It’s been another painful season for the Connecticut Huskies, as the team regularly gets their doors blown off and the program was recently kicked out of the American Athletic Conference. UConn has just two wins this season to follow up a single-win season last year. They have not won a conference game in more than two years and no player was selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. UConn offensive tackle Matt Peart is about the only bright spot on the roster, yet the talented offensive tackle draws a variety of opinions around the league.
Peart was a player who grabbed my attention as a redshirt freshman in 2016 for several reasons. He looked imposing on film, he easily moved his large frame around the field, and the Huskies had so few players worth scouting that Peart really stood out.
He’s a college right tackle who possesses the movement skills, footwork, and agility to move to the left side. Peart blocks with terrific leverage for an offensive lineman who legitimately measures 6-feet-7-inches and easily gets out on the second level, showing the ability to hit a moving target or adjust to knock speed rushers from their angle of attack. He uses his long arms (reportedly over 35 inches) to keep opponents away, makes excellent use of positioning as well as angles to seal the edge or keep defenders from the action.
There is one aspect of the game Peart lacks that is a major red flag – a killer instinct and nasty attitude. In three years of watching his film, I’ve never seen him look like a blocker hellbent on finishing off opponents, playing through the whistle, or working to finish blocks.
That is a problem many are aware of.
Entering the season, Peart was graded by scouts as early as a fourth-round pick to as late as a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. I was consistent in my assessment of the senior – he was a fifth-round prospect who had enough playing ability to move into the second round if he picked up the intensity.
I’ve yet to see it happen in 2019.
In many ways, Peart reminds me of his former teammate Obi Melifonwu, a second-round selection of the Oakland Raiders in 2017 and a player that’s been a major bust. Peart, like Melifonwu, is a prospect with a world of physical skill yet someone who comes across on film as soft.
Following a surprising 56-35 win over UMass, the UConn Huskies host Navy on Friday night, a team that doesn’t know the word stop and possesses the top defense in the AAC. The game is likely to be a blowout loss for the Huskies, but Peart’s ability to stand up against a competitive defense is something that must be closely watched.