Saturday, December 11, 2010
NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report: Ben Ijalana
With college bowl season around the corner, I have a long list of NFL prospects to watch over the holiday break. It’s much different from scouting baseball players and I haven’t published anything like this to this point, but once upon a time I was better at evaluating football players than baseball players.
I’d heard about Ben Ijalana and watched him in person at Lehigh, on TV vs. Richmond and again today against Appalachain State. I feel comfortable enough to publish my thoughts on him and will continue to do so with other draft eligible players over Winter Break. Here are my thoughts on Ijalana
Run blocking: Ijalana certainly has the size to be an effective run blocker. He has long arms to control defensive linemen and plays with good footwork. He pancaked several defenders on crash plays to his right which has to appeal to teams that run cutback runs and nakeds. He kicks out well on sweeps.
Pass blocking: Kick slide isn’t so great, his legs even cross at times. Savvy ends would recognize this and knock him to the ground while he’s off balance or swim inside while he over extends toward the outside. He has a hard time deciding who to block when teams overload his side. When he does lock on to his guy, the play is over, he won’t let him go. He kept ‘Nova QB Whitney clean all game vs. App State.
Other Stuff: I’d like to see if Ijalana is faster in his kick slide at Right Tackle. This is something, at the latest, I’ll know by the combine. He passes the eyeball test as far as physicality goes. That doesn’t always mean anything (see Boothe, Kevin) but he does look the part. There wasn’t an instance where he blocked in space downfield on a screen, something lots of teams would like to see him do. Everything I’ve read on him anticipates a move to guard at the next level, but I’d like to see him at right tackle first. He doesn’t seem quick enough to play LT in the NFL. Keep in mind that, while he looks dominant now, the level of competition he is playing against isn’t on par with other prospects. Some small school guys work out (Jahri Evans) and some don’t (Vlad Ducasse so far).
My Prediction: It’s early and this will change, but I’d say 3rd round with a move inside to left guard.