation, Diehl has very good personal and football character. He is very competitive. His strength and explosion are very good. He is mentally alert. The only thing he lacks is the great athletic ability possessed by Walter Jones, Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden, who are considered elite tackles. Diehl is not yet among them, but if he keeps working hard to improve, we could see him becoming one of the best. He does not have the great athleticism those three have, but what he lacks as an athlete he makes up for with great technique. We are keeping our fingers crossed on Diehl because it is still early. So far he has only played a handful of games at left tackle, including two late last year, but the signs are all positive at this point.
David has Shown to be Real Diehl at LT
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