Offensive linemen are already the biggest guys on the field, by definition. So when you see one hulking above the rest every snap, it naturally draws your attention. But that’s not the only way Illinois State offensive tackle Drew Himmelman attracts crowds.
Sure, being somewhere between 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-10 helps. But Himmelman isn’t just a size spectacle. He’s a legitimate NFL prospect, and this season, he can set that in stone.
Himmelman is a behemoth on the FCS stage, but his collegiate career wasn’t always rife with such promise. He entered the recruiting trail as a 6-foot-8, 230-pound two-way player out of Geneseo, Illinois, taking snaps at both defensive line and tight end. He debated walking on at Iowa but ended up taking his only scholarship offer from Illinois State University, signing as a zero-star prospect.
After a redshirt year in 2016, Himmelman erupted with unforeseen intensity and took hold of the starting left tackle job without even a glance behind him. Himmelman has since started 35 games at left tackle. Twice he helped James Robinson become the leading rusher in the FCS, and in 2019, he was given first-team All-FCS honors by the American Football Coaches Association.
Once an asterisk that accompanied a high school prospect lost in obscurity, Himmelman’s height now serves as his chief defining characteristic. It is one that NFL scouts will likely be carefully watching, as his redshirt senior season looms shortly. What makes Himmelman more than a measurement, and why is he one of the FCS’ premier NFL prospects in 2020?
Illinois State offensive tackle Drew Himmelman Scouting Report
It feels appropriate to start by rehashing Himmelman’s size. The man is an absolute behemoth, standing at around 6-foot-9 and 315 pounds, and he has very little “bad weight” on his frame. He doesn’t look like a traditional offensive lineman; instead, he looks like a tight end who was scaled upward in size by a graphic designer. He’s surprisingly lean for an offensive lineman, and yet, he has the density to withstand forceful contact, and he brings requisite power as well.
In this case, Himmelman’s background as a former tight end, as well as a former basketball player, makes sense. Himmelman is impressively mobile for his size, and he covers a great deal of space with his wide frame when shuffling out of his stance. He gets off the snap quickly and has very good balance and fluidity when pursuing angles and protecting the edge.
Himmelman’s physical attributes underscore his overall profile, but his game checks out in the finer detail categories as well. Himmelman plays with generally good leverage, and he’s quick to reset his shoulders while executing combo blocks. He also does an excellent job of keeping his shoulders square in pass protection, and he has impressive grip strength once he snatches his opponent, as well as the length to route defenders away from the play.
Hand technique is another area where Himmelman excels. He’s very situationally aware and knows how to use his heavy hands to minimize a defender’s options mid-rush. His hands are brisk and fairly precise when attacking the torso, and he appears to have a plan on a down-to-down basis, which helps to maximize his physical skill-set.
Himmelman’s physique and technique both check out, and he compounds this solidity with his overall awareness and smarts as a blocker. An academic standout, Himmelman carries that trait over to the field, where his head is always moving when unencumbered, and he displays an understanding of lateral leverage. Himmelman has the physical tools, and he also has the mentality to get the most out of them.
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As is the case with any prospect, there are areas in which Himmelman can improve and some areas where his development might be near its cap.
While Himmelman’s leverage is generally good, he can play too tall at times (he’s 6-foot-9, give him a break). By playing too tall, offensive linemen run the risk of giving defenders better one-on-one leverage, and Himmelman can be driven back by rushers who maintain this leverage. Smaller speed rushers can constitute problems for him.
Despite Himmelman’s strong size-athleticism ratio, the Illinois State standout isn’t quite as nimble laterally as one would hope. His ability to confront speed-to-power moves is hindered occasionally by his middling lateral mobility traits. Similarly, his feet can lumber at times, preventing him from maximizing his short-range explosiveness. Himmelman’s average lateral quickness can also hurt when he’s trying to get ahead of defenders on zone runs.
Additionally, there is the FCS question mark to tag to Himmelman’s name. Himmelman has experienced success at the FCS level. Still, a transition to the NFL could widen the athletic gap between him and his opponents, mitigating whatever benefits his size and athleticism provide.
Himmelman himself is an athletic outlier, but he’ll have to prove he can make the transition to the NFL, and until he does, his NFL profile will be clouded. A move to the interior could potentially alleviate some of those concerns, but such a move would only be of detriment to his leverage.
Another factor complicating Himmelman’s NFL transition is the fact that he’ll be 25 years old by the start of his rookie NFL season. Himmelman won’t necessarily have the runway of development given to other younger linemen. By the time he reaches his prime, he could already be 27 or 28 years old.
Tackles can play well into their 30’s in the modern NFL, but they always provide more value when their primes are extended. Thus, Himmelman’s relative lack of long-term utility could naturally drive his draft stock down.
With all this being said, Himmelman has several quality traits, including his size, proportional athleticism, on-field I.Q., and tireless work ethic. These traits together are conducive to success wherever he goes.
For now, Himmelman can’t answer the NFL questions. But he can steady the minds of scouts by putting together another career season, and set himself apart in a sport where quality tackles are always coveted.