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View Full Version : You got the tools/size why are you not elite?


steelwall
05-23-2008, 01:50 PM
Hartwig, Justin C 6-4 312 ... ok ok he has yet to prove himself as a Steeler, but with his size and experiance, he should be able to take on any NT in the NFL....(except for Hampton of course)

Smith, Marvel LT 6-5 321 .... At 321, he should be able to bulldoze deffensive lineman, not to mention 9 years of experiance.

Starks, Max RT 6-8 337 ... 6'8" 337lbs???? noone should get past this guy, he's just too darn big. Heck.. just fall on the deffender....


Kemoeatu, Chris RG 6-3 344 ... at 344lbs who can move this guy? he gets a good jump off the snap deffenders should be laying on their backs....

Capizzi, Jason RT 6-9 315 .... Even Caprizzi at 6'9" should have the arm lenght to pass block like no tomorrow...hell the guy is allmost 7 feet tall....


I guess the question is, blessed with such size and strenght, what seprates a guy well over 300lbs, and allmost 7 feet tall from a pro-bowler not near the size? Is it heart, skill, determination, coaching, stamina? I'd like to hear opinions

Mosca
05-23-2008, 01:56 PM
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/ross_tucker/05/22/linemen/1.html

Sports Illustrated's Ross Tucker answered this in today's on-line edition... "The two characteristics that one thinks of when talking about offensive linemen -- outstanding size and power -- are more a luxury than a necessity. Without a high level of the first three qualities I've already listed, a player with great size or power will always be a step slow or a second late. Raw power really only comes into play once a defender is engaged."


Most important qualities for NFL offensive linemen

When asked during my playing days if I could add anything to my physical repertoire, what would it be, I always answered longer arms. Though I also would have loved to have been bigger, faster and stronger, increased arm length would have been first on my wish list.

Much like a boxer who has a reach advantage, offensive linemen with long arms can affect their opponents before they are affected themselves. I can't tell you how many times during my career that I found myself with a defender's hand in my chest or on my shoulder due to his advantage in arm length. And though there are techniques that can help combat this disadvantage, long-armed players never really have to worry about learning them.

I bring that up now because the eight offensive tackles taken in the first round of last month's draft are finally able to hit NFL practice fields for some extended hands-on training as they attempt to hone their craft. Though most of them whetted their appetite with a post-draft minicamp, the organized team activities, or OTA's as they are known in league lexicon, are the first real opportunity for these players to take what they were taught in the classroom onto the field on a daily basis.

As one would expect, not every offensive line coach trumpets the same characteristics when determining the likelihood of success for a given player. The Indianapolis Colts Howard Mudd looks primarily for quickness and arm length because of the way he teaches his offensive linemen to jump set in pass protection. Alex Gibbs, now of the Houston Texans, has had success for years by finding lean athletes with great lateral speed to run his one-cut zone blocking scheme. Others, like the New England Patriots Dante Scarnecchia, emphasize mental and physical toughness, believing those players will come through in the clutch.

Though every offensive lineman in the NFL must possess some level of competency in all of these categories to even get an opportunity in the NFL, the following list represents the most important qualities I look for when evaluating fellow offensive linemen.

Mental and Physical Toughness

Toughness is often talked about in NFL circles yet so rarely defined. Being mentally tough involves having the poise to maintain one's composure no matter how adverse the conditions. It means remembering assignments and avoiding penalties in critical situations. Mentally tough players are incredibly dogged in their pursuit of self-improvement. Players who possess a great deal of this quality are amazingly persistent with their effort. No matter what the score is or how much time is left on the clock, you can count on these guys for maximum effort, and effort counts in the NFL.

The other component of toughness is the physical variety. Physically tough players do whatever it takes to play through whatever pain or maladies they may be dealing with, and trust me, every lineman is dealing with something as the season wears on. Just as importantly, a player with a high level of physical toughness takes a unique delight in pounding and punishing his defender on every play. It is not enough to just block his man; he wants to physically demoralize his opponent by beating him into submission. The Jets paid a premium for guard Alan Faneca, in part due to his reputation for having a tremendous amount of mental and physical toughness.

Intelligence

Football IQ is an integral component of success in the trenches and it has absolutely nothing to do with GPA, SATs or even the Wonderlic for that matter. There are some Ivy League players who have little chance to make a roster due to their lack of football acumen, just like there are plenty of NFL success stories involving players who had significant academic difficulties in high school and college. Academic pedigree means very little but football know-how can make a huge difference in one's on-field production.

Smart offensive linemen can tell when a team is going to run a stunt based upon the alignment of the linebackers and the body lean of the defensive linemen. They can make difficult adjustments or audibles on the fly in the heat of the battle.

The difference between wins and losses in the NFL is so small that the quick decisions on blitz pick-ups by an intelligent veteran player like Indianapolis' Jeff Saturday or Chicago's Olin Kreutz could be a determining factor in the outcome. Being able to make a split-second assessment when 90,000 people are screaming and a 360-pound man is six inches from your nose is an entirely different type of intelligence than most people can even comprehend.

Quickness

Sure, you have to be fast to be an NFL player, but more importantly, you have to be quick. The game moves at such an incredible rate that if you are a split second late off the snap, you may already be beat.

There are two components of quickness that coaches look for. The first one is initial quickness. For an offensive lineman, it represents the time it takes to make his first two steps out of his stance. Any evaluation of film will show that a lineman's chances for success are drastically increased every time he gets both feet on the ground before engaging the defender, whether it is run or pass. Knowing the snap count is an incredible advantage for an offensive lineman who must use this to establish positioning and leverage on his typically more physically gifted counterpart.

The other facet of quickness is change of direction, which is basically the ability to quickly alter one's momentum. More than any other quality, this is often what separates the best from the rest. Elite tackles like the Redskins' Chris Samuels and the Bills' Jason Peters are blessed with an uncanny ability to recover after they are beat, simply by redirecting themselves and getting back in front of their defender. Though this is a skill that is often worked on by lineman around the league, only a few players possess the fancy feet that lead them to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.

Arm Length

As I mentioned earlier, arm length is a physical trait that can't be altered. Its importance varies depending on who you ask. Both the Bears and the Falcons have been criticized in some circles for taking offensive tackles in the first round in Chris Williams and Sam Baker, respectively, who fall below the average in terms of arm length.

The Bengals' Paul Alexander and Indy's Mudd often look for long-limbed linemen due to their belief that it helps tremendously in pass protection. Alexander in particular is a believer in drafting players with overwhelming physical traits, as evidenced with the selections of Andrew Whitworth and Stacey Andrews in recent years.

Size and Power

The two characteristics that one thinks of when talking about offensive linemen -- outstanding size and power -- are more a luxury than a necessity. Without a high level of the first three qualities I've already listed, a player with great size or power will always be a step slow or a second late. Raw power really only comes into play once a defender is engaged.

That being said, it is certainly a nice thing to have and there are coaches out there like the Cowboys' Hudson Houck and the Redskins' Joe Bugel who place a premium on a player's ability to generate power. The luxury of being an above-average player in terms of size or power is that you can be more patient with many of your movements knowing your size will help protect you.

In pass protection, for example, an extremely powerful player can sit back, relax, and wait for his defender to come to him, knowing full well that he doesn't have to worry about the bull rush. This patience allows players like the Ravens' Jonathan Ogden or the Eagles' Shawn Andrews to see things unfold up front and react to them, rather than getting out of position as a result of being overaggressive.

steelwall
05-23-2008, 02:48 PM
Thank you for the great breakdown. IMO intelligence (football intelligence) is key, but the question still remains can that not be taught? A man almost 7 feet tall and well over 300 lbs should be a force, especially in pass blocking situations, If you're pushing 7 feet then you must have the arm length to keep your man back, perhaps even disrupt another defender who may be blitzing.

I never played on the offensive line, in organized football, so I'm sure you know far more than me on this subject. It just seems to me that football "IQ" (if you will) can be taught. Yes a large man may not be as agile, but I would think his size would partially negate agility. This is pure speculation on my part.

But lets take Starks for example....no doubt he is huge....powerful... and Iíve seen him in some games move like a 190pounder, then in some games he moves like Jabba the hut, my question is why?. Is it that difficult to improve your football IQ? Or is it that his size could actually be a negative..... I just wonder about this because I was never blessed with incredible size, but played almost every position in Junior and High school and 2 years in college, mostly middle line backer in junior high and high school until my junior year, then for some reason the coaches put me in a QB. Don't know why this transition happened as I was 2nd in tackles on our HS team at middle linebacker, and my replacement was a scrub. I think ruined my chances at a decent stint as middle line backer in a decent college; to be honest I was a mediocre QB. I could throw bombs but honestly we had no one to catch them.

But Iíve digressed....... I agree with all your points, and as a QB I was all ways blessed with a good O-line, which is probably why we had winning seasons, as it certainly wasnít because I was a consistent playmaker at QB, even though (especially in HS) they (o-line) were for the most part smaller then our opponents D-Line. One reason I bring up this question.

Mosca
05-23-2008, 03:36 PM
I'd love to take credit for writing it, but it was written by Ross Tucker. I was a backup center and long snapper in junior high, I never played enough to offer the great insight that Tucker does.

Great stuff, though; and it was cool that he wrote it the same day you asked the question!

billybob
05-23-2008, 09:26 PM
Tunch Ilkin use to pan-cake em.and not let them up again,until the play was over.:tt02:

19ward86
05-24-2008, 09:42 PM
is it just me or did you have 3 tackles on that list?

steelwall
05-24-2008, 11:22 PM
I'd love to take credit for writing it, but it was written by Ross Tucker. I was a backup center and long snapper in junior high, I never played enough to offer the great insight that Tucker does.

Great stuff, though; and it was cool that he wrote it the same day you asked the question!


LOL.. I missed the first part of your post because I went straight to the breakdown.

Edit: It was pretty cool he wrote that peice just after I made the post...

steelwall
05-24-2008, 11:24 PM
is it just me or did you have 3 tackles on that list?

Yes, but my intention was not to break down every O-lineman we have, only to use a few to ask the question.

lilyoder6
05-24-2008, 11:33 PM
well i think max starks played very well 4 us in the superbowl run.. and rly don't know what happened last yr w/ him

Aussie_steeler
05-24-2008, 11:59 PM
WHen all the guys have similar physical assets I believe the one attribute that causes seperation is the desire and heart to never be beaten by your opponent.

THen if you get beaten you use it to fuel your fire so that it never happens again.

The last guy on the O line to have that quality was Jeff Hartings. Faneca had it a few years ago but lost it somewhere.

Rhee Rhee
05-25-2008, 06:15 AM
i think this ross tucker man makes a lot of sense and seems like he knows what he's talking about...

IMO important traits in O-line go as follows:

most important: Determination (i.e agression, anger, playing all-out)
2) intelligence
3) athletic ability (quickness, brute strength)
4) physical gifts (long arms, 6'7, 330+)

in addition, the players you listed all have problems,

marvel = chronic back pains and the fact he may not be athletic enough to play LT while he could be a very good RT...

max starks & capizzi = yao ming isn't thaaat athletic... just because you're tall doesnt mean you stuff everything... no one's perfect and obviously max lacks lateral quickness

hartwig could potentially not have the smarts... as centers are required to be the smartest and most intelligent players on the field... possibly not have the quick burst of speed or strength to take on giant NTs...

kemoeatu is 344 pounds is gigantic... men that heavy are not supposed to be athletic and he is no different.

Elvis
05-25-2008, 08:22 AM
All that size in the world will lose to someone who "knows how to play the game folks". You have to be knowledgeable and have somewhat of a mean streak!
:helmet:

GBMelBlount
05-25-2008, 08:34 AM
.... one attribute that causes seperation is the desire and heart to never be beaten by your opponent.

THen if you get beaten you use it to fuel your fire so that it never happens again.



I would also imagine that being mean, angry and a very sore loser helps too. That's what concerns me a little about the likes of Starks.....I wonder if he apologizes to defensive players if he accidentally knocks them on their @$$. :hunch:

jjpro11
05-25-2008, 08:14 PM
i always wondered why some of those guys in the world's strongest man competitions on tv dont give football a try.. unless some already have of course.. but those guys all are even more massive than nfl linemen and, even stronger. they all have good conditioning and can move well. you know they have the competitiveness and grit to play in the nfl.

GBMelBlount
05-25-2008, 09:39 PM
i always wondered why some of those guys in the world's strongest man competitions on tv dont give football a try.. unless some already have of course.. but those guys all are even more massive than nfl linemen and, even stronger. they all have good conditioning and can move well. you know they have the competitiveness and grit to play in the nfl.


I think it's because there are so many factors that comprise a great athlete in additiions to flat out strength imo. I used to work out at my friend Scott's house every summer in high school & college. He set a world record for bench in his weight class. He was strong as hell but it didn't translate to sports. If it translated to being funny, I could understand, because he was funny as hell!!!. But I also have known people that were freakishly strong and athletic but weren't much in the weight room. :noidea:

jjpro11
05-25-2008, 09:52 PM
I think it's because there are so many factors that comprise a great athlete in additiions to flat out strength imo. I used to work out at my friend Scott's house every summer in high school & college. He set a world record for bench in his weight class. He was strong as hell but it didn't translate to sports. If it translated to being funny, I could understand, because he was funny as hell!!!. But I also have known people that were freakishly strong and athletic but weren't much in the weight room. :noidea:

i know what your saying.. but the strong man competitions in particular require good conditioning. i know those guys train for endurance along with weight lifting. they arent necessarily power lifting competitions like you find in the olympics where endurance is more neglected. i would like to see how a guy like larry allen could have done in strong man competitions. he is considered one of the, if not the strongest linemen ever.

GBMelBlount
05-25-2008, 10:10 PM
i know what your saying.. but the strong man competitions in particular require good conditioning. i know those guys train for endurance along with weight lifting. they arent necessarily power lifting competitions like you find in the olympics where endurance is more neglected. i would like to see how a guy like larry allen could have done in strong man competitions. he is considered one of the, if not the strongest linemen ever.

I agree, I'd love to see how he could do. Larry Allen is strong as heck and a great football player, but not sure how it would translate to strong man competitiion. Also, if you watched it on NFL network, it's hysterical watching some of the lineman bench. The bar moves maybe six inches lol. In fact when Hampton bench pressed I was actually laughing. But seriously, back to football/sports. I think it is simply one of many important factors. I never played football but played competitively in other strength/endurance sports and can say I have come up against guys that were superior in one or two areas but just didn't cut it. I just think athleticism, smarts, and heart are just a few of the other important factors, in addition to brute strength & endurance, in a sport like football imo.

CanadianSteel
05-26-2008, 08:33 PM
From pictures on Steelers.com from OTA'a and minicamp it looks (at least I hope) that big Max has dropped a few pounds and looks leaner. Hopefully will help with his footwork and he will earn a long term contract.
I think he can be a solid o'lineman but does seem to lack the desire & meanstreak that may be needed....

steelwall
05-28-2008, 10:37 AM
The only thing I can say negative about the strongman thing is that they never engage another man in what could be considered hand to hand combat... Not saying some wouldnt excell, but there's a big differeance in pulling a semi by a rope, then facing another athleticly gifted man who's only mindset is to destroy you.