NFL Draft talk is about to amp up regardless of what happens in the next few days for the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Part of that escalation begins with the showcase games for prospects. First there’s the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida that runs from January 14-19th. Next is the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama which happens between the conference championships and Super Bowl.
One prospect I will have a close eye on in Mobile is the 6’5”, 321-pound left tackle West Virginia product. His name is Yodny Cajuste.
OL Yodny Cajuste @Yc_rich4ever from @WVUFootball has officially accepted his invitation to the 70th Reese’s Senior Bowl! #SeniorBowl #CompeteAndConnect #NFLTraditionInMobile pic.twitter.com/qJwVcDQh2l— Reese's Senior Bowl (@seniorbowl) December 5, 2018
Current expectations are that Cajuste could have his name called as early as the mid-first round. The Eagles should be in the market for an answer at left tackle once Jason Peters retires and if you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s not Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Based on my initial viewing, Cajuste could be the solution.
The first thing that stands out about Cajuste’s game is his length. You won’t hear scouts projecting him to guard due to him coming up short of their measurement thresholds. Edge rushers have a devil of a time dealing with it.
WVU LT Yodny Cajuste, 6'5" 321 w/pipeline arms & meaty mitts to keep rushers at a distance - pic.twitter.com/0sWt1tWmjF— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 28, 2018
Part of what makes his length so effective is that his hands are always ready to strike. He carries them at or above his waist, coiled up, ready to spring forth when a defender gets anywhere near his frame. His punch is heavy, and his grip strength allows him to sustain blocks. In summation, once Cajuste gets his hands on you it’s a wrap.
Hands stay ready to strike and Cajuste has plus grip strength - pic.twitter.com/iLQLc4G251— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 28, 2018
Where Cajuste gets himself into trouble is when he stays holstered too long, or mistimes his punch. When his hands go, his top-heavy weight distribution follows. This can be exploited and has led to some ugly reps that look out of place with the rest of his film.
There are times where Cajuste can stay holstered for too long and his punch comes with some forward lean, which gets him into trouble - pic.twitter.com/usAVLg5Rv9— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 28, 2018
The major concern is if his lunging when striking can be fixed. That’s the projection teams will have to make if they decide to draft Cajuste. Regardless, there’s little question that offensive line coaches will see his athletic/physical profile and feel they can “coach ‘em up”.
What won’t be a projection are his contributions in the run game. Athletic enough to work zone schemes, Cajuste works well on combo/deuce blocks and often wins at the second level. He’s also a force on down/drive blocks and his play strength allows him to consistently displace defenders.
WVU LT Yodny Cajuste is a people mover; escorts his man to the hash - pic.twitter.com/10zsT00ej4— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 28, 2018
The second concern with Cajuste will be his injury history. He’s had two knee injuries that forced him to miss time, including an ACL tear in 2016. Judging by his tape it hasn’t hampered him, but medicals will be vital to his stock.
Oh, and did I mention he may have a boxing background?
Yodny Cajuste has some Ali to his game - pic.twitter.com/VGnFF7nImU— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 28, 2018
All things considered there’s plenty to love about his game; enough to forgive the flaws. Despite the scheme at West Virginia he’s showcased a full toolbox of pass block sets and is a road grader in the run game. Assuming all checks out fine with his knee, Cajuste is a first-round prospect.