This NFL Draft class is loaded with offensive tackles. As many as six could go in the first 20 picks, but there is also a good amount of depth. UConn’s Matt Peart is an intriguing developmental prospect who was creeping up draft boards even before he caught people’s eyes at the NFL Combine.
Born in Jamaica, Peart didn’t play football until his junior year of high school, opting instead for basketball, lacrosse, and track. Connecticut was the only major school to offer him a scholarship, and Peart ended up starting every game of his career for the Huskies. He has experience at both tackle spots, as well as guard.
Matt Peart Positives:
The @seniorbowl is looking live at @UConnFootball vs. @UCF_Football. One intriguing high upside under-the-radar OL prospect that could really ascend thru the draft process is Huskies’ OT Matt Peart (@matthewpeart65). The NFL isn’t sleeping on this guy. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/GmvR4v1Dt4— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) September 28, 2019
Matt Peart measured in at 6’7″ 318 pounds. That’s excellent size for a tackle, and although he could stand to add some more weight, it’s at least something he’s capable of doing, as he stepped onto campus at 264lbs.
If Peart’s height is impressive, just check out his arms. They measured a ridiculous 36″ 5/8, complete vines. Once Peart learns how to use his length to its fullest extent, there will be few defensive ends who will be able to get their hands into his chest.
Matt Peart is very smooth and agile on tape, and his performance in the on-field drills mostly confirmed this.
40-yard dash: 5.06s
Vertical jump: 30.0″
Broad jump: 113″
20-yard shuttle: 4.92s
Bench press: 26 reps
The bench press number is particularly interesting. As will be addressed later on, one of Peart’s biggest issues is a lack of strength. And while the bench press is not necessarily a great indicator of how strong someone is, especially in their lower body, 26 reps is a fantastic number for someone with arms as long as Peart.
His 3-cone and shuttle times are a bit disappointing, but when compared to the other taller lineman, they aren’t bad. What’s important is that Peart is fluid and twitchy on tape.
Per Pro Football Focus, Matt Peart this is what Peart’s grades looked like over the last two seasons:
2018: 68.1 overall, 75.5 pass block, 70.7 run block
2019: 90.0 overall, 80.1 pass block, 90.1 run block
It’s always good to see improvement from players from year to year, especially when it’s this significant. Peart played left tackle as a freshman and sophomore, and has also seen time at guard, and once he got settled in at RT, he found great success.
Raw but good
As will be mentioned next, Matt Peart does have some significant issues with his game. But to take a line from Mike Renner in the 2020 PFF Draft Guide:
“When someone says a prospect is ‘raw’, that can mean
a number of different things. To me, it means that his
technique is not up to snuff for what it needs to be in the
NFL for a number of key areas. On the other hand,
people sometimes use raw as a synonym for ‘not
currently good at football'”
Peart is certainly raw in the first regard. But he’s also quite good at football right now. And with the issues he does have, Peart’s level of play is impressive, and bodes well for his NFL future.
Matt Peart Negatives:
Whether it’s run blocking or getting into his pass sets, Matt Peart plays too high. His tall frame only compounds this issue. He doesn’t have the functional strength to drive defenders back when he’s standing up straight, and will have to improve his pad level before he can log starting snaps in the NFL.
Another issue that has continually plagued Peart throughout his career, hand usage is vitally important, and not just how a player uses his hands, but where he uses them. Peart sets up his hands too wide, to the point where he’s constantly grabbing opponents’ shoulders and backs. He has to tighten his hands up or he’ll be called for holding on every play.
It’s impressive that Peart has been such an effective run blocker despite lacking the strength of other OT prospects. He is vulnerable to the bull rush, which will be how DEs primarily attack him. This can be improved with an NFL training regimen, and it’s better to lack strength than athleticism, as only the former can be acquired.
This problem goes hand-in-hand with Matt Peart’s lack of strength. He can be thrown off-balance by stronger players because he sets a base that is too wide for his frame. He starts to bend at his waist instead of his knees in an attempt to counteract his power disadvantage. It’s not as if he can’t bend at his knees, because he absolutely can. It’s just a matter of getting him to do it consistently so he doesn’t feel the need to waist-bend and hurt himself.
Even though he has four years of starting experience, Matt Peart is a still major project as he enters the NFL. He has issues that will prevent him from seeing the field early on, but fortunately those issues are correctable with time and coaching. Peart’s potential should make him a Day 2 pick, and if he’s able to add strength and get with a good OL coach, he could be a starter by 2021.
Read about more O-linemen stealing the show at the NFL Combine.