Has really improved his overall pad level as a run blocker as a senior. Does a much better job sitting into his stance, firing off the football low, extending his arms and keeping his feet under him through contact. A downright dominant in-line guy at the I-AA level who can routinely get under defenders, lock out and drive linemen off the ball. Is also very coordinated on the move, possesses good range when asked to pull, step and seal quickly inside and does a great job breaking down and eliminating a defender at the second level.
Impression: A downright dominant small-school blocker with a great physical/athletic skill set. Needs to continue to improve his footwork on his kick-slide, but he's a gifted enough athlete to pick that up quickly. The biggest question for Ijalana is, where does he best fit? He's long enough to play left tackle and physical enough to play guard. Either way he's one of the better offensive line prospects at this stage and in my view you let him get comfortable at guard in year one and see if he can make the move to left tackle in year two."
Run blocking: Has the bulk, length and footwork to be a very effective run blocker. Crashes down to seal the edge for cutbacks on zone plays and bootlegs; FCS defensive linemen cannot stop him from taking them out of the play. Widens his base, goes out to meet the rush end on inside runs, controls them and pushes them back on most plays. Comes off the ball a hit high in short-yardage situations but drives off the snap well to move the line of scrimmage. Creates angles to wall off defenders from approaching the running lane.
Pulling/trapping: Excellent agility to get out of his stance, capable of moving behind the line and into the hole to negate linebackers. Once latched onto a defender, his strong hands and long arms make it difficult to disengage. Quick to cut block but must improve his effectiveness. Has a tough time adjusting to quick players in space, even if they are coming straight-on. Uses his long arms to get a hand on a defender but it is often not enough to take them out of the play.
Initial Quickness: Gets out of two-point or three-point stances quickly when focused off the snap, is very difficult for FCS ends to beat off the edge. Owns long, strong arms that, combined with his nimble feet, he uses to punch into his opponents' jersey and take them off the line on run plays. Occasionally loses the snap count or is distracted in pass protection, gets forced to cross his feet to reach ends before they get to the quarterback.
Downfield: Athletic and nimble enough to make an impact downfield, capable of getting to the second level and beyond to drive back defenders and free up ballcarriers. Struggles to take out targets in space, does not bend his knees or get his hands up quickly enough to engage. Stands around too much as the play continues, should be looking to take out another defender.
Intangibles: Excellent durability; started every game in his career, played through ankle injury in 2009. Plays through the whistle, does not back down from challenges. Nominated for the 2009 AllState AFCA Good Works Team."
Movement: It is apparent that Ijalana's lack of upper level coaching and experience lead to poor technique and limited balance. When watching him play, you have to take in account this fact because he appears to have poor movement but with some coaching he would appear more fluid. With that being said, he is not an elite athlete but does have some balance and coordination to his game.
Pass Blocking: Ijalana quickly gets out of his stance and into his kick slide. Once in his set, he has a tendency to back pedal and collapse the pocket. He needs to shuffle and slide towards the edge rather than backpedal into the pocket. Ijalana's long arms are a real asset in pass protection has it allows him to keep defenders off his frame. He tends to play a little high which limits his leverage and ability to absorb contact.
Quickness: Overall, Ijalana has good quickness that is hindered by poor footwork. He has explosiveness off the football and the ablity to reach defenders at the 2nd level.
Run Blocking: When evaluating an offensive lineman you want to see a bit of a nasty streak and Ijalana has the drive to finish off plays. He has a quick first step that gives him an advantage in getting inside hands and leverage. He uses his long arms to lock out the defender and drive them off the football. Ijalana needs to work on being more consistent with this technique and pad level but overall he has the skills to be an effective run blocker in the NFL.
Strength: Ijalana's upper body strength allows him to deliver a strong punch and remain engaged through contact. He has good lower body strength which is apparent when he drives defender off the football. However, he isn't a natural bender and has a slender lower half. Against the lower level competition, he was able to anchor but I have concerns about the competition he will face in the NFL.
Technique: Coaching is going to be key to Ijalana's development into a NFL player. He doesn't have a lot of experience and needs to work on a lot of different areas of his game. It first starts with consistently keeping his pad level low which he has shown a tendency to get high. His footwork in both pass protection and run blocking are less than ideal. He needs to work on taking shorter more coordinated steps in order to remain balanced throughout the play. Ijalana's kick slide is more of a backpedal and needs to be more of a shuffle and slide.
Final Word: Ijalana is a good looking prospect with the a ton of upside. His overall build and athletic ability will intrigue NFL teams because he is basically an un-molded piece of clay. I have concerns about his weight distribution and technique but most of those issues can be corrected with coaching. Something, you cannot teach is long arms and Ijalana has the length to effectively lock out defenders. He will also get some love because of his versatility. Ijalana has the size and skills to play either tackle or guard in the NFL."
Ijalana was a four year starter as a left tackle for the Wildcats, and he is a two time All-American. He was an Outland Trophy finalist in 2010, as the only FCS representative.
Ijalana’s athleticism is a big reason why he’s speculated to be either a left tackle, right tackle, or guard in the NFL. He is quite strong, and he has very good size for a guard at the next level. Despite being 6’4, he has long arms, and he uses his hands very well getting an excellent initial punch. He does a nice job of getting to the second level in the run game, and finishes blocks well. He is a leader, and has excellent intangibles. His football IQ is quite high, and he’s a very smart player. Ijalana is quick for a 320 pound body, and can play in space, and does a nice job in recovery.
Ijalana doesn’t really seem to have a mean streak and leaves more to be desired in pass protection at times. While he is strong and quick, he doesn’t always have a great drop step against speed rushers, and needs to use his long arms to his advantage, not letting defenders get in on his hands. He needs to improve his footwork technique. He has the quick feet to play left tackle, but he is best off moving inside to guard. His 6’4 height leaves more to be desired as well, in terms of playing tackle. The last worry about Ijalana is the fact that he never faced great competition playing in the FCS.
Ijalana is a bit raw, and will likely be groomed if his drafting team wants him to play tackle. But he has great physical tools and should be able to make an impact immediately on the inside. I’m not as optimistic as others in thinking he can play tackle, so I think he’ll drop into the middle of the second round as a top notch guard. The highest Ijalana could be drafted is at pick 23 with Philadelphia, who would love to add versatility to the offensive line. Atlanta, New England, Chicago, and Pittsburgh could all take a look at him in the first as well. The 41-50 range is most likely with teams like Washington, Houston, Detroit, Denver, and San Diego most likely coveting him.
NFL Comparison: Vladimir Ducasse"
Positive: Large, powerful college left tackle that projects to the right side in the NFL. Big bodied lineman with the size and strength to swallow or engulf defenders at the point of attack. Extends his hands, keeps his feet moving, and is patient in pass protection. Keeps his head on a swivel, shows good awareness, and easily controls opponents at the point of attack. Blocks with a wide base, uses his entire frame, and is effective when he bends his knees. Gets movement in run blocking and easily turns defenders from the action.
Negative: Lacks agility, struggles to adjust, and ineffective in motion. Lumbers about the field and does not display top footwork sliding out at left tackle. Exploited by speedy rushers. Struggled in the pre-draft process recovering from sports hernia surgery.
Analysis: Ijalana been productive throughout his college career and possesses enough size and strength to be used at right tackle or guard in the NFL. He improved his game as a senior when he was more diligent with his mechanics, and he will be productive in the NFL if he does the little things well on a consistent basis."
Negatives: Bends at the waist, needs to get better knee bend... Rises up to soon in pass protection, will play too upright at times... Doesn't always get and maintain good leverage in pass protection... Allows his footwork to get choppy... Can be beat by quick fluid edge rushers... Reasonably good but not a consistent finisher... Appears to lack a mean streak... Can play physical but is more finesse than mauler."
Weaknesses: Average feet for an NFL OT candidate. Doesn't reach block very well. Odd footwork when pass dropping, and does not get good depth consistently or quickly enough. OG at the next level. Can be beaten in pass pro by quick sidesteps and lateral movement.
Projection: 7th rounder or priority UDFA."
Talking to Craig Haley of The Sports Network, Talley said Ijalana has great feet, is quick and agile.
"He's a very athletic offensive lineman," Talley said. "I think in college football and pro football, that's what you're looking for because you end up playing against real fast, speed guys on the edge. It's real hard to get around Ben because he's very quick and he's a big strong guy as well.""
Benjamin Ijalana commands a frightening arsenal of Power, Strength, Lateral Agility, and Flanking Speed.
He's a raw Division II kid who's not where he wants to be, yet, but he's rapidly improving his Crouch, his Mechanics, and all aspects of his Game, and I believe he has the most UpSide of any O Guard in the entire Draft.
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