One of the more intriguing prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft is left tackle Ali Marpet, of Division-III Hobart College. The first D-3 player to ever earn an invitation to the Senior Bowl, Marpet drew rave reviews throughout his week in Mobile, Alabama, making a name for himself after holding his own against future NFL talent. While there will undoubtedly be questions concerning the level of competition Marpet faced in college, he made it clear that he was on par with his peers at the NFL Scouting Combine, where the 6’4” 307-pound lineman ran a 4.98 40-yard dash, 4.47 shuttle and a 7.33 three-cone, all were best among offensive lineman, while putting up an impressive 30 bench press reps of 225 pounds
The Buffalo Bills could use help along the offensive line and Marpet, who made 37 consecutive starts at left tackle to finish his collegiate career, can potentially play tackle in the NFL but he also projects well to either guard or center at the next level.
Watching Ali Marpet against Division III competition is pretty hilarious, as the projected top-100 pick consistently dominated and mauled whichever opposing defensive lineman faced off against him. In the run game, Marpet is a violent, strong and physical prospect that overpowered his competition and flashed some good technique at times, staying square, keeping his elbows in and latching onto defenders. He’s a fluid athlete and always keeps his legs moving.
This aggressiveness and lower-body strength is shown in the following clip, as Marpet is able to get his hands inside the pads of the defensive end, before driving him about eight yards away from the play.
In the next rep, Marpet is able to control the opposing defensive tackle, anchoring and showing the functional strength that allowed his running back to cut back on an option run, scoring from 50+ yards out.
Marpet is a tenacious athlete that plays with a mean-streak, an attribute that will NFL executives love from offensive linemen. Once he gets his hands on a defender, he will drive them off the ball and manhandle them through the whistle.
At times Marpet relied too heavily on his own physical strength and failed to use proper technique. He would get overaggressive at times, lowering his head, bending his waist, or lunging at his man- something that won’t fly against NFL-caliber edge rushers.
Ali Marpet has the physical skill-set and athleticism on par with an NFL offensive lineman, but due to the nature of competition that he faced in college, there will likely be a bit of an adjustment period to get used to the speed of the game at the next level.
He’s got quick feet and lateral agility that allows him to kick out and mirror defenders, while continuing to show aggressiveness and a drive to finish his opponent. In the next play, Marpet is initially beat inside by his man, but he’s quick enough to recover before body-slamming the defender to the ground.
Marpet’s reliance on physical talent showed up in pass protection as well, failing to maintain good technique at times. He’d look to maul his opponent, rather than stay balanced and gain leverage, which backfired on a few occasions. In the following clip, you can see Marpet extend backwards to gain momentum as he looked to power through his man. Instead, he bends at the waist and the defensive end turns the corner, resulting in Marpet lunging at his target and missing the block.
At the Senior Bowl, Marpet held his own against several future NFL defensive lineman, including Stanford’s Henry Anderson and Kentucky’s Za’Darius Smith. In his 1-on-1 rep, Marpet slides into his set quickly, using his hands to latch onto Anderson’s pads and throws him to the ground.
How He Fits The Bills
Ali Marpet is an appealing draft prospect that the Bills have already shown interest in, meeting with him at the NFL Combine. While he’s not ready to contribute immediately due to technique issues that need to be cleaned up, Marpet already possesses the build, strength and natural ability that’s requisite of an NFL offensive lineman. By all accounts, he’s an extremely hard worker that’s dedicated to his craft, so the only real concern regarding his future potential is just how quickly he can adjust to the speed of the NFL. By proving himself at the Senior Bowl and Combine, Marpet showed that he belonged, and there’s no reason why Marpet shouldn’t be able to develop into a capable lineman-whether as a tackle or center- in the NFL.
Projected Round: 3rd
Player Comparison: Justin Pugh/Zach Martin