Small-Town Walk-On to NFL Draft Prospect
North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch has taken an unconventional path to become a potential first or second-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Hailing from Hankinson, North Dakota, Mauch’s gap-toothed grin and tenacity on the field have captured attention. However, it’s his astounding transformation from a 220-pound tight end to a 302-pound All-American offensive tackle that has the Detroit Lions considering him as a valuable addition to their roster.
Cody’s Unforgettable Smile and Infectious Personality
Mauch’s trademark smile, featuring a noticeable gap where his two front teeth used to be, originated from a middle school basketball game collision. Mauch decided to hold off on repairing his teeth until his football career ends, which could be quite some time.
His lighthearted attitude and creative celebrations have endeared him to fans and teammates alike. This fun-loving approach has been key to Mauch’s success at North Dakota State, inspiring those around him, including his coaches.
NDSU offensive line coach Dan Larson said:
I didn’t think the football field was the place to have fun. But he has fun with it and it makes football enjoyable to him. We stopped worrying about whether he was doing first-down signals, or if a guy runs by and he gives a high-five, but [the opposing player] won’t do it, he gives himself a high-five. When I stopped worrying about those parts of it and just the snap and the finish, his level of football even went up. Because it’s who he is.
A Diamond in the Rough at North Dakota State
Cody Mauch’s journey at North Dakota State began as a walk-on tight end. Over time, he added 82 pounds of muscle and switched to offensive tackle. This incredible physical transformation, coupled with his dedication to perfecting his craft, helped Mauch become an All-American tackle. Under the tutelage of NDSU offensive line coach Dan Larson, Mauch honed his skills and became known for his versatility and ability to play all five offensive line positions.
ESPN’s Matt Miller lists Mauch as his No. 5 tackle, and there’s a chance the North Dakota State standout hears his name called on the draft’s first night in Kansas City, Missouri. Senior Bowl executive director and former ESPN draft analyst Jim Nagy believes that:
He’s the only guy in this draft class who has proven he can play all five spots. Those guys are really hard to find. In the [Senior Bowl] game, he played left guard, center, and right tackle, so he’s proven he can play on both sides, which is big, too.
The Making of an NFL Prospect
Mauch’s strengths lie in his aggressive demeanor, exceptional drive-blocking ability, and effective communication with teammates during blitz pickups. Furthermore, his loose hips allow for easy redirection and recovery in space, making him an asset in various blocking schemes.
As a fit for the Detroit Lions, Mauch’s impressive footwork and mobility stand out. His agility as a run blocker is reminiscent of a tight end, displaying no restrictions when moving laterally or climbing to the second level. Furthermore, his relentless drive and determination to push defenders downfield or into the ground are evident in his playing style.
Mauch’s shorter arms (32 ⅜ inches) may prompt some teams to overlook him as a tackle. However, his performance during Senior Bowl week, where he played center, guard, and tackle, showcases his versatility and potential to excel in various positions on the offensive line. This adaptability earned him the National team’s offensive lineman of the week honors.
The Perfect Marriage of Personality and Positional Value in Detroit
Cody Mauch has a unique combination of skill, tenacity, and versatility that makes him an attractive prospect for the Detroit Lions. His ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line would allow him to compete for the starting right guard spot, potentially becoming a long-term replacement for Graham Glasgow. Additionally, Mauch’s size, athleticism, and football IQ would complement the talents of fellow lineman Penei Sewell. The pair would open up numerous creative gameplay options for coaches Dan Campbell and Ben Johnson.
A Bright Future Ahead
As Cody Mauch prepares to enter the 2023 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions are undoubtedly taking notice of this talented prospect. Mauch’s combination of skill, versatility, and infectious personality make him an ideal fit for the Lions organization. Only time will tell if Mauch’s journey will lead him to Detroit, but his potential impact on the team is undeniable.
For more from the author Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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