LT Tale of the Tape: Joeckel vs. Fisher
By Bill Lund
The closer we get to the draft, the more it appears the Kansas City Chiefs are looking at spending their No. 1 overall pick on an offensive tackle. Will it be Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M or Eric Fisher from Central Michigan?
Let’s go over our scouting reports on the two tackles, based on the five most important characteristics scouts look for in the position:
- Physical Attributes -- size, speed, strength, balance, agility
- Quickness -- feet, hands
- Explosion – sudden force with movement on impact
- Pass Blocking – initial kick, set base, knee/waist bend, contact, sustain
- Run Blocking – position, sustain, finish
Joeckel: At 6-foot-6, 306 pounds, possesses the prototypical size teams covet. He has great length in his arms (34.25 inches). He showed solid testing numbers at the combine: his 40-yard dash time (5.30 seconds), Bench Press Reps (27), Vertical Jump (28.5 inches), Broad Jump (106 inches), 3-Cone Drill (7.40 seconds), Shuttle (4.68 seconds). Showed good movement skills during the combine drills, and has the ability to mirror speed rushers off the edge and force them beyond the pocket and out of the play. Stays light on his feet and is able to slide quickly to stay out in front for defenders.
Fisher: Also has the prototype size (6-7, 306) and a tremendous reach (34.50). Really made scouts take notice with his testing numbers: 40-yard dash time (5.05), Bench (27 reps), Vertical Jump (28.5), Broad Jump (116 inches), 3-Cone Drill (7.59), Shuttle (4.44). His testing at the combine reaffirmed his athleticism he displayed at the Senior Bowl. Plays light on his feet and shows the ability to slide laterally very well. Quick kick step, able to stay in front of defender while maintaining balance. Consistently is in an athletic blocking position with a balanced lower half.
Advantage: Even. Both prospects had solid numbers. Fisher may have shown slightly more explosive numbers in the Broad Jump and the Shuttle, but it is not enough to say one has an advantage athletically over the other.
Joeckel: Shows quick feet and maintains his base. Good quickness at the snap. Has a good initial kick in his pass sets. Redirects well vs. defenders, feet are always moving. Tends to catch defenders rather than punch. Shows decent hand quickness when he repositioning his hands inside.
Fisher: Displays quick feet and has a good base, as well. Has a good kick and quickness off the snap. Does a great job of keeping his steps short and quick. Very good at redirecting and mirroring defenders. Has a good punch with his hands, but tends to lunge on punches. Catches defenders at times rather than punch. Does a good job of quickly regaining inside hand presence on a defender.
Advantage: Joeckel, but it’s close. Joeckel moves more naturally and plays more fluidly. Fisher moves almost as well but really works for it.
Joeckel: Has decent explosion in his hips from his 2-point stance. I saw only minimal video of him operating from a 3-point stance. He does a good job of keeping his knees bent and his hips down while engaged on blockers. Needs to work on his lower body “pop” in short yardage.
Fisher: Displays a greater range of hip explosion from both a 2- and 3-point stance. Shows good flexibility for a player of his size, able to keep his knees bent and his hips down while engaged. Still needs to work on bringing his hips on contact. Shows pop in the short yardage.
Advantage: Fisher. When you look at the ability to explode from either a 2- or 3-point stance, Fisher has been in an offense that allows him to be more versatile. Joeckel played in a spread scheme that utilizes mostly zone principles in the run game. That is not to say he is not capable, but he hasn’t had as much work at it as Fisher.
Joeckel: Displays great kick and positioning on speed rushers. Has a decent punch, but tends to catch defenders. Has great positioning of his hands and utilizes his reach to control most rushers. Uses his long arms well in pass protection to extend and keep the defenders off of him. Shows a good base and ability to adjust to the defender. Moves fluidly in his pass sets. Operated out of a 2-point stance during his college career so an adjustment will need to be made. Wasn’t asked to protect for 5- or 7-step drops in college. Operated in an offense that used predominately quick game and movement passes. Shown to be susceptible to a power/bull rush; will need to develop the ability to redirect power rushers. He is a tactician and technician. Has competed against some of the best playing in the SEC, and he’s tough to rock out of his stance. Relies far more on his feet than his hands at this point. If he can add a solid punch, he could become an elite level blocker.
Fisher: Displays great kick and positioning on speed rushers. Has range and ability to work out of the 3-point stance. Shows a good punch and works for good hand position. Can be overly aggressive on his punch, dropping his head. He uses his long arms well to keep the defender off of him and he has continually shown the ability to punch, slide and re-engage the defender. Great feet allow him to adjust to defenders. He always maintains a wide and balanced base with the ability to slide laterally very quickly. Can handle a variety of pass rushers. As a pass protector he plays with leverage, able to get his hands underneath the rusher and finishes his blocks with a bit of nastiness. Can play a little high at times. He may be better than Joe Staley was at this point in his career. Performed well vs. Big Ten opponents in Iowa and Michigan State. Performed very well during the Senior Bowl week and had a solid game vs. some of the top SEC pass rushers.
Advantage: Joeckel, but again it’s close. Joeckel has more fluidity in his sets. It seems effortless. Fisher has been great when facing top talent at the Senior Bowl, but can get himself out of position when he “butts” his head as he punches. Joeckel has faced a gauntlet of talent in the SEC and gave up only two sacks in 2012, which initially places him ahead of Fisher in this category.
Joeckel: Has a great understanding of angles in the run game. Shows good explosion on contact. Operates from a 2-point stance in a spread scheme with zone blocking principles. Not a power blocker in short yardage. Is a position blocker, uses athletic ability to seal his area. Works well out of the tandem block to get to the second level and get his hands on the LB utilizing his athleticism. He’ll bend at the waist and get overextended at times on second-level blocks. He is a very good cut blocker. Needs to better develop his lower body power in the short yardage.
Fisher: Operates in a 2- and 3-point stance. Shows good pop off the snap at the point of attack. Has good agility as a puller. Displays a good punch and ability to block players in space at the second level. Has some trouble staying with quicker players in the second level. Looks to finish off blocks. Relies more on positioning and technique than power when run blocking. He comes off the ball quickly and with good initial pad level. Lower leg drive is solid. When pulling he shows good foot speed, flexibility and instincts. Needs to develop as a cut blocker.
Advantage: Fisher. He is a more accomplished run blocker and shows more versatility working in both zone and gap schemes as well as being utilized as a puller. Blocks with a little more tenacity and finishes blocks better than Joeckel.
Eric Fisher. Both players display good measurables that translate to the field. Both have their flaws in lower body explosion and initial punch. Both will be good pros. Personally, I like Fisher better. He is more versatile in both the run and pass games. Plays with a bit of an attitude and tenacity. He has more consistently shown a demeanor in finishing off blocks.His combination of technique, athleticism and size make him the prototypical NFL left tackle prospect.