Maryland football film breakdown: OT Gottlieb Ayedze

After breaking down one of Maryland’s newest weapons in former WVU receiver Kaden Prather, we shift our attention to the offensive line where position coach Brian Braswell is tasked with replenishing the interior unit. But the unit will have two experience tackles protecting the edge and the addition of Gottlieb Ayedze, a transfer from Frostburg, is a big reason why.

Ayedze, who played with Prather for one season at Northwest (MD), started all 11 games for the Bobcats in 2022 at left tackle before being named an AFCA First Team All-American and First Team All-MEC selection.

Although he played against lower competition, Ayedze has impressive measurables at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds. He was also the anchor for the second-best rushing attack in the MEC last season. He is a very important piece for a Maryland offensive line that lost four of their five starters from this past season. Ayedze is slated to start at left tackle which is a spot left vacant by NFL prospect Jaelyn Duncan. Duncan was one of the best offensive linemen the Terps have had in recent memory and Ayedze is expected to fill his shoes in order for the Terps to continue their upward trajectory under head coach Mike Locksley. Let’s take a look at what the Germantown native brings to the table. 

The first thing that pops after watching his tape is his pure athleticism for his size. We know Jaelyn Duncan’s best attribute was his ability to get out into open space and make blocks on designed outside runs. Ayedze puts a lot of this same athleticism on tape. Although he is not as big as Duncan (Duncan is 6-foot-6 and 320 lbs.) Ayedze perhaps brings more top end speed. The first two clips in Ayedze’s highlights demonstrate his ability to get out into open space and just lay some absolute pancake blocks. 

Even though he doesn’t make a significant block on this TD run, Ayedze is clearly keeping up with his running back which is very impressive for his 300-pound frame.

Locksley’s offensive scheme includes a lot of these plays where the tackles get out in space. Ayedze seems he can slide right into this role for the Terps without any problem.

Ayedze is also very physical in downhill run blocking. His hand placement is usually pretty good in the chest of the defender and he keeps his feet moving. In the third clip, Ayedze is on a double-team block on the left. He is receiving help but I thought this showcased how he creates holes by keeping his feet churning. He is lined up at left tackle with a tight end to his left (#72).

Ayedze is good in short distances in the red zone as well. He gets good jump off the ball and runs his feet in order to move the defender back. Maryland had issues getting push in goal to go situations last season. This was especially the case on the 1 yard line as running back Antwain Littleon struggled to get the extra yard. Running behind Ayedze could be an option for coach Locksley now as his pop is evident in these situations. In the fourth clip, he mauls the defensive tackle 3 technique deep into the endzone. 

Now it is not all sunshine and rainbows for Ayedze. I found countless times where he was not too sharp in pass protection. His feet movement in his drop steps are slow and he often reaches with arms extended which can allow for talented edge rushers to go by him, evidenced in the next clip.

He often also gets pushed back a lot by defenders. It seems he just isn’t too sturdy since it is taking him a while to set his feet. I am concerned this could create a messy pocket and force Tagovailoa to retreat to his right sooner than needed. This clip shows two plays where first the edge rusher pushes him back. The six clip shows Ayedze is reaching with arms which allows the defender to blow right by him. 

It will be a concern as he will now be facing some of the best pass rushers in the country and they can take advantage of his poor mechanics. However, there are some pass pro sets where Ayedze showed some positive mechanics. In this clip he is lined up at left tackle. Ayedze handles his assignment by locking out the defender. I do think this is just due to his pure size. His feet are not really moving and he has high hand placement as well as a high center of gravity.

With Ayedze lined up at right tackle, we see some of the same from him as his feet are not moving much and he is standing upright rather than being in an athletic position. Big Ten pass rushers usually have quick athletic pass-rush moves as well as solid bend to get them around blockers. 

The last clip shows the most promise in his pass protection abilities. Ayedze gets a great jump off the ball, moves his feet laterally in quick fashion, has a low center of gravity, keeps his feet moving through the block, and keeps a wide and clean pocket for the quarterback. We need to see more of this if he is going to compete against the Big Ten’s finest. 

Overall, Ayedze is a very fascinating prospect. He for sure has the size to compete at the next level but there are still concerns. His athleticism for his size is off the charts and is something that reminds me of former left tackle, Jaelyn Duncan. His physical run-blocking downhill is also a high point. However, his pass protection needs work and could be a liability in conference play. Gottlieb Ayedze will need to be an anchor for this revamped Terps offensive line and he will be relied upon to fill the vacant role left by NFL draft prospect, Jaelyn Duncan.

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