On September 1st, CBS Sports' Pete Prisco wrote an article that quoted his interviews with two top former NFL linemen. They were former guard and center, LeCharles Bentley, and elite former tackle Tony Boselli. Bentley now trains offensive linemen professionally. Both guests were in full agreement on the issue at hand.
Their take was that the offensive linemen coming out of college are badly trained and unprepared for the NFL. It’s a major problem when you’re drafting linemen, no matter how college-good they look.There’s no real way to estimate what you’re getting. Look around the league at the number of high picks who are struggling. There’s a reason.
“With so many spread offenses now, players are not prepared to play on an NFL line. The growth period is much greater than it used to be. The ability to put the hand in the dirt, come out of a stance and run block is becoming a lost art.
"Colleges are sending more mentally, technically and physically unprepared players to the NFL. Pro coaches are then expected to fix issues that have been reinforced over the last four or five years of a kid's career."” It’s easy to see where this is affecting OL drafting as a whole.
He went on:
"Offensive line coaches are so overwhelmed with responsibilities that even the most-seasoned coaches are having a hard time managing the coaching and teaching,” he said. "Offenses are getting more schematically demanding that coaches are spending most of their time getting caught up on X's and O's and lose focus on the nuances of playing the position. Teams would be better off hiring a coach and a skills coach who can focus solely on the craft. That's supposed to be the assistant's job, but many assistants are unqualified and too focused cultivating their egos and not the player's skills. What we see now is a compounding effect. It's really not fair to the O-line coaches. There are some good coaches who just don't have the time they need."
Often, that’s more than one year. They have a lot to learn. Closer to home, the Denver Broncos have done well of late. Matt Paradis is a great example of a quick developer. He’s taken over the leadership of the OL, even with Louis Vasquez there. Max Garcia seems to be another young stud—Evan Mathis’ contract is only for one year.
On the other hand, I’ve read some negatives about Michael Schofield, the Broncos current swing tackle. It’s true, Schofield didn’t come out at first ready-trained, set to block wrecking balls and eat raw meat. He didn’t immediately win the Broncos right tackle slot and he didn’t amaze in preseason 2014.
His ability on certain blocks has been questioned. Although on the roster, he didn’t play a down last year. To be sure, he has a lot to learn. But I’ve watched the film showing that he’s learning it.
Bentley and Boselli are right. It’s not the fault of the college kid that he wasn’t trained for the next level—really trained—for his job. Colleges ought to prepare their students for their career—even if it’s football. And every pro team should be able to put together a quality OL. Too few have one at this point.
Next time, I’ll talk about where Schofield’s development is—and where he’s still working.
Click HERE to read Part II of Doc's 'Dancing Bears' Piece.
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