2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Garett Bolles
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Every season, there are college football players who come from out of nowhere to be first-round picks in the NFL Draft. Bolles is one likely of those players this year, despite taking a long road to becoming standout in the Pac-12.
Bolles had a tough upbringing with legal issues in his close family. That led to Bolles to having some problems of his own, including marijuana usage in his teen years. However, Bolles matured and dedicated himself to staying out of trouble.
Bolles went the junior college route before transferring to Utah and becoming a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection for the Utes in 2016. He surprised many when he decided to skip his senior year and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
There some points of improvement for Bolles for the next level. He lacks experience and is physically underdeveloped for the NFL. Bolles also will be a 25-year old rookie after his long road to the pro game.
Bolles is an effective blocker for the ground game, but lacks power and strength. He does have a mean streak, which is a rare sight in the uptempo spread offenses that are dominating college football. Bolles is good at sustaining his blocks and keeping his defenders from making tackles. He is quick to the second level, can hit blocks in space, and is agile in the open field. Bolles isn't a blocker who blasts defenders off the ball, but he is effective at manipulating them and turning them to open up holes for his back. Bolles has the frame to add strength in a strength and conditioning program and could definitely become a solid run blocker.
The best strengths for Bolles come in pass protection as he is very reliable at protecting his quarterback. Bolles has a lot of good qualities that could lead to him being a starting left tackle in the NFL. He is quick out his stance and is very athletic, plus has quick feet, agility, and an impressive ability to bend at the knee. In pass protection, he can play the type writer with his feet and shuffle with speed rushers. Bolles gets depth in his drop as well. He also reacts quickly to stunts and shows good awareness to help his teammates when he doesn't have a man to block. Bolles still needs to add more strength in his lower body to get an improved base to hold up against strong five-techniques. Bolles frame doesn't look maxed out, however, and he should get stronger in a NFL strength and conditioning program.
Here is how one scout who knows Bolles discussed his off-the-field and age issues, "Like most people, they got some demons to deal with in life, but he was dealt a bad hand that wasn't his fault, so it's a credit to him as a man to have persevered to where he is. Your greatest warriors have that type of makeup, and that's why they are trustworthy when time comes to battle. He is super talented though. Lane Johnson was similar coming out.
Regarding Bolles' age, tackles generally can play a long time, like quarterbacks. Their injuries aren't catastrophic, historically, so age isn't too big of an issue for the most part. The game isn't near as physical or violent as it used to be, so your getting guys who now can play 12+ years. If you draft a guy at that position in Round 1 and are fortunate to get through a second contract with him, generally 8-10 years, that's a win regardless of if he's 24 or 26 the year he enters. You want the good ones to play into their 30s at that spot because they've proven they can still produce at a high level. With his athleticism he can probably extend it the mental catches up."
For the NFL, Bolles has the potential to be a starting left tackle and could play on the right side. Bolles should go in the back half of the first round or early in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Lane Johnson. Sources have compared Bolles to Lane Johnson, which makes a ton of sense. Both are very athletic with speed and upside to develop for the NFL. Like Bolles, Johnson also needed to add strength for the NFL when he was coming out. They also both have had some off-the-field issues at times, but generally aren't bad guys. In the NFL, I could see Bolles being a tackle similar to Johnson, although maybe not quite as good.
NFL Matches: Carolina, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Oakland, Houston, Denver, Minnesota, Seattle, Los Angeles Chargers
There are a lot of teams in need of offensive line help in the 2017 NFL Draft. The weakness of this class of tackles could benefit Bolles and end up in him going higher than expected because teams can't count on landing offensive tackle help on Day 2.
Baltimore lost Ricky Wagner in free agency and could consider Bolles to be the replacement. Denver needs a lot of help on the offensive line, and even though they signed Menelik Watson, the Broncos could use an upgrade at left tackle.
In the AFC South, the Colts need to continue to build up their offensive line to better protect Andrew Luck. Houston has to replace right tackle Derek Newton, and Bolles could be on the short list to be the Texans' pick. If Bolles gets to their first-rounder, he could easily be the selection for them.
In the AFC West, the Raiders has gotten good play out of Donald Penn, but they need to start grooming their long-term left tackle as Penn is aging. They also lost Menelik Watson in free agency, so they are thin at tackle. The Chargers signed Russell Okung to be their left tackle, but could use more help at guard. Bolles could start out inside and eventually move to tackle once he develops.
Seattle had one of the worst offensive lines in the league last year. If Bolles slides, he could be an upgrade for the Seahawks, and it is hard to see them passing on him.
If Bolles were to slip to the second round, the Browns need to find a right tackle after spending a lot on their interior offensive line. Bolles could be under consideration for their pick at No. 33. Buffalo also needs a new right tackle.
The Panthers would be an option. They neglected their tackle need last offseason to the detriment of Cam Newton. Carolina signed Matt Kalil to be its left tackle and is moving Michael Oher to the right side, but the organization could draft Bolles as an upgrade over Oher.
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