I've been high on Riley Reiff for a long time now but draftniks had convinced me that because he has 33.2" arms that he is destined to be a RT. Given that #10 is too high for a RT, I had naturally been looking the other way for our #10 spot.
I decided to take a deeper look at Reiff as a potential candidate for LT and I relooked at the importance that we collectively give to arm length in general as it pertains to LT candidates.
Riley Reiff is a solid 3 year starter from Iowa. At 6'6" and 300lbs with room to add muscle to his frame, he has great size for the position. He has a very powerful lower body with quick feet. He is a very smart, hard worker with a great motor. Excellent in run blocking and a good pass protector. He plays with a mean streak and plays to the whistle. So why do many project him as a RT? Simple answer - his arm length.
If this guy had 36" arms, he'd probably be ranked higher than Kalil because I think he has a better mental makeup than Kalil. So i decided to take a look at what 33.2" arms really means.
I found this article that dates back to 2009 from a Rams blogger (Nolan Nawrocki), which talked specifically about arm length. It's a very good article.
I was amazed to discover that Joe Thomas who is highly regarded as a top tier LT, only has 33.75" arms. I never realized that some of the better LTs in this league had such short arms, guys like Roos (32.25" arms), Peters (33.13"), Diehl (33.75"), Matt Light (33.5"), Gross (33.25").
Let's just consider Matt Light for example, he has protected the blind side protector of Tom Brady for 11 years. Tom Brady is not a mobile QB so he needs decent protection otherwise he's toast. They've won 3 Superbowls together. Matt Light is only 6'4" 305lbs with 33.5" arms.
Let me summarize the majority of the scouting reports on Riley Reiff:
- Blue Collar, hard working, high motor guy.
- Very intelligent
- Good frame at 6'6" 300lbs, room to add muscle bulk
- Excellent in the run blocking game, plays with a mean streak
- Very good pass protector, very strong lower body and quick feet
Not extremely athletic
Average arm length
Lacks technique in pass blocking (can improve)
Jonathan Martin in comparison is more of a finesse LT. Slightly better physical measurables but his lack of work ethic is often the thing scouts talk about. Reiff in my opinion is a much better fit in Buffalo.
Here are some great scouting reports on Reiff:
Through my research I also found another article dating back to 2002 entitled: The hit parade at left tackle. This article discusses the importance of drafting LTs in the first round ("In the past 10 drafts, 81 percent of the 43 tackles chosen in the first round have played like first-round picks"). It's a great article even though that was the year that the Bills royally missed the mark by drafting Mike Williams with the 4th overall pick of the 2002 NFL draft. Drafting is not a perfect science obviously but this article discusses the fact that the majority of LTs drafted in the first round go on to have very successful careers whereas those drafted in other rounds are very hit and miss.
Here's an excerp of the article: "Most teams rather would not expend a first-round choice on an offensive lineman," Hanifan says. "They'd rather use it on a playmaker, a skill-position athlete or a pass rusher. But if you don't have a left tackle, you'll have to put the tight end over there or chip with the back to eliminate the right defensive end. That takes away from the offense and lets the defense dictate."
The importance of the left tackle can't be overstated. Savage says it is perceived almost as another skill position because what the left tackle does is almost as important as handling the ball. A great one like Ogden makes other players on the line better.
Another reason for choosing a left tackle early is those players tend to be cornerstones who endure. "There is no guarantee when you take one high he's going to be a player," Tobin says. "But if you get a good one, and you usually can, they come in, play early and play long."
And that's what a first-round pick is supposed to do."
So in summary I am admitting that I was wrong in the past few weeks when discussing the possibilities at #10. I think that given our situation at Left Tackle, there is no way that we can pass on Riley Reiff at #10. He is absolutely a day 1 starter that would be an instant upgrade over Hairston. Will Reiff ever develop into a probowl caliber LT? no clue. But can he stabilize the position? absolutely! I think that he buys us peace of mind and Buddy can continue to draft OT's in later rounds and who knows maybe he hits the jackpot down the road like he did with McNeil but in the meanwhile we've really improved our teams biggest weakness with a day 1 starter.
For the record, this research has also changed my draft board. I have convinced myself that Reiff is a solid LT prospect, which considerably increases his value on my board. I have him ranked 9th on my board.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.