It's fun for awhile to look at top prospects. But the fact of it is, if the Rams want to succeed in 2015, they're going to need to hit on a lot more than just their first rounder. Enter guys like Georgia Tech's RG Shaq Mason. In GT's triple option offense, Mason excelled. Eyes were on him during senior bowl week to see if he could translate that success to something a little more pro-friendly. He did.
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As I said previously, the Yellow Jackets run a triple option offense. Three options for running means a fairly limited amount of passes. With that said, we still have something to go off of. Take a look at this play against Georgia. Mason displays pretty good footwork and does a good job blocking his zone:
His first block, the fundamentals are there. He has pretty decent form, his hands are up and his feet are pretty light. When he moves to the right, he gets burnt a bit by the change in direction but he's still quick enough to stay within blocking distance of the lineman. This is an area Mason improved drastically during Senior Bowl week, improving every day in the drills. He has a long way to go, but the improvement is there.
At just under 6'2" and 310 pounds, Mason doesn't have ideal physical traits you look for in a lineman. This has forced him to win with leverage and strength. That's slightly easier for the short guard, but it's a great trait regardless. He's a fantastic drive blocker that stays low and pushes his man forward, opening up big holes. Take a look at this goal line play that resulted in a touchdown - the runner stayed right behind Mason:
Mason's hand placement isn't ideal (he's a bit outside, which is why the defender was able to shrug him off at the end) but Mason is so low and powerful that the defender really doesn't have a chance to make a play until he's well into the end zone and by then, the it doesn't matter.
Mason's also pretty athletic for a guard. Take a look at him fire out of his stance and hit the lead linebacker hard enough to open up a hole for the back (kudos to the center on that one as well). This play also resulted in a touchdown:
Here's another play of him against Georgia:
Mason needs to improve his balance - he sometimes is too far forward when driving, leaving him open for counters. That's the main knock after watching his game against NC State; he's a tough run blocker but at times he'd miss his man because he wasn't properly setup. Doing away with that technical flaw would seriously improve Mason's chances of being successful in the NFL.
Mason has the base of what you look for. He's not the most physically imposing offensive lineman, but he uses his low center of gravity to get excellent leverage on bigger defensive players. He's strong at the point of attack and can drive through defenders to create huge holes in the run game.
As a pass protector, he has work to do. I saw maybe a handful of passes every game, and that isn't a lot of experience for someone moving into the NFL (just ask Greg Robinson). Still, he has the athletic ability, strength and eagerness to improve in this regard. His best fit might be center, where his powerful drive blocks could open up huge running lanes and his athleticism could be a boon in pass protection.