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The Other Guys: Matt Waletzko NFL Draft Profile

NFL Draft Sleepers. As far as the eye can see. Learn more about North Dakota OT Matt Waletzko in the next installment of “The Other Guys”.

Matt Waletzko NFL Draft
Photo: Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

“The Other Guys” is a series of articles focusing on sleeper candidates in the 2022 NFL Draft, and next up is North Dakota OT Matt Waletzko. These articles will focus on prospects projecting to go in the fourth round or later. If you like the graphics and stats outlined here, be sure to check out the entire On Tap Sports Net FREE 2022 NFL Draft Guide for yourself. It includes scouting reports on 300-plus prospects, athletic testing, team profiles, trade calculators, advanced stats, and more!

Profiles already completed:

OT – Matt Waletzko – North Dakota

Background

Matt Waletzko grew up in Cold Spring, MN. Matt played baseball and basketball from a young age, but did not pick up football until middle school. In high school, he played three years on varsity as the starting left tackle. Waletzko ranked as the No. 297 OT recruit in the 2018 recruiting class. While he had multiple division II offers in hand, the only division I offer came from FCS North Dakota.

This is what I would call a home run block

In 2018 as a true freshman, Waletzko played in nine games and started the final five games at left tackle. Entering his sophomore year as the starting left tackle, Waletzko started the first six games of the year. However, he suffered a knee injury in the sixth game and was forced to miss the remainder of the season. During the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, Waletzko started all seven games at left tackle and was named 2nd-Team All-MVFC.

For the 2020 season, North Dakota led the nation in the fewest negative yardage plays, only allowing two sacks on the season. During his final season (2021), Waletzko started 10 of 11 games, was named 2nd-Team All-American, FIrst-Team All-MVFC, and served as a team captain. Following the season, Waletzko was the first North Dakota player to participate in the Senior Bowl since Jim Kleinsasser in 1999.

“From the people I’ve talked to, he’s got better every day which is what they want to see from a smaller school guy. Some were saying he was the best offensive lineman there at practice.”

North Dakota OC Danny Freund on Senior Bowl practices (h/t Tom Miller / Grandforks Herald)

Matt Waletzko Draft Profile

Waletzko is an outstanding athlete for the tackle position. Standing 6-foot-8 and weighing in at 312 pounds, he absolutely has the frame to play in the NFL, but does need to add mass. While 312 pounds sounds adequate, once you think about his height (6’8″) it becomes clear that he will need to add weight. At North Dakota, his weight was not a constant. When he arrived on campus, he weighed 320 lbs, but dropped down to about 305 lbs in fall camp. Continuing the trend, he dropped down to 295 in his second season before adding better quality mass to get up to about 315 lbs. What is the moral of the story here? The Matt Waletzko has the frame to continue adding mass.

His athletic testing is green across the board, meaning that he is above average in every measure except for weight. Waletzko has special length and agility for the offensive tackle position. He is tied with Obinna Eze for the longest arms among offensive tackles in this year’s class. Additionally, he has the sixth-best shuttle time, the third-best 3-cone, the ninth-best 10-yard split, and performed the fourth-most bench reps.

Matt Waletzko Draft Profile
Matt Waletzko Draft Profile

On tape, Waletzko’s athleticism clearly translates to an ability to play in space. When watching him, you will often see him surprise second level defenders with how quickly he is reaching them, resulting in a number of home run blocks at the FCS level. He really excels on combo blocks where he can secure and move on to the next level. His lateral ability shows out in pass pro where he can mirror bendy edge rushers. Additionally, Waletzko packs a rapid, solid punch. His high IQ and demeanor match the NFL athleticism of an NFL offensive tackle.

Despite his strong showing on the bench press, Waletzko will still need to add mass in his lower half. His taller stature makes it difficult to find leverage, and that will only become more difficult at the next level. As his pads rise, his base tends to narrow, creating balance issues that put Waletzko on the ground too often. Meanwhile, he will need seasoning on reading stunts and twists to prevent issues he has shown with tunnel vision. Ultimately, Matt Waletzko may need a season or two of learning the game and practicing against NFL caliber players, but the upside is there for him to become a real contributor.

Waletzko opened up a lot of big plays for North Dakota in his time there.

Stat Breakdown

Matt Waletzko Stats
Matt Waletzko Stats

Across his career at North Dakota, Matt Waletzko primarily played at left tackle. While he did play 63 snaps at right tackle in his freshman year, that is likely too small of a sample size to assume any positional versatility. While I do not see any reason for him to make a move inside, his lateral movement and combo-block abilities could play well there with added mass.

In 2020, Waletzko played in a very balanced offense that ran the ball 51% of the time. Among those runs, they ran zone concepts 63% of plays and gap concepts only 24% of plays. North Dakota was more zone heavy than most offenses, per PFF. Waletzko graded out above average in both gap and zone concepts in 2020. Additionally, he was above average in pass protection with a grade of 79.3. He did not allow a single sack, and allowed pressure on 1.8% of pass snaps. For comparison, the average OT pressure rate across college football was 5%.

In 2021, we see a lot of the same trends. The offense became more pass heavy, running the football at only a 43% clip. They also implemented more gap concepts, creeping towards the 38% college football average. Waletzko showed steady, but not exceptional improvement on both zone and gap grades. Despite the increased passing rate, Waletzko graded out better in pass blocking than in the previous year. His pressure rate allowed did increase slightly, but he did not allow a single sack.

NFL Draft OT Stats
NFL Draft OT Stats

Best Team Fits: Bears, Broncos, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Jaguars, Rams, Saints, Texans

Projected Draft Round: 7th Round (per Dane Brugler)

Matt Waletzko Big Board Ranks
Via NFLMockDraftDatabase.com

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I like spreadsheets and football. I aim to take an analytical approach to my football research while also realizing the physical nature of football and how that impacts the numbers. While my main focus is Chicago Bears, I also write about the NFL as a whole.

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