The Broncos spent free agency solving their most pressing need in the secondary, but did little to solidify the depth along the offensive line. While Garett Bolles turned into an All Pro tackle in 2021, the right tackle position remains a rather large question.
Since Ja’Wuan James signed as a free agent in 2019 he’s played all of 65 snaps in an orange and blue jersey. Behind him on the depth chart is Calvin Anderson, who failed to impress when pressed into duty a season ago. With James’ status a huge unknown in 2022, it’d make a ton of sense to grab a prospect to develop behind him in the NFL Draft.
Could North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz fit the bill?
Trey Lance will receive plenty of the notoriety today (rightfully so), but keep an eye on North Dakota St. OT Dillon Radunz (6’6, 300, Sr.). Already receiving some early round buzz. pic.twitter.com/KV5hCiFmR0
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) October 3, 2020
At a glance
A two-star defensive end out of high school who won two state titles playing both ways, Radunz turned down opportunities to play at Northern Illinois, Wyoming, and Missouri to stick to his pledge to play for the Bison. While it may take time for him to adjust to the level of competition in the NFL, he leaves the FCS after starting for two national title teams at left tackle and brings with him a plethora of experience in a multiple blocking scheme.
Why he fits the Broncos
- Started 32 of 33 games at left tackle for a North Dakota State offense that uses a mix of gap and zone blocking.
- Standing over 6’5” and weighing 301 lbs. he has a good frame with the 34” arms most teams wish for from their tackles.
- Testing revealed a very good athlete with an ideal combination of lateral mobility and explosiveness.
- Senior Bowl practice MVP
- Good competitive toughness, he’s a bully who enjoys mauling opponents. A true finisher.
- Good play strength and displays the ability to move assignment off the ball in the run game and carries over into his anchor.
- Good mental processing and shows the ability to recognize, anticipate, and handle stunts or late rushes. Understands how to work in tandem on combo blocks.
- Good use of hands, understands placement and displays the ability to lock out and steer the opposition.
- Good gap blocker with the leg drive to create vertical displacement with the requisite athleticism to find work on pulls.
- Good zone blocker with a very good feel for double teams, his athleticism, processing, and comfort in space make him good on the second level. He’s got good range to make reach blocks.
- Solid pass blocker, when he gets his hands on opponents he’ll lock them out. Displays solid reactive athleticism to mirror rushers around the arc.
- Good anchor to withstand a bullrush, this should improve with time in an NFL strength and conditioning program.
Reasons for concern
- Torn ACL in 2017 caused him to miss all but 15 plays of his freshman season.
- Spent college career playing against overmatched FCS competition.
- Just one real game since 2019 thanks to Covid-19 Pandemic.
- Some scouts have called practice habits into question.
- Flexibility, pad level, and core strength could lead to balance issues early.
- While his measurements are up to snuff, his length is an area of contention and he needs to do a better job timing up his hands to keep defenders off his chest.
- Refining his pass sets could be necessary to survive at tackle in the NFL as better speed rushers will stress him around the arc, and he’s prone to overcommitting which leaves him vulnerable to moves back inside.
What I’ve seen / heard / read
“The skill set Radunz possesses makes him a better fit on the right side as a starting right tackle. However, he’ll likely get a shot to play the left side and could succeed with his overall athleticism, but will need to improve his footwork, quickness, and overall consistency. He also could slide in and back up at one of the guard spots to use his push in the run game and short-set ability,”
– I had the opportunity to speak with Cooper about Radunz on Cover2Broncos.
“Dillon Radunz is a smart and athletic tackle with good length, instincts to pass protect. He may need time to adjust to talented pass rushers in the passing game, but he will grow to be a starting tackle on a West-Coast zone blocking team because of his effectiveness in the run game,”
“…although he played in only one game in 2020 due to the pandemic, he looked much improved at the Senior Bowl, winning the Practice Player of the Week Award. Although he has some core strength concerns, Radunz has a workable frame with the physical attitude and foot quickness to execute angle/reach blocks. His inconsistencies make him a polarizing prospect, but several of his issues are coachable. Overall, Radunz’s overaggressive style and average play strength lead to balance issues, but he has the mirroring talent, instincts and nasty temperament to eventually earn a starting role in the NFL at either tackle or guard.”
Dillon Radunz aligns at left tackle for the Bison offense. Relatively speaking, he plays with good overall athleticism with regards to body control and balance. In the run game, he is excellent. He has a nasty disposition as a run blocker and wants to maul you. He can improve his proficiency at getting on moving defenders at the second level, but there’s nothing alarming in this regard. He remains upright and demonstrates instances of good lateral redirect agility. He has the frame to gain more mass and bulk, which should make him more effective.
Dillon Radunz projects as a starting offensive tackle at the NFL level. While his collegiate experience is at left tackle, I don’t see a reason why he couldn’t line up on the right side at the NFL level. He is a reliable pass protector, playing with good leverage and technique, fluid movement skills, and great competitive toughness. Radunz should be able to match up well with the majority of defenders he will face. He has a smooth, balanced kick-slide that lets him play with urgency without ever appearing panicked. He is also a good run blocker who can win — or at least stalemate — in both power and zone running schemes. Radunz has good play strength and great competitive toughness. Radunz always executes his assignments, blocks through the whistle, and looks for work when he doesn’t initially have anyone to block. He is also a very smart blocker and is rarely surprised by stunts, twists, or blitzes from the defense.
Tackle/guard prospect with good strength and overall toughness but average athletic traits. Even against FCS competition, Radunz has too many reps where he ends up in chase mode at the top of the rush, and he doesn’t appear to have the necessary recovery athleticism to live that life against NFL rushers. He appears to be a better run blocker than pass protector and might be best suited as a guard for teams utilizing gap and inside-zone running schemes. He could become a quality backup or eventual starter if he finds the right fit.
One of biggest compliments scouts can give a big guy is that they run like a smaller guy. Checkout LT in this clip. @NDSUfootball OL Dillon Radunz is moving! @DillonRadunz is arguably best combination of athlete & nasty in this year’s OL class. Can’t wait to see where he ends up. pic.twitter.com/J8LOTHhzJ5
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) April 16, 2021
The jump from an FCS powerhouse to the NFL leads to plenty of questions about Radunz. Fortunately for the Broncos, he would be entering a situation where he isn’t asked to play early barring injuries ahead of him. With Mike Munchak on the coaching staff to refine his technique and an NFL strength and conditioning program to help him add mass to his frame, there’s reason to believe he’s the kind of developmental prospect who could turn into a very good right tackle down the road.