Name: Luke Marquardt
Year/School: Senior, Azusa Pacific
Size: 6’8” 322lbs
NFL Player he reminds me of: Nate Solder
This is actually a guy that not many know about, but I think he’d be an outstanding late-round pick as a potential developmental LT. He’s got the size, which is something you can’t coach, and he is a former basketball player who started out on the field as a 6’8″ 235-lb tight end. Marquardt is long and muscular, which is nice to see from a 320-330 lb offensive lineman. You can tell this guy is in good shape and takes conditioning and training seriously. From that perspective alone, he’d be a good fit in the Ravens’ locker room. Marquardt has been working under the Hall of Fame offensive tackle, Jackie Slater, who is the offensive line coach at Azusa Pacific.
Azusa Pac ran a lot of gadget plays that incorporated multiple pulling offensive linemen on any given play, so it is hard to gauge where he is really at as a natural pass blocker. However, at the combine he displayed nice bend for a guy nearly 6’9″. His athleticism could really be seen during pass-pro drills and you can tell he was a basketball player by the way he can smoothly transition from backpedal to side-to-side movements, all while maintaining a good balance and bend. I think run blocking may be his best attribute as an offensive lineman. He is absolutely tenacious and just pummels the guys lined up across from him. Of course, playing against lesser competition in college has a lot to do with that, but he doesn’t give up on plays and he is definitely a guy who “blocks to the whistle.” He also pulls very well for a guy his size and his ability to get to the second level is impressive.
Name: Dan Giordano
Year/School: Senior, Cincinnati
Size: 6’4” 262lbs
Position: DE/3-4 OLB
NFL Player he reminds me of: Jarrett Johnson
There are a lot of “highlight” tapes out there of Giordano, but I think his performances against Pitt and USF are great insights to what he brings to the table as a defensive player. The reason being that Pitt runs a pro-style offense with a drop-back passing QB in Tino Sunseri and USF runs a lot of spread with zone-read elements.
Overall, I think he has some upside, although not a tremendous amount. When I watch him I see a good all-around defensive end in a 4-3 with enough athleticism to be a “Sam” backer in a 3-4, which is what Kruger was supposed to do and what Jarret Johnson did. However, I will say that Giordano has significantly more explosion and quickness than JJ did.
For the purpose of the Ravens, I think Giordano could be intriguing as a mid-to-late round prospect that could compete with Adrian Hamilton and Michael McAdoo for depth positions behind Suggs, Upshaw, and Dumervil. He has a motor that just doesn’t quit and I really like that about him. He’s strong, he uses leverage really well, and he can dip his shoulder. The thing I notice the most about him is that he generates a lot of pressure and forces the QB to get rid of the ball early and/or move up and away from the pocket, but he doesn’t ever seem to consistently sack the QB. I think a lot of that has to do with his closing speed. He just doesn’t have that top-end closing speed that elite pass rushers have, so in that regard I don’t think he’d ever be an elite pass rusher.
However, I do think that his bread-and-butter lies as a run defender. In the Ravens defense I think he’d be an outstanding depth player behind Suggs and Upshaw as the “Sam” linebacker. Giordano stands up OL’men, he rarely gets pushed off the line of scrimmage (LOS), and he sheds blocks really well to make plays on ball carrier at or behind the LOS. He does a nice job diagnosing plays and even against Ray Graham (Pitt RB…very quick scat back player) he was able to run him down for minimal gains by setting the edge and forcing Graham outside without a cutback lane.
Surprisingly, Giordano isn’t terrible in space. However he’s going to need a lot of coaching regarding pass coverage because at the moment he is very limited in that he is a “north/south” defensive player. Cincinnati had a few zone-blitz plays where Giordano would drop into coverage, but it was more to confuse the QB rather than actually cover anyone effectively. So, dropping into zones may be difficult for him at first. However, I think he’d be fine working his way out to zones in the flat area to cover TE screens and swing passes to the RB.