In the search for eternal offensive line perfection… oh to hell with perfection, I just want an offensive line that can put defensive players on their backs and heels, give RB Jamaal Charles his faction of a second needed to squeeze through and QB Alex Smith a ghost of a chance to not end up in the ER.
I’ve already outlined the LT, LG and Center positions in part one of this post to see what it will take to make the Kansas City Chiefs 2015 Offensive Line, once again a juggernaut like it used to be in 2003. To read part one of this post go here.
Now, let’s take a look at the Right Guard and Right Tackle positions.
Right Guard: Paul Fanaika
Now given the time to study the Chiefs choices at Right Guard, it appears that at this present moment those choices are marginal at best. Including recent free agent signing Paul Fanaika. Yes, Fanaika is a big strong and nasty RG as Andy Reid has sold us. He’s just not very good. He’s not even very close to average. Although he started in the NFC West division for the past two seasons against some of the best competition in the NFL he’s only progressed from horrible to… not as horrible. In week 12 of 2013, Fanaika had a + 2.1 Pass Blocking grade from PFF but that was the only positive grade he had for the whole season. His – 26.2 overall rating in 2013 and jump up to – 22.8 is not the stuff of O-line legends.
Fanaika’s performances sound like what would result if… Barry Richardson and Mike McGlynn had a love-child. He’s that level of bad and frankly I’m wondering why Andy Reid and John Dorsey would even consider signing him.
When Ben Grubbs talks about dominating, he has a point of reference for that. For five years straight he dominated everyone in every category. Fanaika has no such point of reference. No feel for it whatsoever. Do you think that because he’s now under Andy Reid’s tutelage that he’s suddenly going to turn into Brian Waters? That’s not even a huge “maybe,” it’s more like “entirely improbable.” Impossible? No… but his presence begs the question, why are Reid and Dorsey even considering him?
Plus, I hope one of the lessons learned from last season for Andy Reid is about his unconscious belief that he is the “Old OL Healer”… that he has the power to transform guys like Mike McGlynn into Mike Munchak with his Andy dandy offensive scheming. Reid is a very good coach… but you have to know, and work within, your limitations.
Right Guard: Zach Fulton
You may have heard that some pundits have pointed to an upsurge in Fulton’s performance late last season as reason enough to make him the starter this coming season. Well, I looked into it, to see if that is an accurate portrayal of Fulton’s performance. So, was it? Absolutely.
During the last five weeks of the 2014 season Zach Fulton seemed to have figured it out. He had only one negative grade in week 13 against the Broncos (– 1.8 in Run Blocking) but after that he had no negative grades whatsoever. Those opponents? Arizona, Oakland, Pittsburgh and San Diego. It also says something positive about him that he got better in what is considered by most as the toughest part of the schedule, the last four games. For a first year player who hadn’t played more than 12 games in a season at Tennessee, it was a testament to his true grit and intestinal fortitude.In fact, Fulton had no notable negative pass blocking grades (meaning more than – 1.0) after week one. His continued probable sophomore ascension should be curious to all those interested in the Chiefs o-line.
The addition of Paul Fanaika appears to be mostly motivation to push Fulton from behind… way behind.. and to do whatever it takes to step his game up one giant sized step. Considering Fulton’s steady advancement in 2014 it’s difficult to imagine Andy Reid not wanting to see where Fulton is headed in his development. At 6-5 and 325 Fulton has the physical tools to dominate. He just hasn’t shown it yet.
Given a continued steady progression, would Zach Fulton qualify as a juggernaut RG? If he keeps on progressing, yes perhaps in year or two but not this season. If not, then he is not that far away from being in a class with Fanaika.
Right Guard: Laken Tomlinson (Duke)
My favorite Right Tackle in this draft, value wise, is Laken Tomlinson out of Duke. I say value-wise because he can probably be had in the second round. At 6-3, 323 MassLive.com calls Tomlinson a mauler. I would agree with that assessment. Every time I watch film on him he impresses me. His performance during Senior Bowl week was what really caught my attention. Back in January, Mike Huguenin of NFL.com reported,
"“(Mike) Mayock was especially impressed by Tomlinson’s work in drills against Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who generally is considered the top prospect at the Senior Bowl. Mayock said Thursday during NFL Network’s coverage of Senior Bowl practices that he thought Tomlinson “shot up draft boards” with his work this week.”"
If you haven’t watched DT Danny Shelton operate then you’re really missing out on one of the prime prospects in this year’s draft and if he stays healthy you should see him (Shelton) in the Pro Bowl next year. He’s that good. However, every time I saw Laken Tomlinson go against Danny Shelton, he seemed to handle him quite well. There is not a better measure of Laken Tomlinson’s worth, in my eyes, because I, among others, have compared Shelton to Dontari Poe… who you may have heard of.
Here’s tape on RG Laken Tomlinson (#77) vs. Pittsburgh. Tomlinson wins every single snap. He’s a road grader with extra attachments. He’s the not so little engine that could do whatsoever he wants.
I’m enough of a Tomlinson supporter to believe he will be a warrior for whomever chooses him in this year’s draft. He would also qualify as an OL juggernaut. Yes, he qualifies more as an unknown rookie… than anyone the Chiefs have on their roster at RG.
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