High schoolHe began his high school work in Canada but moved to Florida as a junior. It's hard to overlook the 6-foot-6, 322-pound offensive lineman nicknamed "Big O" now, but that was precisely his family's fear while Franklin, who was born in Jamaica, was growing up in Toronto.
His family moved to Florida before his senior year of high school so he could get noticed by recruiters. Florida he would come to consider his home.
"It was real hard in Toronto," Franklin said. "I think that if I never moved from Toronto that I wouldn't be in the position that I'm in today. Once I got to the U.S. it was not real hard because I got a lot of opportunities to play really early and I got on the field and got recruited by a bunch of teams."
He played left tackle in 2005 as a senior at Atlantic High School under coach Chris Bean. Where he did not allow any sacks all season long. It led to Franklin being ranked as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, as the 23rd-best offensive tackle in the nation.
Franklin decided to attend The University of Miami, it was like a big high school to him. He liked the atmosphere and was recruited as a guard. Due to some problems transferring credits from Canada to the US, he took a redshirt year in 2006.
CollegeIn 2007, Franklin’s Freshman year, he ended up playing in all 12 games and starting three of them. Played in his first collegiate game against Marshall, started at left guard against NC State, Virginia Tech and Boston College. For the season he graded out at 95 percent, with 27 pancakes in 407 downs played. He played well enough to share the Rookie of the Year award with Graig Cooper.
Franklin suffered a left wrist injury against Florida State during the 2007 season, incurring a fracture and a pair of torn ligaments. That led to a postseason surgery and Franklin had to sit out the’08 spring practice.
His sophomore year of 2008 saw his weight increase to nearly 350 lb in the spring following the wrist operation. He quickly found that it wasn’t going to help him, as he’d thought. So he got back down to his playing weight - anywhere from 316 to 328 is how he describes it, and notes that playing heavier means more injuries, wear and tear on the body - he played in all 13 games at left guard that year. He had 11 starts, coming against Charleston Southern, Florida, Texas A&M, UCF, Florida State, Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Played well at Texas A&M, at NC State and against Virginia Tech grading out at 96 percent in all three games. Played a season-high 74 plays in the Emerald Bowl against Cal and graded 95 percent. Also played 70 snaps against UCF and 73 snaps at Virginia. Franklin tallied a team-high 38 pancake blocks and graded out at 94 percent that year.
As a junior in 2009, he continued to improve his game. It’s probably fair to keep in mind that this is a player who came to the game late. He didn’t have the benefits (or problems) of backyard games, pickup games as a youngster, or freshman through junior year coaching for his position in high school. Orlando saw that he had the body type to play the line in football, decided that would be his profession, packed up and moved from Canada to Florida to make that happen, and immediately played well at left tackle. That’s an impressive show of personal will and effort. By the time he was a junior in college, he was getting comfortable with his game.
That year, Franklin graded out at 95 percent with 51 pancake blocks and 13 lumberjacks. He started 11 games at left guard and one game at left tackle. You can talk about run blocking versus pass blocking, but when you combine them, you’ve got a player who grades out at 95 percent and who is increasing his pancake and lumberjack blocks each year.
He picked up a career-high 10 pancake blocks and graded out at 96 percent in the win over Duke. Also performed well against Georgia Tech (97 percent grade, eight pancake blocks, five lumberjacks); Wake Forest (97 percent grade, four pancake blocks); North Carolina (94 percent grade); Florida State (95 percent grade) and Oklahoma (93 percent grade).
He was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week after his performance in the regular season finale at USF when he started at left tackle. He was also an All-ACC Honorable Mention that year, and going against Oklahoma’s All-American DT Gerald McCoy, he reached a 93 percent grade, and limited McCoy to a half-tackle. He helped a Miami offense rack up 5,199 yards (3,405 passing, 1,794 rushing), which is the most since the 2004 season (4,593 yards) as the Miami offense is in line to become just the eighth team in school history to gain 5,000 yards in a season. Despite his late start into football, his game was continuing to improve.
And in 2010, it really did.
He played in 13 games that year, with 12 of them coming at left tackle. He’d gone from being a player with no experience, to moving into the left tackle slot as a senior in HS, and then moved to guard in college. Being promoted to the starter slot at left tackle essentially ranks a player as the best they have on their team’s OL. Franklin was up to the challenge - with him at left tackle, the Miami offense put up 5,477 yards (3,105 passing, 2,372 rushing), which is the second most in school history and the most since the 2002 season (6,074 yards). When you note that this offense managed over 3,000 yards passing, you start to understand that while he loves run blocking, his pass protection is far from poor. With over 2,370 yards rushing for UM that year, you also know that when he says that he loves to run block, he’s not kidding around. He led the team with 61 pancake blocks and 16 lumberjacks.
He was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week after his performance at Pittsburgh, grading out at 89 percent. Graded out at 95 percent against Ohio State and graded out at 94 percent against UNC.
Franklin made the Outland Trophy Watch List, was All-ACC Second Team as voted by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association and was a Lombardi Trophy Candidate in 2010. He also received the U of Miami’s Sports Hall of Fame Unsung Hero Award. When he went up against top sackmaster Da’Quan Bowers of Clemson, he was up to the challenge. He’s played well against the best in the college ranks, and that’s all that he could have done up to now.
Over Franklin’s career at The University of Miami he played in 51 games over the four years. This was only one shy of the school record. He registered 29 combined touchdown-resulting blocks in his junior and senior seasons. Was a two-time All-ACC honouree and two-time ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honouree. Was also voted as the UMiami Sports Hall of Fame Unsung Hero in 2010. He also developed a reputation as a kindhearted teddy bear off the field who transforms himself into a mean player on it.
Awards2010 UMIAMI SPORTS HALL OF FAME UNSUNG HERO AWARD
2010 All-ACC SECOND TEAM
2010 OUTLAND TROPHY WATCH LIST
2010 LOMBARDI AWARD CANDIDATE
2009 ALL-ACC HONORABLE MENTION
Pre-draftBy the time he left school, he had produced quite a resume and tape with outstanding efforts against first-round picks Chris Long (2007) and Jason Pierre-Paul (2009). A guard who moved to left tackle as a senior, Franklin looked like he was built for the position. He has broad shoulders, long, 35-inch arms and 11 1/8-inch hand width to camouflage his still-developing technique, adequate athleticism and average instincts for the position. Even if he winds up at guard or right tackle, scouts are lauding his toughness and lineman's mentality.
He played the entire 2010 season with a torn meniscus in his left knee, an injury that occurred in 2009. Franklin said he opted to delay surgery because he felt the Hurricanes had "something special going" in 2010. He had surgery at the end of the season but deemed himself "98 percent" at the combine and chose to participate in all workouts.
Here is an analysis of Franklin’s blocking skills:
Pass blocking: Flashes the initial quickness and depth in his kick-slide to consider remaining outside at tackle if he plays on the right side in the NFL. Was late off the snap early in his career at Miami, one of several reasons why the coaching staff kept him inside at left guard. Possesses the physical traits to develop into a top pass blocker. Long arms, strong hands and surprisingly good balance and overall agility. Slides laterally and is able to control opponents when he locks on.
Run blocking: Only marginal initial quickness off the snap, but comes off surprisingly low and hard. Can knock defenders off the ball. Shows good leg drive to gain ground and doesn't back down from a fight. Flashes some nastiness finishing plays and will work to knock his opponent to the ground. Has to do a better job keeping his hands inside the numbers of defenders. Has a tendency to let his hands get too high and wide, which will result in holding penalties against NFL athletes.
CombineFranklin participated in the combine this year. Though he said he was only at about “98%” during the combine because he was recovering from knee surgery. He did however post good numbers at the combine considering his size and injury. Below are his combine measurables.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP||Wonderlic|
|6' ft 6 in||316 lb||35 in||11 1/8 in||5.2 s||1.76 s||2.93 s||28.5 in||26 rep|
|All values from 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.|
Franklin has a good physique for the RT position. He measured 6’6” inches tall at the Combine and weighed in at 316 pounds, his lower playing weight. Traditionally, tackles are preferred to have long arms - 35 inches is considered optimal - only because it lets the player use them to obstruct speed rushers on the edge for a half second more. It’s an area where Franklin needs coaching and experience, but his arm length is 35 inches exactly, for those who follow that school of thought. His hands are 11 ⅞ inches - big, even for a lineman. Even more impressive is that he has the wingspan of 81 ⅛ inches. His predraft scouting reports were all over the map - some scouts loved him, others didn’t. Here’s a shortened example of both sides, from Pro Football Weekly:
Positives: Very physical and will exert his will on opponents — plays with tenacity and seeks to bury defenders in the ground. Has good body power and substance to anchor and hold the point of attack against bigger bodies. Outstanding football disposition — plays with a mean streak. Outstanding grip strength. Aggressive run blocker. Strong finisher. Battles hard and competes. Is light enough on his feet to handle edge speed. Tough, will play through pain and has been very durable.
That’s all fair enough - there’s a lot to like about Big O. Franklin ran a slow 40 at the Combine, but he’d just gone through a meniscus surgery on his left knee, and yet he still ran. His fractured wrist and torn ligaments as a redshirt freshman didn’t affect his work the following season. He’s an emotionally and physically tough player, and he won’t let dings and ‘boo-boos’ affect his game. He deals well with pain and he’s generally been durable. He’s also very good at taking down an opponent legally - or dropping him, and moving on to another player.
Negatives: Inconsistent technique — plays too wide-based and hands too often go outside the target. Relies too much on his natural strength. Tight-hipped, stiff-ankled and has a lot of lower-body stiffness — tends to play upright as a result. Lazy eyes — can be late to see and adjust to the blitz. Has a selfish makeup with a huge ego and a sense of entitlement not desired in the trenches. Not accountable.
The issue raised on his technique is accurate, but this is why you pay position coaches in the NFL - no rookie comes in with perfect technique. Orlando does keep his stance a little too wide in the drills, and he’s stronger kickstepping to the left - moving to the right will take a little time, since the ability has to be developed through repetition. He’ll have to keep his head on a swivel, and learn to bend his knees on every down, not, at times, his waist. It’s a common failing among less experienced players, and for all that he’s accomplished, Franklin is still learning the game. He’s going to keep right on learning - this opportunity has been his goal since he was in high school. He hasn’t wavered on it. He’s shown the grit that is key to success in the pros.
To the other issues, they get to the heart of why some scouts don’t like him. If you watch his post-draft interview at Dove Valley you don’t see the attitude that is expected after the general media commentary. You see a confident young man who is politely grateful for his opportunity, and who believes in himself. In the NFL, you’d better, or your career will be short - does anyone doubt that Tim Tebow believes in himself? Champ Bailey? Clady? It’s one of the things that NFL people resonate with. Franklin had already spoken with Coach Dave Magazu and seemed appropriately respectful of him.
What you don’t see in that short piece of video was the kind of stubborn, self-absorbed person that much of the draft reporting makes him out to be. Then again he could be hiding it well. What we do know is he is a finisher, someone who isn’t happy unless his assignment is on the ground and he’s laying on top of him or running downfield to find a new victim.
When he spoke, he seemed centered and confident, but not cocky.
I doubt that Dave Magazu is going to have any trouble handling this kid. - Magazu has 32 years in coaching, including nine in the NFL and has coached the OL under head coach John Fox since 2007. The comments from Franklin’s college OL Coach Jeff Southland support the belief that Orlando is highly coachable. Look at his comments in light of the improvement that Franklin made while working under him. He describes Franklin as ‘a very sensitive guy’. That’s not the picture that the media has painted, but it’s the view of a coach who knows Franklin well.
DraftOrlando Franklin was selected 14th in the 2nd round, at 46th overall, by the Denver Broncos.
Franklin has quickly become a controversial pick among the fan base. It’s understandable - folks were expecting a defensive tackle, and Franklin played most of his career at left guard, which confuses folks. He’s been accused of being a ‘dirty’ player. He’s better at run blocking than pass blocking, and that’s a reasonable concern. It’s a vast overstatement to say that he can’t pass block, though. When you look at his career, he’s done well in that role.
Big O may have created some controversy among the fans, but the front office plainly doesn’t share those concerns. The 61 pancake blocks and 16 lumberjacks he achieved in those 13 starts (which lead his team yet again) suggest that when you take down opponent after opponent, some of them are likely to claim that you cheated. When you do some simple math, Franklin averaged almost six pancakes or lumberjacks each game. Some of those guys are going to be angry - and embarrassed.
Bottom line, John Elway wants the Broncos to look good and have a great personality.
"I've always felt every good team I've been around has had a personality you could see right away," said Elway, the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations. "And every coach has a personality, a way they look at things and feel about players. We want to match that up, have those players that have the things we want, the characteristics we want for (coach) John Fox and the Denver Broncos."
And speed tops the list.
"You can be a 4.7, 4.8 guy (in the 40-yard dash) and be productive in spots on defense. But it's a matchup game, and eventually you're going to have to cover a 4.5 guy, a 4.6 guy, or you have to run past a guy on offense. Speed is crucial."
Franklin, a 316-pounder, was the fourth-fastest offensive tackle at the combine.
Then there is the attitude Fox is looking for, attack-minded on defense with the ability to play with power on offense. The Broncos were dismal in short-yardage situations on offense the last two seasons, often unable to move defensive players off the ball at the line of scrimmage.
Enter Franklin, considered by many NFL scouts as one of the best drive blockers available in the draft.
"He's big and physical, he knocks people off the ball, he gets his hands on you and you're usually going the other way," Fox said. "That was something that was impressive."
John Elway has praised Franklin's demeanor on the field, and that’s coming from a man who suffered a lot of sacks before Denver finally put together an offensive line to protect him. The comment on Franklin’s weight is interesting - his weight went up during the time that he was out following the wrist surgery, but he quickly got it under control. It wasn’t an issue throughout the rest of his college career to my knowledge and I saw him comment that he likes to play at about his current weight of 316 (to a max of exactly 328, he says, which was interesting in its precision), because it reduces injuries. Young players who reach the NFL have to learn to take care of their bodies, and it was clear that Franklin had at least a basic grasp of what works for him. It reduces the chance that he’ll have weight issues.
Brian Xanders said, “He played guard early in his career. He’s a taller guy at 6-5, 320-325 (pounds). He has really long arms, but when they put him at left tackle, he was a physical, fierce competitor. He takes his guy three or four yards down the field. He’s a good pass protector because he has length in his arms. His footwork was good enough. We just liked his demeanor, and then we had a good interview…He had an edge to him. He was ready to go. We think he fits in also as a right tackle because of his physicality and his size and in the vertical movement he possesses. We’re excited about him.”
John Fox added, “I think he’s an offensive tackle and has a great combination of athleticism and power, and that’s something we’re looking for. He does it with the right set of mindset.”
Even though Franklin was dunned in the media for his personality, the review admits what most of them concluded - the tape suggest that this is potentially one of the best OL players in the 2011 Draft. He’s on-field mean, sure - and as far as the Broncos are concerned, that’s the good side. He’s been productive in multiple slots, and he has improved every year that he’s been in the game. All of the rest seems like window dressing - the only thing that’s going to matter now is how he produces on the field.
FutureFranklin moved from left guard to left tackle his junior season, but the Hurricanes' dominant drive blocker will play right tackle in Denver, where he could be protecting Tim Tebow's blind side if the second-year Florida quarterback beats out Kyle Orton this fall.
What Franklin really looks forward to is boring holes for Tebow or the Broncos running backs.
"I like to think of myself as the most physical offensive lineman that was in this draft, and I am looking forward to bringing that nature to the Denver Broncos," Franklin said.
His play is what spoke so loudly to the Broncos.
General manager Brian Xanders visited Miami last year and said he liked everything about Franklin, from his experience to his size and strength, but especially his nastiness.
"He takes his guy three or four yards down the field. He's a good pass protector because he has length in his arms," Xanders said.
Coach John Fox, who is known for injecting players with a nasty streak into his defenses, looks for the same demeanor in his offensive linemen.
"He's big and physical and knocks people off the ball. He gets his hands on you and you're usually going the other way," Fox said.
So, the Broncos bypassed such heralded run-stuffing prospects as Marvin Austin and Stephen Paea to select Franklin in the second round of the NFL draft last week.
"Orlando helps us big time at tackle," said John Elway, chief of football operations. "It makes us pretty solid up front."
Given his nose for nastiness, it's no surprise that Franklin considers run-blocking his strength, and he said he's eager to drive defensive linemen back for a mobile quarterback like Tebow: "It definitely makes playing football a whole lot more exciting."
"Yeah, you could say that, I guess. Some people accuse me of being a dirty player, but I just like to get after it," Franklin said. "Some people just think I'm a nasty player because I talk a lot on the field and I'm trying to get the pancake (blocks) and stuff and I'm going to talk all game to you. That's just my game."
At least he, and the Broncos, disagree with that - he says that he plays hard, plays by the rules but plays to the whistle on every down. Jason Fox was UM’s left tackle in 2009 (he will be a rookie LT for the Detroit Lions this year) and he says of Franklin, “He smiles off the field, but when he's on the field, he's all business - like he should be." Miami’s 2010 offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland’s comment was clearly of a more personal nature than your average, canned-sounding responses. He said “We've been through a lot together, some hard times. I'm sure there have been times he has hated me as his coach, but I'm just so proud of the way he has grown up." That doesn’t sound like a young man who’s hard to coach - just one who needs the coach to communicate well and to hold him accountable as well as teach and support him as a player.
What he'll have to hone are his pass-protecting skills, but the Broncos expect him to be able to step right in and start as a rookie in place of Ryan Harris, who is expected to bolt in free agency whenever the NFL's labor impasse is ironed out.
Orlando Franklin has the physical tools, the attitude and the potential to be a starting right tackle in the NFL. Whether he succeeds is entirely up to him - but so far, betting against him hasn’t been a profitable venture. The running game desperately needs a top blocker. I think that the Broncos just got one. Welcome to the Mile High City, Orlando. I hope that your stay is productive, long, hostile and effective. ~ Aussie.
References:Wiki, Hurrican Sports, CBS, NFLdraftscout, ItsAllOverFatman, DenverPost, DenverPost