Daily Focus: Panthers deal with Michael Oher ensures consistency
Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Panthers, Michael Oher add consistency: News broke Friday of a three-year contract extension between the Carolina Panthers and starting left tackle Michael Oher. Aside from adding humor to the day courtesy of his fellow Panthers offensive linemen tweeting gifs from The Blind Side, it gives both the Carolina Panthers and Oher himself some consistency. As a player, Oher has been up and down, but overall he has struggled after an impressive rookie season. His overall grade has generally trended downwards, dropping from +27.9 at right tackle as a rookie all the way to -28.8 this past year. Both his rookie season and the 2015 season appear to be the outliers, though, with the rest of his grades falling somewhere between -3.8 and -14.3 in between.
Last season, Oher was the lowest-graded run-blocking offensive tackle in all of football, with his -33.4 grade in that regard twice as bad as that of the next worst tackle, Jason Fox (-17.2). However, as a pass-blocker, he was actually the 15th-best in the league, allowing just 31 total pressures from 558 pass-blocking snaps. That gave him a pass-blocking efficiency rating (our stat that tracks pressure allowed on a per-snap basis, with weighting toward sacks and hits) of 95.7, a mark topped by just 16 offensive tackles in the NFL. When you consider that Cam Newton’s style of play dictates that he takes more hits than a lot of other starting quarterbacks when he runs, having a left tackle who can keep him clean on dropbacks is key.
What’s interesting is that Oher has never had a chance to settle at either tackle spot in the NFL. PFF’s lead analyst Ben Stockwell tweeted yesterday about how 2016 will be just the second time in Oher’s career that he has played the same position two years in a row, rotating between both tackle spots the rest of the time. As Brandon Croce replied to him, 2016 will also be the first time since 2013 that Carolina start the same player at left tackle in back to back years. Even if Oher’s struggles continue, this extension can help by bringing consistency for both team and player at the left tackle position.
2016 will be only 2nd time in Oher’s career he’ll play same pos bk-to-bk yrs
— Ben Stockwell (@PFF_Ben) June 17, 2016
— Brandon Croce (@BrandonCroce) June 17, 2016
Ravens confident in starting rookie at left tackle: With the Ravens opting to release Eugene Monroe earlier this week, it shows that they are full confident in the sixth overall selection in the NFL draft, Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley, to start at left tackle from day one in the NFL. It’s not a surprising move considering they drafted him inside the top 10 picks of the draft, but it does still leave them with a lack of experience at the position in 2016.
Most high draft picks start in the NFL, especially at a position like offensive tackle, but of all the positions in the NFL, it’s an area where we have seen rookies struggle the most in recent years. Of the 25 first-year offensive tackles to play 25 percent of their team’s snaps as rookies in the past three seasons, only six have graded positively, with none higher than former Detroit Lion and current New England Patriot LaAdrian Waddle (+7.2).
Los Angeles Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein (+2.7) was the only rookie offensive tackle to play 25 percent of his team’s snaps in 2015 and finish with a positive grade and, with a down year at the position, had the highest overall grade rank from a rookie in the past three years, finishing the year as the 24th-highest-graded offensive tackle.
Stanley had the sixth-highest pass-blocking grade of offensive tackles in this draft class at +9.5, but history over the past three seasons suggests that with a steep learning curve, Ravens fans should at least be prepared for some bumps along the way.
Bills have “no intention” of paying Stephon Gilmore top money: On Friday a report surfaced from Vic Carruci of the Buffalo News that the Buffalo Bills have “no intention” of paying cornerback Stephon Gilmore like one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. They did pick up the fifth-year option on the 10th overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft, but clearly don’t feel like they have seen enough from him to warrant a big contract just yet.
On the basis of his play since entering the NFL, it’s hard to argue with them at this point. Gilmore has graded progressively better every year since entering the NFL, and also had to deal with injuries along the way, so he is at least trending upward. Even after a +8.5-graded season that was his best since entering the NFL though, Gilmore was still only tied for 20th in terms of overall PFF grade, and tied for 23rd when looking purely at coverage grade (+5.4).
He was definitely much improved last year however, allowing just 54.3 percent of the passes thrown into his coverage to be caught, and coming away with three interceptions and a career-high 12 pass breakups. That means he comes into the 2016 season having proven that he can indeed be a good cornerback in the NFL, and realistically just another small step forward from being able to claim to be a top-15 player at the position. It’s a big year for Gilmore, and one that will have huge ramifications not only for whether or not he stays in Buffalo, but also just how big a second contract he can demand either from the Bills or on the open market.