The 2024 NFL Draft is right around the corner and the Indianapolis Colts have some work to do to get this roster ready for the upcoming season. Luckily, this upcoming draft class appears to be a good one from top to bottom on paper.
One of the deeper position groups in this class is offensive tackle, as teams should be able to find talent from top to bottom at this pivotal position. The Colts are set with their top three players at OT (Bernhard Raimann, Braden Smith, and Blake Freeland) but it never hurts to continue to add to depth later in the draft.
South Dakota State's Garret Greenfield is one of those names hoping to get his name called come draft time. Greenfield, 24, is a back-to-back National Champion in college with multiple All FCS honors under his belt. He dominated on both the left and the right side in college and helped lead one of the best overall offensive lines at the collegiate level in 2023.
Greenfield participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl in Frisco, Texas this offseason where he was named one of the event's biggest winners by many outlets. He'll have a chance to further improve his stock at the NFL Combine later this month as well, as he earned an invite to that pivotal event as well.
My “winners” on the West team from Day 2 of the East-West Shrine Bowl:— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) January 28, 2024
Qwan’tez Stiggers, Argos
Garret Greenfield/Mason McCormick, SDSU
Darius Muasau/Grayson Murphy, UCLA
Dylan McMahon, NC St
Malik Washington, UVA
Doug Nester, WVU
Jordan Miller, SMU
Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, TT
South Dakota State is coming off of an insane two-year run here where you guys won back-to-back championships. You guys haven't lost since like week two of the 2022 season. What was it like for you to be a part of that kind of success at South Dakota State?
It was a great experience. I mean, I've been around a lot of guys that have been there since the beginning with me back in 2018. Guys that have gone through the ups and downs of wanting to get where we ended up and it was extra special to get it done with those groups of guys. To got from that championship game in Spring ball, where we lost to Sam Houston State, to winning it these past two years was just special.
I'm just proud to be a part of building that program up. Like I said, I was with a group of guys from the start there that had this end goal in mind. To be able to finish it like we did these last two seasons was just a great experience that I was happy to be a part of.
The Intricacies of Offensive Tackle Play
When it comes to pass protection, there are multiple ways to set against a pass rusher. Are you somebody that believes in sticking mostly to one set or do you like to have variety in your sets to keep defenders off balance?
I think you have to change up your sets in football nowadays. Obviously you want to use jump sets and angle sets on more play-action or run type of plays, but even on drop back passes you want to mix things up to not be predictable against your opponent.
One thing that I feel like I've gotten better at in my career is getting to my spot in pass protection and then standing my ground there. Once I got to the depth I wanted to, then I could get aggressive and attack the pass rusher on the other side from the spot that I wanted to.
I've noticed on film just how consistent you are with your hands in pass protection. It feels like every single rep you have your two hands in the exact same positioning, with your right hand a bit high and tight and your left hand extended a bit.
Yeah we were taught independent punches at South Dakota State. So I would keep my outside hand extended a bit so I could strike the pass rusher while keeping my inside hand more to the inside to protect against those counter moves across my body.
For us, that first contact was so important in pass protection. We would use the independent strike to stun defenders and knock them off balance. You don't want to get too aggressive and lunge out of position with that strike, but that first punch was used to shock the pass rusher to knock them off of their desired rush plan and path.
Did you ever get to the point with your confidence where you would flash that punch to get defenders to open up or did you just stick to the trust you had in that punch connecting?
I did like to flash that punch at times, for sure. That was mostly something that I liked to do. You don't want to do that as much against power guys because they can use that opportunity to get into your chest and win with a bull rush or a long arm at that point.
When I would go against more speed guys or quicker guys though, I would mix in some flash punches to get their hands moving before they want to.
Example of Greenfield's flash punch at the Shrine Bowl:
South Dakota State’s Garret Greenfield looking smooth in his pass set. One of the best OL prospects at the East-West Shrine Bowl. pic.twitter.com/ytKB4gF2Ed— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) January 28, 2024
I love the dynamic of being an offensive lineman. On run plays, you are firing off and being the aggressor that dictates the pace. On pass plays, though, most guys are taught to retreat into more of a passive and reactive style of play. How do you marry the two concepts of making sure pass pro isn't passive?
I think you said it perfectly with that last line. Pass pro isn't passive became a saying for our offensive line room. Just because you are vertical setting and getting depth into drops doesn't mean that you have to sit back and take what the defender wants to do.
For me, it's all about getting into a position in my pass set and becoming the aggressor again. You can still fire off and be on the offensive in pass protection, you just have to be a bit more careful and time it better so you don't get beat around the outside. Like you said though, pass pro isn't passive and that is exactly how I like to play.
Lots to like with #SouthDakotaState LT Garret Greenfield, who has played both tackle positions in his career.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) December 6, 2023
Physical, nimble on his feet, has an array of pass protection techniques (snatch trap, uses slingshot technique in run game). Big part of their offensive success! pic.twitter.com/1yD9p5akEb
The Bottom Line
Garret Greenfield is a fun player to watch on film and an even more entertaining player to talk ball with. He understands the ins and outs of playing offensive tackle, and I love that he has a plan for everything that he's seeing in the trenches.
Greenfield reminds me a lot of Colts' starting right guard Will Fries in so many ways. Both players are smart, capable athletes that find ways to get it done on film. If Greenfield can follow a similar career trajectory that Fries has, he should be able to carve out a nice role in the NFL.
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