NFL Draft Profile: Wisconsin OT Rob Havenstein

Wisconsin OT Rob Havenstein did little to improve his stock in the 2015 NFL Draft following unremarkable results at the NFL Scouting Combine. But the three-year starter at right tackle, who helped the Badgers running game set records in his final season, has a workable foundation to build upon and the potential to develop into a starter if he can clean up intermittent mistakes in his technique.

Gifted with tremendous size and length, the well-experienced Havenstein appeared in 54 games for Wisconsin, with 42 games started overall and 41 in a row at right tackle to finish out his Badgers career. The redshirt senior was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection, as well as a recipient of second-team All-America accolades by the Football Writers Association of America.

Havenstein bookended a Wisconsin offensive line that paved the road for two of the three best rushing attacks in Badgers history, averaging 283.8 yards per game in 2013 and toppling that mark with a school-record 320.1 yards per game in 2014 – highlighted by running back, and fellow draft prospect, Melvin Gordon’s 2,000-yard season.

At the Senior Bowl, the offensive tackle left a lasting impression both in practice and in game, helping running back Ameer Abdullah earn MVP honors for the North team.

Tale of the Tape

Havenstein MeasurablesAt a skyscraping 6-foot-7, Havenstein arrived at Wisconsin at a reported 380 pounds but transformed his body during the course of his collegiate career, ultimately weighing in at 321 pounds at the NFL Combine.

However, the offensive tackle’s immense size did not translate well to the 225-pound bench press drill. Havenstein completed a discouraging 16 reps – lowest among 37 offensive linemen. The former Badger did up that number to 20 at Wisconsin’s Pro Day.

Havenstein’s disappointing Combine continued with the ninth slowest 40-yard dash at 5.46 seconds among his position group. He also had a bottom-five showing in the 20-yard shuttle (4.87) and the worst three-cone drill time (8.28) – an indicator of the lineman’s limited lateral agility. This is a potential issue for zone-blocking schemes and against speed rushers.

What He Does Well

What Havenstein lacks in sustained speed and superior lateral movement, he makes up for with imposing size, initial footwork and effective body positioning.

Size & Strength

With his height, wingspan and wide frame, Havenstein was often a man, if not monster, among boys on the field for the Badgers:

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In the clip above, his size advantage is on display as he engulfs the outside linebacker. Firing out of his stance toward the corner to seal off the force defender, Havenstein drives him away from the play and delays any pursuit from behind. In doing so, the tackle establishes a firm base with proper bend at the knees at contact, working hard to lower his pad level as he fits into the block.

Havenstein was able to convert his tremendous size into functional strength at the college level. His massive stature allowed him to anchor the edge of the offensive line in pass protection and wall off power-based pass rushers with relative ease:

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Above, the right tackle cleanly slides out to meet the 5-technique defensive end, using a quick inside strike to the sternum in concert with a wide base to support his upper body. While the pass rusher makes mild forward progress, Havenstein controls the situation by keeping the defender’s inside hip centered to his body, adeptly guiding the power rush wide of the mark.

Havenstein possesses the ideal size of an NFL-caliber tackle and the capability to augment that natural strength with sound technique – a favorable quality that should translate well to the next level.

Play-Side Run Blocking

In the film reviewed, the Badgers often ran the ball to the right side, relying on Havenstein’s ability to win at the point of attack:

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As we see, even in instances where Havenstein fails to establish a low center of gravity, the powerful tackle uses upper body strength and violent hands to muscle blocking assignments off the line of scrimmage.

Havenstein was particularly effective for Wisconsin when tasked with sealing the edge, using his broad frame and surprisingly good footwork to free up the corner for the running back:

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Havenstein exhibits adequate short-area burst when working in space, with the ability to control blocks laterally down the line of scrimmage. Havenstein skillfully uses his hands, demonstrating proper placement with a strong understanding of how to position his body between the defender and the ball carrier.

Awareness & Recovery Skills

In pass protection, Havenstein displays good awareness and utilizes his wide body and length to cover a large radius when forming the quarterback’s pocket:

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On the first play, Havenstein pulls double duty: picking up his primary assignment before astutely peeling off to deliver a last-second shoulder block on the cornerback blitzing from the slot – saving his QB from a potentially jarring hit. In the second play, the right tackle kicks out swiftly, mirroring the movements of the pass rusher and gaining proper depth in the process. The blocker avoids the fake spin move back toward the inside and quickly strikes the target, knocking him off balance.

Havenstein struggles most with speed rushers aiming to go around – not through – him, but has flashed the flexibility to recover by getting his long arms on wide rushing defenders, buying his QB an extra half-second:

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By staying active and fast with his hands as shown above, Havenstein uses his long reach to propel the defender wide of the mark, even when the pass rusher appears to have a step on him.

Needs Improvement

The offensive tackle’s massive size can be a curse. In constant battle with himself given his height and below-average mobility, Havenstein often struggles to maximize leverage and maintain body control.

Back-Side Run Blocking

As a backside blocker on running plays (and quick passes), Havenstein’s lack of agility and overall sluggishness prevented him from executing clean cut blocks:

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While his inability to cut down the defensive end does not impact the end result of this specific play, it does demonstrate the limited athleticism and general awkwardness Havenstein shows when carrying out an assignment beyond his physical skill set.

On run plays designed to go away from right tackle, the blocker also has difficulties walling off backside defenders. Lacking the mobility to turn, shuffle and square up blocks, Havenstein has the tendency to leave the door open for defenders to pursue the ball from behind. NFL offenses that lean on outside zone runs, especially those with cut blocking elements, may be reluctant to draft a non-athletic offensive tackle deficient in this area.

Twist & Look Out!

Although Havenstein recognizes blitzes, stunts and linebacker twists heading his way, he does not have the necessary “twitchiness” to react in time after the slightest misstep:

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Here he appropriately passes off the slanting defensive end, knowing that – even with the nearby guard pulling on the hard play-action fake – he has help from the running back. However, as a result of the slant, the right tackle took a modest step out of his assigned gap and, before he can shuffle back, the blitzing middle linebacker breaks through cleanly for the sack.

In the games reviewed, when Havenstein wasted a step – even half of one – he was unable to respond with the required lateral quickness to recover. At the next level – where he is certain to face a heavier dose of exotic pressure schemes – his length advantage may not be able to cover up these liabilities.

Finishing Combo Blocks

Despite having extensive experience in a zone-blocking scheme, Havenstein was far from the most graceful participant in combination blocks, often striking out when attempting to hit the second level:

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In the plays above, Havenstein lumbers when sliding off the initial block, struggling to change direction and corral a moving target at the linebacker level.

While not incapable of landing a second level block with accuracy and authority, the offensive tackle was significantly more comfortable on a direct path to his target in traditional power run schemes.

Speed Rushers

Based on the film reviewed, Havenstein’s most significant issues in pass protection stemmed from one-on-ones against speed rushers off the edge:

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On both plays above, the right tackle rocks out of his stance stiff and high, labors to secure depth and cannot get in proper position. In the first clip, Havenstein keeps his hands too low pre-strike and whiffs completely on the attempted punch. The lineman, although beaten on the second play, falls back on his most reliable weapon, using his long arms to shove the defender down to the ground.

Comparable Player: Tyson Clabo

Based on measurables and results at the NFL Combine, Havenstein has a similar profile to current Houston Texans backup offensive tackle Tyson Clabo. After going undrafted in 2004, Clabo bounced around the league for a few years before winning a starting job at right tackle for the Atlanta Falcons for seven years, earning one trip to the Pro Bowl.

Projection

Well-experienced in both zone- and man-blocking schemes, Havenstein, at first glance, fits the mold of an NFL tackle: big, strong and durable. A closer inspection reveals some lapses in technique that he should be able to clean up, but his overall lack of athleticism prevents him from consistently handling some of the more difficult blocking assignments. In particular, the NFL’s elite pass rushers are likely to present a substantial challenge to Havenstein if he does not maintain near perfect technique.

But when operating within his comfort zone, Havenstein has the tools to start at tackle, using his tremendous length, generally solid footwork, and point of attack strength to win battles at the line of scrimmage. The offensive tackle may not have much room to grow at this point, but his floor is higher than most prospects at his position, making him a safe draft pick in the early middle rounds.

Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Filipiak.

Brian Filipiak knows about proper blocking technique, the basics of run defense,  how to defeat an overload, and the point-of-attack.

Video courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com via @AndrewQ_. Give him a follow on Twitter.

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