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Finding ZBS Players: Brian Schwenke, C/G

The San Diego Chargers need to add athletes that fit their new Zone Blocking Scheme system. Brian Schwenke from Cal would be a great fit at Guard or at Center.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers are installing a Zone Blocking Scheme (ZBS) this year and it is essential that new General Manager Tom Telesco stockpiles athletes at the Guard and Tackle positions, opposed to the typical 'one-assignment' linemen the team employed under Norv Turner.

"Zone Blocking in the running game is when two or three offensive lineman work in tandem as opposed to each offensive lineman having a specific, predetermined man to block. Zone blocking involves the center, guard, tackle and tight end working in combination to block an area with an emphasis on double-teaming the defensive linemen who are aligned on the line of scrimmage. Zone blocking initally starts out as a double team at the point of attack on the down defensive linemen, but the beauty of it is that one of the offensive linemen will leave to attack the linebacker while one stays to take over the defensive linemen.." - Bob Davie

Long story short, players like Louis Vasquez do not fit the mold. He and a lot of the other linemen San Diego brought in worked well in Norv Turner's offense, which used man-blocking primarily. What I take away from Mr. Davie's explanation of ZBS is that movement and athletic ability are used to shave off of defensive linemen and get to linebackers before they threaten the point of attack.

The San Diego Chargers are in need of offensive linemen but do not have to take one early based on the scheme. Tackles and guards, in a Zone Blcoking Scheme, work in unison and will only be exposed to one-on-one blocking in certain instances.

In this post, I'll provide productive linemen that will not only excel in the ZBS, but can more than hold his own should the Chargers have seven-step drop passing plays in our offense.

Brian Schwenke

#57 / Center / Cal Bears

Height: 6'3"
Weight: 314
Year: Senior
40 Time: 4.99
bench press: 31 reps
20 yd shuttle: 4.74
10 yd dash: 1.74


Speed and versatility. Many believe Brian Schwenke is a Center in the NFL and nothing more. Based on his experience and technique, that couldn't be further from the truth. As a sophomore, Schwenke started in 12 games for the Golden Bears; 8 at LG and 4 at RG. In his junior campaign, he added 12 more starts exclusively at LG. Due to need (a lot like Barrett Jones) , Schwenke was shifted to Center and more than held his own in his ONE year at the position.

While he doesn't have the bookend to bookend experience of Jones, Schwenke's interior production can very well rival Jones'. What separates the two, in my opinion, is the speed factor. Schwenke's snap to contact quickness is a rarity, putting him in a position to almost always get his hands on the defender first. Add to that, Brian keeps a 'low pad level' and the sum gave him the instant leverage advantage against most defenders he faced at Cal.

He not only uses his athletic ability to beat defensive linemen off of snap, he uses this in the open field also.

Brian Schwenke vs Ohio State 2012 (via JmpasqDraftjedi)


I made the mistake of watching the Combine before I watched the Senior Bowl. After Schwenke posted a 4.99 there, a lot of the "experts" said he had a problem with anchoring and I believed them. Big mistake. I won't say he is a prospect without flaws, but they said his 'one' problem was the anchoring and I didn't see this at Senior Bowl practice.

John Jenkins of UGA was at the Senior Bowl and that was who I wanted to see Brian go up against. Schwenke wasn't dominate, but Jenkins didn't treat him like a ragdoll either. He got up into position fairly fast, re-anchored and absorbed the hit, basically stone walling Jenkins.

Inexperience at the center position could be be another "flaw" for Schwenke, but one that the Chargers don't need to worry about. Making checks at the line at the NFL level is different than checking in NCAA. The schemes are so much more sophisticated and, with only one true year at center, he could struggle early for a team who drafts him as a Center.

I may be nitpicking here, but one thing I did notice about Schwenke as a Center was too many low snaps. He is so quick to get out of his stance that he hikes the football really low. California's Quarterback isn't the 6'5" that Philip Rivers is, so his technique will need tweaking. Hopefully an OL coach can correct it while not jeopardizing his main attribute.

Where He Fits

Brian Schwenke fits as a prototypical Guard in a Zone Blocking scheme. If drafted (Round 3-4), he comes in as insurance at C and instantly competes with Chad Rinehart at LG.

If he doesn't land a starting job in camp, he gives the Chargers flexibility on gameday should injuries arise. His ability to get to second level in a hurry and locate coming linebackers makes him an asset for the San Diego Chargers. He is tough, versatile and reliable, something the San Diego Chargers not only need but should be coveting as they build this line.

Brian Schwenke (C California) Senior Bowl (via footballmixtapes)