The New England Patriots selected Troy OT Antonio Garcia with the 85th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The 6’6, 302 pound Garcia was a four-year starter at left tackle that did not allow a sack his entire senior season.
Garcia was lauded as a great pass protector with quick feet to mirror pass rushers that struggled to create in the run game. He’s a raw prospect that only really used the three-point stance (hand in the ground) at the goal line or in short yardage.
I decided to go to the game footage to come up with an evaluation of my own. I looked at two games in particular:
Antonio Garcia vs Clemson, the eventual college football champions
Antonio Garcia vs Ohio, to see how he looked in snaps against Tarell Basham (80th overall to the Colts)
- Fantastic quickness to drop into his kick-step and mirror pass rushers.
- Consistent in pass protection and only saw one or two negative plays over the course of two games.
- Controls the pass rusher once he got his hands on their pads to ride them around the pocket.
- Plays to the whistle and sometimes beyond, never letting up on a block.
- Seemed to do a fine job in creating cutback lanes for his running back.
- Explosive out of the snap and entering the second level.
- Struggles to drive block in run game because he tries to use his arms to win instead of getting his body on the defender.
- Here’s the main blemish in pass protection over those two games:
- Doesn’t always drive the defender away from the line of scrimmage during run block (linked to using his arms instead of his base).
- Seems slow to react to the snap a couple times per game.
- Can be bull-rushed back into the pocket if it’s the defender’s first move, although he collects himself and resets before too much damage is done.
Garcia is clearly an impressive talent in pass protection and much of his struggles in the run game can be linked to poor technique. That won’t be enough in the NFL, so look for Garcia to work on his run blocking under the watchful eye of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
As a rookie, Garcia probably can’t be relied upon as the Jumbo Tight End like Cameron Fleming plays from time to time on the goal line, but he can definitely learn and improve over time.
Garcia has all of the tools to be a successful tackle in the NFL and he played with impressive consistency at the college level. If Garcia can harness his desire to pancake the defender in pass protection and apply that aggression to the run game, then he has a chance to be a franchise tackle.