From now until the 2024 NFL Draft takes place, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections, and priority undrafted free agents. Today, a scouting report on Houston OT Patrick Paul.
#76 PATRICK PAUL, OT, HOUSTON – (R-JUNIOR) 6070, 333 POUNDS
Senior Bowl Invite
— Has great size, height, and length for the position
— Good athlete who can move out in space and climb to the second level
— Can pull from the tackle spot to make blocks down the line of scrimmage
— Boxing background shows up in use of independent hands in pass protection
— Condor-like wingspan allows him to establish first contact on nearly every rep
— Can extend arms to keep defenders from getting to his chest
— Will be hard for pass rushers to work around thanks to sheer size and length
— Possesses adequate hip and knee bend
— Fluid mover laterally in pass protection
— Does a good job washing defenders down the line or kicking them out toward the sideline
— Can play with some nasty, finishing blocks to the turf
— Does a great job picking up twists and stunts
— Battle-tested with 44 starts at left tackle
— Can be more consistent as a finisher in the run-blocking department
— Allows defenders to cross his face on inside rushes
— Kick step in pass protection can be inconsistent when setting the depth of the pocket
— Can do a better job holding his hands in the cradle in pass protection
— Will get hands outside defenders’ chest on their shoulders
— Will overset on occasion, opening up counter rush lanes
— Can stand to stay engaged on run fits longer
— Redshirt Junior prospect from Houston, TX
— Born November 1, 2000
— First-generation American who spent some time living in Nigeria
— Brothers Chris and Nick Paul played collegiate football with Chris, currently with the Washington Commanders
— Three-star recruit who prepped at Jersey Village High School
— Finished fourth on the school’s all-time list in discus and sixth in the shot put
— Committed to Houston and started the final three games at left tackle in 2019, playing 195 snaps
— Started first two games of the season in 2020 and missed remainder of the season with foot/ankle injury, played 159 snaps
— Started all 14 games at left tackle in 2021 and played 1,000 snaps, allowed three sacks
— Started all 13 games at left tackle in 2022 and played 921 total snaps, nation’s No. 2-graded pass blocker among tackles by PFF (91.1) with one sack allowed
— Started all 12 games at left tackle (778 total snaps) and allowed one sack and quarterback hit, national-best 91.5 pass block grade among tackles (PFF)
— Second-Team All-America (2023), First Team All-Big 12 (2023), First Team All-AAC (2021, 2022)
— Two-time team captain (2022-23)
— Earned Bachelor of Science in Retailing & Consumer Science
Patrick Paul is an intriguing draft prospect for several reasons. His family immigrated from Nigeria, making him a first-generation American. He grew up enamored with the martial arts and currently takes up boxing as a hobby outside of football. He wants to be a politician once he finishes his football career and has developed into one of the more underrated offensive tackles in this draft class.
When you pop in the tape on Paul, you see a massive man with an enormous wingspan, even for offensive tackles. This reach allows Paul to keep opposing pass rushers at bay as he extends his arms to lock out defenders from getting into his chest to get off blocks. Watch this rep against Texas Tech where Paul extends his arms on the defender when he gets passed off by the left guard, mirroring the defender with good active feet along with arms underneath his breastplate to neutralize the defender for the entire rep.
Paul boasted a 98.9% pass block efficiency in 2023, which is an incredible feat for a team playing in an Air Raid offense that is passing a majority of the time. Paul is the only FBS tackle to post a 90.0 pass-blocking grade or better, according to Pro Football Focus the last two seasons, speaking to his dominance in that aspect of his game. Watch Paul in the clip below do a great job of passing off the defender on the twist to the left guard, picking up the looping defender as he stalls his rush and drives him forward, taking him down to the turf at the end of the rep.
When Paul gets his hands on you in pass protection, the rep is usually over. His condor-like wingspan, combined with his sheer size, make it difficult to move him off his spot, keeping defenders away from his frame as he anchors in against the rush. Watch this rep where Paul gets his hands inside the defender’s chest plate, digging his heels into the ground as he stands up the pass rusher and ends the rush before the defender can get into the pocket.
When it comes to run blocking, Paul does a good job working out in space for a bigger guy, having the athleticism and movement skills to get out in front on screens, climb to the second level, or operate pulling from the tackle position. Here are a couple of plays of Paul climbing to the second level or working out in space, making blocks on smaller, quicker defenders to create running lanes.
Paul can show some nasty and finish as a run blocker as well, having the tenacity to finish defenders into the turf. Take a look at this two-play sequence with Paul latching onto the linebacker in the first clip, running him down the line, and pancaking him into the turf at the end of the play. In the second clip, we see Paul take the defensive lineman and toss him out of the club, putting him on the ground to clear the way for the quarterback keeper after the fake give on the jet sweep.
A negative that sticks out about Paul’s game is his hand placement, as he tends to get his hands caught outside the defender’s shoulders on first contact. Watch on this rep as Paul wraps the pass rusher with a big bear hug as the defender starts to round the corner on him, escorting him out of the play around the arc of the pocket. Paul kept his quarterback clean, but he may draw some unwanted yellow hankies at the next level if that trend continues to persist.
Another negative of Paul’s game is that he tends to let defenders cross his face too often, being vulnerable to counter-rushes. Here are a couple of examples where Paul oversets the defensive lineman in the first clip, failing to maintain his block in the down block as the defender works across him to make the tackle on the runner. In the second clip, the defender gets right into Paul’s chest with a long arm and proceeds to cross his face, getting into the pocket as the quarterback starts to scramble, managing to pick up the first down.
Patrick Paul is a long, athletic prospect who has a lot of qualities that NFL evaluators are going to love. His arm length, size, and movement skills make him an ideal blind side protector, having represented himself well there the last three seasons at Houston while also shining as a run blocker. He needs to clean up his hand placement issues, as well as finishing blocks more consistently, but the film, as well as the traits are there for Paul to become a quality starting tackle in the league for a long time.
As far as pro comparisons go, Paul reminds me a lot of Morgan Moses for the Ravens as a guy with similar size, length, and movement skills for that position. Moses has played almost exclusively at right tackle for his career and is a better run blocker than pass protector, but he shares similar qualities and traits that Paul does as a former third-round pick who has become a quality starter in the league for almost a decade.
I foresee Paul going early on Day Two of the draft, if not sneaking into the back half of Day One. The Pittsburgh Steelers need another tackle to pair with Broderick Jones for the future. Paul could be that guy, having still a long way to go before reaching his ceiling as a player with plenty of tantalizing qualities to make him an attractive option with one of Pittsburgh’s first two picks.
Projection: Late First/Early Second Round
Depot Draft Grade: 8.5 – Future Quality Starter (Second Round)
Games Watched: at Texas Tech (2023), vs UTSA (2023) vs West Virginia (2023), at Kansas State (2023)