2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Ronnie Stanley
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Over the past three seasons, Stanley was a consistent and effective blocker for Notre Dame. As a sophomore, he started at right tackle and was part of a line that allowed only eight sacks on the season. In 2014, Stanley took over at left tackle with Zack Martin in the NFL and did a great job for the Fighting Irish. Stanley generated a ton of late-season buzz in 2014, and he put an exclamation point on it by getting the better of the top 2015 NFL Draft-eligible defensive lineman, USC's Leonard Williams, in limited plays against each other. It was only a few reps, but impressive nonetheless that Stanley was able to handle one of the best defensive linemen in college football.
As a senior, Stanley had a good season. He was very effective as a pass blocker and showed modest improvement in the ground game. Against Clemson, Stanley had some good plays and bad plays going against Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson. To close out the year, Stanley had a quality outing against Ohio State.
At the combine, sources said that Stanley had mixed interviews. When questioned about his lack of physicality, he retorted that "how could be so good without being physical?" That response didn't ease their doubts. Other teams picking high in the first round said they question Stanley's passion for the game and they probably will pass on him. Another team picking early in the 2016 NFL Draft said they felt that Stanley would be a better fit in the middle to late in the first round, but expected him to go in the top 16. Other sources have said that some teams grade Stanley higher and have him on a par with Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil, a candidate to go No. 1 overall.
The big knocks on Stanley come in his run blocking. Some teams feel that Stanley is not very physical with defenders and doesn't have a mean streak. He is inconsistent about finishing defenders off and also needs to improve his pad level. Stanley has strength, but isn't steady at producing movement in the ground game. He does pull well and is fast to the second level. Playing in a zone-blocking scheme would be Stanley's best fit as he isn't a mauler for a power-man scheme.
In pass protection, Stanley really excels. He has quick feet with length to shut off the corner from speed rushers. Stanley also is able to adjust to inside moves and keep defenders from pressuring the quarterback. He is very good at mirroring speed rushers coming off the edge. Stanley has issues with physical defensive ends, but he does have the strength in his base to anchor.
For the NFL, Stanley has the ability to be a franchise left tackle. He is a tap dancer who can handle fast edge rushers. Stanley would be best in a passing-driven offense. Teams vary on how high he should go in the first round, but the consensus belief is that he will be selected in the top-16 picks of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Stanley's game is similar to Ferguson. Both are cat quick for left tackles with the athleticism to handle speed rushers. They aren't overpowering in the ground game, but they have functional strength to not be weak players. I think Stanley could be a tackle similar to Ferguson in the NFL.
NFL Matches: Tennessee, San Diego, Jacksonville, Baltimore, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, New York Giants, Chicago, Miami, Oakland and Detroit
If the Titans are able to trade down for the No. 1 pick, Stanley could be in play for them. Sources with Tennessee say the finalists for the team's No. 1 pick are Jalen Ramsey, Laremy Tunsil and Joey Bosa, and that the team doesn't view Stanley as a "top of the draft" prospect.
San Diego likes King Dunlap, but the Chargers could consider upgrading their offensive line. Injuries have just ravaged San Diego's offensive front so getting blocker like Stanley would really help stabilize the Chargers' offense.
Luke Joeckel struggled once again in 2015. In Week 17, he gave up five sacks to the Texans and looked helpless trying to block J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. The Jaguars need to move him to guard and find a true left tackle to protect Blake Bortles. However, Jacksonville is more likely to draft for the defense.
The Ravens could consider Stanley as Eugene Monroe has had injuries while Ricky Wagner is in the last year of his contract. The 49ers, Dolphins and Bucs have bigger needs than offensive line help, but those franchises all could give consideration to Stanley. The Eagles could draft Stanley to be the eventual replacement for Jason Peters. As a rookie, Stanley could play guard for Philadelphia.
The Giants drafted Ereck Flowers last year, but they could use another tackle to pair with him. With Stanley, the franchise would have two talented young book-ends.
Chicago needs to upgrade its offensive tackles, and Stanley could make a lot of sense for the Bears. If Stanley gets past them, he shouldn't fall past the Raiders and Lions. Oakland needs a long-term left tackle to protect Derek Carr. Detroit needs a left tackle badly, and that would allow the Lions to move Riley Reiff to the right side.
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