Archive for the ‘Offensive Line’ Category

BY:BRYAN “DA DON” LUIS

CONTRIBUTION OF CONNOR FLASKA

I won’t be the only one to say that the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes Football Team had a magical season. After all they went 12-0, won a regular season Big Ten title and reminded people that despite being restricted from a bowl game because of the NCAA violations against them. It was almost a spitting image of 2002 for most in Columbus. Urban Meyer got the fans to believe, showing the same enthusiasm that they have for their Buckeyes.

Coach Urban Meyer’s motto “It takes a little something special to be a great player.” His RT Reid Fragel is that kind of player. The senior put his heart and soul into Buckeye Nation whether it was on 1st and 10 at the 20 in the first quarter or 4th and 1 on 39 with the game on the line. If you watch the Buckeyes like I do (religiously), you’ll notice that. Another thing you’ll notice is how they run the ball almost always to the right side.

Fragel converted from TE to RT before his senior yr. for the better of the team

Fragel was a 4 star recruit as a TE out of Gross Point South, Michigan in the 2009 recruiting class that includes Jordan Hall, John Simon, Corey Brown, Carlos Hyde, CJ Barnett, and Zach Boren. He made a few plays as a TE, a pass reception on a TE Screen in the 2011 Sugar Bowl was his longest gain. He scored a TD against Iowa in 2010.

Everytime I talk Ohio St. Football with my friend from Gross Pointe, Michigan, Connor Flaska, Fragel’s name and progress gets brought up every time. Before last year I knew of Fragel for his play in the Sugar Bowl and as a valuable TE who was great in the redzone. But ever since then I focused on his performance and noticed his athleticism throughout his career.

His football career took a different path before his senior season. Under new coach Urban Meyer, Fragel made the move to offensive line and quickly embraced the role.  “I feel like our team needs some help at tackle,” said Fragel in an interview with Ozone.net. Not only did he embrace the role he flourished, he was selected as Honorable Mention for the All-Big Ten team, in his first year playing the position.

To his favor his Dad played football at Michigan St. and Northern Michigan, and his grandfather was a great basketball coach in Ohio. So to say being an athlete was in his blood is what I would say. But his sheer size is an advantage for him; he stands at 6’7” and around 300 lbs.

Before the NFL Combine in late February not many teams had him on their boards, but he impressed teams at the Combine. His Combine numbers were as follows: Broad Jump 113, vertical jump 30, 40 is 5.14, 33 reps on 225, 7.62 cone drill, and 4.68 20 yard shuffle. His combine results were solid numbers considering many had Fragel mocked in the 5th round. I think lineman in the Big Ten have had great success in the NFL more than other conferences for years (Reiff, Thomas, Olivea, Pace, Mangold, Wisinewski, Backus, Long, Diehl, Pashos, Hardwick, Light, Steinbach, Hutchinson etc.) It’s quite a pedigree to be involved with.

His strengths as a player are more so in his raw ability than technique. He is super-strong; he benched 33 reps (225lbs), one of the strongest among tackles in the combine. His other strength would be his attitude, if you heard his interviews and read his quotes, you would want him to be on your team, eventually be a pro-bowler, he also played in a system with Urban Meyer that has the O-Line perform cross blocks and pulls due to the spread option and all the counters and play action off of that. He has the athleticism and the power to play in ANY system. The versatility he had in playing TE for three years should serve him well.

His weaknesses would start with his lack of experience at OL. Some of the guys in this draft like Luke Joekel, Brennan Williams, Eric Fisher, and DJ Fluker among others who may go higher than Fragel have started at Tackle for three years and have more film on them. I also feel teams will make the excuse that he isn’t a great pass blocker. As I see in the games against Wisconsin and Michigan, I don’t see where he struggles. Maybe teams don’t feel he can be on an island but that’ll come with experience and hard work.

Overall I mock him as mid-3rd round grade but in a deep O-Line class I feel he could be the steal, if his negative is EXPIERIENCE, then I’m sure he’ll learn well with NFL coaching and commitment.

My best team fits for Reid Fragel would be the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins.

I start with the Detroit Lions because it’s so obvious that they need to protect QB Matthew Stafford, he’s injury prone to say the least. I feel they’ll go CB in the first round if Philadelphia passes on Dee Milliner of Alabama this means that they’ll have to select a OL (particularly T) since Gosder Cherilus wasn’t the kind of OL talent that Boston College usually produces, and with lifer T Jeff Backus nearing retirement they need a guy opposite of second year LT Riley Reiff (Iowa). Now they have a young nucleus on the line and if Backus plays another year then Fragel could fill in for spot duty in the worst case scenario.

I compare Fragel to Nate Solder (above)

The New England Patriots may not have a 4th, 5th or 6th round pick but remember I have him as a 3rd round grade, so at the end of the end round he’ll be a great selection. The Pats O-Line Coach is Dante Scarnecchia in the eyes of many people around the NFL; he’s the best O-Line coach in pro football that alone is a fit. Remember Sebastian Volmer and Nate Solder they were drafted as raw run blockers and they both became quite good pass blockers. Now Fragel may be asked to fill the spot that Volmer will leave if Marcus Cannon isn’t already the solution. But Cannon may play guard if they need Dan Connolly at the C spot. Then Fragel falls right inton place at RT.

The Philadelphia Eagles are in a situation where anybody they add along the Offensive or Defensive Line isn’t a bad thing, lucky for them those are the strengths of this draft, If Luke Joekel falls to #4 in a freak circumstance then there is a 100% chance they take him at #4, but they need both tackles. Jason Peters and Demetress Bell were failures, they had to release Bell a month ago, and Peters may never be the same. Now it’s for Chip Kelly to build an athletic line, both Joekel and Fragel played for scrambling QB’s great fit. Now watch Michael Vick actually be able to rollout in the pocket either direction.

The Washington Redskins have drafted well in the Shanahan Era, they got RGIII at #2 last yr. and he was a freak of nature, RB Alfred Morris in the 5th round only proved Shanahan can find RBs (let it be known already), and another Pro-Bowl talent he doesn’t get credit for is T Trent Williams on the left side (although he had an issue lately). The reason for drafting Maurice Hurt a 7th round pick in 2011 may not be a long term solution as of now, but Shanahan likes depth on the O-Line or they move Hurt to G since he is 6’3” 330lbs. This would give Fragel the RT spot, the Redskins haven’t had a consistent starter at RT since Jon Jansen, in the Joe Gibbs Era (second gen).

I hope Fragel can continue to show all football fans what Buckeye Nation is about as a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. As an objective football fan I hope for him that the Combine was a momentum boost. Many compare him to Eric Winston of the Kansas City Chiefs; I compare him to Nate Solder in a sense that he is as raw as Solder was when he left Colorado.

Come draft time I feel he and his family will enjoy every moment and for all those at Grosse Pointe, Michigan to salute the hometown kid. If he ends up in Detroit, I hope Jeff Backus can be a mentor for him; the Big Ten has got to stick together when everyone is all head over heels for the SEC talent in last couple of drafts. But no matter where I’m sure they’ll back him I know I’ll be watching out for him.

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Normally people overlook the impact of what a good offensive line can have. I wasn’t alive for the era of “The Hogs” or to the Oakland Raiders with Gene UpshawJim Otto, and Art Shell but in recent years I have seen the impact of guys like Jonathan Ogden who is getting inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer after be selected 3rd overall by the newly relocated Baltimore Ravens (Formally the Cleveland Browns). Orlando Pace who was selected #1 in the 1997 NFL Draft by the St.Louis Rams really became the rock on the blind side that no one has ever seen, At Ohio State they even counted how many pancakes he would get in a game, that’s impact.

Luke Joekel, the best OLineman in the 2013 NFL Draft

The Offensive Lineman in this 2013 NFL Draft have taken the attention with great combine  numbers, and great film. We may have four OL going in the Top 10, the favorite to go #1 is  Texas A&M OT Luke Joekel.

Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher is the 2nd ranked T who could go between 4th-7th overall to this point. Alabama G Chance Warmack maybe a top 10 and not many guards do, remember Mike Iupati of the San Francisco 49ers was selected 17th in 2010 NFL Draft.

You got a high-riser in OT Lane Johnson from Oklahoma, a former JUCO transfer who turned some heads at the combine for his athleticism and quick feet. He has climbed into the Top 12 in the Draft according to some who saw him at the combine.

That’s just the start of the conversation for the OL Draft Class of 2013, there are some other tackles to like in this draft.

In the late 1st round area, your team could T/G DJ Fluker from Alabama who was apart of the BEST Offensive Line in the NCAA, he’s a bit on the bigger side but he can slide into guard, many don’t think he’s an ideal LT but can play the right side well.

Brennan Williams UNC from Easton, Massachusetts

North Carolina T Brennan Williams originally from Easton, MA, is a guy to keep an eye on as well, maybe another potential RT but remember UNC played a pro style and a spread style in the last three years, i see versatility. He blocked for RB Giovani Bernard so that’s a reflection on the whole O-Line not just him but I know Mass Athletes will be pulling for him to succeed on the NFL Level. His issue is staying healthy according to many scouts. I’d imagine the Patriots taking him to replace FA Sebastian Volmer.

The last tackle on my radar is Ohio State RT Reid Fragel, his strength is well his strength (no pun intended), his run-blocking is an area the former TE dominated at times after the move to RT. There will be more in the near future from me on Reid Fragel but the Detroit native is in a position where NFL teams love. The fact he converted from Tight End to Offensive Tackle and some compare him to Eric Winston from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Onto the Offensive Guards and Centers. I’ve already mentioned G Chance Warmack from Alabama so I’ll refrain, but the G/C class has some other big names.

G Larry Warford from the University of Kentucky

The biggest name is Warmack’s but  his Alabama teammate C Barrett Jones he’s a do-it-all Offensive Lineman, the most decorated lineman at Alabama since the Legendary John Hannah. “Roll Tide to that” would be a response you’ll often hear for sure. He won the Outland Trophy and the Rimington Trophy in his time at Alabama, that’s sheer domination.

Terron Armstead OT/G from Arkansas Pine-Bluff had an impressive 4.71 forty yard dash at the NFL Combine but his breakthrough was the East/West Shrine Game. He jumped from a 6th-7th round pick to a top 50 prospect, similar to Vlad Ducasse two yrs. ago from UMass but the difference between them is athleticism.

Larry Warford of Kentucky is a big boy at 6’3″ 333lbs but at the guard position he holds his ground. Kentucky maybe a bottom feeder in the SEC, but they weren’t a cakewalk. ANY DLine Men who squared off 1 on 1 against didn’t go by him, that’s impressive. Most likely he’ll go in the second round, but he could jump if teams don’t overdraft the un-deserving QBs.

Keep in mind when watching the Draft 2013 that you’re going to see a lot of “fat guys” so for those who like QB’s and skill players which I don’t, I’m a defensive fooball fan, then this isn’t going to be your favorite draft, but the comeback of blue-collar football maybe what is best for the NFL with the birth of the read-option in the NFL. There will be more info on the Draft just stay posted on Da Don’s Verdict.

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