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Why Cameron Erving is the a great fit for the Chargers

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Kicking off the 2015 draft with Florida State center Cameron Erving

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

This year I'm starting things off with a couple of offensive lineman, for obvious reasons. I feel like I've learned a lot in the last year about the position as a whole. Some things have really changed the way I view or evaluate players. Simply put, I'm looking for guys that don't make mistakes. A good example is last year, my number 1 guard out of UCLA, Xavier Su'a-Filo who I rated as a fringe 1st rounder. He couldn't handle a stunt to save his life. Looking back I should've docked him much more for that. So this year it's less about the "wow" factor and more about looking for guys who don't mess up 101 stuff.

The Position Switch

For those that don't know, Cameron Erving was a preseason all conference left tackle and played the position up until about game 8 of the 2014 season. This write up would be much different had he not switched positions. I do think Erving can give teams a solution at tackle in a pinch, say, an in game injury and you need an emergency substitution. But the switch to center probably bumped him up 75-100 picks in the draft. At LT, he was just sort of out there, and never took a step forward. In the 6 games at center, he showed tremendous progress as a player and looked like he can play the position for a long time in the NFL.

Where He Excels

  • Pass protection
  • Executing blocks on the move
  • Footwork/Body Positioning
Erving really caught my eye at center. In 6 full games of pass protection, he was only beat 6 times, gave up 2 QB hits, and allowed zero sacks. When 1-on-1 in pass protection, he easily mirrors whoever it is in front of him. When Erving gets a chance to lock out and extend his arms, that's all she wrote for the defender. Whether it's in pass protection and he's keeping you away from the QB or in the run game where he also shows off impressive leg drive.


Another


Erving did a good job of keeping his head on a swivel in pass protection as well as when it came to handling stunts and twists up front.

FSU runs a lot of stretch zone and outside zone so the center not only has to cut off the play side defensive tackle, but also seal the 2nd level LB for the run play to work. This is another area where I think Erving excelled at. In a zone scheme, you really just want to take the DT where he wants to go, and if you can cross his face, that's really just a cherry on top. Well, Erving added quite a few cherries on top of his blocks while still putting himself in a position to wall off the LB at the next level.


"Drive blocks" are something that I chart. This is where the offensive lineman is able to push or "drive" the defender a few yards. I charted 11 for Erving in the 6 games in addition to 7 "pancake" blocks, or knockdowns. This was a direct result of winning with leverage and positioning, and then winning with strength and athleticism, instead of vice versa.

Blown Block (R) Blown Block (P) On the Ground QB Hit Sack Drive Blocks Knockdowns
10 6 10 2 11 7

Here is a table of what I've charted for Erving. He's been superior in the passing game. He's had games where he was flawless. Let's get into where he can improve

Areas for Improvement

  • Processing the play quicker
  • Sustaining blocks/Hand strength
  • Vs. Bull rush/Letting defenders get into him

Against Florida, where they ran some NFL type blitzes and mixed in some stunts up front, he had his worst game. Erving had 7 negative plays where he was either beaten or didn't do his job. Twice he was late to react to the blitzing linebacker, and once it cost a QB hit. It's impossible to get into the mental side of things, but it appears that Erving doesn't "process" plays as quickly as you'd like. This could be largely due to lack of repetition. I have in my notes a couple times where he was beaten off the snap due to quickness, too. He was on the ground 10 times in the 6 games and it was usually because of this. I don't think balance is an issue, but one trait that you don't want to see in your lineman is them constantly picking themselves off the ground.


Another thing I've learned is not to kill offensive lineman if they have a mistake or two a game. Everyone gets beat. You have to adjust for the situation. Let's say it's a stretch run to the left. If there is a DT shaded to the left of the center, and he's already slanting towards the run, it's going to be very tough for the center to cross that defensive tackles face. These things are going to happen. Now, when the player is making the same mistake, that's when you dock him. Something I've noticed with Erving is that when defenders get into his body, he gets driven back and it looks ugly.


This happened a handful of times. It was too late for Erving to lock out his arms, reset his feet, and re-anchor. He did a better job of this against Oregon, but bull rushes certainly gave him issues.
The only other issues I had with Erving where when he would climb to the 2nd level, occasionally he would over run the LB or was too late to locate him in order to make his block. Lastly, is sustaining blocks. He was hot and cold when it came to this and I'd like to see him become more consistent. This could be a hand strength issue.

Grade

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable 4

Run Block 3.6 4
Pass Block 3.8 4
Technique 2.2 2.5
Strength 2.1 2.5
Awareness 1.7 2
Change of direction 1.8 2
Footwork 1.8 2
Athleticism 1.7 2
Size 1.7 2
Length 1.9 2

Erving grades out to a fringe 1st round talent, 8.028. There's so much to like and the fact that he's played a half season screams that he'll only get better. With more reps expect him to process things faster from the center position. He's already very good as a 1-on-1 pass protector and has shown the ability to lock out and drive defenders in the run game. If Erving can learn to stay on his blocks, and consistently climb to the 2nd level under control, he'll be a pro bowl caliber player in no time. He'll need to not let these bigger defenders get into him, but that's an adjustment to the new position and a coachable fix.

How he fits as a Charger


He's what you want. Imagine an interior combination of Chris Watt-Erving-D.J. Fluker. That's strong. I can understand if fans are hesitant with such a young group. Erving can keep Rivers clean, and execute combo blocks with both guards paving the way for whoever is carrying the ball next year. Now the question is do you feel like he is worth the 17th pick? I don't know the answer to that just yet. On one side you want to build the team inside out, on the other side you want to select an impact player. I don't know if Erving will be there in the 2nd round, but I do know he's a great fit for what the Chargers want to do on offense.