Literally and figuratively, one of the Las Vegas Raiders’ biggest undrafted free agent signings this offseason is Utah’s Bamidele Olaseni.
The 6’7″, 339-pound offensive tackle finds himself in a unique position for a rookie who slipped through the cracks NFL Draft. It’s no secret that the Raiders have open competition at right tackle heading into training camp, and while Olaseni is a long way from winning the job, the opportunity is definitely there.
Part of the reason for the optimism is that Olaseni had two opportunities to face elite competition last season against Oregon pass thrower and fifth draft pick Kayvon Thibodeaux.
In their first game, the Duck got the better of the Ute as the latter recorded one of their lowest overall PFF ratings of the season (54.3), to go along with a below-average stroke blocking rating (50.9). Granted, he had a respectable 68.8 in pass protection and only allowed one pressure, but the other two numbers spoiled the night.
The second round was a completely different story, however. The conference championship game was one of Olaseni’s best performances of the season, posting ratings of 80.0 overall and 86.5 as a run blocker. Coincidentally, he had a 57.1 rating in pass protection but didn’t allow any pressure, which probably means he was getting beat up, but the quarterback quickly got rid of the ball.
With two outings at opposite ends of the spectrum, what made the difference between Olaseni’s good and bad performance?
Match of week 12
Unfortunately, the best I can do for these games is the broadcast tape, but we’ll settle for what we have.
A major issue Olaseni will have to address in pass protection is his footwork. In this clip, it’s smart to use a 45-degree set to reduce the space between him and Thibodeaux without flying too far and creating an inside rush lane. However, everything that follows goes south.
Towards Olaseni’s second step, his two feet are right next to each other and his heels click so he has no base. To make matters worse, his hands are at the waist, which puts him behind with his punch and allows Thibodeaux to enter his chest. Being 6’8″ and playing with little to no knee bend allows the 6’4″ rusher to gain leverage, further complicating the issue.
From there, the Ute has little to no chance of winning that rep, and he gets put on skates before eventually ending up on the floor. The ball went out quickly, so nothing will show on the stat sheet, but he can’t get away with it any longer.
Utah runs a play pass here and Olaseni does a better job of keeping a nice wide base. He also does a good job of flashing his hands — that subtle fake punch just before making contact — to help foil Thibodeaux’s timing. Since his base is much better, the tackle is actually able to sink his hips a bit and anchor himself against the rusher’s rush.
The problem is that Olaseni commits two major faults, one with his hands and the other with his feet. He lands his wide punch on the outside of Thibodeaux’s shoulders, which isn’t the end of the world, but he has to work to reset his hands and get them in so Thibodeaux doesn’t have control of his chest.
As for the Utah product’s feet, he stops them after surviving the bull rush and since the rusher has control of his chest, he can’t tell past the rusher against the outside counter. Olaseni could also afford to work on his balance and core strength so he can stay on his feet when defenders start working on his blocks, in pass protection like this rep, or as a run blocker.
Now it’s not the end of the world as it takes a long time for Thibodeaux to win. But the offensive line is getting help from the false run and it’s a deep shot where the offense expects the big players to hold on for a while.
Here we’re going to see another example of Olaseni’s feet failing him and a bit of laziness towards the end of a game which, granted, is pretty much over at this point.
On the back of an inside zone run, the tackler must gain ground on the side of play – the right in this case – with their first step. However, Olaseni steps forward, straightens up and doesn’t even take a second step. And to top it off, he finishes with the old red rover technique, and it will be five minutes for the hook.
Although getting beaten so badly wasn’t an event every time at the back, he consistently had poor footwork that was on display.
CAP 12 Championship
Luckily, we get the end zone view for this clip and it’s a great example of the difference between Olaseni’s failure and pass protection success.
He uses a 45 degree set again and his base is better than the second clip above, but what stands out the most is his hand placement. This time the tackler has his hands on the inside which helps keep the pass thrower off his chest and defend against the bull rush. Plus, he does a much better job of keeping his feet moving, then straddling the rusher’s hip to push the rusher past the quarterback.
Okay, our latest clips aren’t against Thibodeaux as many of Olaseni’s standout blocks in the conference championship have come against other defenders, but let’s be honest, you’re here to see what signing the Raiders can do. anyway.
This is another area run from Utah and our subject will again be in the back. Watch how quick he is on the ball and gains ground on the side of play from his first steps. This allows him to be able to cut through the defensive tackle, and he turns his hips around and has the strength to seal and create a back lane.
A dominant rep that leads to a first down.
One thing that even stood out even in the previous game is that the Ute can be mean on combo blocks.
On this shared area, he and the guard are responsible for three-way technique (defensive tackle at the top of the screen) and center linebacker (standing on the hash mark). The guard does a good job of getting vertical movement on all three technologies, and Olaseni enters aggressively and with a low pad level to wash out the defensive lineman and pick the linebacker.
He basically gets a two-for-one here and helps move the chains once more.
There’s not much to this next clip, but I just wanted to show how much more aggressive and physical Olaseni was compared to the last game. It’s third-and-run early in the fourth quarter and Utah can really put the game away with another first down and score. The tackle shoots the ball and gets about four yards of push when his team needs it, and that’s how you can break or break the spirit of a defense.