After free agency, if there’s one glaring hole on the Las Vegas Raiders’ roster, it’s at right tackle, so the Raiders will likely turn to the NFL Draft to fill that vacancy. Arizona State’s Kellen Diesch is a mid-round option for Las Vegas to address that problem, and he’d certainly bolster their line in pass protection.
OT | ASU | 6’7 1/8” and 301 lbs | Trophy Club, TX | August 23rd, 1997 (24.7)
Kellen Diesch began his college career at Texas A&M as a four-star recruit and the No. 11 offensive tackle in the country for the 2016 class, per 247 Sports. However, he struggled to get playing time with the Aggies, registering just 133 snaps and no starts in four years.
The Trophy Club, Texas native transferred to Arizona State before the 2020 season, and that decision proved to be fruitful. As a Sun Devil, he made 17 starts, only allowed 11 pressures — three sacks — and earned PFF run-blocking grades of 79.0 and 84.3.
- Primarily likes to use 45-degree sets in pass protection with impressive agility to cover ground laterally, and he adjusts to the width of the rusher to split the rusher’s crotch with his first step and avoid oversetting
- His pacing on his sets allows him to stay in front of EDGEs without opening up inside lanes
- He has good foot quickness in pass pro that can be a bigger asset if he can get his get-off down and stop false stepping
- Very good timing with his punch, he typically makes contact with the defender first and keeps them off-balance by mixing up his timing and flashing hands
- Consistently lands with his hands on the defensive lineman’s chest and keeps his hands inside
- Strong grip strength to help stay engaged with defensive ends, combined with a strong inside shoulder to hold up against counters
- Recognizes when the pass rusher has reached the point of no return, — about even with the quarterback — opens the gate and gets his hands on the rusher’s side to ride them by
- As a run blocker in general, he’s physical at the point of attack and has good leg drive and a solid base to generate some movement against EDGEs
- On outside zone runs, his leg drive and base allow him to ride defensive ends’ outside when he can’t seal the edge on a reach block, and he’s good at selling the cut-off block then throwing a cut block at the last second to get ends on the ground when blocking on the backside.
- His physicality at the POA and strength allow him to turn defensive ends’ shoulders as the first blocker on a combo block
- As the second blocker on combos, he stays tight to the guard to avoid creating creases and making it easier to take over the defensive lineman, and his leg drive allows him to get some push against defensive tackles off combos
- Can create vertical movement with tight ends on double teams
- When pulling, he has no wasted movement initially, stays tight to the line of scrimmage, has good speed to get to the spot and keeps his feet moving through contact to kick out EDGEs and linebackers
- Run blocks with a finishing mentality and is a snap to whistle type of player
Areas of Improvement:
- Light for an NFL offensive tackle and has short arms — 32 1/4”
- He doesn't have a terrible get-off but it is sub-par
- When using a vertical set in pass protection, he false steps and with his slower get-off, he might struggle to stay in front of speed rushers at the next level. Also has a habit of being on his heels when vertical setting.
- On 45-degree sets, his heels get close to clicking when moving laterally
- Has questionable mental alertness in pass protection, he had a few missed assignments on slide protections — that was the cause of at least one of the three sacks he allowed in college — and is late to recognize line games
- Struggles to drop his butt and anchor against bull rushers, his anchor is a work in progress and he’ll get walked back into the quarterback by bigger and more physical pass rushers
- As a run blocker in general, he likes to lean at the point of contact, has poor kneed bend that limits his leverage at 6’7”, and he lacks some power and strength to be a true ass-kicker that can drive defensive lineman off the block one-on-one
- When blocking outside zone runs, he struggles to adjust post-snap when the defensive line slants and linebackers blitz, he locks onto a man instead of his area
- Lacks some hip mobility to secure the edge on reach blocks, and his false steps and sub-par get-off are an issue here too
- He has wide hand placement that borders holding when run blocking horizontally
- Takes too steep of an angle when working up to the second level, often overrunning linebackers and creating inside lanes
- He’s late to see crashing linebackers on combo blocks to come off the first level and get a clean block on the backer
- Struggles to stay engaged versus linebackers when they work laterally around his block
NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board rank: 180th overall, 6th round
Diesch’s stock has taken a significant nose dive lately. On March 2nd, he was 131st on NMDD’s board, then fell to No. 148 on April 1st and slid even further just a few days later. I think that’s because he’ll be old for a rookie, doesn’t cross the 33” arm threshold and is a questionable run blocker. However, in my opinion, he’s worth a fourth- or fifth-round pick with his athletic ability and skills in pass protection.
Schematically, the former Sun Devil is a tough projection. He has a few things to clean up with his footwork on vertical sets to be a perfect fit in any type of passing attack, which his athleticism should help with. But in the ground game, his struggles blocking on zone runs are concerning and he doesn’t have the profile of someone who would be effective in a gap system, either. I think the latter would be the best fit for Diesch at least right away so that the coaching staff can take advantage of his ability to pull and give him more help on run blocks with double teams.
What do we need to know?
How high, or low, is his ceiling? I mentioned that Diesch is an impressive athlete which could help his development at the next level, but again, he’ll be an old rookie and spent six years in college so it’s a little concerning that he hasn’t put it all together yet. Maybe he’s a late bloomer, or maybe this is about as good as it gets and that’s why he struggled to get playing time at Texas A&M.
Fit with the Raiders:
As mentioned above, the Raiders need a right tackle and while the ASU product exclusively played on the left in Tempe, he has the athleticism to switch sides. He should be available when Las Vegas picks in the fourth-round — 126 overall — and could even still be on the board with their fifth-round picks — 164 and 165 overall.
Diesch would have an opportunity to start in year one as he’s probably a better pass blocker than Alex Leatherwood and Brandon Parker, but those two are superior run blockers so nothing would be guaranteed for the rookie. That would make for an interesting three-way position battle during training camp.
As far as the scheme goes, Josh McDaniels used a bunch of gap runs last year in New England so if that trend continues, hoping from desert to desert might be a good fit for Diesch. The passing game shouldn’t be much of an issue, but McDaniels does like to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly which should make for an easy transition for the former Sun Devil.
This is a beautiful pull by Kellen Diesch (LT):— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) April 5, 2022
-Pivots & turns with no wasted movement
-Solid speed to beat the LB to the spot
-Keeps his feet moving thru contact & creates a rushing lane a semi could run throughpic.twitter.com/ueuzBrrYF5
Good ex of Kellen Diesch’s (LT) grip strength in pass pro pic.twitter.com/FYoQbU3bDa— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) April 5, 2022
Drake Jackson’s best move IMO is an inside stick…but not against Kellen Diesch (LT) tho pic.twitter.com/vl92atHH1Z— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) April 5, 2022
Kellen Diesch (LT) & the LG working the scoop block on a DE, Diesch is physical at the POA & gets the DE's shoulders turned to make it easy for the LG to take over & create an outside lane…if the TE doesn't get his ass kicked pic.twitter.com/qph36FaDP2— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) April 5, 2022
Pin & Pull here from ASU where the WR is supposed to block Devin Lloyd…luckily, Kellen Diesch (LT) recognizes the WR's business decision and is there for the save to help pick up the 1st pic.twitter.com/JEukmYlxSV— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) April 5, 2022