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Positives…Has a large, thick frame with good shoulder and chest width, long wingspan, big bubble, wide waist and hips, solid calves and thighs…Shows excellent leaping ability and very good initial explosiveness off the snap…Unlike most blockers with his girth, he has no problems getting down in his stance and firing off the ball, showing the lateral agility needed to execute pulls and traps…Shows the hip snap and change of direction agility to get to the edge and maintain position vs. the speedier pass rushers…Has the ability to stay low in his stance, demonstrating the nimble feet to slide back smoothly in pass protection…Natural knee bender who has a strong anchor, using his massive frame effectively to lean and push the defender off the line of scrimmage…One of the strongest players on the team (bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times), he set a school record for offensive linemen with a 36-inch vertical jump…Generates excellent power at the point of attack and is perfectly capable of handling multiple defenders, as he keeps his strong hands active and delivers a powerful thud with his hand punch to shock and jolt the opponent…Has a keen understanding for hand placement, doing a nice job of latching on or getting under his opponent’s jersey without being caught by the refs (has been penalized just twice –one holding and one false start call – in 24 games)…Shows very good footwork and a good concept for taking angles when asked to pull for the ground game into the second level…Has the foot balance and strength to widen and maintain the rushing lanes…Plays with good quickness to slide and re-adjust to plays…Demonstrates decent body control and balance working in space, as he has the lower body flexibility to recover his anchor…Struggles in the classroom, but plays with good awareness, especially in pass protection, as he easily picks up stunts and blitzes…His quick first step allows him to consistently gain position when working in-line and his overall speed is evident by his ability to consistently get into the second level to attack and neutralize the linebackers…Quick out of his stance and keeps his hands active to combat counter moves…Explosive hip roller who gets good movement off the ball…Uses his reach well to wall off and sustain…When he fires low off the snap, he is consistent at driving the defender back and creating huge rush lanes for the ball carrier…Quick enough to pick up blocks in space and has the balance to sit well and keep his weight over his feet…The thing you see on film when blocking up field is his ability to adjust and locate secondary targets on the move (has the lateral agility to adjust and the long arms to separate and sustain)…Throws his hands around with good force, as his punch will generally stop the defender’s charge…Generally plays at a low pad level…Does a nice job of setting his feet and using his power to lock out in pass protection…Surprises the edge rushers with his ability to slide wide and cut them off on the back side…Has no problems adjusting to the defender’s secondary moves.
Negatives…During his entire career on the football field, he has only four seasons of experience…Might be a better fit at left tackle, where his quickness and ability to kick slide and neutralize the edge rushers will benefit protecting the quarterback’s blind side (seemed to get a bit lazy letting his guard and tight end assist him in blocking schemes when playing on the right side)…Has a long history of academic issues (more from not attending rather than a lack of intelligence) and might struggle digesting a complicated playbook…Needs to mature mentally, as he tends to get too frustrated when his initial move fails and takes long stretches off when this happens (can easily be taken off his game)…Must show better dedication to his craft (will throttle down late in games-see 2006 Florida International, Virginia, Miami and Purdue games)…Has good knee bend, but when he gets tired late in games, he prefers to over-extend or just lean into his man rather than maintain pad level and hand position.
Compares To…MARCUS McNEILL-San Diego…Much like McNeil during his final collegiate season, Gaither struggled with injuries in 2006. Along with a suspension for disciplinary issues and inconsistent play, he was eventually replaced in the lineup. But, from a purely athletic standpoint, he could have been one of the first players taken in the 2008 NFL Draft, if he had returned to school in 2007 and back to his playing form of 2005. He is a massive pass protector with great explosion off the snap, but is prone to over-extending at times, especially later in games, when stamina issues come into play. Still, he has great upside, but will need some patient coaching, as he has only four years of football experience (high school, prep school, college), making him still a work in progress. If he develops as a left tackle, some team will have their quarterback’s blind-side protected for the next decade. Look for Jacksonville, Atlanta, Oakland, New York Jets, New England and New York Giants to give him serious consideration during the supplemental draft. He has the physical skills to go down as one of the better finds in this phase of the draft’s history.

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