And while that deserves some focus, I thought I’d also take a look at some lesser known draft prospects the Vikings have met with so far. I’ll start with Georgia center Lamont Gaillard.
Lamont Gaillard - C - Georgia
Height: 6’2 5/8”
Weight: 305 lbs.
Arm length: 33 3/8”
Hands: 10 3/8”
There were some concerns about Gaillard’s size among scouts, but the Combine numbers may have alleviated them. Gaillard is pretty close in size to the top center prospect in the draft, Garrett Bradbury, who goes 6’3”, 306lbs - but with only 31.75” arms.
Gaillard switched from defensive line to offensive line in 2015 at Georgia, and in 2016 started at right guard before switching to center for his final two years. He’s shown consistent improvement over those three years, particularly his senior year - where continuity playing center may have helped among other things. He was also voted a team captain.
Overall PFF grades Gaillard with 98.7% pass blocking efficiency compared to 98.5% for Garrett Bradbury, and 99.1% for Erik McCoy - two of the top center prospects in the draft.
In terms of run blocking success, PFF graded Gaillard at 91.3%, Bradbury at 89.1%, and McCoy at 91.1%. Gaillard blocked for four different 1,000 yard rushers at Georgia: Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, D’Andre Swift, and Elijah Holyfield.
So in both pass and run blocking, Gaillard has done at least as well in college as both of the top center prospects in the draft. Both Gaillard and McCoy played in the SEC, while Bradbury played in the ACC, so I’m not sure there’s much difference in level of competition.
In the film I’ve watched of Gaillard against Alabama, and top DT prospect Quinnen Williams, he held up well, which suggests he has NFL starter potential.
The Vikings are among three teams that have done formal interviews with Gaillard, the others being the Rams and Raiders. Several other teams have done quick interviews with Gaillard as well - including the Lions, Bears and Packers - as well as the Jets and Giants.
What’s They’re Saying About Gaillard
Despite Gaillard putting up some good numbers for a center in terms of pass and run blocking efficiency, and showing some good tape against top interior linemen, Gaillard doesn’t seem to be ranking any higher than a Day 3 prospect in the draft.
I suspect there are a couple reasons why Gaillard isn’t ranked higher in the draft. The first was concern over his size/build, which doesn’t seem like much of a ding to me. The second is needed refinement and improvement in technique, particularly against shoot the gap, speed rushers, among a few other things.
But again, these don’t seem to be insurmountable issues, and his tape suggests he does well to tough it out even when he’s at a disadvantage initially on his block. That’s probably more difficult to succeed at against NFL competition, but remains a good quality - along with his overall toughness and leadership ability.
There seems to be some disagreement among the scouting reports below as to whether Gaillard would be a better fit for a zone scheme or power scheme, but my sense watching his film is he could do well in either run blocking scheme. He has the agility for a zone blocking scheme, along with doing well on the second level, but also has shown up well with drive blocks on tape too.
Three-year starter and team captain whose tenacity and dirt-dog mentality typifies the Georgia offensive line over the last couple of years. Gaillard’s play is not without technique, but when the rep gets sideways on him, he will turn it into a proverbial fist-fight to try and hang on and get his job done. He’s better down the middle than laterally and may be best suited in a power-based run scheme. It’s not going to always look pretty, but his tape against Alabama shows that he’s capable of becoming an eventual starter sometime soon.
Team captain; Tougher than old brisket and nasty as a finisher; Held his own against talented Alabama front; Has big hands and above-average wingspan; Attacks up under opponents’ pads; Resets feet for improved leverage on base blocks; Inside hands find their mark quickly; Torques from shoulders and hips to turn stalemate into win; Moves well in climbs to inside ‘backers; Sets the MIKE linebacker for his team; Quick left jab delivered right after the snap; Consistent identification and response to twists
Undersized by NFL standards; Build is sloppy and needs refinement; Plays with emotion but has to keep it in check; Whiffs when he fires out with head down; Doesn’t gain lateral ground for consistent reach blocks; Needs to run feet through block to help him stick; Caught too far forward in some pass sets; Lunges after A-gap blitzers rather than sliding to meet it; Distracted by peripheral rushers and will void his area— Lance Zierlein, nfl.com
”You want leadership, toughness and intelligence from that position (center) if you can get it and I think he’s going to be good in those areas. I wish he was bigger but he’ll end up playing.” - NFC offensive line coach
Great name here in Galliard, who is generally slept on in the Draft community. A three-year start at the pivot for the Bulldogs and a 2018 first-teamer in the SEC, Gaillard doesn’t have overwhelming physical traits at the position, and is limited a bit by his lack of elite quickness.
That said, Gaillard is a powerful player with excellent technique on zone style runs, the bread and butter of the Georgia offense. He can’t necessarily execute wide zone reaches against 2i-techniques or wider, but on combo inside zone blocks, he’s a deadly force. Gaillard plays with great natural leverage and ton of torsion and lower body strength to displace first-level defenders. Dude’s aggressive. - Benjamin Solak, thedraftnetwork.com
How he wins: Quickness and getting underneath defensive linemen. Because he’s not an overly tall or overly heavy center, Gaillard makes his impact with speed to the second level on combination blocks and the ability to control bigger defenders by winning the center-of-gravity battle. He’s further ahead as a run-blocker than he is as a pass-blocker but has improved in the latter area from 2017.
Where he needs to improve: Gaillard can block down on a three-technique defensive tackle then move to the second level and drive a linebacker out of the play as well as any center in the country. But he’s not excellent moving laterally when having to deal with quick gap-shooters or refined defensive tackles who use counter moves to win at the point of attack.
Most difficult assignment vs. LSU: Rashard Lawrence is a fast gap-shooter and uses a nice swim move to make offensive linemen block air while off balance. Gaillard probably won’t have one-on-one matchups with Lawrence often, but he will need to find LSU’s star interior defensive lineman when his neighbors at guard are grappling with him and provide a chip in passing situations. - Chris Trapasso, cbssports.com
Very tough, smart, and with active hands. Wrestles defenders using his superior upper body strength and understanding of blocking schemes. Needs to work on his footwork and balance, and with more trust given to his lower body technique, could develop into an excellent interior blocker. As it stands, would thrive more in a zone heavy blocking scheme, but has a lot of upside if he continues to develop his technique. - Draftblaster
Gaillard has exhibited tremendous leadership throughout his time at Georgia, but his size may be a concern at the next level. Several other offensive linemen, specifically centers, have been successful with similar builds. However, his struggles against the speed rush and slow first punch could be a cause for concern. Gaillard’s struggles to move laterally quickly could affect his fit in some schemes, but any primarily zone team could find a spot for him. - Baltimore Beatdown
Functional Athleticism - He’s operational here, but not a legitimate asset. He does well driving defenders back and forcing bubbles, his feet can keep up when he’s driving forward. Laterally and in space, he’s a bit of a clunky, boxy mover who won’t shine as bright.
Football IQ - Works combination blocks really well and shows a good comprehension of navigating defensive fronts and setting himself up with eyes in the right place. His issues athletically are amplified by some impatience and urgency to strike and land contact.
Anchor Ability - He’s really strong and his frame, natural leverage and mass below the waist allow him to absorb a lot of power blows and re-anchor himself after conceding a yard or two of space. It’s rare to see him blown off the ball.
Hand Technique - Dude works the slingshot technique like nobody’s business. He’s pretty astute with his hands and knows how to torque and leverage bodies to ensure his assignment is walked out of the play appropriately. Good continued effort work for additional leverage.
Balance - Not bad, but also not great. He’s guilty of getting on top of his toes with too much frequency, limited somewhat by foot speed and somewhat by ability to keep the hips set low as he’s looking to walk defenders back off the LOS.
Pass Sets -He’ll walk back power rushes effectively after eating hands early on in his set. He’s not able to showcase a lot of quickness laterally so keeping him in tight spaces will help protect him from delayed blitzes designed to stretch protection. Feet are mobile enough, but not quick.
Flexibility -Would consider him loose, he drops his pads out over the top of his toes as he’s pressing to cover ground and there’s forward tilt in his pads as he’s pressing through first contact. Won’t hinge and open to the boundary with any fluidity.
Power at POA - He’s got nice suddenness to accelerate out of his stance and up the field. That initial momentum is consistently rolled into contact and allows for movement early on. That said, he can lose some of his push if defenders are able to force him into a pressed position.
Length/Extension - Has more extension anatomically than I would have guessed, some of that stems from a lack of control when he’s locked out through the arms. His reach does give him plenty of room to manipulate bodies once he’s own first contact.
Competitive Toughness - Dude is a brick house, he’s super sturdy and build well to bump bellies with the big dudes. Not often he’ll lose a battle against a bull rush. His effort level is fine, he does a nice job keeping eyes peeled when unattended to find work in pass protection.
BEST TRAIT - Power at POA | WORST TRAIT - Flexibility
BEST FILM - Tennessee (2018) | WORST FILM - Alabama (2018)
RED FLAGS - None
Round Grade - Seventh Round
Lamont Gaillard presents modest upside as a potential starting center in the NFL. Gaillard’s lateral mobility suggests he’s best served playing in a gap/power system, he’s more effective playing forward than side to side. Gaillard has a nice anchor and the needed functional strength to eat up power rushes on the interior while sustaining pocket integrity for his quarterback. He’ll have to continue to develop patience in space and not chase blocks to maximize his potential. - Kyle Crabbs, thedraftnetwork.com
Lastly, here is a bunch of film on Gaillard last year, starting with the Championship game against Alabama a year ago last January.
1-2018 Championship Game vs. Alabama
12-2018 SEC Championship Game vs. Alabama
Should the Vikings Spend a Day 3 Draft Pick on Lamont Gaillard ?
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