Cowboys draft prospects scouting reports for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Name: Steve Avila
Weight: 334 pounds
Steve Avila was born in Arlington, Texas in October of 1999. Almost exactly six years later, the Cowboys broke ground in Arlington on what would eventually become AT&T Stadium. Just this past season, Avila got to play in that stadium for the first time when TCU played Kansas State in the Big 12 title game.
Now that Avila is entering the draft, and the Cowboys may be looking for options at left guard with the impending free agency of Connor McGovern, there is a possibility that Avila could once again be calling Arlington home.
Avila stayed close to home when he committed to the Horned Frogs from South Grand Prairie High School, and he’s enjoyed a good college career that ended in the National Championship Game. Avila became the starting center as a redshirt sophomore, but moved to right tackle during the season. He returned to center the next year, before switching to left guard this past season. That versatility makes Avila’s film all the more impressive.
Anchor: This is the best part of Avila’s game by far, and why scouts are getting really excited about him. When he drops his anchor, he’s practically unmovable. This was evident even against Georgia in the national title game. On a night where TCU quarterback Max Duggan was pressured 16 times and sacked five times, Avila was responsible for just one pressure and didn’t allow a single sack. That’s a huge testament to his ability when it comes to anchoring.
Lateral Agility: If Avila’s anchor is his biggest strength, his lateral agility is his biggest weakness. Avila is a big body, which is where a lot of his power to anchor stems from, but the trade off is having stiffness in his legs that prevents him from moving as quickly as he often needs to. Some of this was exacerbated by the wide splits that TCU’s offensive line used in the Air Raid scheme this year, but he still has glaring weaknesses in this regard.
Point of Attack: He is a mauler through and through, and he plays with that mentality at the point of attack. He carries a lot of power in his punch, and can often stun defensive linemen when he strikes properly. Avila also has a better first step than expected from someone his size. His physicality has shades of Tyler Smith all over.
Balance: Avila isn’t the best mover when going laterally, but it has little to do with his balance. He carries himself well and has a low center of gravity. This is on display when he is moving up the field, and he’s able to maintain balance to take on defenders with relative ease.
Hand Technique: “Technician” may not be the best term for him, but you can see his experience shine through with the way he uses his hands. He’s very active and does a good job of placing his punches where he needs to. Avila is also very disciplined, with just three penalties all season long and never having multiple penalties in a game.
Run Blocking: Avila isn’t quite the dominant run blocker you’d expect from his size and tenacity, but the potential is certainly there. He’s somewhat lacking as an athlete, which limits his ability to sustain blocks to the edges or way down the field, but Avila is definitely one of the top interior run blockers in the draft. Better conditioning should help him reach the next level.
Pass Blocking: He shows promise as a pass blocker, largely due to his elite anchor ability. Only 14 other guards this year surrendered fewer pressures than Avila, and he didn’t allow a sack all year. His lateral agility issues are still a big question mark, and most of the pressures he gave up were a result of stunts and twists that exploited his limited mobility. He needs to refine his footwork and become more fluid in his motions to survive as a pass blocker at the next level.
Processing: Avila appears to be a very heady blocker, which is almost a requirement for anyone to play center these days. With nearly two full seasons playing the position, he became adept at reading defenses before the snap, which has undoubtedly aided him after kicking out to guard.
Intangibles: Avila’s experience and versatility is invaluable. Three years of starting experience at three different positions is huge. Left guard is probably his best fit in the long run, but the ability to play multiple spots in a pinch is big. Avila was a team leader as well, being named a team captain for the 2022 season.