The Offensive Tackles

With it appearing likely that the Chiefs are going to select Luke Joeckel the Eagles might have the option of choosing between Lane Johnson and Eric Fisher depending on how the Raiders and Jaguars pick. But how would they fit into Chip Kelly’s offense? [1]

The inside zone play is our “go to work” play. We want to get off the ball and be a physical downhill running football team. This is not a finesse play. This is physical football. The offensive lineman play with confidence because they know they have help from their teammates in their blocking scheme. This is the offense we run and everyone knows that. We have great players but we also execute it well. We ran this play 202 times this past season. We averaged about seven to eight yards per carry with this play.

The outside zone play is a complement to the inside zone play. The inside zone is a hole to cutback play. The outside zone is more of a hole to bounce play. The reason we run the outside play is to circle the defense. When you get good at running the inside zone the defenders begin to tighten their techniques and concentrate on squeezing the inside gaps.

If we feel that is happening or we start to get many twists and blitzes inside we run the outside zone play. It gives you speed in space and the offensive line can play with confidence when you have something to change the focus of the defense. We ran the outside zone play 122 times last season for 6.8 yards per carry. It is a good compliment to the inside zone play.

Basic zone read via smartfootball.com

Chip Kelly’s lines aren’t plodding and enormous, they’re lean and athletic. I’ll let Kyle Long explain:

“You need to have mental toughness, physical toughness and you have to be in condition to play in an offense that moves in such a high tempo. We play at a fast tempo and then when we need to, we kick it into overdrive. He’ll say, ‘We’re going to go tempo here’ and everyone looks around and we all lick our chops because we know the guy across from us is going to be more exhausted than we are because we prepared and practiced at a high level.”

Chip Kelly plays it coy at his football clinic linked above when he talks about his running scheme but he really does ask a lot of his offensive line. His offensive line doesn’t have much help, there aren’t any fullbacks or jumbo personnel. He runs a smash-mouth offense out of spread offense sets. The entire idea behind his running scheme at Oregon was to spread the defense out, empty the box and control the line of scrimmage. His offensive linemen need to be in good condition like Kyle Long says but at the same time they need to be big and strong enough to control the line of scrimmage. He runs power plays. He runs zone plays. He runs read option plays. Chip used man and zone concepts at Oregon. And his tackles will do anything, they pull, trap and downblock. He really does need talented offensive line players if he wants to run his scheme effectively.

Here is a video of Oregon offensive line drills:

Lane Johnson

I asked Phil Savage, former general manager of the Cleveland Browns, director of player personnel for the Baltimore Ravens, consultant for the Eagles and current director of the Senior Bowl, on Monday night who he would rather have between Lane Johnson, Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, this was his answer:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/seniorbowl/status/326505371353112577″]

And that’s the appeal of Lane Johnson. As it currently stands, he’s clearly the third best tackle in the draft. But in 2015? He could be the best. The recent development of Jason Peters, Joe Staley, Duane Brown and Trent Williams has really buoyed Lane Johnson’s draft stock because people think he has the same sort of upside.

At 6’6″ and 310 pounds (his pro-day weight) Lane Johnson certainly has the long, lean frame that Chip Kelly seemed to prefer at Oregon. And with 35 1/8″ arms he has the length that seems to also be a point of emphasis.

And if you watch the offensive line drill video you’ll notice that their offensive line coach (narrator) points out that they have specific drills that are designed to help offensive linemen move in space without losing speed, keep their feet in space and be more flexible. Lane Johnson is a fantastic prospect in this regard. His ability to get to the second level and move in space is second to none in this draft. And he’s incredibly flexible for an offensive lineman, displaying no difficulties bending his knees and dropping and rolling his hips.

And as a pass protector his athleticism shows up, not many defensive ends are going to beat Lane Johnson to the edge. He’s an extremely smooth mover on the edge who will have no issues with the speed of NFL pass rushers. What he could have potential problems with is power because he’s got a narrow frame and he does let defenders into him. But he’s adding weight (he bulked up 7 pounds from the combine to his pro-day) and some added technique will help solve this problem.

In the running game he’s not excessively powerful, he’s not going to be a road grader even though he does flash some power. What makes him so intriguing in the running game is his athleticism which will allow whatever coach he ends up with to be more creative. Johnson can get the second level with rare quickness and he can pull across formations. He offers a lot of flexibility in that regard. At this stage he’s more of a positional blocker but he possesses more upside as a run blocker than his frame would suggest.

With Lane Johnson you’re getting a bit of a project who needs to learn how to better use his hands and use his length to it’s full advantage. And he needs to keep his feet moving as he will stop his feet on contact as well. He’ll need to add weight but that won’t be a problem because his frame will allow for growth. If you can bulk him up and coach him up, Lane Johnson has a ton of potential. He’s probably the most athletic tackle in a long, long time. He’s got fantastic length and more than ideal LT feet. He’s new to the position after playing QB & DE and he’s dripping with upside.

Lane Johnson has experience at left and right tackle.

Eric Fisher

 

Name Eric Fisher Lane Johnson
Height 6’7” 6’6”
Weight 306 303
Arm Length 34” 35”
40 Yard Dash 5.03 4.69
3 Cone Drill 7.59 7.31
Vertical Jump 28.5” 34”

 

 

 

 

 

Both players tested very well at the combine, Johnson more so than Eric Fisher. But Eric Fisher’s numbers are still well above average. Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson possess a similar palet of skills but Eric Fisher is a little more consistent at this point in time.

Much like Johnson, Fisher will have no problems lining up as a left tackle. His foot-speed and flexibility are definitely left tackle quality, he bends at the knees, can drop his hips and has back bend. With his gait, athleticism and length even the quickest of NFL pass rushers are going to be challenged on the edge by Eric Fisher. And his height is not a detriment because as I mentioned before, he’s good in the hips, back and knees and he isn’t likely to be out leveraged in the NFL. He’s got a little stronger anchor than Lane Johnson too that he showed at the Senior Bowl when he stonewalled the likes of Datone Jones and Alex Okafor, two well sized edge players.

As a run blocker Fisher flashes aggressiveness and a rough and tumble mentality that allowed him to dominate at times in college. He showcases more in-line power than Lane Johnson does, mauling defenders when his technique is used. And much like Lane Johnson he’s not a plodder, he’s capable of moving around. His feet allow him to quickly pull and get upfield and while he’s not as adept at pulling across formations as Lane Johnson is, he can do it.

If you draft Eric Fisher you’re drafting a statuesque tackle prospect with an elite combination of length, bendability and foot quickness. He’s a little inconsistent with his hands in all facets of the game but if you work on that and add some weight to his frame there shouldn’t be anything that stops him from becoming a top tier offensive tackle.

Eric Fisher has experience as a left tackle, right tackle and left guard.

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