Name: Ben Braden
Position fit: Guard or tackle
Stats to know: Braden yielded 2 sacks, 5 QB hits and 13 QB hurries in 2016.
What he does best:
- Demonstrates requisite quickness and athleticism.
- Shows the ability to reach block defensive ends on the play side of outside zone plays.
- Good football acumen, asked to perform a variety of blocks in a pro-style offense.
- Fairly natural athlete for an offensive lineman. Shows when he’s asked to cut linemen and linebackers.
- Shows great location ability when pulling.
- Played guard and tackle.
- Gets over extended in run blocks causing him to lose his balance and the block.
- Has given up the edge in pass protection to rushers. Struggles to get depth out of his stance at times.
- Graded below-average in PFF’s grading system.
- Plays very high in pass protection and can get out-leveraged easily.
- Strength is an issue. Propensity to lose blocks at the point of attack on running plays and fails to generate movement.
- First punch does him no favors.
- Can he physically play with NFL defensive lineman?
Player comparison: Bradley Sowell, Seattle Seahawks
There’s not much about Braden’s game that suggests he can hold up at tackle in the NFL. Like Sowell, he’ll just give up the edge too often to play their regularly. As a guard he doesn’t have quite the power that one would want and he’ll have to go to a zone team where his athleticism will be a better fit.
Bottom line: Braden played both guard and tackle at Michigan and his athleticism and movement is fun to watch. He is a skilled blocker on the move. However, he struggled overall at both positions. On film Braden does not demonstrate the strength to be able to hold blocks long enough to be an effective blocker and his grades also reflect this. Braden often loses his balance by overextending into blocks and this might reflect a lack of core strength. Braden had a difficult task being asked to play both guard and tackle throughout the year and there is definitely some athleticism that will make teams take a look at him. His best fit is in an outside zone-heavy running scheme and in a situation where he can develop his strength and pass-blocking skills over time as a pass blocker as he has a ways to go in this regard to play in the NFL.