Mobile, AL -- Bad news, folks. Dalton Risner has read your tweets and he is having none of it. The speculation around the Kansas State senior offensive lineman entering this week was that he's not a tackle in the NFL.
- "He's not athletic enough."
- "His feet are too heavy."
- "He's too stiff."
Here's the thing. We've seen players of all different kinds of physical ability excel in the NFL on the offensive line, provided they have baseline levels at certain traits. Risner certainly checks those baseline boxes. And thanks in part to the edge that Risner brought to the practices this week, I'm ready to buy in on him playing offensive tackle in the NFL.
Risner came out to Thursday's practice pissed off, using the doubts centered around his ability to transition to Right Tackle in the NFL as fuel for an intense practice session. And oh, my goodness. The results were a thing of beauty. If you like your offensive linemen with a side serving of nasty, you'll love when you see in reviewing Risner's performance this week.
Keep that chip on your shoulder, Dalton. It looks good on you.
And for all the doubters, I strongly encourage a reassessment of his college film after overviewing his play this week. I can say now that I believe Risner can play offensive tackle (and be good) in the NFL.
Care to overview some of his greatest hits this week?
Wednesday vs. John Cominsky
Cominsky entered this week as a pretty impressive story, but he struggled throughout the majority of the week against superior competition. This is a great example. Imagine being John Cominsky, a 286-pound grown man, and being tossed like a sack of potatoes.
And yet that's exactly what happened on Wednesday when Riser turned Cominsky's rush into a knot and worked him over with his hands. It was one of multiple flashes of powerful, potent hands on the day.
Wednesday vs. Sutton Smith
That's is. Ring the damn bell. Risner choke-slamming Sutton Smith is impressive. No, Smith doesn't check baseline requirements to be an NFL pass rusher (his lack of length was sorely evident this week). But this is exactly how Risner wins in pass protection: he envelopes you. Doing it against one of the most productive pass rushers in the class? That's exactly what you want to see.
So we definitely saw Risner handle small school stars. Against the other big fish? Risner mixed it up all the same.
Thursday vs. Zach Allen
The battle between Allen and Risner raged all day on Thursday, culminating with the two coming to blows on the next rep they squared off in. But look at Risner press and extend to help negate the bull-rush attempt by Zach Allen on this rep. It's a great illustration of upper body strength and is an effective reaction to power rushes.
The strength of Risner is one of his best qualities. Trying to bump bellies with him isn't a way to break down his pass sets. Kudos to Risner for holding firm against a player in Allen that I liked a lot coming into the week. Oh, and anyone brash enough to swing on a dude wearing a helmet gets a round or two boost on the big board, too.
Thursday vs. Rennel Wren
Drop the mic, big fella. Risner squared off in the final session of the North team's practice against Arizona State's Rennel Wren and simply put, crushed it. Risner's patience prior to contact, framing of the rush and sink in the hips to reset and anchor are textbook.
It was an emphatic ending to two consecutive strong days for Risner. And when you comb through his college tape, you see plenty of the same trends:
- Hand placement
- Extension skills
Entering this week, I was skeptical of Risner's projection to offensive tackle. Exiting the week of practice, I've come around on the idea of seeing him stay on the outside. Kudos to Risner for a strong showing, he's a great example of why events like the Senior Bowl are so valuable.