Whenever there is a late offer to 2 star recruit, there are always going to be questions from fans as to whether it was the right move.
That's understandable in most cases, but I don't think it's as big of a deal with Patrick Mekari. The brother of current Cal defensive linemen Tony Mekari, Patrick is an underrated prospect that could end up outplaying his ranking.
What kind of player is Cal getting in Mekari?
Patrick Mekari - 2 star offensive lineman
Mekari played center during his senior season at Westlake (California), but he's played at tackle as well during his career. I think his best future fit is an interior lineman, either at center or guard at Cal. I'm not sure if he has the feet to play tackle.
Even though Mekari is listed at 300 pounds, it's not a great 300. He'll have to reshape his body a bit when he gets Berkeley and needs to add more to his lower body. This should come with time as long as he puts the work in over the next few years.
As a run blocker, Mekari has some edge to his game. He is blocking to finish and does so by fitting his block with solid pad level and good hand placement. He doesn't deliver an overly violent pop on initial contact, but he keeps working to make his block.
He struggles a bit when matched up with a quicker nose tackles lined up head up on him. He ends up catching the contact at times. The one way he counters this is to use his positioning to redirect the block. Ideally he would be driving that player out of the way, but he is doing what he needs to get the job done. Against nose tackles that aren't quick off the ball, he does a fine job of positioning and getting some push against them.
He does a good job getting to the second level and working to sustain his block and I love how he is always looking for more work. It's just more evidence of the kind of effort he consistently plays with. He also shows good potential in pass protection. He stays balanced in his pass set and will peel off and find blitzers.
It's obvious that he's a smart player when you watch him play. For many other players who are more physically talented than him at this time, it wouldn't be shocking to see Mekari pass some of them by later on. As long as he puts in the work in Cal's strength and conditioning program over the next few years, I think he has the chance to become a solid player for the Bears in the middle of their offensive line.