As the draft moves closer and closer; the more I feel that the Falcons will not be taking a defensive lineman in the first round. They have loaded up on some quality depth signings at defensive tackle and added Adrian Clayborn to give them some more options at defensive end. The Falcons will draft defensive lineman, but it appears to be a secondary need behind the offensive line; which makes Cody Ford, the offensive tackle out of Oklahoma, an intriguing selection with the 14th overall pick.
Ford has unteachable size at 6’4″, 346 pounds. That’s why some draft experts are assuming he will be a better fit at the guard spot where he can make the most out of his run-blocking capabilities. However, I don’t see many red flags with him playing tackle, and it’s where he will be the most valuable to whoever drafts him.
Let’s begin with Ford’s aforementioned run-blocking. Plain and simple: He’s a mauler in the run game with enough power to put other 300+ pound men into the dirt. Ford’s also fleet of foot for a player that is nearly 350 pounds, allowing him to get to the second level. If he gets his hands on a linebacker or someone in the secondary, they don’t have a chance at making the play. Ford finishes his blocks and can be seen on tape moving defenders 5+ yards out of the hole. Dan Quinn has emphasized getting bigger and stronger on the offensive line and enforcing their will on their opponents, particularly in the running game. That’s precisely what Cody Ford excels at.
As a pass blocker, he needs a little more work to become a premier tackle at the next level, but all the attributes are there for it to happen. Ford possesses light feet and has an exceptional kick slide that will make some jaws drop considering his size. Once he gets his paws on a defender, they are likely out of the play. Most of his struggles in pass protection came from speed rushers that were able to establish leverage up the field. However, his quickness along with his long arms make that difficult to do, and Ford will only improve as he spends more time at the position.
Sometimes I take offensive results with a grain of salt when it comes to Big 12 players. Defense isn’t exactly emphasized in that conference as we all know, but Ford straight up dominated defenders every week. He’s a fantastic athlete that has no problem getting out in space and laying out blocks. In the run game, he’s as physical as they come and the type of player that doesn’t stop until the whistle blows.
Concerns about him being able to play right tackle are unfounded. He has unbelievable size, ideal arm length, and is tremendously agile. However, if for some reason he struggled, he could still be a bulldozing guard for whoever drafts him. The Falcons need a right tackle but also are looking for long-term solutions at guard, making Ford a slam dunk either way you look at it.