Thanks to TFY Draft Preview, Patriot Insider has been able to confirm the New England Patriots interest in players who are projected to start on the offensive line. As reported earlier this past week, members of New England's scouting staff have spoken with potential offensive linemen who are expected be part of the 2006 NFL Draft first round selections.
While the Patriots could use some beef up front, it's interesting to note that the players they are looking at are top rated talent, not some late round reserve types. They are the type of linemen who bring an attitude with them to the line, and finish every play. They are some of the strongest players on their respective teams and are projected to be starters at the next level. The latest candidate is no exception.
With 19 pancake blocks and 38 knockdowns in his last season, Cal offensive tackle Ryan O'Callaghan has been labeled as possibly one of the best linemen he has seen by Cal coach Jeff Tedford. New England scouts spoke with O'Callaghan at the Senior Bowl.
California Bears offensive tackle Ryan O'Callaghan
The 6-foot-7, 348-pound O'Callaghan has been a key component of the Cal line that managed to make the Golden Bears competitive in the Pac-10 earning bowl appearances in 2003-05. Prior to O'Callaghan's role as a starter, Cal last made it to a bowl game in 1996.
The Redding California native has blocked for two Cal quarterbacks who were selected in the first-round of the NFL Draft; Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay (2005) and Kyle Boller of Baltimore (2003). O'Callaghan speaks to Rodgers often and is proud of what he has been able to accomplish during his time as a lineman in the Pac-10.
O'Callaghan has been recognized with first-team All-Pac-10 honors the past two seasons. He was voted the team's most valuable lineman in 2005, and was awarded the Morris Trophy, recognizing the conference's top offensive lineman. (video interview- windows media player required)
Notes from his Senior Bowl practices:
Monday Practice Notes: Big and tried to engulf opponents or just block down on them. Had trouble with speed during the day. At one point Victor Adeyanju got the first step on drove him back into the pocket.
Tuesday Practice Notes: Coming out the Cal offense, it is obvious O'Callaghan is comfortable in his pass set. His deep sets in pass protection are very smooth. Showed a strong post leg when defenders tried to make any underneath moves.
Wednesday Practice Notes: Pass protection continues to be stellar. Has a smooth deep set. Shown the ability to reestablish the hands. Even recognized line stunts well. His run blocking is a bit more suspect. Tends to lead with his chest instead of his pads, and his pad level overall needs to be lower to be effective.
Thursday Practice Notes: Played with a wide base all week. Did not show any explosion in his hips when fitting up on his blocks.
Analysis: Obviously more comfortable in pass set, than run blocking. O'Callaghan has a smooth and sound deep set, counters pass rush moves, and possesses with a strong post leg. Does get his hands wide at times though. In run blocking, he had a tendency to play high. A solid prospect who neither hurt nor helped his stock all that much.