Thursday, May 17, 2018

Colby Gossett brings physicality to the Vikings' offensive line

Photo: App State Sports

Guard Colby Gossett slid down draft boards and the Vikings managed to add a tough, physical offensive lineman with a unique physical build in the sixth round. Daniel House takes a closer look at his tape. 

In the second round, when four offensive linemen flew off the board within the first seven picks, Vikings fans started to worry. Many draft analysts projected the team would select an interior offensive linemen with their first round pick. Instead, cornerback Mike Hughes was a value pick and filled a need in the process. The Vikings had their eyes on late round talent to add competition at the guard spot. As the board started to fall, Appalachian State guard Colby Gossett was making a plunge into the sixth round. This was especially surprising considering the 2017 season he put together, along with a very strong Senior Bowl. Many analysts had Gossett pegged as a fourth round pick in this year's draft.

At 6-foot-5, 311 pounds, Gossett possesses unique size and strength for an interior linemen. He was durable at Appalachian State, starting 46 consecutive games at guard or tackle. Gossett was the centerpiece of the offensive line and quickly became the enforcer of the Mountaineers' unit. When you watch his tape, you see the physicality and toughness he makes a priority in his skill-set. In addition, with his past experience at tackle, he also could kick outside in a pinch.

When he gets inside hands, he locks defensive linemen up and often uses his power to finish with a mean streak. The power, strength and physicality make him a dominating presence inside. More importantly, even with all of that size, he still moves relatively well. This is necessary to fit in the Vikings' zone blocking scheme, which will require him to get on the run. There are a few reps where he doesn't move particularly quickly and his feet are heavy, but this isn't a frequent occurrence. The below example shows his willingness to move and deliver a hit in the second level. You not only see that, but the physicality as Gossett gets a head of steam and lays his block.

He is particularly sound as a run blocker and does a great job of executing the smaller details of being an offensive linemen. Gossett understands when he can seal a linebacker in the second level to open a running crease. He has the awareness to understand how his block angle and decision can shape the running back's ability to break free for a big gain. In the example below, he drives into the defensive end and understands shouldering him inside will help the running back gain a few additional yards. When Gossett gets even slightly engaged like this, he can throw a shoulder and redirect a defender quickly. He throws himself around to finish blocks and plays with toughness.

Not only that, but his power comes through when he is sent to down block and clear a path. He will blow a defensive linemen off the ball because of his strength, power and quick first step. When he has a balanced base and gets his hands inside, he lets his mean streak take over. The power and strength make it difficult for defensive linemen to shed once he's engaged. Watch him take the defensive tackle for a ride across the field:

So why did Gossett fall so far down draft boards? There's a couple reasons why he drew concerns. One was the result of playing against smaller programs during his college career. Many people questioned whether he could hold up against top-tier quality talent at the next level. However, I'm less concerned after watching his complete tape against competition like Miami and Georgia. He was winning consistently and blowing players off the ball when down blocking hard. Gossett has the power to hold up against big rushers who try to win purely off finesse or bull rushes.

The two games against quality opponents showed the potential he has to translate to the next level. One other issue I noticed on tape was how he had a tendency to lean. If he doesn't get hand position and punch, he gets shoved and loses his balance. Sometimes it's the result of his feet get tied up and heavy. One quick step by the defender, followed by slow hands causes Gossett to lose the battle. The clip below is the balance issue I noticed a few times within his game tape. This can be tightened up with coaching and a focus on the technical side of his game in Minnesota.

In terms of pass protection, it's really hard to move Colby Gossett. When he gets his anchor set and his hands inside, he sits down and locks up the defensive lineman. There were numerous reps where you see him mirror well and extend his arms with hands inside the shoulder pads. When he can put all of the details together, he has the power and strength to hold his blocks. The two reps below are examples of Gossett dominating his reps in pass protection. Again, it's all about maintaining the balance and preventing slow hands. When he gets an anchor and engages, there's no moving Gossett around because of his frame.

Overall, Colby Gossett is one of the players teams passed on because they were worried about his NFL transition. His performance against top-flight competition should leave people encouraged. He has the power and strength to hold up against NFL rushers, along with the accompanying traits to fit well within the Vikings' offensive line room. The toughness, physicality, durability and movement skills are things you want to see in a linemen joining this team.

This could end up being a very solid pick for Minnesota as they try to solidify depth and future starting potential on the offensive line. If he performs well in camp, I wouldn't be shocked if Gossett comes out of left field and competes for the starting right guard job. His tape across all games is indicative of a mid-round pick and the Vikings landed him late in the draft.

When we all look back on this pick, it could be one of the sleeper moves that benefits the team sooner than anyone could have anticipated.

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