Scouting Report: Steelers OL Trai Essex

Essex is a solid drive blocker who did a fine job of protecting the quarterbacks' blind side over the last two years. His stellar pass protection and leadership on the front wall saw the team allow only 12 quarterback sacks in 2004.

Trai Essex School: Northwestern
Ht: 6-4.5 Wt: 320 40: 5.51 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter at tackle who began his college career as a tight end.

Positives: Athletic blocker with a good deal of upside. Plays with forward lean, stays square and shows good quickness in all aspects of the game. Adjusts to defenders, bends his knees and displays solid movement skills. Effectively uses blocking angles, moves his feet throughout the action and jolts opponents with good hand punch. Strong at the point, controls defenders or engulfs them at the point. Effective in motion.

Negatives: Lacks body control and balance. Not light on his feet. Gives a half-hearted effort at times. Occasionally does more leaning than blocking and loses a sense of where he is on the field.

Analysis: A force when focused on the task at hand, Essex possesses the size, strength and athleticism to play at the next level. Needs work to iron out the rough edges of his game and more importantly must give consistent effort both on and off the field to have any chance of meeting his potential.

OVERVIEW
Essex is a solid drive blocker who did a fine job of protecting the quarterbacks' blind side over the last two years. His stellar pass protection and leadership on the front wall saw the team allow only 12 quarterback sacks in 2004.

Essex was ranked the fifth-best tight end in the country by Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report and earned All-America honors as a senior at Paul Harding High School. He was a PrepStar Super 30 All-Midwest Region, PrepStar Top 125 Dream Team, SuperPrep all-region, Bloomington Herald Top 33 all-state, Associated Press all-state and Indiana Football Coaches Association (IFCA) Top 50 all-state team choice in his final year.

Essex was also an IFCA Region III MVP, National High School Football All-Star and selected to play in the Indiana North-South All-Star Game. He caught 83 balls for 1,416 yards and 14 touchdowns in his high school career. Essex lettered four times each in football and basketball. He was named all-conference in basketball as junior and was a member of the school's honor roll 10 times.

Essex started every game as a tight end in 2001 for Northwestern, catching three passes for 24 yards and a touchdown. He shifted to left tackle in 2002, starting every game, despite playing with a nagging ankle sprain since fall camp. He manned the left tackle position for the next 37 games.

ANALYSIS
Positives: Has a big frame with wide hips, big bubble and thick thighs … Has adequate initial quickness off the snap … Shows the ability to pull and trap … Athletic enough to make adjustments on linebackers working in the second level … Has enough speed to get down field … Adequate run blocker who is more of a finesse type, but can turn with some sustain ability … Has decent lateral agility and kick slide in his pass set … Shows good arm extension to make reach blocks.

Negatives: Needs to show better dedication to nutrition and conditioning … Came into the program as a tight end, but basically ate himself out of that position … Struggles to maintain position when weighing more that 315, as he lacks stamina late in games … Is a smart, yet lazy athlete with a soft upper body and fleshy midsection … Struggles with class work, mostly due to lack of effort … Will not do the little extras in the weight room or practices to improve … Lacks total effort and will disappear for stretches during the game … Lacks awareness on the field and when he is late off the snap, defenders can quickly knock him off the ball … Stands too erect and with a narrow base to get proper anchor … Simply lacks concentration and even though he knows his assignments, he will blow a few because of his laziness … Has a marginal burst off the snap and you really have to wonder if he is serious about football … Lacks the leg drive needed to clear lanes for the ground game … Will grab and maul, but is not the type to knock defenders off their feet … While he shows good arm extension, they collapse on impact too often, causing him to get pushed back into the quarterback … Lacks pop and explosion with his hands.


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