Heading into the 2012 draft season, Kent State was seen as a team that was good, but just another MAC team. This season led by Dri Archer and Brian Winters, Kent State has had a phenomenal year. Winters has been a steady force at left tackle for them and projects as a right tackle or as a guard in the NFL. With a fiery attitude and a tenacity to finish his blocks, he’ll be easy to become a fan of when he reaches the NFL.
Size: Winters stands at 6’6 294, which is okay, but Winters would be best suited to add 10 pounds to his frame. Adding the weight wouldn’t do much to his athleticism and would be the best decision especially if Winters wants to stay as a tackle in the NFL. From watching Winters, arm length seems to be fine and height isn’t an issue as he does a good job of keeping a level base.
Technique: Winters plays with a very solid base and uses his technique to his advantage. He is very susceptible to speed rushers and is beaten to the inside easier than other tackle prospects. When using proper technique, Winters can offset speed rushers pretty well, but when beaten its usually from overextension of his arms or playing with an off center base. He keeps his arms at a solid distance on most plays, although like I mentioned before will overextend and it shows very easily. When in pass protection, Winters will stay in his base well and not become uncoiled easily. On running plays, Winters does a good job staying low and generating a push.
Run Blocking: This is probably my favorite part of Winters’ game. Its not just because he’s a tenacious player, but Winters loves to finish his blocks and make sure his defender is on the ground. When Winters gets his feet going and gets after his opponent he generates a solid push that allows a lane to form for his running back. He uses choppy steps to generate push and stays low to gain leverage. What is most impressive is that Winters can stay low considering he is 6’6”. However, he does need to improve on locating defenders at the 2nd level. It’s almost nit picky, but Winters can make himself a lot better OT if he is able to get to the 2nd level and help turn regular runs into the explosive runs. Winters needs to also improve on his cut block technique. While he does make the cut, it isn’t always with the best technique. Winters will usually just hit the player low, but usually you want to hit him around the thigh pad area and then slide down to take out the defender. This is truly the best part of Winters game though and when he moves to the NFL, OL coaches are going to love the impact he will have in the run game.
Pass Blocking: While Winters displays above average run blocking, he does at times struggle in his pass protection. This mainly stems from his height and his inability to handle speed rushers. What teams have learned to do against Winters is run either a simple rip move to the inside or use the patented Von Miller dip to speed by him. What also happens with Winters is that he tends to overextend his outside foot when pass blocking. Its noticeable even when he does a good job on pass protection because he just looks lanky and off balance. When Winters sets his feet and keeps his balance, he can be a top notch OT, but the technique in his pass protection is still raw and undefined. He has been out on screens a few plays and does a good job pulling out and making the block, although like stated earlier sometimes will struggle with finding a 2nd level defender. His best attribute in pass blocking is his hand placement. When he doesn’t overextend, Winters keeps his hands on the inside of the pads. This keeps holding calls to a minimum and is especially important when moving to the NFL. Overall this is the area coaches will need to really work on with Winters. He has the major tools wanted, but at the same time there is a lot left to be desired when watching him in pass protection.
Overall: So where does Winters fit? Is he a RT? Or is he a Guard? Right now I’d put Winters as a RT in the NFL with the possibility of a move to Guard. The main reasoning behind him at Tackle is his height of 6’6”. Currently I have a late 3rd to mid 4th grade on Winters, with the ability to be a solid 3rd rounder with a good offseason in his workouts and all-star games. If Winters can show improved pass protection ability, it’ll greatly increase his value and ranking to NFL teams. At worst Winters can be a starting RT who can be a liability at times in pass protection, but in the best case Winters will be a starting Tackle who fits into a zone blocking style scheme.