Grading the O-line, and other stuff

Posted by Darren Urban on March 6, 2014 – 4:30 pm

There is a really good article posted on SI’s MMQB, written by former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker, about how offensive linemen are graded in the NFL and the inexact science that it is. I recommend it. Cardinals tackle Eric Winston is quoted in the story a few times, noting “It’s very hard to do it independently. Last season was my eighth year and I still can’t always tell who messed up when watching film of other teams.” There is no question that evaluating the offensive line has been the hardest thing to do in my years of writing about an NFL team, for all the reasons contained in the article (although such analysis isn’t going away. I know coaches and players get frustrated sometimes, but in the end, they don’t want to say exactly what is going on either, so they don’t throw anyone under the bus. Totally understandable, but it’s why it’s so hard to get the real picture.)

Noted in the article is the work of, how their grades have their own flaws, and even how agents are using those grades in contract talks. Again, interesting stuff and worth the time.

— Nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu was an exclusive rights free agent, and even though he has to rehab a torn ACL, it was inevitable the Cards would keep him around. He turned out to be a fantastic waiver acquisition this season. Assuming he comes back OK, I could see him as a long-term component of that defensive line.

Free agent talks with players from other teams can start Saturday morning, at least with their agents. The Cards will make their position known with a few players, but as GM Steve Keim said, the Cards are going to want a guy in for a visit before pulling the trigger. You want to be able to know the guy a little bit before cutting him a check.

— Free agent tight end John Carlson, cut by the Vikings this week, is reportedly visiting the Cardinals. Not a surprise, at least in terms of the position. The Cards have to stock up on tight ends, both in an attempt to upgrade and to make sure they have enough in the first place with so many with expiring contracts.

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15 Responses to “Grading the O-line, and other stuff”

  1. By Rich on Mar 6, 2014 | Reply

    next few weeks are gonna be a lot of fun.

    Darren, do you enjoy this time of the NFL year?

  2. By Darren Urban on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply

    Rich —

    RE: this time of year

    I enjoy free agency. I like the draft itself. I do not like the build up to the draft. Nobody knows exactly how these guys will translate and I certainly don’t know a ton about them. Plus most of them I will never cover. I like the draft and the immediate aftermath when we know what players the Cards have.

  3. By pleasantfishing on Mar 6, 2014 | Reply

    I hope we don’t bring in Carlson. Let’s draft another good TE. We can get CJ fiedorowicz most likely in rounds 3 or 4 and he is so much like Heith Miller. Glad they signed Ta’amu and am hoping Timmy Jernigan falls to us. I definitely think we go D first round of draft to go along with Keims and Arians philosophy of improving what your teams best at and for us right now its the Defense. LT in Free Agency most likely Jared Veldheer or Anthony Collins because of price. I am totally on board with not extending Peterson this year and waiting till next. Let’s make a run in 2015 SB 49 and win in OUR Stadium!!!

  4. By Dr. G. on Mar 6, 2014 | Reply

    Hey Darren – Please try to interpret why the Cards would be interested here. Any late round rookie would produce this man’s stats…and the money would be a serious dice roll – probably coming up craps. I’m thinking this is a decoy move for entertainment value? A good day to you – – –

    ESPN reports –
    John Carlson – Cannnot find stats for 2011 – don’t think he played. He has sustained what reportedly is his fifth known concussion (dating back to college) and has been mulling retirement since then… Just some facts…

  5. By Darren Urban on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply

    Dr. G —

    RE: Carlson 2011

    Carlson hurt his shoulder in preseason 2011 and was on IR.

  6. By rod on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply

    Hey Darren thanks for linking that awesome linemen article, good read for me.

  7. By Rugbymuffin on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply

    Offensive Linemen are hard to evaluate.

    Lyle Sendlien is the perfect example. I personally, wanted him replaced, but I also would say after last year that I am very comfortable with him as our center.

    So, the only difference would be the coaching, so how much does that come into play. Sendlein has been with the Cardinals for a relatively long time, yet it was only last year that from where I am standing, he really improved.

    Then there is the infamous Levi Brown situation where the complaints for Levi Brown by the fans, were always waved off. “What do the fans know”, was the cliche’ on that topic.

    Yet, when all is said and done with Levi Brown, what we wished for in regards to getting Levi Brown out of the Cardinals offensive line, with a plan behind him (not him getting injured and the organization being ill prepared for it) seems like it was the right decision after all. When a UDFA can come in after two weeks with the team and improve the offensive line by doing so, then I don’t know who someone can say Levi Brown was a good player because it has been proven he was not better than a UDFA that could be found on the street with the proper player personnel person looking at the situation.

    And it never ends, and never will. The divide on whether to keep Daryn Colledge, whose claim to fame was being good at the role of being the weak line on the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers. Yes, fancy stats that have been around a whopping 5 years or so that are based on things a player cannot control say Colledge was our best lineman, but on the opposite side the tape (which is available to the fans these days) may cause differing opinions.

    So, case in point the offensive line causes the greatest debates, because of the lack of information and scaling of productivity at the position.

    So debates like, why pay a mint for a player that can be replaced by Paul Fanaika will rage on.

  8. By D on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply

    I am guessing Mr. Keim’s first call Sat am will be to fly Rodger Saffold into Tempe next week….only 26yrs old…

  9. By Big Ken on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply

    Rugbymuffin- Daryn Colledge mediocre at best, restructure deal or cut him. When Levi Brown was drafted I remember thinking it wasn’t a sexy pick, but how do you know he isn’t going to be the next Lomas Brown. As for this Carlson guy the team looks at and evaluates a lot of players. It doesn’t mean they get an offer.

  10. By Dynosoar on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply


    “we lost a Lott, but gained a Kingdom”

    Best one liner in 2014!

  11. By Chuck 1 on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply

    When I read that the Cards are considering a player with a history of concussions, I immediately think of Swopes and the mistake that Keim made on that draft pick.

    Don’t make the same mistake with Carlson.

  12. By Tucson Card on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply


    Given Keim/Arian’s ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ mantra with free agents, can we assume that any free agents who visited the prior day (i.e. John Carlson) were not signed?

  13. By Big Ken on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply

    I wonder what the facination is with that John Carlson?

  14. By Steve Lee on Mar 7, 2014 | Reply

    Does Carlson have good hands like Housler?
    Are the cards just trying to save money?
    I sure hope Keim and Arians see something I don’t.

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