2017 NFL draft prospect countdown, No. 38: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
What you need to know: Bolles was a National Junior College All-America in 2015 at Snow College (Utah), before transferring to Utah for his final collegiate season season. That barely scratches the surface of his story, though. He was suspended as a high schooler, then wound up living with his lacrosse coach before embarking on a two-year Latter-day Saints mission. Eventually, he returned to football, playing two years at Snow, then one with the Utes. As a result of that long and winding road, Bolles will be a 25-year-old rookie once he reaches the NFL. Bolles started all 13 games at left tackle for Utah last season, earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors.
Strengths: Bolles moves like a tight end playing offensive tackle—his 40-yard dash, short-shuttle and three-cone times all were at or near the top of the combine's O-line group. It's easy athleticism that works in all situations, as well, because Bolles displays just as much comfort exploding to the second level as he does attacking laterally. On pass plays, he uses quick steps to get into his protection, then slides to mirror the rushing defender.
He seems to walk the tightrope between aggression and penalty-filled play, which comes with both pros and cons. On the plus side, he wants to punish his opponents. He'll drive them to the ground when he has the chance, and he'll scrap after the whistle. When he doesn't have a one-on-one assignment on a play, Bolles goes hunting—if a teammate has someone on the ropes, Bolles loves to deliver that final blow.
Bolles could be a nasty NFL tackle, with the footwork required to drop into a zone-heavy offense.
Weaknesses: Bolles chalks up the blocking “W” on most snaps, but when he doesn’t he usually winds up either a) on the ground, or b) turned 180° and locked on to an opponent while facing his own backfield. The issue with the first outcome arises when he lowers his head and lunges, which tends to be on those second-level blocks.
He is not going to dominate many (any?) NFL edge defenders with his strength. Bolles can drive defenders back on run plays, and he does finish his down blocks, but those aforementioned pancakes come more from persistence than power. If he winds up on a team that wants to emphasize a man-blocking scheme, the question will be if Bolles can clear enough space to be a force there.
His background, and his age, cannot and will not be overlooked by NFL teams. Even if Bolles has matured beyond his troubled high-school days, he is almost too old to be considered a “prospect” at this point. To wit: Rams lineman Greg Robinson, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft, is several months younger than Bolles. Despite having just one year of FBS experience to his credit, Bolles has to be ready to play early.
Player comp: David Bakhtiari