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Don’t let Brady Christensen’s ‘short arms’ fool you into thinking he can’t be an effective lineman for the Panthers

The Panthers picked another RAS darling in the third round of the NFL Draft when they took BYU offensive tackle Brady Christensen.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at BYU USA TODAY NETWORK

The Panthers used the No. 70 overall pick (after trading multiple times to get to that point) to select former BYU offensive tackle Brady Christensen. This selection gives the Panthers some much needed depth on the offensive line and gives new starting quarterback Sam Darnold a potential left tackle of the future.

It’s clear the Panthers had a strategy with their draft class: they wanted athletes who could be taught the ins and outs of their scheme, and that trend continued with the selection of Christensen in the third round. Darin Gantt recently covered Christensen’s athleticism with an in-depth piece for Panthers.com, and I highly suggest you check it out.

I’ve been comparing our draft picks to other notable players at their position using Relative Athletic Scores (RAS), and today is a continuation of that. The chart below shows how Christensen stacks up against some notable offensive tackles based on his high RAS score of 9.84 (which is insanely good for a man of his size, by the way).

Note: You can sort the table by column if you’d like, but it’s sorted by RAS as the default option.

Notable offensive tackles by RAS

Player Draft Year All-time RAS Height Weight Arm Length Years Active Pro Bowls All-Pro Teams
Player Draft Year All-time RAS Height Weight Arm Length Years Active Pro Bowls All-Pro Teams
Taylor Lewan 2014 9.98 6-7 309 33.875 7 3 0
Kolton Miller 2018 9.97 6-8 325 34.125 3 0 0
Jared Veldheer 2010 9.97 6-8 321 33 11 0 0
Lane Johnson 2013 9.93 6-6 317 35.25 8 3 1
Joe Staley 2007 9.92 6-5 295 33.5 13 6 3
Nate Solder 2011 9.88 6-8 325 35.5 9 0 0
Jonathan Ogden 1996 9.86 6-9 345 34.13 12 11 9
Brady Christensen 2021 9.84 6-6 300 32.25 N/A N/A N/A
Mekhi Becton 2020 9.83 6-7 364 35.625 1 0 0
Eric Fisher 2013 9.82 6-7 315 34.5 8 2 0
Terron Armstead 2013 9.57 6-5 304 34 8 3 1
Joe Thomas 2007 9.11 6-6 312 33.8 11 10 8

Christensen is an athlete, to put it plain and simple for you.

Darin Gantt has more specifics on Christensen’s athleticism from his recent profile:

Christensen, to put it mildly, put on a show at BYU’s pro day.

At 6-foot-6 and 302 pounds, Christensen posted workout numbers of much smaller men, or at least large men who generally are drafted higher than 70th overall.

His 10-foot-4-inch broad jump was eye-popping, and a sign of the kind of explosive ability the Panthers were looking for in any player.

Christensen also had a 34-inch vertical leap, and a 4.89 second 40-yard dash.

To put those numbers into context, his 40 time would have been the second-fastest among offensive linemen at the 2020 Scouting Combine (behind only Buccaneers first-round pick Tristan Wirfs’ 4.85). The broad jump mark would have been best among blockers; the vertical jump, third.

Christensen also had 30 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press (which would have been fifth-most at last year’s Combine), and his times in the short-shuttle and three-cone drill would have been second best among offensive linemen.

I already know what you’re muttering under your breath: ‘But he has T-Rex arms! He can’t be good, can he?!’ and you’re probably justified in being slightly concerned that his arms are too short to be a stand-out left tackle in the NFL. If you sort the table above by arm length (and I know you already have, don’t lie) you’ll see that Christensen has the shortest arms of the group.

It’s cause for some concern, and I’m not going to lie to you and tell you otherwise, but I just want you to look at a few other names on that list. Joe Thomas, Jared Veldheer, Joe Staley and Taylor Lewan all have ‘short arms’ and they all turned out OK. Having short arms — while it’s not a benefit — isn’t a death sentence for a tackle in the NFL as long as the player’s technique is sound, and from everything I’ve seen and heard, Christensen is fine in that area.

And hey, look at it on the bright side: If Christensen can’t play left tackle in the NFL, he can certainly play left guard, and the Panthers probably need one of those too, so it’s not like the pick will be wasted (and it’s not like they drafted him at No. 8 overall to play left tackle). He’s a third round pick, so even if he does have to move inside to guard, he can still play in Carolina for a decade and the Panthers will certainly get the full value of the pick they used on him. (And if it makes you feel any better, Christensen’s RAS as a guard is 9.97, which is slightly higher than his 9.84 score as a tackle.)

The bottom line is this: The Panthers got a gifted athlete who can (probably, hopefully) fill the left tackle spot for the next 10 years, and in a worst-case scenario picked up a gifted athlete who can fill the left guard spot for the next 10 years. That sounds like a win-win to me. Short arms be damned, Brady Christensen has the athletic traits to play at the next level, and the Panthers are looking forward to reaping all the benefits.