2023 NFL Draft Canadian Prospect to add to your First-Round Board: Syracuse LT Matthew Bergeron

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Syracuse offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron blocks against Wake Forest during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Matthew Bergeron, 6’5″ 322 lbs, Offensive Tackle, Syracuse (Redshirt Junior)

Even though Canada is mainly a Hockey country, Canadians have been taking their talents south of the border to the NCAA and NFL for years. Growing up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and playing football from a young age, I realize that football is still an American-dominated sport. Thus, whenever a Canadian, especially one from my native province of Quebec, is really making a name for himself playing football in the United States, it is something to spotlight. Hoping to follow along the lines of impact Quebecers in the NFL like Benjamin St-Juste, former Super Bowl champions Antony Auclair and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Bergeron is building an impressive profile for himself in his redshirt Junior year for the Orange. The Orange are currently 6-1 following a close loss to the Clemson Tigers. Still, their strong start to the season can be attributed in part to Bergeron’s strong play, and here’s why you should definitely take note of his play before he surprises you come NFL draft time when he could be selected really high.

Player Overview: 

  • Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Recruited out of CEGEP of Thetford in Quebec after he was named 2018 RSEQ Second Division Offensive Player of the Year and Offensive Line Player of the Year
  • Rated as a 3-Star Offensive tackle out of High School
  • Honorable mention All-ACC Tackle following the 2021 season.
  • Named team captain prior to the 2022 season.

 

Strengths:

  • Outstanding play strength and plays with a nasty edge and attitude to dominate the defender in front of him
  • He is really quick and explosive out of his stance; really gets vertical in his pass-pro stance quickly off the snap
  • Excels at hitting targets in space, one of the best in the class
  • Really good aggressiveness off the snap, powerful punch to jolt defenders; Consistently moves defenders off the ball
  • Nimble and agile to climb the second level on zone blocks and pulls with ease;
  • Can really excel as a pass protector when he channels down aggression and plays with more patience, excellent there at mirroring defenders and using jolts to stalemate rushers.
  • Is able to recover from odd positions and when beaten to outstanding athleticism displayed and the edge he plays with to sustain blocks
  • Although his hands don’t always land properly on defenders, he keeps his feet moving consistently, exhibiting effort to fight during blocks, and has oily hips to use for a really good recovery balance.
Syracuse Orange offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron defends his... News Photo - Getty Images
Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Weaknesses:

  • Inconsistent at-hand placement within chest plate, hands tend to be too broad and could be exposed to more holding penalties if not corrected.
  • His legs can get too broad at times, leading him to lose balance in his shuffle, thus making it harder to latch on to defenders.
  • Can be a late reactor off the ball at times, which leaves him exposed to speed rushers outside, and gave up a few pressures.
  • Can improve his knee bend to consistently use leverage on blocks, gets by mostly by natural abilities for now; needs to sink his hips more consistently in pass pro to help withstand speed and power rushers.

Overall, Bergeron is a dominant run-blocker at the left tackle position. He is an above-average pass protector who imposes his will on the defenders he is assigned to. His level of play is a major reason why Syracuse has been a dominant running team, where he helps clear a lot of holes for star RB Sean Tucker

Pro comparison: Penei Sewell

2023 NFL Draft Projection: Bergeron is a way better prospect than I anticipated before evaluating his film, as he doesn’t get all of the same press clippings of other highly touted prospects in this class. He is definitely a difference-maker for Syracuse in both phases of the offense, and he also possesses all the physical tools required to be a high-caliber left tackle prospect that can potentially be the top player drafted at his position come draft time. As he is already on the Reese’s Senior Bowl watch list and most likely to be invited at the NFL Scouting Combine, I believe Bergeron will end up drafted in the top 20’s come draft time, and to be honest (and slightly biased), it would not shock me to see him be the top offensive tackle off the board.