A Complete Timeline for the NFL Draft's Top Prospect, Luke Joeckel
Luke Joeckel's rise to becoming the top prospect in the 2013 NFL draft has been a sudden one. In three years, he joined Texas A&M, became its starting left tackle and emerged as the best offensive lineman in the country.
His timeline begins with his recruitment to the Aggies.
2010 - Recruitment
Joeckel opted to join Texas A&M despite a host of other offers. Among those the former Arlington High School star rebuffed were SEC powerhouses Alabama and LSU.
Joeckel also tuned away from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Matt Wixon of DallasNews.com called Joeckel the top-ranked recruit at his position in the 2010 high school class. Wixon also noted Joeckel went on to justify that billing.
Once he arrived at Texas A&M, it didn't take Joeckel long to win a starting spot.
2010 - Becoming a Starter in His Freshman Season
In his first year with the Aggies, Joeckel wasted no time establishing himself as the anchor of their offensive line. He was a starter at left tackle in every game during his freshman year.
His performances quickly earned recognition. Joeckel was awarded honorable mention All-Big 12 and the pattern for his dominance with the Aggies was set.
2011 - Dominating as a Sophomore
Joeckel was a dominant force as a sophomore. He again played every game and was the foundation for everything Texas A&M did offensively.
Joekel's blocking provided quarterback Ryan Tannehill the platform to succeed. Head coach Mike Sherman's offense thrived thanks to Joeckel's ability to keep defenders off Tannehill.
By the end of the season, Joeckel was again showered with awards. He was an Associated Press pick for All-Big 12 first-team recognition.
July 2012 - Moving to the SEC and Blocking for Johnny Manziel
In July 2012, Joeckel and Texas A&M officially joined the prestigious SEC. That meant Joeckel was set to face the top defenses in collegiate football, including Nick Saban's Alabama.
Despite the clear step up in competition, Joeckel never looked out of place in the SEC. In fact, he continued to thrive and was just as dominant.
ESPN.com quoted Joeckel talking about the value of being challenged by the elite talent in the SEC:
Going against the best competition is going to get me ready for the next step, Joeckel said. This year I went against probably five guys that could be going in the first round ... and I think that definitely improved my game.
Not only did Joeckel successfully corral some of the nation's best pass-rushers, but he also helped turn another Aggies quarterback into a star.
When Johnny Manziel replaced Tannehill under center, it transformed the Texas A&M offense. With Tannehill at the helm, Joeckel blocked for a pro-based, West Coast scheme.
Manziel prompted a shift to a spread offense with some read-option principles tweaked in. Joeckel proved his versatility by creating enough lanes for Manziel to use his mobility to exploit defenses.
Manziel was also kept free from pressure with Joeckel securing his blindside. That allowed Manziel to dominate enough highlight reels to win the Heisman Trophy.
For proving himself skilled and versatile enough to anchor two such diverse schemes, Joeckel received a reward of his own.
2012 - Winning the Outland Trophy
The awards didn't stop coming for Joeckel, and in 2012, he received the best of all. His blocking efforts for Manziel won him the Outland Trophy.
That was recognition of Joeckel as the nation's best interior lineman. It also cemented his position as one of the most coveted prospects in the 2013 NFL draft.
January 2013 - Officially Enters NFL Draft
In January of this year, Joeckel declared his intention to enter the NFL draft. AggieAthletics.com reported the news on January 8th.
The site quoted Joeckel describing his decision and his reasoning:
I have thought long and hard and visited with my family and coaches. I feel it is in my best interest to come out. I appreciate all that Texas A&M has done for me and my family. It is tough to leave a great group of coaches and players, including my twin brother Matt. I know they will have a great season in 2013 and I will remain their biggest fan.
ProFootballTalk.com's Michael David Smith immediately labelled Joeckel the draft's "potential top pick."
February 2013 - Endured Poor Showing at NFL Combine
Just for a moment, Joeckel's status as the jewel of this draft haul seemed in doubt after a poor showing at the combine in February.
Joeckel struggled with many of the contact drills. However, what caused most concern was his sluggish 40-yard dash time.
USA Today Sports' Tony Pauline broke down Joeckel's combine failings:
His 40-time of 5.30 was average while his 10-yard split of 1.81 was outright poor. During drills Joeckel was nothing more than ordinary and did not look like an early first-round selection.
Despite this setback, Joeckel would soon rebound an reassure scouts that he belongs at the top of this draft class.
March 2013 - Shines at Texas A&M Pro Day
Joeckel recovered from his nightmare at the combine with an assured performance during Texas A&M's pro day. With NFL head coaches Rex Ryan and Dennis Allen in attendance, Joeckel didn't waste his opportunity to impress.
The Dallas Morning News quoted Oakland Raiders head coach Allen's praise for Joeckel:
I think he’s not only a good football player but he’s an impressive young man, Allen said. When you look at him, that’s the thing that says this guy is going to make it in the National Football League.
The confident performance at the pro day helped to re-establish Joeckel as the most likely candidate for the draft's top pick.
April 2013 - Receives Official Draft Invitation
On April 11th, Sean Lester of DallasNews.com reported that Joeckel had officially been invited to this year's draft.
While this is merely a formality, it is the last step on Joeckel's timeline before he becomes a top-10 pick on April 25th.
Joeckel's bio information courtesy of AggieAthletics.com and CBS Sports' NFLDraftScout.com.
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