As we approach the beginning of the 2014 football season, we will include a scouting report for every scholarship player on the Florida State roster, evaluating their previous performance and what can be expected in the future. We start with starting left tackle Cam Erving.
Cam Erving: To Date
Cam Erving enters 2014 with two years under his belt as Florida State's starting left tackle and gives the FSU offense a great deal of security and confidence on quarterback Jameis Winston's blind side.
Erving is a signal example of one of the most significant aspects of the Jimbo Fisher Era, as the 2-star defensive tackle prospect coming out of Colquitt County HS (Moultrie, GA) has blossomed into a likely early draft choice on the offensive side of the ball. Rather than serving as just another body languishing behind a series of elite defensive tackles on the FSU roster, Erving took the advice of his coaching staff, made the switch to offense, and has benefited both himself and the team.
At 6'5+, 325, Erving is a large human being and close to a prototypical offensive tackle frame. I expect his wingspan to measure somewhere in the 6'9 range at the NFL Combine—unusually large even for such a tall man and a huge advantage at the tackle position, allowing him to get his hands on defensive ends before they can get to his body.
Erving is lighter than average on his feet, has good natural movement skills, and can mirror when he is focused. He has a solid base with a good bubble and good natural bend, meaning he has good ankle flexibility and can bend his knees and roll his hips to produce power as a blocker. As a result, he's powerful when stepping inside in FSU's zone blocking scheme and rarely gets pushed backwards.
Erving has also snapped the ball as a backup center since the departure of Bryan Stork, and Jimbo Fisher has said he looks outstanding at that spot due to his quickness and athleticism. If starting center Austin Barron goes down, Erving is likely to be the replacement in the middle at this point.
Room for Improvement
Erving has been dinged up in both of his seasons as a starter, which has impacted his movement at times. On the plus side, he has maintained a high level of play through these nagging injuries. On the negative side, there is some question about his ability to stay completely healthy at this point.
Erving can also tend towards bending at the waist rather than the hips and reaching/lunging, especially when fatigued, something that did not improve as much as it should have between his first and second year as a starter. He appeared slightly overweight to my eye in 2013, exacerbating this tendency thanks to being a little less light on his feet and more easily fatigued.
He has a good but not great motor and seems to coast at times. He has flashed elite ability when challenged, such as when he shut down Clemson standout Vic Beasley, who had received significant attention coming into the matchup. On other occasions against less-touted competition, he has seemed somewhat less motivated; it is at these times that the tendencies towards waist bending or reaching can be seen.
Floor/Ceiling & NFL Potential
Without any improvement, his floor is already at a fairly high mark, as he will still most likely win his matchups through the year and wind up no worse than a second round draft pick with a chance to start a few years in the NFL.
Even as a 2-year starter, Erving has still not approached his ceiling. Scouts will also love his ability to play the two most difficult line positions: left tackle and center. That will make him extremely valuable in the next draft and should push his value even higher. If he keeps his weight under control and plays focused and nasty every down, he's an early first-round talent with the potential for multiple Pro Bowl appearances over a long career.
Outlook for 2014
Erving will yet again serve as The Bodyguard on Winston's blind side (cue Whitney Houston), offering the offense a great deal of flexibility due to his ability to handle the opposing team's best pass rusher without help. Erving should have the edge against every defensive end on the schedule and, provided good health, there's no reason Erving shouldn't be off the board before the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.