OLT Jake Long
Height: 6-7 Weight: 313 Speed: 5.24
Notes: Two-way lineman as a Michigan prep who did not allow a sack in three years while also starring in basketball and baseball. Redshirted in 2003. Fought for his life in the summer of '04 when his house caught on fire while he was asleep — was hospitalized in intensive care while unconscious and hooked up to a respirator for three days. Returned to start the final 10 games at right tackle that season before undergoing postseason shoulder surgery. Injured his left ankle during '05 fall camp, underwent surgery and missed the first seven games before starting four of the final five contests. Suffered a sprained ligament in his right foot, but played in the team's bowl game. Started all 26 games at left tackle in '06 and '07, totaling 247 knockdowns and 33 touchdown-resulting blocks while allowing just two sacks and drawing just one penalty in 1,743 snaps. Two-time captain and two-time Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. Was selected first overall in the 2008 draft and signed a five-year, $57.75 million contract that included $30 million guaranteed. A Pro Bowler his first two seasons, Long has started all 43 games of his NFL career at left tackle, allowing only 2½ sacks as a rookie and five sacks in '09. Played through a sprained MCL early in the season, dislocated his left shoulder against the Titans on Nov. 14 and has worn a brace to protect labrum damage, but has not missed a start, allowing 4½ sacks through 12 games.
Positives: Excellent size with well-distributed mass and very long arms. Can blow linebackers out of the hole (see Oakland vs. Rolando McClain). Has very technically sound footwork with good balance. Is quick setting in pass protection and maintaining positioning. Plays with a veteran's savvy and is alert to stunts and blitzes — terrific instincts and feel for the game. Very good base strength to stop a charge and matches up well against big-bodied base ends. Is a highly respected, vocal line leader. Physically and mentally tough. Highly competitive and extremely hardworking with top-shelf intangibles.
Negatives: Not an elite foot athlete and struggles handling quickness and sudden counters. Could do a better job of using his hands to create extension and lock out, tending to let defenders into the fleshy part of his body and not consistently punching with the violence he shows he clearly can display when he wants to (although shoulder injury is notable). Does not have elite lateral agility and will overset to compensate for his recovery speed limitations and allow pass rushers to take the inside. Struggles connecting with quick second- and third-level defenders.
Summary: A powerful road grader who is best rolling off the ball flat-backed and recreating the line of scrimmage, Long combines with Richie Incognito to provide one of the strongest left sides in football. Has been a very dependable starter from the day he arrived in Miami and can be trusted to keep the pocket clean, despite having some trouble handling elite quickness. Football is very important to him and he plays the game with passion, showing a defensive disposition and level of toughness that few if any left tackles could match.