Earlier this month, the Jets claimed tackle Antonio Garcia on waivers from the New England Patriots. We're now going to carry out an in-depth review of Garcia's strengths and weaknesses.
The 24-year old Garcia, who is listed at 6-foot-6 and 302 pounds had been a third round pick for New England last season out of Troy. However, he fell ill early on in training camp last year and therefore spent the entire season on the non-football illness reserve list.
Garcia was an offensive lineman and basketball player in high school and was recruited to Troy in 2012. He won the starting left tackle role as a redshirt freshman in 2013, starting six games before he suffered a season-ending injury.
Over the next three years, he started every game, giving up just 2.5 sacks as a junior and none in his senior year. Troy led the nation in terms of fewest sacks allowed in 2016.
At the end of his college career, Garcia attended the Senior Bowl and the scouting combine and entered the draft as a projected day two pick. He was selected by New England in the third round.
In his rookie year, he fell ill prior to the first preseason game and ended up missing his entire rookie season. New England waived him last month, having drafted another left tackle prospect, Isaiah Wynn, in the first round of the 2018 draft.
Now let's look at what Garcia brings to the table, divided into categories.
Garcia posted good athletic numbers at the combine, although he posted disappointing agility numbers. However, he re-ran the three cone drill at his pro day and posted an above average time of 7.70.
He shows some athleticism here in getting out in front of this screen for a cut block:
The bigger concern with Garcia is his weight. He was already undersized when he entered the league and reportedly lost 40-50 pounds when he was ill. Scouts have suggested he has a narrow waist, which might make it challenging for him to keep good weight on.
Garcia has only played left tackle at Troy and that's also his NFL position as he's more of a finesse tackle than a roadgrader.
Garcia earned recognition through his excellent pass protection numbers, although they are to some extent attributable to Troy operating a quick-passing game against teams with dangerous pass rushes. Nevertheless, he shows some of the athleticism and technique on film that can make a left tackle prospect highly sought after.
On this play, the protection adjusts so that he can pick up the rusher coming off the edge. He gets out of his stance well and moves laterally to keep the edge rusher in front of him, then drives him upfield and out of the play:
In the Senior Bowl, matched up with Derek Rivers - who was drafted, also by New England, just two spots ahead of him last year - he showed an ability to react to and repel an inside move:
Despite playing at Troy, Garcia has been matched up with some NFL-quality pass rushers, including Bradley Chubb, Clelin Ferrell and Tarrel Basham. The first two didn't do much damage against him, although those were games where the Trojans left extra players in to block and got rid of the ball quickly. Basham, however, mostly lined up on the other side, but when he did match up with Garcia, he embarrassed him on this play:
Garcia did show improvements from 2015 to 2016, as he managed to go through the entire 2016 season without giving up a sack and only had one game where he surrendered multiple pressures.
Garcia is less consistent as a run blocker and will surely need to improve his strength to succeed at the NFL level. Pad level at the point of attack can be an issue and he doesn't look comfortable blocking in space, taking some bad angles.
Nevertheless, he battles hard and can look good from time to time as he does on this play, driving his man well off the edge:
He manages to sustain his block here, working against Chubb, but you can see how Chubb is able to drive him off his spot:
On this play, against Ferrell, he is able to seal him on the outside, although he doesn't really engage cleanly in doing so:
Generally speaking, Garcia has very good feet, perhaps resulting from his experience as a basketball player. However, one issue he shares with many tall tackle prospects is a propensity to lunge into his blocks in space, causing him to lose balance and control of the block. That issue resurfaces here, although he manages to do enough to still create the running lane:
In pass protection, he needs to continue to work at his hand placement techniques. On this play, his hand is slapped away, creating separation for the pass rusher to get around the edge for a strip sack:
While Garcia has made improvements over the last few years, his penalty numbers have also been climbing. He had five as a sophomore, seven as a junior and 10 in 2016.
The main issue for him is holding penalties, as he needs to improve his hand strength and technique to keep his hands inside.
Other than as a blocker on the placekicking unit, Garcia won't be expected to contribute on special teams. He was actually credited with a tackle in kick coverage in 2016, but that was a mistake as he wasn't even on the field.
Garcia doesn't seem to blow many assignments and shows an ability to adjust and react in pass protection.
He can at times be caught out by stunts and twists. On this play he is perhaps too wary of the stunt and releases his double team block too prematurely, hanging the left guard out to dry:
He's had an issue with concentration at times, as he'll get into his stance too early and get called for a false start.
Garcia is considered to be a competitive player with a good work ethic.
He also plays with some nastiness, often playing to the whistle and getting chippy after it. He gets a lot of knockdown blocks, often when there's little to be gained other than sending a message:
Garcia was injury free after missing half of his first season at Troy with a knee injury.
His illness last year was reportedly diagnosed as blood clots on the lungs. As noted, he lost a lot of weight, but was reportedly back up at around 290 when released by New England.
The fact that the Jets are moving to a zone blocking scheme is perhaps good news for Garcia, as his movement skills will be more important than his size when run blocking. However, he does need to add some mass and functional weight to be able to play the position.
Kelvin Beachum is similarly undersized and succeeds through being a technician, so he could be an ideal mentor for Garcia to perhaps take over from him as the starting left tackle in a year or so.
When New England drafted him, Garcia was already regarded as a prospect who was going to need some seasoning to be able to play in the NFL. With last year basically a wash-out, he's now right back to square one, which probably means he's at least a year away from contributing.
However, he has some definite potential and arguably has more upside than any of the Jets' other back-up linemen. If he can get back into shape in time for camp and can acquit himself well in the competition, Garcia is the sort of player who it may well be worth retaining on the active roster for a year, even if he isn't likely to play much, if at all.
However, to get to that stage, he still has work to do on his technique and conditioning. Still, for a low-cost move with no real downside, this is a nice pick-up that could prove valuable down the road.