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
|Blown Block (R)||Blown Block (P)||On the Ground||QB Hit||Sack||Drive Blocks||Knockdowns|
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.
|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|
|Change of direction||1.8||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.