Scouting: Why do so many NFL teams have weak O lines?

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NFL Draft (2)

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No one would deny that the QB is the most important position in the NFL. And yet so many teams are struggling protecting the QB. One thing that can help a QB most is a solid running game but again without a strong O line it is hard to generate one.

Many of the problems of the NFL can be directly traced to the rise of the spread offense in college football. The problems finding quality O line candidates is one of them.

In the spread offense, the college O lineman is almost always blocking 1 opponent. The splits (distance between O linemen) are so large that few college defenses even try to run tackle/end games in which the DT attacks outside and the DE comes inside. As a result, the O line face only 1 guy to block. That means that the pro scout does not get to see the O lineman’s footwork or ability to slide.

The passing game at the college level is based on a shotgun formation and very quick release. A college O lineman need only brush most D linemen to keep the quarterback upright. There is also a significant weight advantage for the O lineman in college. The college D linemen are often in the 250 pound range while the O linemen tips the scale at around 300.

In the run game college spread offenses seldom use combo blocks. That makes it harder for the pro scout to figure out which O linemen can combo block and then move to the 2nd level of the defense to block a linebacker.

Those college offenses that use a more pro style O will get more O linemen selected earlier in the draft because it is easier for the scouts to tell if they will fit into the pro game. But with more teams going to the spread/hurry up systems, the pro game will find fewer and fewer quality O linemen in the future.

That is what I think. Tell us what you think by commenting here or tweeting me @NNRonDSN.

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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.

He also edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org/.

To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.


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