Originally Posted by betterthanthealternative
NFP Sunday Blitz. Dan Pompei
As I went through my tour of training camps, it struck me how one theme was constant wherever I went: offensive line play is a concern. Every team had some sort of issue up front on offense. I don’t believe there is a coaching staff in the league that is completely comfortable with its offensive line.
There is no question line play has deteriorated in recent years. Neither individual linemen nor offensive line units are what they used to be. So I started to ask people what they thought the reasons were. Here are some of the theories I heard.
The rest: NFP Sunday Blitz | National Football Post
I saw this and was about to post it. Thanks for doing so.
With the league moving towards more of a passing offense, there has been an emphasis on athletic defensive linemen who can generate pressure. Whereas guys like Vince Wilfork and Haloti Ngata were once considered freakishly athletic for their size, there are now lots more guys coming out with surprising athleticism despite being massive. Dontari Poe is the latest example, but there are a number of guys in the college ranks coming up with an amazing combination of size, speed and foootwork. Julius Peppers was a freakish athlete when he came out, but we're seeing more and more guys with 6'5"+ height and 270-290 lb. weight who have rare athleticism: Mario Williams, Jason Pierre-Paul, JJ Watt, Chandler Jones. Meanwhile, overall OL play seems to have certainly not kept up, and, if you believe Pompei, deteriorated.
Some of the quotes and theories advanced are interesting:
1. The better athletes are gravitating towards DL instead of OL, and are better paid. From Mike Shanahan: "Everybody says we don’t have a good right tackle. I say show me who does?"
2. Lack of experience in a pro style offense at the college level leading to a steep learning curve. Conversely, the advent of spread offenses has led to a decline in run blocking.
3. The new CBA and fewer practice sessions affects the cohesiveness and overall quality of line play.
4. Lack of continuity.
It's an interesting thought. Both Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer are extraordinary athletes for their size, so I'm not sure that I buy the "less athletic" theory. Vollmer was hands down the best RT in the NFL 2 years ago before injuring his back, and was on the verge of becoming a dominant player. Solder is every bit as much of an athletic freak as some of the defensive linemen - his problems stem more from inexperience, technical flaws and a lack of strength than from athletic ability.
It does make me wonder about how to draft and develop linemen. Rather than using high draft picks on guys who may excel at the college level but be limited athletically, are we better off - particular with Scar running his "dancing academy" - drafting more raw but athletically gifted guys with cross-sports backgrounds and unusual combinations of size, footwork and agility. I think of guys like Jared Veldheer in 2010 (3rd round) and Senio Kelemete in 2012 (5th round), both of whom are exceptional athletes for their size and positions. Veldheer was a small school kid with a high school basketball background before learning OL at the college level. Kelemete started out on DL before moving to OL, and has the ability to be a stud RT or OG because of his exceptional footwork and movement skills. Jason Peters started out as a TE before becoming a Pro Bowl LT for Buffalo and Philadelphia.
Interesting stuff. And for those panicking about the state of our OL, it seems like we're not alone.