Mitch Hyatt is an undrafted free agent offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys. He was a top recruit and four-year starter at offensive tackle for Clemson. So how does a guy who started at a marquee position, helping to lead his team to seven playoff games and two national titles, go undrafted?
Some draft analysts and insiders complained about his size. It’s true that 6-5, 303-lbs is nothing to write home about in the NFL. His height is adequate, but he has 34 ⅛ inch arms which is pretty good and really much more important.
303 pounds is a little light, though. People tend to think that means he is weak, but that is simply not true. He posted a good bench at the combine with 28 reps. This is not the best measure of strength, but until the combine starts doing one-rep maxes and squats it is the only measurable we have.
We do however have film, and the film tells a different story. (See above)
On third and goal in the second half of this year’s College Football Playoff National Championship, Hyatt aligned at left tackle and kicked stepped to protect the edge. When Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses crossed his face into the B-Gap, Hyatt post stepped in there and stopped him in his tracks. Hyatt is playing a little high, and gets pushed back for a second, but is able to anchor himself and thwart the pass rush. This gives Trevor Lawrence time to complete the touchdown pass. This is a great adjustment to an inside stunt and showcases Hyatt’s intelligence and strength.
In the first quarter of the Boston College game, Hyatt was matched up one-on-one against Arizona Cardinals third-round pick Zach Allen. Hyatt’s feet look great, and Allen cannot get the edge on him. Hyatt is again, a little high, and Allen’s initial strike jolts him back, but he is able to collect himself and protect the quarterback.
In the third quarter against BC, Clemson had first and goal on the six-yard line. They ran a zone read play with the back going to the right, away from Hyatt. His job was to block down on the interior defensive lineman and leave the edge player for the quarterback to read. Hyatt blocks down, staying low, driving his legs, and extending his arms gets movement on his man. The edge player bends to pursue running back Travis Etienne, so Lawrence keeps it and runs it in for a touchdown.
In the second quarter of that game the Tigers ran a counter play to Hyatt’s side. On a counter, the edge player and play side linebacker are left for the pullers. This means that Hyatt and left guard John Simpson are responsible for double-teaming the defensive tackle and working up to the backside linebacker. Hyatt does a great job of coming in low and moving the defensive tackle to the side, setting the block up for Simpson to take over. He then comes off with expert timing and picks up the pursuing backside linebacker.
Saying a light player is weak is lazy scouting. Hyatt has shown that he has the play strength to compete against top college defensive lines. When he gets pushed back, it tends to be due to poor leverage in pass protection. This is a correctable problem. Essentially, he just needs to learn to bend his knees.
Late in the draft, teams tend to roll the dice on high-upside players with crazy measurables. Hyatt is not that. He is a good reliable player with average-to-above-average measurables and most teams would prefer to take a big swing on 6-7 350 pound monster on the off chance that he could be developed into an All-Pro. As a result, he went undrafted.
He did however have 15 UDFA offers. This means that teams respect what he did and thought he could contribute, they just preferred to gamble on more volatile players with their draft picks.
Hyatt is an excellent player, and with a little work could be a great swing tackle early in his career and perhaps develop into a starter at the position.