NFL Draft Breakdown: South Carolina’s A.J. Cann

A.J. Cann, Offensive Guard, University of South Carolina 

Height: 6’3″ (From Combine)
Weight: 313 lbs (From Combine)
Year: Sr

Trait Notes:
Footwork – C+
Hand Usage – C
Awareness – B-
Strength and Leverage – B-
Run Blocking – C+
Pass Blocking – C+
Consistency – C+
Overall Current Grade – C+ 
Overall Ceiling Grade – B

Footwork and movement skills:

Cann shows good footwork and sets himself well. Cann displays the ability to reset his lower half and anchor in. Cann doesn’t show good foot speed and tends to be a bit heavy footed in general and we’ll get more into that as we transition into his movement skills.

Speaking of movement skills, this is arguably Cann’s biggest weakness. Cann struggles changing direction in space and is a bit of a lumberer. Cann does take good angles into his blocks but his balance is lacking when moving up to the second level. Cann lacks ideal agility and speed that zone blocking teams will look for in the guard position but his strength should allow him a solid transition into a power run blocking scheme. One area where Cann will struggle is out of his stance. Cann tends to be a hair late and in turn, the defender is able to initiate the contact with some regularity throughout the game. Cann needs to get on the move and deliver the punch more often.

Strength, hands and Leverage:

Cann displays very good functional strength. Cann anchors in well and has good snap in his hips. Once engaged, Cann shows the ability to push the defender off his spot and create space in the run game. Cann’s body matches up very well with his functional strength and that will be a blessing for him at the next level as he tries to transition.

Cann shows good handwork tho it can be inconsistent at times. When Cann sets himself up early in the snap, he gets both hands inside and has a great grip on his defenders. At times Cann will struggle with the outside hand and get a bit wide. Cann shows the ability to punch and initiate contact but rarely gets the opportunity to as he struggles with his initial snap reaction. As stated, Cann is a bit slow out of his stance and that must improve.

Cann is a natural bender that keeps a solid wide stance. Cann has a flexible lower body with good bend in the knees and overall he does a good job getting under the pads of the defender. Cann needs to use better technique at times and tends to rely on strength over positioning which is something that veteran players at the next level will be able to eat alive.

Where A.J. Cann Struggles:

Cann needs to really work on his consistency and technique before expecting good results at the next level. Cann needs to work on keeping a straight back and not leaning out too much over his front feet which is a big cause of his tendency to lose balance. Cann also needs to work on his ability to jump out of his stance and initiate the contact on a more consistent basis.

Where does A.J. Cann potentially fit in with the Buccaneers?:

Cann is one of the few guards in this draft that I feel comfortable with in saying that they can provide some help early on in year one. Cann displays the power to be a good run defender and with some technique work can blossom into a reliable pass protector. Cann played exclusively on the left side at guard and his transition to the NFL will be aided if he gets to stay there. With the Buccaneers, that most likely isn’t a possibility year one as the team has already entrenched veteran guard Logan Mankins and with that said, Cann would most likely have to take his rookie lumps on the right side before making the move to left guard.

Overall, Cann comes in as my number two ranked guard at a 7.8 overall. Cann is a solid top of the second round prospect that shows traits leading me to believe he can have early success in the league upon cleaning up a few technical issues.

Short Term Outlook:

Potential day one starter in a power run blocking scheme.

Long Term Outlook:

Long term starter that should improve as a pass blocker while being a formidable run blocker. Expectation is that Cann will grow into a top 20 guard at the position.

Draft Prediction:

Second Round pick.

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1 Comment on NFL Draft Breakdown: South Carolina’s A.J. Cann

vicbarney1 said : Guest Report one year ago

I love Kyle Marks' article above! The Bucs would really improve their Offensive line with A.J. Cann! Go Bucs! p.s. I'd still go with Mariota at QB though! I'm just saying...

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