The Chicago Bears selected former Kansas State offensive lineman Cody Whitehair in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Whitehair was a four-year starter for the Wildcats, lining up at both guard and tackle on both sides of the offensive line. He played left tackle the past two years, although he's expected to slide inside to guard for the Bears.
With that in mind, what type of skill set does Whitehair possess and what will he add to Chicago's offensive line?
To answer those questions, let's break down film from three Big 12 contests last season.
Vs. Oklahoma State
-First play, Whitehair rides the defensive end inside, passes him off and collects the defensive tackles swinging outside on the cross stunt. Good awareness here.
-0:30, sloppy footwork coming out of his stance and into his pull, good job finding a defender on the lead block.
-1:10, blitz by both the OLB and ILB on his edge, he allows the OLB to hit inside and picks up the trailing ILB, he knows where his help is.
-1:27, two players blitz off his edge, this time he picks up the inside rusher, knowing his has outside help from the running back. Again, he knows where his help is.
-3:15, outside rush by DE, Whitehair cuts off the corner and then sinks his hips to counter the bull rush. Great balance and body positioning.
-3:55, again has trouble getting out of stance and into pull, feet too close together, unable to lock up and kickout, defender makes the tackle on the RB.
-4:55, stonewalls the edge rush, DE never gets within 5 yards of the QB.
-5:43, cuts off edge rush, notice how wide Whitehair's stance is, great balance and technique.
-8:13, pull and kickout, finds the safety and knocks him on his butt.
-9:25, double team at the snap, Whitehair then peels off and finds the linebacker. A preview of his ability in a zone run. Good awareness and execution at second level.
-9:40, beat badly around the edge by Emmanuel Ogbah. Stops moving feet at the point of contact, Ogbah flies right by.
-12:11, run play off tackle Whitehair's side, sinks hips, coils and drives defender inside, creates hole off the edge.
-12:31, defender gets too far over his toes, Whitehair takes a step back and throws him to the ground.
-0:21, defender uses bull rush, gets hands under Whitehair's pads, yet he sinks hips and plants heels, stuffing the bull rush despite losing the leverage battle. Takes a seriously strong lower body to do that.
-2:43, reach block on the defensive tackle, gets head in front and takes out the defender's legs. Good burst off the snap. Not an easy block.
-3:20, inside linebacker blitzes, Whitehair recognizes the blitz and steps in front, knocks the LB on his butt.
-4:00, stonewall on the edge rush, defensive end just gives up after a second because he knows he has no chance, perfect angle and positioning by Whitehair.
-6:20, blitz off the edge, Whitehair doesn't recognize it, defender has open path to the QB.
-8:05, Whitehair holds his block for 8 seconds. Very impressive.
-0:34, seal block inside, perfect positioning and hand placement, Whitehair holds block using upper body, run play goes for a TD.
-0:45, swing block and kickout from playside, Whitehair finds and locks up defender, sealing him outside. Good movement and awareness.
-2:39, very quick feet beating DE to the corner, good footwork and quickness to seal the edge, braces and sinks hips for contact, good hand placement. Textbook edge block.
-5:34, run play up the middle, Whitehair uses choppy steps and explodes into the defender, rocking him back on his heels. Great power here.
Whitehair is a technically sound blocker who understands how to use body positioning to his advantage.
In pass protection, he's almost always in perfect position and routinely beats edge rushers to the corner. In the three games analyzed here, he didn't give up a single sack and he was called for holding just once. The only time he gets in trouble on pass plays is when he stops moving his feet, although he rarely made that mistake.
Whitehair has an extremely powerful lower body. Even on plays when the defender wins the leverage battle, Whitehair can sink his hips and use the power in his trunk to anchor and cut off the bull rush. He also shows good upper-body strength and is rarely outmuscled in phone-booth situations.
On pulls and traps, he must improve his footwork. Coming out of his stance, he crosses over his feet, which is going to get him killed in the NFL. He must learn to extend his play-side foot first, instead of dropping his backside foot out front.
On the move, Whitehair is solid. He shows good agility, speed and awareness, and almost always locks up a defender at the second level. He has the natural movement the Bears are looking for, particularly in zone-block plays.
A few negatives: his hand placement is inconsistent and he must get better at keeping his hands inside the shoulders. He also doesn't play with much nastiness and doesn't finish blocks with authority. His hand punch is negligible.
As a guard for the Bears, some of the issues we see on tape will be mitigated, as Whitehair won't be asked to block in space very often. Instead, he can use his top-tier fundamentals and overall powerful frame to stonewall defenders from the guard position. His combination of upper- and lower-body strength will be a big boost in short-yardage situations.
Whitehair is a textbook, fundamental blocker with plenty of power. He's also a very good athlete who plays with intelligence. On film, it's easy to see why the Bears believe he'll be a Day 1 starter next season.null