Offensive Tackle #71
rSr 6-7 305
Alex Cappa has a chance to be the biggest riser in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Standing at 6’7″ tall and weighing in at around 305 pounds, Cappa looks exactly like what the NFL wants at offensive tackle. However, Cappa didn’t exactly play in a football powerhouse at Humboldt State. I don’t say that to knock his talent, but scouts and general managers will have to weigh talent against the competition. Alex Cappa was invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, which will give him the opportunity to show NFL execs exactly what he can do against top competition.
Alex Cappa Strengths
Like I stated previously, Cappa possesses ideal size for an NFL left tackle. One thing that can plague tall offensive tackles is pad level. However, Cappa does a good job of sitting in his stance in pass protection, which allows him to absorb a defenders power. The ability to protect the passer is a prerequisite for Offensive Tackles in the NFL. An inability to do so will cost them their job. Cappa does a good job of using his length to keep defenders off of his frame. Cappa is tall enough that leverage will be a do or die thing for him in the NFL, as it is for most tackles.
Pass protection starts with a good base. Cappa has a wide base, which allows him to adjust to defenders. Once a tackles feet get close together, they tend to lose their balance. The ability to stay in front of a defender means nothing if the tackle can be pushed over. Cappa also does a good job of attacking pass rushers. Once Cappa has dropped into his pass set there is a tremendous amount of space on either side of him. He neutralizes this by closing space between him and the defender, which reduces the amount of time the defender can set up a pass rush move. Additionally, in the NFL pass rushers like Danielle Hunter and Von Miller have the ability to shoot gaps before the tackle can react. Closing out on a pass rusher doesn’t mean lunging at them, instead, it means stopping the pass set, and taking a step forward to initiate contact.
The ability to sit into a pass set is as important as any for a tackle. As an offensive tackle, it is important to be able to bend at the knees to drop pad level. Why? It increases balance. How many time has Von Miller gotten a tackle off balance, grabbed their jersey, and pulled them past him? Too many times. Offensive tackles that can drop their butt, and keep their chest high, have much better balance. Additionally, if a tackle leans into a defender too much, and loses hand placement they can completely fall off the block.
Hand usage is one of the most important tools of an offensive lineman. Many coaches call the chest plate of a defensive lineman the “steering wheel”. This is because it allows the offensive lineman to drive the defender. Holding calls come from offensive linemen grabbing outside, often due to a missed initial punch. At 6’7″ Cappa will have to do a good job working on hand placement, because if not refs will have no choice but to call holding. Cappa does an excellent job of keeping his arms slightly bent in the run game, which allows him to have more control of his defender.
Cappa flashes the ability to toss defenders. He also routinely shows the ability to move defenders out of rushing lanes. Core strength allows tackles to move defenders around their frame, and Cappa has shown he is capable of moving most defenders. Again, he hasn’t gone against a ton of NFL level talent. However, I think he will show good core strength at the Senior Bowl.
Cappa is a mean run blocker. Offensive linemen have to be a little on the crazy side. They have to enjoy crashing into a brick wall all day while 220-pound men run at their back. It isn’t a job for people that are 100% sane. However, offensive linemen have a certain mindset. They enjoy forcing defenders to go somewhere, against their will. They also enjoy reminding defenders that they will be there all game. That is Cappa’s mindset. He enjoys blocking too, and through, the whistle. He has no problem pancaking a defender away from the play. Hell, he seems to enjoy it.
Alex Cappa Weaknesses
Cappa is a massive man, which can lead to some problems. In the run game, Cappa struggles with his pad level. He gets away with it at Humboldt State, but it will really hurt him in the NFL. It doesn’t matter how long his arms are if he stands straight up. Defensive ends like Everson Griffen and Brandon Graham make their money getting under a tackle’s pads. Cappa is stronger than everyone he plays now, he will not be at the next level. He will need to fix his pad level in the NFL, and that shouldn’t be a very difficult fix.
The fact that he hasn’t seen many NFL caliber pass rushers isn’t Cappa’s fault. However, it definitely hurts him when it comes to his NFL future. There is just something about seeing guys set up pass rush moves that improves a tackles talent. Very few guys at the college level have a pass rush “arsenal”. An even smaller percentage of those guys hail from Division II. Cappa will need to experience an NFL pass rush before he can get used to the speed of it.
Cappa has all of the tools to succeed at the next level. He is a mountain of a man, and his frame looks like it could hold up to 10-15 more pounds. Cappa is a solid athlete and technically sound in just about everything he does. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to improve. He isn’t Jon Ogden. He needs to work on a few things, but if he tests well at the combine, and excels at the Senior Bowl, he could shoot up draft boards.