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Is Johnnie Troutman the future at right guard?

Kyle Posey analyzes Johnnie Troutman's play in the 2013-14 NFL season to see if he can be a future starter for the San Diego Chargers.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We've let Jeromey Clary hear it at every opportunity here at BFTB. Is it deserved? Yes, he didn't play at a high level. What we've also done is expect that Johnnie Troutman is a better option. Troutman was basically a rookie in 2013, and started 10 games, so I feel like the sample size was great enough to evaluate him as a player. San Diego needs an offensive guard; I don't think fans would debate that. Whether it's for depth or to start, is the question that needs to be answered.

I went back and watched five of Troutman's games to see how he progressed as a player, and to see if he could be the long term answer at guard. I watched week 4 versus Dallas, week 6 versus the Colts, week 10 versus the Broncos, week 13 versus the Bengals, and the divisional playoff game versus the Broncos.

How The Grading Scale Works

There's no sophisticated formula to show how well Troutman performed. I used every qualifying play, and you can get as high as a 3, or as low as a 0.

  • 3-Means you demolished your man, probably pancaked him. Created a gaping hole or all-around jaw dropping play.
  • 2-Means you did your job, this is the grade you want. You executed your assignment and got your man blocked.
  • 1-Means you missed a block or didn't do your job to the fullest. Something went wrong if you got a 1.
  • 0-Means the play was a train wreck. You not only missed your block, but likely gave up a sack or tackle for loss.
Additional grades include a -1 for a missed block, a -1 for being on the ground(something I can't stand with linemen. You're no help if you don't have the balance or athleticism to stay on your feet), -1 for getting beat on the play. You also get -5 for a holding/personal foul penalty, and a -3 for any 5 yard penalty, like a false start. You do get an additional point for a "pancake" block, where you block your man into the ground.

The difference between a 'missed block' and being 'beat' would go something like the defensive tackle beats you on an arm over move, that's "getting beat." If you pulled and didn't block the correct man, that's a 'missed block.'

Versus Dallas

Pass Snaps Run Snaps How He Was Beat On the Ground Pancake Missed Blocks Penalties
Graded Block 39 25 Arm-Over -1 1 -1 -3
3 4 5 Arm-Over -1 1 -1
2 30 13 -1 1 -1
1 4 5 -1 1 -1
0 1 2 -1 1 -1
1 -1
1 -1

Just by taking the total number of run/pass snaps, and multiplying each by 2, that gives you the grade of where Troutman "should" be. Troutman "should" be at +128 for doing his job, he grades out to +126. For being his first game, this was a pretty good showing for Troutman. 9 times he earned a "3", or dominating block, he also had 7 pancakes. His strength is pretty apparent when you watch him.


Troutman wasn't perfect. He did miss 8 blocks, was beaten twice, had a false start, and was on the ground 5 times. After the deductions, Troutman grades out to a +116. In your 1st start, I expect mishaps, like missed blocks & missed communications. The two times he was beat came in the 2 minute drill at the end of the 1st half and didn't affect the result of the play. All in all, this was a good start to Troutman's career.

Versus the Colts

Pass Snaps Run Snaps How He Was Beat On the Ground Pancake Missed Blocks Penalties
Graded Block 29 28 Arm-Over -1 1 -1 -3
3 1 5 Arm-Over -1 1 -1 -3
2 21 17 Arm-Over -1 1 -1
1 4 3 Arm-Over -1 1 -1
0 3 3 Arm-Over -1 1 -1
Arm-Over 1 -1
Arm-Over 1 -1

For doing your job, Troutman would be around +114 here. Initially, he grades out to +94. Troutman missed 7 blocks, and was beaten 8 times, 7 of them on an arm-over move. Add in his 2 false starts, and being on the ground 5 times, and let's just hope this was the worst game Troutman plays as a Charger. This was his 3rd start, and it wasn't very good. While Troutman did show better recognition with stunts up front, he continually dropped his head, hence, the arm-over move.


Troutman did flash some good plays, as evidenced by his 6 "3"-graded blocks. The power is still evident, you don't fake 7 pancakes. It's his balance that's the issue. It's just not very good at this point. After the total deductions, Troutman graded out to a 75, that's 39 points below where he should be. That's just not going to cut it as a starter.

Versus Denver, Week 10

Pass Snaps Run Snaps How He Was Beat On the Ground Pancake Missed Blocks Penalties
Graded Block 24 25 Arm-Over -1 1 -1
3 2 1 Arm-Over -1 1 -1
2 18 17 Push/Pull -1 1 -1
1 0 6 -1 1 -1
0 4 1 -1 1

A good game for Troutman would've been in the range of a 98. Before any deductions, Troutman finished with an 85. This wasn't his worst game, but Troutman did have the most "0" blocks so far. This game showcased the same issues as the previous two, Troutman dropping his head, lunging, and being off balance. When he got beat this game, it was ugly, and costly.


This was the fewest "missed" blocks Troutman had in the 3 games, with 4. He also had 5 pancake blocks. I know it's repetitive, but man, his upper body strength & power he has in his hands is a special trait. Troutman finished with a 77 overall grade, when you'd like him to be in the 98 range. It's frustrating that in his 6th start he hasn't corrected his 1st start issues.

Week 13 Versus the Bengals

Pass Snaps Run Snaps How He Was Beat On the Ground Pancake Missed Blocks Penalties
Graded Block 27 23 Bull Rush -1 1 -1
3 2 0 Whiffed -1 1 -1
2 22 12 -1 -1
1 1 10 -1 -1
0 2 1 -1 -1

A good grade for Troutman would be anything close to 100. As far as a pass blocker, Troutman was very good. He only had 3 plays where he graded below average. In the run game, it wasn't as kind. Troutman was asked to work in space more so than any other game and block on the move, and he was exposed.


Troutman wasn't able to "reach" the defensive tackle, and he also whiffed a few times when attempting to block the linebacker in space. He was beaten twice, but also had 2 pancakes, so those cancel each other out. That -8 for being on the ground is unacceptable. You have to be an athlete, and stay on your feet. After all the deductions, it came out to another below average game for Troutman, at +70 overall.

Divisional Playoff vs. Broncos

Pass Snaps Run Snaps How He Was Beat On the Ground Pancake Missed Blocks Penalties
Graded Block 23 14 Bull Rush -1 1 -1
3 1 2 Bull Rush
1 -1
2 16 8 Push/Pull -1
1 5 4 Speed Move
0 1 0

I should preface this by saying Ken Whisenhunt did Troutman no favors early on in this game. First off,  he was playing right guard for the first time all year in the biggest game of the season. Secondly, he refused to run the ball inside the tackles. So not only was he not giving Troutman a chance to perform at his best, he was asking him to do something he's shown that he struggles with, work in space.

For the most part, Troutman did his job this game. You'd like to see him in the range of a 74 overall, and before deductions, he graded out as a 74. Shockingly, he was only on the ground 1 time. This game was better than I remember it being for Troutman. He had some favorable match-ups going against power guys that are in his wheel house.

The issue this game is that when Troutman was beat, it was at the worst possible times. He was responsible for 2 sacks, and he and D.J. Fluker had miscommunication on another sack. All these stalled drives. Troutman did miss 3 blocks, and was beaten 4 times, but at a new position, on this stage, it's really hard to blame Troutman.

Is Troutman the Future?

Troutman had some great flashes. He's crazy strong, and finishes really well when he locks on. I would've liked to see him progress more, or at least not continue to make the same mistakes. Because of this, I have a hard time seeing Troutman as a starter unless he really fixes his issues with balance moving forward. These are the same issues Clary has, working in space, balance, and dropping his head. You can't replace Clary with someone who has the same issues. I hope Troutman takes a big jump, but I wouldn't count on it.

Offensive line is a big priority as the NFL Draft is just a few days away, bigger than most want to admit. In my opinion, they should look to draft a starter, and they'd need to do that early on in the draft. Xavier Su'a-Filo from UCLA would be an incredible pick in the 1st round, if they chose to go another route, Gabe Jackson should be available in the 2nd round, he would be an upgrade as well. It'll be interesting to see what direction San Diego goes in the draft. I would look to continue to build around and protect Philip Rivers.