2013 NFL Draft Retrospective: Luke Joeckel’s Blocking Examined

NFL teams have only so much money and draft picks with which to build a team, so making good decisions is paramount. In Part 4 of his 2013 draft retrospective, Matt Weston looks deeper at the overall performance of Luke Joeckel. 

Weston will look in depth at Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, both in pass protection and the run game, breaking down the reasons for their struggles. Part 1 focused on reviewing the first round of the 2013 draft, focusing on Fisher and Joeckel in particular. Part 2 will explore Fisher’s play strength and pass blocking. In Part 3, Fisher’s performance in the running game was be assessed.

If Fisher is a solid square of granite you could one day see becoming a masterpiece, then Joeckel is a sculpture hanging out at lesser known local art museum. A solid piece. Nothing spectacular.

His mediocre quality is highlighted in the run game. Jacksonville’s scheme spreads defenses out and he spends a lot of time making one-on-one blocks:

The Jaguars are running a zone play to the left out of the shotgun. Joeckel is matched up with Jerry Hughes (#55) in 5 technique; he will have to block him on his own:FisherJoeckelPart4-2-1

He takes a zone step and, like Fisher, he’s quick off the ball with excellent footwork. He’s not on Fisher’s level, but he is still super quick:FisherJoeckelPart4-2-2

He is patient and under control  going after the end. He keeps a wide base, stays low, and takes, short, choppy steps: FisherJoeckelPart4-2-3

The hole is supposed to develop between Joeckel and the guard. He is aiming inside so the end can’t force the running back to bounce outside:FisherJoeckelPart4-2-4

His hand placement looks good here ‒ before delivering his punch anyway: FisherJoeckelPart4-2-5

His head makes more meaningful contact with Hughes’s sternum than his hands, as his punch is easily blocked and negated by the defender. This leaves Hughes in his embrace, which runs the risk of a holding penalty unless he can recover:FisherJoeckelPart4-2-6

Joeckel recovers and begins to push his legs and drive. Aside from the missed punch, this is great: FisherJoeckelPart4-2-7

Joeckel and Hughes fight to a stalemate while T.J. Yeldon gets into the run lane and takes off. I’ve seen this play 50 times and I still have no idea how he breaks this one: FisherJoeckelPart4-2-8FisherJoeckelPart4-2-9FisherJoeckelPart4-2-10FisherJoeckelPart4-2-11FisherJoeckelPart4-2-12FisherJoeckelPart4-2-13FisherJoeckelPart4-2-14

One-on-one blocks are a difficult assignment for an offensive lineman, leaving him little room for error. Any small mistake can lead to a free rusher bearing down on the quarterback from his blind side. The blocker must hit his target wears he aims, latch on, and gain control.

Joeckel is matched up against a player who feasts on opposing linemen, Sheldon Richardson (#91), a wide run stopper who has the quickness to rush from the edge: FisherJoeckelPart4-7-1

Joeckel’s first step is long and fast – a good example of his quickness:   FisherJoeckelPart4-7-2

In four steps, he’s already cut off Richardson: FisherJoeckelPart4-7-3

Joeckel punches, but the problem is that his hands are outside, and Richardson makes contact first:FisherJoeckelPart4-7-4FisherJoeckelPart4-7-5

Joeckel gets his hands inside, and even though he misses his mark he quickly pulls them back inside. Because he has maintained good footwork and positioning, he can just sit and mirror until quarterback Blake Bortles gets rid of the ball:FisherJoeckelPart4-7-6FisherJoeckelPart4-7-7FisherJoeckelPart4-7-8FisherJoeckelPart4-7-9

However, like Fisher, the reason Joeckel isn’t above-average is his play strength. He lacks the power to drive guys down field or suffocate pass rushers. He’s good at getting a hat on a hat and not blowing blocks in the pass game that lead to disruption, but he cannot dominate defenders. A good example of his need to gain strength comes on this goal line against the Bills on a series where the Jaguars failed to score from the 1-yard line on four plays.

Joeckel is down blocking the defensive end: FisherJoeckelPart4-5-1

He takes a good slide step over. He stays low, and hits the center of the defensive tackle who is dive bombing into the backfield:FisherJoeckelPart4-5-2FisherJoeckelPart4-5-3

He gets obliterated. The tackle just bulldozes through Joeckel:  FisherJoeckelPart4-5-4FisherJoeckelPart4-5-5FisherJoeckelPart4-5-6

Joeckel gazes up at the sky, wondering the meaning of it all:FisherJoeckelPart4-7-5-fixed

Joeckel is solid. Regardless of the expectations of draft position, he’s a viable starter on the Jaguars’ offensive line. Perfectly viable – as in he’s a neutral player that doesn’t drive or get driven back. He has the feet, technique, and strength to hold down the left tackle spot.

A capable pass blocker, Joeckel gets beat time to time because his punch doesn’t knock defenders back and he misses the target too often. Also, on bullrushes, he gets driven too far back. But overall he makes up for his limitations with his feet, never stopping to try and to gain control, and punching the defender with his hands.

Follow Matt on Twitter @Mbw987.

Inside The Pylon covers the NFL and college football, reviewing the film, breaking downmatchups, and looking at the issues, on and off the field.

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