Dallas Cowboys Draft Profile: Strengths
Darrisaw is listed at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, and like his weight would suggest he’s a fairly lean individual. He possesses the length to add weight at the professional level but with his current athletic ability, it might not be necessary.
Darrisaw moves well in space displaying solid agility and lateral quickness to engage first with defenders at the line of scrimmage. He displays enough acceleration and foot speed to block defenders in space and has the hip fluidity and change of direction to adjust defenders’ pursuit angles.
However, what might be Darrisaw’s most impressive trait is his play strength. He displays the leg strength to drive defenders away, the grip strength that leaves defenders unable to break his grasp, and the core strength to contort his upper body without giving up his anchor. The best part is a player with similar play strength in Penei Sewell weighs 350 pounds; Darrisaw weighs 315 and has a frame that is conducive to getting bigger.
A good athlete that can only get better? Sign me up!
Use of Hands
By far one of the most important attributes for any offensive lineman is a good usage of hands. Good hand placement on runs can cause defenders to lose leverage. Good punch location and timing in pass protection can leave defenders unable to use their pass rush plan.
Darrisaw is incredibly consistent with his usage of hands. He possesses consistent hand placement with both hands on the defender’s breastplate and shows good strength to lock out his arms and steer defenders on runs. Especially on zone runs, he is consistent at placing his inside hand on the defender’s outside shoulder on reach blocks and good hand placement on scoop blocks.
In pass protection, he has good punch location and timing, which combined with his good play strength, allows him to steer defenders in any direction. You’ve often heard with players like Tyron Smith that “if he gets his hands on you, you aren’t going to break his grasp”; that is the case with Darrisaw as his grip strength often sends defenders to the ground instead of towards the quarterback.
I just mentioned Darrisaw’s good athletic ability and good use of hands, but I specifically mentioned his ability to reach and scoop block on zone runs. Consistent footwork, good mobility, good use of hands, and good leg strength are necessary in order to get the most out of zone runs.
Because Darrisaw is everything I mentioned above in addition to his good mental processing on running plays, Darrisaw becomes the perfect zone blocking tackle. (Well kind of, no one is perfect) He knows what his assignments are pre-snap and obviously displays consistent technique to win at the line of scrimmage.
If his job is to seal the first level defender inside and move to the second level, he displays good play speed to locate his second-level defender assignment and then attack the defender driving him very likely into the ground. If he is responsible for carrying the first-level defender on the base block he does so with ease because of his good hands, athletic ability, and technique.
If it isn’t clear, Darrisaw is a really good run blocker. Virginia Tech had the 25th most rushing attempts per game and finished with the tenth most rushing yards per game in college football this season. The team’s bread and butter is the outside zone run but they definitely have their fair number of powers and dives.
Darrisaw doesn’t have to move laterally as much but he does have to use his leg strength and good pad level to drive first-level defenders back; something he does frequently. Darrisaw generally displays a good understanding of leverage when run blocking and that’s a big part of the equation on gap runs.
By far the most impressive aspect of Darrisaw’s game is his anchor. At 315 pounds he’s fairly light to play tackle at the next level, but his core strength, leg strength, and pad level allow him to plant his feet into the ground against power and bull rushes. Even if defenders get underneath and drive his pad level up, he still maintains his balance, a result of his good core strength, and doesn’t collapse the pocket.