With the regular season well underway, we’ve been looking at the players the Jets have added since cutdown day, continuing today with Leo Koloamatangi.
The 25-year old offensive lineman is listed at 6’5” and 305 pounds and was undrafted out of Hawaii in 2017. He has yet to make his NFL debut but has been with the Detroit Lions in training camp for the past three seasons and seen extensive preseason action. He spent most of that time on their practice squad.
Koloamatangi played both on the offensive and defensive line in high school before being recruited to play at Hawaii. After redshirting his freshman year, Koloamatangi established himself as a valuable and versatile rotational lineman and occasional jumbo package tight end over the next three seasons, making seven starts.
In his senior year, Koloamatangi became a full-time regular, starting three games at center and 10 at right guard. He was selected as an all-Mountain West honorable mention.
At the end of the season, Koloamatangi was invited to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl but did not get an invite to the scouting combine and wasn’t expected to get drafted.
He ended up signing for Detroit as an undrafted free agent and played for them in preseason. He was released in final cuts as a rookie and, apart from one week where he was temporarily released, spent the entire 2017 season on their practice squad.
After signing a futures deal in 2018, Koloamatangi was again released in final cuts and placed on the practice squad, but this time he was put on the active roster in December, although he did not see action.
He was again released in final cuts, this time with an injury settlement, in September. This time, he ended up on the Jets’ practice squad and they activated him when Ryan Kalil was placed on injured reserve.
Now let’s take a look at what Koloamatangi brings to the table, divided into categories.
Koloamatangi’s pro day numbers weren’t very good as his 40-yard dash was timed at just under 5.5 seconds and his agility numbers were poor. He also only posted a disappointing 16 bench press reps. His explosiveness numbers were about average though.
Despite his poor pro day numbers, Koloamatangi seems to move well in space and demonstrates some strength and power on film.
He has decent size and is probably heavier than his listed 305 pounds. Having weighed in at 298 for his pro day, Koloamatangi claimed to have added 20 pounds during his first training camp.
Koloamatangi was extremely versatile at Hawaii having seen action at all five offensive line positions and as a jumbo package tight end. He carried this into him time with the Lions which has seen him play all three interior offensive line positions.
As noted above, Koloamatangi also saw action as a defensive lineman in high school.
Koloamatangi put up some impressive pass protection numbers at Hawaii where he never allowed more than one sack in any season. According to Pro Football Focus, he was tied for first place in the nation in 2016 for pass blocking efficiency among guards.
In preseason action with the Lions, Koloamatangi did a solid job of limiting pressure, although he was responsible for a couple of sacks. He can be driven back of his spot by bull rushers, but shows an ability to re-anchor on this play at left guard.
On this play, again at left guard, the defensive tackle makes a quick inside jab-step move to gain a leverage advantage and Koloamatangi is unable to recover. He ends up getting called for holding.
As a run blocker, Koloamantangi can hold up and sometimes get a surge at the point of attack, can make blocks on the move and will battle to stay on his blocks.
However, he will sometimes find himself stood up at the line, isn’t always consistent at finding someone to block in space and can often lose leverage and allow his man to work off blocks. Koloamatangi is at right guard on this play.
He will occasionally be tasked with pulling or getting out to the second level and can have mixed results. On this play Koloamatangi is lined up at center. He picks up a block at the second level and stays active to keep his man sealed off.
He can be effective blocking on outside zone runs. This play sees him lined up at right guard and setting the edge by gaining outside leverage and limiting how far the end can penetrate into the backfield.
In preseason action, Koloamatangi was tasked with getting out in front of a screen a few times, but didn’t have much success in making an effective block as he tended to be a little slow to get going when he headed upfield.
Koloamatangi’s technique can be raw and this is especially evident when he makes an initial block but is unable to stay on his man.
This can also affect him in pass protection. On this play, Koloamatangi - the left guard - tries to re-anchor against the bull rush, but the pass rusher is able to get his hands off him and work around the block to get to the quarterback.
He shows some natural ability in terms of his footwork in space. On this second-level reach block, he lines up at right guard and does an excellent job of re-setting his angle to keep the linebacker walled off at the second level, creating a huge lane.
Penalties were an issue for Koloamatangi in his senior year at Hawaii. He ended up with 12 in total.
In preseason action with the Lions, he didn’t fare too badly, with just one penalty in his first 11 preseason appearances. However, he had three penalties (a hold, a false start and a chop block) in his final preseason game with them.
Most of Koloamatangi’s special teams work has been as a blocker on the placekicking unit. However, he did see some action in preseason blocking for the kickoff return man. He had mixed results in this role.
When playing the center position, Koloamatangi has often been tasked with keeping his head on a swivel and picking up blitzes or giving help to one of his linemates. However, within that role there are times when he is late to react or slow to anticipate.
He also can have issues dealing with stunts. On this play, the tackle stays on his man which leads to Koloamatangi - the left guard - losing leverage as his man loops around the edge.
On this play, Koloamatangi - again at left guard - shows clear confusion. He initially double teams with the center, leaving the running back to pick up a blitz that goes right past him, but then vacates the double team which also leads to the center losing leverage while Koloamatangi hesitates.
However, in run blocking assignments, he seems more than adept at peeling off a double-team to block at the second level or coming off one block to pick up another assignment.
If he can improve his comfort level within an NFL blocking scheme, Koloamatangi could make significant progress. Playing so many positions is useful in terms of his familiarity with the offense, but at the same time could slow down how soon he is totally comfortable at any one position.
Koloamatangi often battles with his man, staying on his block until after the whistle. However, there are times when he has lapses from this habit. He was an aggressive finisher in college, with 30 knockdowns in his senior year alone.
At Hawaii, he was an offensive captain with an excellent record in academics and community service. He doesn’t appear to have any off-field issues and obviously demonstrated a team-first attitude by playing so many roles in college.
Koloamatangi doesn’t appear to have any kind of injury history. When he was released with an injury settlement in September, the nature of the injury was undisclosed and apparently not particularly serious.
Koloamatangi’s main link to the Jets organization is Jim-Bob Cooter. Cooter, the current Jets running backs coach, was the Lions’ offensive coordinator during Koloamatangi’s first two seasons, so he would obviously be aware of his capabilities and how he would fit into the system.
He shows aptitude in zone blocking schemes but has also been used as a pulling linemen from time to time while with the Lions.
Koloamatangi has always been regarded as a developmental project, but with his versatility, he’ll be a useful asset if he can prove himself worthy of at least a back-up role.
Over the past few games, the two active backups have both been tackles, so the Jets would have had to reshuffle the offensive line to put one of their tackles on the inside in the event of an injury and might need to employ Kelvin Beachum or Alex Lewis as an emergency center despite neither of them having much experience of playing there.
With Chuma Edoga hurt, the Jets effectively have three options on gameday. They could activate another backup tackle in Conor McDermott and again reshuffle if there was an injury on the inside. Alternatively, they could activate Brent Qvale who has experience at tackle and guard. The final option would be to activate Koloamatangi to back up the three inside spots. It will be interesting to see how he fares if he gets his chance.