Heading into 2012, Oday Aboushi was seen as the next top offensive tackle to come through UVA and he hasn’t disappointed one bit. With a good frame, almost picture perfect pass blocking ability and an ability to move his defender in the run game, Aboushi can become the next star zone blocking scheme OT. His offseason will be crucial for evaluators who haven’t had a chance to really watch him play, but if he plays to his potential he can cement himself in the 1st round.
Size: Aboushi has the ideal frame you want out of an OT. Standing at 6’6 310, Aboushi has a lean frame but is built very well for someone at 6’6”. Aboushi could stand to add weight to his frame, but traditionally zone-blocking OT’s sit around the 310-315 range and Aboushi is already there. His arm length seems ideal although there are no official measurements until the combine. What Aboushi has already is impressive; the only things he can stand to do at this point is tone and add more strength that can help him in the run game.
Technique: Aboushi in terms of pass protection has picture perfect technique. Uses his base to stay level, keeps his arms at a level distance and doesn’t overextend. The best thing I’ve noticed though is his ability to mirror speed rushers so well. Aboushi is an athletic guy, but his ability to mirror the top pass rushers and not allow them to get by him is impressive. He’s able to do this because of his athletic ability, but also the fact he uses many smaller strides instead of two or three large strides. This is critical because it allows him to stay right in front of the opponent instead of the threat of overextending and having to rely on his athletic ability to recover. As far as run blocking, Aboushi proves his ZBS fit by how he attacks his opponent. In studying Aboushi on film for 4 games, what he loves to do is wall off his defender to create a crease. If he isn’t walling off the opponent, he’s usually throwing his weight right into the opponents’ thigh on a cut block. Again those are two key concepts in the ZBS philosophy. Aboushi can stand to improve his run blocking technique by adding strength and making it a point to drive block his defender. Overall though, Aboushi is in the top 5 in terms of technique. His technique and athletic ability will be the main reasons why a team ends up drafting him.
Pass Protection: Like it was mentioned earlier, Aboushi is a great pass protector. He uses excellent technique to defeat his opponent. While watching Aboushi vs. Miami there was one play that stuck out immediately. Aboushi lined up against the DE for Miami. Once the ball was snapped, Aboushi took one solid outward step to create a base. From there Aboushi then used his arms to keep his opponent away from him. This allowed Aboushi to keep his base, use his frame to his advantage and also create a clean pocket for Rocco to make a throw. What also impresses me with Aboushi is his ability to make such quick reactions. It’s almost instinctual to Aboushi to be able to see what the defender is doing and having an immediate counter move. Sometimes when watching film, you watch a defender make a quick move and then the OT is forced to struggle and find some counter move, usually holding. With Aboushi though and his incredible athletic ability, he’s always in front of his defender. In the 4 games I’ve watched of him, I can only think of maybe 3 times where a defender actually beat him and got after the QB. This is the strength of Aboushi’s game and for a team needing an upgrade at OT there won’t be many with a higher pass protection grade than Aboushi.
Run Blocking: While run blocking is not what Aboushi is known for, he’s actually better than what people think. The thing that Aboushi does well is he walls off his defender to create a hole for his defender. It’s very simple and it’s something that Barrett Jones did so well for Alabama when he was playing LT. When Aboushi actually drive blocks, he doesn’t really get a tremendous push. He usually gets his opponent off the line of scrimmage (LOS), but at most it’s a yard or two and not as impressive as some of the other tackles in this class. What is awesome to watch about Aboushi though is his ability to get out on screens and lead block. This goes back to his natural athletic ability, but Aboushi gets out on screens easily and finds defenders in the 2nd level to make a good play into a great play. He uses picture perfect cut block technique already and that’s another critical technique element used in the ZBS. Aboushi can really only improve on what needs to be improved. What I mean though is if he goes to a zone-scheme, the coaches aren’t going to be as focused on his ability to drive block a defender 15 yards down field. They want to improve his walling off of defenders and other elements that are critical. If he goes to a man/power scheme, which would be a mistake, they will be more worried about his drive blocking.
Overall: So where does Aboushi fit in this stacked OT class? Right now he’s my #5 OT behind a pretty impressive crop of players in Luke Joeckel, Taylor Lewan, Jake Matthews and Eric Fisher. This isn’t a slight against Aboushi as a player, but in most years he’s a top 15 lock and a chance to be one of the top players in the draft. This year unfortunately he’s stuck behind 4 guys who are great players along with another great player in Aboushi. The best fit for Aboushi is the zone-blocking scheme that allows him to use his athleticism to the fullest. If put into a zone scheme, Aboushi in my opinion can become one of the premier OT’s in the NFL. There are certain similarities to draw between Duane Brown and Oday Aboushi and the trajectory of their careers in college. This isn’t to say that Aboushi will be the next Duane Brown, but if Aboushi continues the improvement seen from every year at UVA, there’s no reason why he can’t become a star OT in the NFL.