The FCS is quietly a factory for hidden gems on the offensive line. In this conversation in 2022, the NFL Draft scouting report of North Dakota OT Matt Waletzko may be relevant. Waletzko has steadily been rising through the process. He had a strong Senior Bowl, tested incredibly well at the NFL Combine, and tied the bow with his pro day. Can Waletzko capitalize on his momentum and become an NFL starter at some point?
Matt Waletzko NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive tackle
- School: North Dakota
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’6 7/8″
- Weight: 315 pounds
- Wingspan: 85 3/4″
- Length: 35 1/8″
- Hand: 10 1/8″
Waletzko’s Combine/pro day results
- 40-Yard Dash: 5.03
- Bench Press: 28
- Broad Jump: 9’5″
- Vertical Jump: 30″
- Three-Cone: 7.26
- Short Shuttle: 4.59
Matt Waletzko Scouting Report
Waletzko was one of the first players to be added to the 2022 Senior Bowl roster. At that point, Waletzko was very much an unknown. But he came to Mobile and held strong against high-level competition. He put himself on the radar for NFL scouts, and his NFL Combine showing only built on that.
Now, ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, Waletzko is rising into the Day 2 conversation. And in an offensive tackle class that drops off a bit after Alabama’s Evan Neal, NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu, and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross, Waletzko could garner serious consideration in the Round 2-3 range. Is that consideration warranted? Let’s take a look at the tape, and see for ourselves.
Matt Waletzko’s athletic profile
Early on, Waletzko passes the eye test. At 6’6 7/8″, 315 pounds, the North Dakota OT has an outrageously long frame — measuring in with a 86″ wingspan. His long, lumbering strides cover a lot of ground in space, and he’s a rangy blocker with a wide reach. With his length, Waletzko can generate good artificial power with his extensions. Even with his lighter frame, he has decent power capacity, and he can knock players off-base with heavy clubs.
On top of his length, Waletzko is also an elite athlete. He’s incredibly nimble in pass protection. He appears as a springy athlete with effortless mobility around the arc. He’s light on his feet when matching defenders, and he keeps a wide, active base in the passing phase. As a run blocker, Waletzko is explosive off the snap. He has the mobility to get to the second level and enter space, and he can pop defenders with power, paving open lanes. The North Dakota OT can bully smaller defenders with his physical tools.
Going further, Waletzko has good recovery athleticism. Although he can be stiff at times when diverting course, he’s shown he can flip his hips and redirect defensive linemen outside the pocket. With his recovery athleticism, he can recover laterally and regain his base relatively quickly. He can also swivel with his wide frame and athleticism and wall off rushers on the outside.
Execution beyond the physical traits
The main appeal of Waletzko is his rare combination of athleticism and length. But he has picked up a thing or two after starting on the line for over two seasons. With his length, Waletzko can load and launch his hands to maximize the power exerted. He’s shown he has the capacity for fast hands, and he tucks his elbows well to maximize potential energy.
Waletzko can violently bat down extended arms and deconstruct opposing pass-rush plans. Furthermore, the North Dakota OT has shown he can quickly react and respond to specific moves. He can redirect his momentum and load up with quickness, and he also lowers his pads well for his larger frame. He has good knee bend and flexibility, and he doesn’t play too upright too often.
As a pass protector, Waletzko has shown he can keep his hands within his torso, preventing defenders from getting inside his frame, though he can be more consistent here at times. He’s also shown he can respond to stunts effectively with his athleticism and wide reach. And as a run blocker, he’s flashed the ability to anchor and use leg drive to move opposing players.
Areas for improvement
As enticing as the physical upside is with Waletzko, his NFL projection is a bit more complicated. Most notably, Waletzko’s frame was noticeably light in college. That leaner frame doesn’t always absorb power well. He can get driven back easily, and when he’s on skates, he has trouble resetting his feet and halting bull rushes. Luckily, he was able to add weight this offseason, and he still moved well at the Senior Bowl.
Waletzko’s light frame makes his margin for error slim, especially against more powerful rushers. When he does open up his torso, he leaves surface area for defenders to exploit. Additionally, the North Dakota OT can have trouble sustaining blocks at the second level. His grip strength is not elite, and he can be bent around by stronger players. He can lurch and lose his balance, and he bends at the waist occasionally, which also affects his balance and leverage.
Waletzko’s balance can be easily disrupted, and he can be somewhat uncoordinated at times. He sometimes freezes his feet when extending, opening a window for rushers to attack. Even with his lighter frame, his feet aren’t particularly fast. He doesn’t adjust angles well or adapt on the move at a high level. Going further, Waletzko runs a bit upright as a moving blocker at times. This also exposes him to power.
Among other things, Waletzko can be more consistent with his hands and awareness. He can more precisely place his hands at times and do a better job of getting under pads and latching consistently. As a help blocker, his head isn’t always on a swivel, and he sometimes loses track of the play and drops his energy.
Matt Waletzko’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
There are a lot of intriguing tools in play with Waletzko, and the North Dakota OT will show those tools off at the Senior Bowl. He’s an albatross with his length and easy athleticism. Moreover, taller tackles often have trouble with pad level and knee bend, but Waletzko has shown he can bend his knees and lower his pads into blocks effectively. He’s also flashed some operational utility with his hand fighting and recovery technique.
However, while there’s an appeal with Waletzko, there’s also uncertainty. The big wild card for the North Dakota OT is his weight. He was noticeably light for his taller frame in college. However, Waletzko has shown that he can add weight this offseason. He played under 300 pounds in college. At the Senior Bowl, he was 310 pounds and retained his athleticism. Now, he’s at 315, and there’s reason to believe he can add more healthy weight with an NFL training regimen.
If Waletzko can keep his weight and hold up against NFL defenders, there’s little stopping him from developing into a quality tackle. He has unteachable traits. His length is rare even for offensive tackles, and he clearly moves well in both phases. Plus, he’s shown flashes of operational hand usage, and he can use independent hands to lever and stymie rushes.
Waletzko was a Day 3 pick heading into the offseason. Now, however, he’s easily worked himself into the Day 2 range. Where he goes is ultimately up to preference, but he has the high-level starting upside worth banking on there.
Matt Waletzko’s Player Profile
Many of the small-school offensive linemen that find themselves making it to the NFL level still have a degree of natural talent. Meinerz was a dominant blocker at the D-III level. Spencer Brown was a former tight end convert with rare athleticism. Waletzko has that degree of natural talent, but like his predecessors, he too was spurned by most of the college football world.
Coming out in the class of 2018, Waletzko was a mere two-star recruit. He was barely rated as a Top 300 offensive tackle on 247 Sports’ board. And in the state of Minnesota, he was 29th-best at his position. With no FBS offers, Waletzko set his sights on the FCS and eventually signed with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
Waletzko’s career at North Dakota
Interestingly enough, Waletzko arrived at North Dakota heavier than he’s listed at now. He was 6’7″, 310 pounds as a recruit and upped his weight to 320 pounds in his freshman season. With his natural size and length, he earned early opportunities on the field. The North Dakota OT played in nine games and started five as a true freshman. He’d carry that starting role into 2019, but he suffered a season-ending injury six weeks in.
In 2020, Waletzko returned, using the delayed season to his advantage. He came back to start all seven games of the 2020 campaign at left tackle, reprising his role as a mainstay on the Fighting Hawks’ offensive line. He was named to the All-MVFC second-team and also earned academic honors. 2021 was just more of the same. Waletzko once again locked down the left side and secured a Senior Bowl invite late in the year.
Matt Waletzko’s NFL Draft ascension
Waletzko had a lot on the line at each event this offseason. The Senior Bowl was a crucial opportunity to prove he could go toe to toe with FBS edge rushers. And in March, athletic testing was a way of validating his athletic prowess and potentially putting a better weight number in the system. These were vital tests for Waletzko, and he passed them all.
At the point of attack, Waletzko’s combination of length and athleticism makes him an able protector of the quarterback. There are still things for him to work on and prove, but he has high-level traits worth investing in. Waletzko is a worthy Day 2 pick with a very high ceiling, and he’s trending up fast.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Matt Waletzko
Positives: Large, long-armed offensive tackle who is best on the right side. Quick off the snap, stays square, and makes outstanding use of body positioning to seal opponents from the action. Effective with his hands, blocks with good lean, and steers pass rushers from their angles of attack.
Redirects to linebackers to pick up the blitz, keeps his head on a swivel, and always looks for someone to hit. Strong, turns defenders off the line, and controls them at the point. Fundamentally sound and generally does a good job bending his knees.
Negatives: Overextends, struggles finishing blocks, and gets tall in pass protection. Lacks footwork and cannot slide in space. Heavy-footed and falls off blocks on the second level rather than finishing off opponents.
Analysis: Waletzko is a developmental prospect with the size and growth potential to eventually develop into a starting right tackle on Sundays.