Patriots NFL Draft Prospect: OG/OT Benjamin Ijalana, Villanova

Name: OG/OT Benjamin Ijalana

School: Villanova

Size: 6'4, 317 lbs

Expected Round: 1st-2nd

40 Time: 5.34s

Career Stats: Click Here. Started at left tackle every game since his true freshman year.

Player Previews: CBS; Walter Football; NFL Combine [If you would like your website included, please e-mail me!]

Strengths: Former All-District wrestler, so could be a Stephen Neal on the interior line. Dominated at the small school level, which is a good sign. Good first punch to engage with the defensive player while run blocking. Very durable and played every single game in college. Able to follow the guy he's blocking. Strong player who can handle the bull rush, which is why he may be better fit for the interior line.

Weaknesses: Stands around after blocking his guy- doesn't look to help block others (you can see in the video). Very raw prospect that will need a lot of grooming. Not as defined as he could be with his size. Needs a lot of improvement with his technique and may not be a week 1 starter. Sports hernia has prevented him from competing in the post-college season events so there is little film on him at against top tier competition.

Why and Why Not the Patriots after the jump, and my final verdict!

Why the Patriots?: The Patriots need help on the interior line and Ijalana is a versatile player. He comes from plenty of tackle experience (Logan Mankins), with a wrestler's background (Stephen Neal), and he's willing to learn (Dante Scarneccia). 2nd round is solid value for an interior lineman with plenty of upside and the Patriots could either trade down from #33 and get some more picks, or stick around #60 and maybe grab him. The Patriots have no problem taking linemen from non-big schools and Ijalana could be great. His stock is dropping because of an off-season injury, so he may present even better value.

Why Not the Patriots?: He comes from a small school background and there are some concerns on how he'll convert. He had some struggles against the faster pass rushers in his division, which is why he may not be a tackle. If he doesn't pass the health test due to his sports hernia, or he doesn't pass the mental tests, he may not be the best fit for the offensive line, which is an extremely demanding group on the Patriots. He also doesn't play with a mean streak (visible on tape), which may not be the attitude the offensive line needs.

Verdict: I'm 50/50 on Ijalana. If he drops to the bottom of the second, he presents excellent value and is worth a draft pick. If he requires a top 40 or top 50 pick, then I'll pass. He has the skill set required for an excellent interior lineman, but he may not have the attitude necessary to thrive on the Patriots.

Here's a video of Ijalana facing off against the Patriots' own Dane Fletcher.


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