Riley Reiff: 6 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of 2012 NFL Draft Prospect

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IApril 26, 2012

Riley Reiff: 6 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of 2012 NFL Draft Prospect

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    Size, strength and experience.

    What more could you possibly want in a future franchise left tackle?

    Riley Reiff has all three, which is why he is all but guaranteed to be a first round selection in this year's NFL draft.

    The 6'6", 315 pound left tackle was a three-year starter at Iowa and a productive one at that. He started every game in his collegiate career and helped pave the way for one of the most consistent run games in the nation over the past three seasons.

    So, what does Reiff need to focus on in order to become a star at the NFL level?

    Let's break down six strengths and weaknesses of Riley Reiff's game.

    Bleacher Report Style!

STRENGTH: Great Size

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    Riley Reiff has the size and look of an NFL franchise left tackle.

    The former Iowa Hawkeye stands at 6'6", 315 pounds and he knows how to use his frame in pass protection. Reiff is a powerful blocker who can use his exceptional power and explosion to drive defenders away.

    Reiff uses his size most effectively when speed rushers try to come in off the edge. He can run them wide of the pocket and does a fantastic job of protecting his quarterback's blind side.

    Many offensive tackles have great size, but don't necessarily know how to use it to their advantage.

    Riley Reiff does.

WEAKNESS: Short Arms

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    When NFL mock drafts began to surface in February, most of them had Reiff being selected in the first 15 picks.

    However, leading up to the draft, Reiff's name began to slip on draft boards. One of the main reasons for that slip is because NFL scouts are worried about his short arms.

    Reiff's arms measured in at 33 1/4" at this year's combine, which is extremely small for someone of his size at the offensive tackle position. This is concerning because NFL teams will look at this guy to protect the edge and use his arms to hold off pass-rushing defensive ends.

    To put this into comparison, Matt Kalil, who is considered to be the other top-notch offensive tackle prospect in this draft along with Reiff, has arms that measure 34 1/2".

    This is a noticeable weakness, but if it didn't affect his play in college, why should we believe it will make a difference going forward?

STRENGTH: Pass Protection

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    There are those players who are aggressive and extremely physical out on the football field, and then there are those players who are true technicians working within the box.

    In Riley Reiff's case, he has both attributes going for him, which makes him so good in pass protection.

    Reiff has good base and core strength, which allows him to stop bull rushing defensive ends. He uses his physicality to push rush ends to the outside and then becomes that technician with the use of his active hands and ability to slide his feet and adjust with ease. 

    Whatever quarterback Riley Reiff is protecting in the near future, they should feel good about that blind side being heavily protected.

WEAKNESS: Lacks Power

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    Reiff is a big offensive tackle, but he isn't the most powerful tackle in this draft class.

    On occasion, he will get driven back into the quarterback when he stands up too straight and loses power. At the next level, it's possible that bigger defensive ends could take advantage of his lack of leverage and push him over.

    Reiff's straight stance can also take away his recovery quickness.

    This is something he will have to learn and improve on in the future.

STRENGTH: Awareness

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    "Keep your head on a swivel."

    Growing up and playing in youth leagues, that is something that coaches will always tell offensive lineman. There may not be another lineman in this draft class who does that as well as Riley Reiff.

    If you watch him play, this kid always knows his surroundings and what's going on around him. He has above average instincts with the ability to even pick up stunts in pass protection.

    This kid has all the tools needed to have a bright future at the next level.

WEAKNESS: Wasn't Battle Tested

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    If you take a look at Iowa's 2011 schedule, Reiff really wasn't tested much against top-notch defensive ends.

    His biggest competition came against Michigan State's William Gholston, which was an outstanding battle between two elite level players.

    But outside of Gholston, there really wasn't much. If you look at the top 10 defensive ends in this year's draft class, Whitney Mercilus is the only one from a Big Ten school, and Iowa didn't play Illinois this past season.

    Reiff will get tested right away in the NFL, and if he is going to be a starter as a rookie, he better get ready for that.