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2011 Draft Profiles: OT – Benjamin Ijalana
Age: 21 years old
Experience: Senior (4 years)
Starts at LT: 53 games
Starts at RG: 0 games
Height: 6 feet 4 inches
Weight: 317 lbs.
Arm Length: 36.00 inches
Hand Width: 10.50 inches
Projection: Offensive Tackle/Guard
Round: 1st – 2nd Round
Combine Results (Pro Day Results)
40 Yard Dash: -.– seconds
3-Cone Drill: -.– seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: -.–
Bench Press: — reps
Vertical Jump: –.- inches
Broad Jump: — inches
Speed: Unlike a number of the top prospects at offensive tackle, Ijalana is not known for his speed. He was unable to compete in the NFL Combine, so at the moment his straight line speed can only be guessed at. In scouting reports, Ijalana’s ability to quickly move down field is virtually non-existent which indicates that he would likely not have impressed with his forty time. That said, reports do indicate that Ijalana has the vision to pick up blitzes when pulling and trapping and shows the necessary speed to engage the defender before they get into the backfield.
Agility: Despite not having great straight line speed, Ijalana has exceptional agility at his position. His technique is raw, and he has not really been challenged to improve it during his collegiate career, but Ijalana shows plenty of pure talent in keeping with defenders. Scouting reports and game film indicate that Ijalana has good cutback speed, and is able to change direction fluidly in the open field. While he won’t win foot races, Ijalana shows more than enough lateral quickness to demonstrate that at the very least a team could move him to a guard position and he will succeed.
Experience: Ijalana has one of the longest track records of any offensive linemen in the draft. He didn’t play in two games as a true freshman, but he has started every game for Villanova since. Ijalana was so dominant at Villanova that he was one of the Outland Trophy finalists, and he even finished in the top 10, which only goes to show how completely he dominated his opponents at Villanova. Still, this lack of elite competition and only marginal coaching has led to him demonstrating poor technique in a number of areas. This lackadaisical play is one of the major things keeping him out of first round consideration, but with proper coaching and real competition, Ijalana should iron out those wrinkles easily. He has no experience at guard, and since he was unable to compete in the Senior Bowl, most teams are wary of drafting him for offensive tackle until they actually see him against that type of competition.
Size/Build: In terms of NFL tackles, Ijalana is on the short end of the spectrum. 6’4 is about the minimum most teams will go for an offensive tackle, and Ijalana is just skirting the line. That said, Ijalana is a very stout blocker who can keep up with edge rushers while also digging his feet in and holding up against bull rushes. He is more or less maxed out on his frame, but that doesn’t matter nearly as much given his excellent size as it is. Ijalana has not been tested against some of the exceptional speed and strength talent on the defensive line, but he still shows exceptional strength regardless.
Pass Blocking: At Villanova he was one of the single most dominant players in the division. Fellow FCS offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse was drafted in the second round in 2010 draft by the New York Jets and was considered to be one of the best offensive guards in the 2010 NFL Draft. For comparison, Ducasse was considered the second best offensive lineman behind Ijalana during Vladimir’s career at UMass. Ijalana had plenty of lateral agility to hold the edge against some of the best defensive ends in the FCS, while also having the technique and raw strength in his upper and lower body to stand up bull rushers. That said, Ijalana is an under-developed talent in the fact that his technique can be sketchy at times. He has not been properly coached on the position as of yet, so he can make mistakes like crossing one foot behind the other in pass blocking while he moves laterally. These lapses were not costly in the FCS, but the have the potential of being exploited in the NFL. Still, Ijalana projects to be a starter in the NFL relatively quickly, and quality coaching at the NFL level should ensure that he makes noticeable improvements through the season and the first part of career.
Run Blocking: Ijalana was one of the dominant run blockers at Villanova as well. He had a good reaction to the snap, and made good initial hits. His strong legs and arms allowed him to manipulate defenders while pushing them off the line to open running lanes. Ijalana has one of the largest wingspans in the 2011 Combine, and was able to engage multiple defenders at a time. Ijalana showed a good ability to trap and pull on running plays as well, keeping faster defensive ends pinned in the backfield or taking out linebackers in the running lanes. Where Ijalana struggled was in down field blocking. He does not have the straight line speed to block exceptionally far ahead of a running back, and would routinely get overrun by the ball carrier in short order. He does have good ability to redirect, though, so while he may be slow, he tended to be effective at getting blocks in the second level.
Health: Ijalana has not missed a game his whole career, and is considered one of the single most durable offensive line prospects out there. That said, he was unable to compete in the Combine due to a Sports Hernia he suffered prior to the Senior Bowl, which he was also unable to compete in. He is expected to be healthy for his Pro-day, but the first injury of his career came at a time when Ijalana could have secured a spot in the first round instead of being a second or third round prospect.
OVERVIEW: Ijalana originally started out being a late 3rd to early 4th round prospect, but as draft nuts began reading up on Ijalana and watching his game film, he began rising rapidly up draft boards, all the way up to the late first in some mock drafts. Since the combine, though, Ijalana’s stock has begun to settle somewhere in the second round. Potentially this means he will be out of the Colts range in the second round, but Ijalana shows more than enough potential to replace the exceptionally underwhelming RG Mike Pollak, while have the versatility to potentially play OT is his agility is there and his technique improves. In a best case scenario for the Colts, a starting left tackle would be drafted in the first, then Ijalana or another top guard would be drafted between the second and fourth rounds allowing both Mike Pollak and Ryan Diem to be set loose while Jamey Richard or Jacques McCleondon begins the serious move of taking over for Jeff Saturday. Whether Ijalana is there in the second will be a major determining factor in how the rest of the draft plays out, and ultimately how the Colts offensive line looks next year. Unless someone like DT Stephen Paea or C Stefan Wisniewski is also available, Ijalana will probably be towards the top of the list of Best Picks Available.
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2011 Draft, Ben Ijalana, Benjamin Ijalana, Combine, Jacques McClendon, Jamey Richard, Jeff Saturday, Mike Pollak, Ryan Diem, Stefan Wisniewski, Stephen Paea, Villanova
About the author
At the moment, I am just like every other dedicated Colts fan (I'm anxious for the season, and tired of the lack of news). On a personal note though, I am a Purdue student who happens to have a desire to write and a fairly deep passion for the Colts and statistics. As such, I am basically a troll. I have been to 38 U.S. States at least, living in a handful of them, and I've been to 6 other countries, living in England the last two years of High School, and then coming back to the US for University. I'm an introverted person, but on the bright side, that gives me more than enough time to lose myself in random projects, some of which really helps when trying to provide serious content on everyone's favorite NFL team.
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