Taliese Fuaga Draft Profile
Oregon State Right Tackle, Taliese Fuaga, stands out as the premier right tackle prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft. Standing at 6’6 334 lbs., Fuaga has ideal size and very good length which is evident in his play. In his two years starting for the Beavers, Fuaga made the All-PAC-12 team twice and was named a First-Team All-American this year. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Fuaga played on both sides of the line of scrimmage, before ultimately committing to Oregon State as a tackle. The role of offensive tackle holds significant importance for NFL teams, particularly with the rise in outside zone and movement-based offenses, making Fuaga a highly coveted prospect in this year’s draft.
Athletically, Fuaga has very good bend and is explosive off the line of scrimmage. His ankles are super narrow; he looks like a receiver below his calves. He is comfortable moving in space and getting to the second level on combo blocks, backside cut-offs, and in the screen game. While he can get up to the second level well, quicker defensive backs are able to get past him consistently with different types of jab steps. He doesn’t breakdown at the second level which is why he’ll be seen laying defenders out, but also getting slipped. Dante Scarnecchia used to call it “sheer-space quickness”, in the open-field can the offensive lineman re-direct and re-trace to get to a defensive back? I believe he’s more than capable of getting to the defensive back, but adjusting to the defensive back’s trajectory is where he struggles.
In the pass game, Fuaga’s go-to pass set is the kick-step. He knows how to build a pocket, consistently keeps a wide base, and is highly skilled with his hands. Being able to tie his pass-set with the play allows Fuaga to “build a pocket around his quarterback”. What do I mean by this? Fuaga has a great feel for depth and timing; in the quick game he isn’t going to set super wide and for longer developing plays he is okay with edge rushers getting depth while he still maintains an inside presence creating a step-up lane for his quarterback. He is super light on his feet and explosive out of his stance which is why matches up well against faster edge rushers. Fuaga is extremely advanced when it comes to using his hands to displace defenders. His punch is powerful and provides a noticeable pop on defenders, but he is strategic with how he uses them. He captures momentum well and uses the opponents strength to his advantage. For example, if he is going up against a defender with a very powerful “long-arm”, he will let the defender connect on the move, then chop the arm causing the defender to lose his balance.
The area where Fuaga struggles is when having to anchor against bull-rushes and re-directing against inside counters. At times he can be a waist-bender, which prevents him from truly sinking into his hips causing him to get pushed back into the quarterback. Since Fuaga is so eager to get out of his stance and explode off the line, it can occasionally lead to him getting beat on inside moves. He does a great job at identifying designed pressures, but doesn’t do a great job at receiving pass-offs on D-Line pass rush games. While Fuaga has great potential due to his athleticism, he still has areas of his game that are in need of improvement.
In the run game, Fuaga’s movement skills jump off the screen. His ability to gain hat-placement on reach blocks and move up to the linebackers on combo blocks make him a perfect fit for an outside zone based running scheme. Fuaga consistently puts defenders on the ground due to the power of his punch when down-blocking. He likes to play through the whistle and is an asset when he is able to get out in space. The biggest weakness in Fuaga’s run-blocking is his in-line power. While his punch comes with a lot of force, he doesn’t have a ton of leg-drive. This is why I believe he’s a better fit for a zone scheme rather than a gap-scheme that’s precedented on him displacing defenders vertically.
A human as big as Fuaga should not be able to move as well as he does. Between the sheer size and length to his athletic traits and mental prowess; Fuaga is well-deserving of a top ten pick. He reminds me of Austin Jackson, not when he was coming out of USC, but rather now as a three-year NFL starter. I believe Fuaga is going to be good right away, but will need to develop a better anchor and poise in space.
Feet + COD: 9.33/12 (Very Good)
Movement Ability in Space + Bend: 9.33/12 (Very Good)
Strain + Seal + Strength: 6.67/10 (Good)
Anchor + Sink: 4.44/10 (Average)
Football IQ: 7.78/10 (Very Good)
Mentality + Violence: 6.67/10 (Good)
Point of Contact + Punch: 7.11/8 (Excellent)
Recover + Poise: 5.33/8 (Very Good)
Patience + Hands: 5.33/6 (Excellent)
Overall: 61.99/88 (70.44)
Final Rating: Good Right Tackle
Pro Comparison: Austin Jackson
Scheme Fits: Zone Running Scheme
Draft Projection: Top 10 Pick
Draft Grade: Top 10 Player