#62 Vikings: TE Brian ONeill

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Overview
A three-year starter at Pitt, O’Neill was a sparsely-recruited 230-pound wideout/tight end out of high school before bulking up and moving to offensive tackle in 2015 at Pitt. He developed into an All-Conference player and showed off his ballcarrier experience with three rushes for 39 yards and two touchdowns the last two seasons.

O’Neill doesn’t have overwhelming power to dominate his opponent, but he quickly finds his landmarks and uses his aggressive hands and natural coordination to keep rushers busy. Although he shows a general understanding of hand usage and body position, his technical development will be an important part of his growth at the next level.

BACKGROUND
A three-star tight end recruit out of high school, O’Neill was a two-way player at Salesianum School, earning all-state honors at tight end as a sophomore and junior before moving to wide receiver as a senior. He also earned numerous awards at defensive end and helped lead the Cavaliers to an 11-1 record and state championship in 2013. He also led the Salesianum basketball team to a state championship in 2014 and was named the Delaware Player of the Year (13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds).

O’Neill was considered a top-five recruit in the state of Delaware, but Pitt was his only FBS-level offer, committing in the summer of 2013 as a tight end. After redshirting in 2014, the new coaching staff asked him to switch to offensive tackle the summer of 2015 because of depth issues, starting the second game of his redshirt freshman season at left tackle before moving to right tackle (11 starts) for the rest of the year. O’Neill started all 13 games at right tackle as a sophomore in 2016, earning All-ACC Second Team honors. He moved to left tackle as a junior in 2017 and started all 12 games, earning First Team All-ACC honors.

Analysis
STRENGTHS
NFL-level athleticism. Balanced pass-sets with flexible hips. Controlled, agile feet to stay between rusher and quarterback in space. Will make mistakes, but body control and short-area movements allow him to quickly recover. Easy puller and seals outside run lanes. Quick to punch-and-climb, taking out second-level defenders. Runs edge rushers wide of the pocket. Uses his body to leverage run lanes. Eager, stubborn hands, latching and undressing defenders. Drives his legs to uproot defenders as a run blocker. Graduated with a degree in finance (Dec. 2017). Added 75+ pounds since high school and dedicated himself to packing on the pounds. Athletic bloodlines – father (Brendan) was a running back at Dartmouth and his mother (Elizabeth) was a swimmer collegiately. Durable and started 37 straight games to finish his career with experience at both left and right tackle. – Dane Brugler 1/10/2018

WEAKNESSES
Only three years of experience as an offensive lineman. Play strength needs continued development. Only average length and frame appears maxed out. Technique is a work-in-progress, displaying several bad habits like ducking his head and lunging. Pads and hips tend to rise off the snap. Wide hands, allowing rushers to get inside his frame and bully him backwards. Needs to do a better job locking out and sitting in his stance to maintain spacing. Inconsistent body angles in pass pro. Doesn’t always match the power or nasty of defensive linemen. – Dane Brugler 1/10/2018

COMPARES TO: Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles – O’Neill doesn’t quite have the same athleticism or frame that made Johnson a top-five pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but he isn’t far off and has taken a similar path, making the switch to offensive tackle after high school.

IN OUR VIEW: O’Neill needs to continue and improve his mechanics and play strength to reach his potential, but his balanced athleticism and body rhythm are a great place to start, allowing him to neutralize different types of rushers off the edge. With only three years of experience at tackle, he still has plenty of room to improve, projecting as a future NFL starter.

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