Many can argue that every game is won and lost in the trenches, at the line of scrimmage. If you’re lucky enough, a team will find natural talent and leadership combined with a real work ethic on the offensive line. While many fans will look for a superstar with speed and flash at the top of the draft, the teams will find it hard to pass up on the caliber of offensive tackle that is Joe Alt.
Coming from the Midwest and following in his father's footsteps, Joe Alt has decided to forego his senior season at Notre Dame in favor of entering the draft. Alt’s father, John, was dominant in his college years at Iowa and played for over ten seasons in the league, starting 149 games. With this type of background, it was clear from the start that Joe would know what it takes to make it to the next level.
Alt grew up in Minnesota, playing tight end and offensive tackle at Totino-Grace. Coming out of high school, he was ranked as high as a four-star recruit and committed to Notre Dame. In his first season, he saw playing time in all 13 games while starting the final eight.
By the end of his sophomore season, Alt had started every game at left tackle, solidifying his spot as the anchor of the Irish offensive line. During this season, he was noted for opening holes for the running backs while also protecting the quarterback against tough defensive fronts like Ohio State and South Carolina. Perhaps his best games were against Clemson and USC. Facing the Tigers, he helped the offense to over 5.6 yards per carry, toppling a top-ten opponent. Against the Trojans, Alt was a key component in giving then-quarterback Tyler Buchner enough time to amass 318 yards through the air. The sophomore didn’t give up a sack throughout the entire 2022 season, positioning himself as a threat in both the run and pass game.
In 2023, Alt was named team captain of the Fighting Irish and dominated the competition through every snap in the regular season. He held Ohio State’s defense to zero sacks through 20-plus pass attempts. Alt also paved the way for Notre Dame’s rushing attack against Stanford, as running back Audric Estime put up career numbers. The high-motored tackle ended the 2023 campaign being named an AP First Team All-American for a second year in a row, 2023 Consensus All-American, as well as a Lombardi Award finalist.
Name: Joe Alt
Jersey: Number 76
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Notre Dame
Weight: 322 lbs
Games Watched: Ohio State (2022), Ohio State (2023), Duke (2023), USC (2023)
Major Injury History: Joe Alt has not suffered any injuries that would cause concern or loss of playing time. He ends his career at Notre Dame as one of the most consistent and successful players, entering the draft with 34 consecutive starts out of a total of 38 games played.
Pass Blocking (15/15)
Joe Alt has quick feet and aggressively strong hands. This deadly combination establishes elite-level pass-blocking techniques. Over his three years as an offensive tackle at Notre Dame, his talents have stifled opponents to two total sacks, three hurries, and two hits on well over 1,500 snaps in that time. He ends up utilizing those strong hands more than his sound technique, which will cause a few scouts to hesitate at these numbers. Some will claim that he allows defenders to get close to his frame and that elite defensive rushers will use their hands to negate his natural strength.
Run Blocking (14.75/15)
Right on the heels of Alt's impressive pass-blocking is his run-blocking. The prospect can flat-out run over defenders, opening lanes the size of freight ships for his running backs. He tends to level the defenders with herculean strength while also maintaining the mental aptness to dissect schemes on the fly. One of Alt’s best attributes is the ability to block multiple rushers at the line of scrimmage, chipping away and then moving up to the second level to clear away linebackers.
A mountain of a man at 6 feet 8 inches, Joe Alt allegedly boasts a wingspan that eclipses seven feet. The scary part is that most linemen at this height and weight can initially be awkward at the next level, yet he appears to be as agile, if not more, than your typical tight end. It will serve him well as he finds his identity as a blocker, depending on his future offense's scheme. For now, while he can keep defenders at arm’s length, he prefers letting them get closer so that he may use his brawn.
Quick feet and an excellent first step are the hallmarks of the best NFL linemen, and Alt has every component. There will be times that the first step comes off a little blasé, making him look slow, but it could be smoke and mirror tactics on his part. The overall picture of footwork, punches, and vision allows him to dominate first contact at pad level.
Even though linemen aren’t labeled as “skill” positions, the concept of mechanics is crucial. Joe Alt is surprisingly technically sound, even if he doesn’t use these skills every snap. The tackle does everything correctly, from his feet, base, hands, and elbows to his head. On run blocks, his first step is critical to his success, as he tends to keep his feet shoulder-width apart while using short, quick bursts to set up first contact. Upon contact, his strength is evident while the feet keep moving through the block. He has a high football IQ and agility, giving him every advantage to reach the second level easily. As stated before, Alt tends to use his strength and size over his fundamentals, which is most apparent, if not imposing, during the finish drive of his blocks.
Being a former tight end gives Alt superior athleticism as an offensive lineman. His natural bend is even more impressive when compared to his enormous stature, combined with the quick, strong, agile, and mobile tendencies of a grizzly bear will cause fits for defenses.
Joe Alt exudes the very nature of an offensive tackle. A team will not need to come in and try to force him to change positions. He may be an off-blind side tackle for a year or two as a tough run blocker, but I really see his talent levels best served on the blind side. He won’t be an interior lineman; there’s no use.
The most glaring detractions are Alt’s ability with the anchor. He loses those anchor points due to the initial kick step on pass blocking and letting defenders get close to his body. Edge rushers will use their speed to get the inside leverage on him and can render his size and strength ineffective as he gives up too much ground. The kick step isn’t as elaborate or powerful as top-tier NFL tackles and can lead to edge rushers gaining a quick step on him. That kick step, combined with allowing others to get within arm’s reach, can spell disaster against a bull rush or someone with quicker hands. Thus far, Alt hasn’t had to improve this facet of his game because the stats speak for themselves. The man is a wall and rarely gives up a hurry, let alone a sack. Even so, these are coachable skills, and the right offensive line coach will whip him into shape before Week 8 of his rookie season.
Probably the hardest thing to do as a lineman is to stay square and balanced in the trenches. Joe Alt can already teach a master class on this, even with defenders in his face and bodies on the turf. He can redirect his block effortlessly while maintaining perfect form and pad-level contact. I have yet to see him pull from the tackle position, which is becoming more of a rarity, but that shouldn’t impede his score.
Your prototypical offensive lineman, Joe Alt, will be a force in the league. He has all the tangible and intangible boxes ticked. Notre Dame will sorely miss the likes of Alt and his dominant performances over the past three seasons. He will leave South Bend while his stock soars; some would argue it may only go down if he had chosen to stay. His name will be called quickly on night one of the NFL Draft, probably being the final piece of a puzzle to help keep a young quarterback safe.
Rookie Projections: Starting Offensive Tackle
Third-Year Projection: All-Pro Offensive Tackle
Final Grade: 91.25/100 (Top-10 Talent)
(Photo by Michael Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images)