FanPost

OL at the quarter point of the season

The OL has been a topic of concern for the team since before Garrett took over. They were an aged over-priced and under-performing OL and Garrett took immediate action. Many have criticized his actions as not being bold enough or fast enough. Yet he took a long term approach.

Process

Again we have to use that word - process. The team made a strategic decision to draft an OL and develop it internally instead of signing big name FA as we had in the past. This is much cheaper, which is important in the Mara enhanced salary cap era. Yet it is also slower to show results.

Garrett's first year was use three draft picks and to sign a UDFA, Kowalksi, and then to take as long as possible to evaluate the existing OL guys. This has been chronicled before, so I won't spend much time again. The key point was that faced with a decision on keeping older, more experienced OL guys, Garrett took the long term choice, even at the cost of eating dead money.

OCC has shown that rookies are rarely productive their first year and often take several years to develop. Many wanted immediate results, but that would have required bigger name FA and we were not going that route. The biggest reason for a process failure is to get impatient and to change the approach before the results show up.

We got spoiled by the Tyronasaurus in his first year at RT. He was drafted to be the LT of the future and he played so well that the future came the next year. His work at LT showed a slow start but he improved dramatically as the season went on.

Part of the slow start was having Cook thrust onto the team. Yet last year we decided to put the tackles on islands to fend by themselves. That is a lot of responsibility for one of the youngest players in the NFL at one of the critical positions.

Nagy was a 7th round pick and suffered the more normal rookie year taking major hits. Yet he did much better than other rookie guards drafted much earlier. We were looking forward to his continued development. Yet he was injured. We eventually lost him on waivers trying to move him to IR. Detroit claimed him but he never got healthy and was released this year.

Arkin was a 4th round pick and we have taken time to develop him often to the point of not being game day eligible. He has shown enough to continue to develop, but did not develop as fast as Leary.

Kowalksi was a key backup. He was quicker than strong, and was our primary backup last year. Yet he was injured and never really regained his health this year in time to compete and was cut in a battle of numbers.

In order to give time to develop the young guys we added two FA guards last year - Livings and Bernadeau. Livings was our most consistent interior OL last year. Yet like Holland the year before, he was older, injured and only played guard. We placed Livings on IR and subsequently gave him an injury release.

Unlike Livings, Bernie is younger, can play all three interior positions, and we restructured his contract. He started a few games this year. Yet the key to Livings and Bernie was that they were transition guys to give time to development young guys. If they get beat out then the short term strategy was successful.

Last year was also signed Leary as a UDFA. We gave him a 3rd round evaluation and a 5th round pay to entice him to sign with us. UDFA is a recruiting process as they can sign with any team.

He had a poor TC and was cut, but we were able to sign him to the PS. He improved enough last year that we signed him to the active roster. This was more to control his contract to keep others from poaching him than anything else. Still this gave him another chance this year and he has taken advantage of his opportunity.

We have also signed Waters as an aging OL lion ready to do battle for one more campaign. Unlike last year when we signed Cook as insurance at center but had to play him immediately, we have allowed Waters to assimilate into the line when he was ready. He started this last game in place of Bernie and acquitted himself as advertised.

We used another first round pick on Frederick this year. So we have used two number 1 picks and four total draft picks along with two UDFA and some FA transition guys to form the team. Only two OL remain, Free and Costa, from the OL that predates Garrett.

After four games it is an appropriate time to reflect on the OL for this year.

Pos...Name.......Game 1......Game 2.....Game 3.....Game 4.....Season

second line is the percentile

RT.....Free.......14 of 65.....11 of 66.....01 of 66.....14 of 61.....01 of 72 ...........................78...............83................99................77................99

LT.....Smith......26 of 65.....31 of 66.....46 of 66.....11 of 61.....25 of 72 ...........................60...............53................30................82................65

OC.....Fred.......21 of 32.....30 of 32.....02 of 32.....07 of 29.....11 of 33 ...........................34................06...............94.................76...............67

LG.....Leary......46 of 64.....47 of 65.....30 of 67.....32 of 64.....46 of 70 ...........................29................28...............55................50................34

RG.....Bernie.....60 of 64.....38 of 65.....12 of 67.....................48 of 70
............................06...............42..............82....................................31

RG.....Waters.......................................32 of 67.....06 of 64.....24 of 70
................................................................52..............91...................66

Analysis

We can see that Free is continuing his fine play from the end of last year. It is tempting for some to say that he is the best tackle, but that is misleading as the RT faces different competition than the LT. It is fair to say that he is the best RT in the league right now.

Smith has been better than average for three of his four games and is slowly moving up the ranks. Given the better talent that the LT faces, this is amazing for the young player. He will sign his second contract and still be eligible for players 25 and younger. He can be the LT of the future that we envisioned for a long time.

Frederick is not like most rookies. Yes he will have some growing pains, but he is already showing why we drafted him in the first round. He is as young as Smith and is the second linchpin foundation of the OL for many years. Stronger, than quick, he anchors the OL and allows the rest of the Ol to use their better mobility.

Leary is starting for the first time this year and he is for all practical purposes a rookie. He will have some growing pains too. He is already making improvements. Half of the transition strategy is beginning to pay off. Yet he has to play at a high rate soon as he has a limited playing lifespan with a degenerative knee.

Bernie had another surgery this off-season. He was limited in the summer and lack of guard depth lead us to sign Waters. Waters is the opposite of getting younger, but can play immediately at a high level. The OL is much better with Waters.

Backups

In the interior, Bernie is solid depth at guard. At worst, he can take over the Proctor game day utility backup to save a roster spot as he can play guard and center. Costa is a better center, but we will use him only if Frederick is hurt. Arkin is still developing.

At tackle, Parnell was overhyped last year, primarily as anti-Free. I don't think he has regressed as much as the hype has worn off. Weems is another developing project and I suspect he will not be game day eligible until we have injuries. Hopefully we will never HAVE to play him, but perhaps if he develops enough we might insert him a few plays to get meaningful snaps.

Conclusion

The depth on the OL is much better than it has been in years. The backups are all young players who can continue to develop. We seem to have solid tackle play with Smith and Free. Center seems to be fixed for the long term. It looks like we are one guard away from a solid line, yet Leary is still developing. Waters has been an immediate improvement but we need to plan on his replacement to get ahead of the curve.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Blogging The Boys

You must be a member of Blogging The Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blogging The Boys. You should read them.

Join Blogging The Boys

You must be a member of Blogging The Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blogging The Boys. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker