With only 13 games at the D1 level, will Bolles sneak into Round 1?
Over the course of the weeks leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, we dive into the offensive linemen position. Today, we look at Garrett Bolles from Utah.
After a tumultuous adolescence, Garrett Bolles was able to pull his life together and progress from a jail-bound teenager to a top NFL prospect. After starring at the junior college level, Bolles elected to stay close to home and attend Utah, turning down offers from Alabama, Ohio State, and Florida State, among other top programs. Bolles was named first team All-Pac 12 in his lone season at the D1 level.
Bolles has fantastic athleticism for the position. For a man his size he is extremely light on his feet and has a great kick against speed rushers. He has a good punch move and rarely gets his hands swatted down by rushers. Bolles had a great Combine, running a sub-five-second 40 time at almost 300 pounds, and his 7.29 three cone was the best among all offensive linemen since 2015. Simply put, among all the top OT prospects, his movement skills are the best — by a comfortable margin.
In the run game, Bolles excels at picking off linebackers at the second level (see GIF below). He plays angry and is extremely physical when finishing his blocks (drawing some penalties along the way; more on that later). He was rated the second best run blocking OT in the nation last year by PFF. Utah ran behind him early and often, and Bolles was a monster in the trenches as well as off the line in stretch situations.
Bolles’ aggressiveness and mean streak sometimes get him into trouble, and he racked up the most penalty yardage of all the top OT prospects. He sometimes over-reaches and grabs at pass rushers when he doesn’t really need to, which leads to holding flags.
Bolles will turn 25 soon after the draft, and teams will wonder if that limits his physical upside. Former Eagles first rounder Danny Watkins was 26 when he was selected and he never panned out, so teams could be hesitant to invest a first-round pick into a player two to three years older than his peers. With only one year of D1 experience, it’s fair to wonder whether Bolles is ready for the NFL.
Weighing in at 297 pounds at the Combine (fourth percentile for OTs), will he be able to hold his own against NFL bull rushes? He did not participate in the bench press at the Combine, which could have partially alleviated that concern.
Immediately following the Combine, Bolles was generating Top 10 hype, but that has died off as he’s back to being mocked in the latter half of Round 1 again. Denver at #20, New York at #23, and Seattle at #26 are all in his range and desperately need tackles. However, all three are contending teams and may prefer a more pro-ready tackle like Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk or WKU’s Forrest Lamp.
I would absolutely take Bolles in Round 1. His feet and agility are top-notch and will allow him to man the blind side, and his tenacity and work ethic will endear him to coaches. Adding 10-15 pounds is doable, and the age is concerning but not damning like some evaluators are making it seem. His lack of experience might show his rookie year, but check back in three years and he’ll be an above average LT in the NFL.
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