by Dan Pompei
March 27, 02013
There is a feeling among NFL scouts and front office men that Eric Fisher no longer is gaining on Luke Joeckel.
He is passing him.
And that could mean Fisher will be the first player selected in the NFL draft.
The early thinking was Joeckel was clearly the better player, a top five pick compared to a 10-to-20 pick. And that thinking was based on Joeckel’s game tape. At Texas A&M, against the best group of pass rushers on anyone’s schedule, Joeckel was very impressive. Fisher did not play against the same type of competition at Central Michigan. He did acquit himself well in the Senior Bowl, however.
Joeckel is a pretty complete physical package. And he is a finished product. Joeckel should be able to step into an NFL starting lineup immediately and remain there for ten years. “His angles are so good,” one AFC general manager said. “Everything is perfect with him. He’s technically smooth. He’s incredibly instinctive, and sometimes that passes people by.”
But this is why he might be leapfrogged by Fisher: Joeckel isn’t the athlete Fisher is. “Fisher is probably better in pass pro,” the AFC G.M. said. “He has better feet.”
Joeckel is the superior run blocker, according to scouts. But left tackles usually don’t get drafted based on their run blocking.
Fisher also has slightly better length. His arms are 34 ½ inches compared to 34 ¼ for Joeckel, and he is more than one inch taller.
What this means is NFL teams have begun to think Fisher can end up the better pro. Joeckel might already be all he can be. Fisher can be significantly better. “Because of his athleticism, he has more upside,” an NFC general manager said. “If you want upside, you take Fisher.”
It should be noted front office men are raving about Fisher’s mental makeup. There isn’t anything wrong with Joeckel’s mental makeup, but Fisher is off the charts. “Very smart, quiet, patient,” the AFC G.M. said. Two teams said Fisher’s interview was as impressive as any they did.
Really, both players look like can’t miss. It’s just a matter of whether or not a team wants to take a little more risk for potentially more payoff.
Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com.