2016 NFL Draft: 5 Best-Fit Prospects for Chip Kelly
The interior of the offensive line was a mess for the 49ers last season and should be an area San Francisco focuses on in the draft.
Despite the signs of promise shown by Andrew Tiller and the signing of fellow guard Zane Beadles, San Francisco needs more reinforcements at the position and one player who has the talent to excel in Kelly’s zone-blocking system is Stanford’s Joshua Garnett.
While far from the most athletic lineman in the class – Garnett is No. 53 among offensive linemen in Zach Whitman’s SPARQ rankings – the 2015 Consensus All-American excels at getting to the second level as a run blocker and proved himself to be very useful as a pulling guard.
Garnett takes good angles to his target on pulls and is able to open up big holes for running backs with his substantial frame.
Take the below play for example, Garnett quickly pulls behind the rest of the offensive line before taking out the linebacker on the edge to allow Christian McCaffrey to make a small cutback and find the end zone.
Garnett’s ability to make plays that belie his athleticism would prove extremely useful in an offense likely to feature plenty of stretch and outside zone running plays.
Kelly’s offense figures to also rely heavily on the quick passing game, which is another area where Garnett proved valuable to Stanford.
This McCaffrey touchdown against Cal is a good example of how Garnett aids the passing game. Although the majority of this play is about the explosiveness of Stanford’s star tailback, it simply does not happen without Garnett being able to get outside and block the defender who has the first shot at tackling McCaffrey.
In addition to his underestimated mobility, Garnett has all plenty of other tools that should put him high on the 49ers wishlist. He boasts a powerful, well-proportioned frame, fires off the snap and plays with good, low pad level.
Garnett doesn’t have the longest arms but fights through the snap with impressive hand placement, is very proficient on double teams and down blocks and has the vision to find secondary assignments and redirect to new targets.
Likely to be available in the second or even third round, Garnett is a mauler in the run game who has the skill set to be an immediate starter in the NFL and slot into Kelly’s offense right away.
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