Rookies in Focus: Eric Fisher
Our offseason rookie breakdown started with the first round edge rushers and now it’s time to take a look at the other side of the line. Offensive tackles came off the board at a furious rate, with the 2013 draft perhaps as unique as any in recent history.
Here’s a look at the first round offensive tackles, with a couple other mid-round starters and even an undrafted free agent mixed in. This is by no means a definitive draft grade on any of these players, just a one-year look at their role and production, and perhaps a look forward to how they might improve.
Round 1, No. 1: Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs
Role: 14 Starts at RT
As Draft Day 2013 approached, much of the talk centered on whether or not the Chiefs would select Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel with the first overall pick, with Fisher getting the final nod. It was a rough start for the former Central Michigan product as he kicked off his career with negative grades in six of his first seven games. He showed well in second half games against the Bills, Redskins, and Colts, particularly in the running game, but pass protection was an issue for most of the season.
With left tackle Branden Albert moving on in free agency, Fisher is expected to move back to left side where the Chiefs are hoping that his first year struggles were more about his new position rather than an indictment on his ability.
Pass Block Snaps: 490
Total Pressures: 52
Pass Blocking Efficiency: 92.1
Fisher’s never quite looked comfortable on the right side, as his -17.8 pass block grade ranked second to last among rookie offensive tackles behind only Jordan Mills. He gave up 20 of his 52 pressure to his inside shoulder, something that plagued him often early in the season. By comparison, most tackles give up 31% of their pressures to the inside, so Fisher coming in at 43% shows that it was his obvious weakness. He fared much better against outside and bull rush pressure while only getting assigned with one unblocked pressure. Fisher showed some improvement as the year progressed, grading at -9.2 as a pass blocker in the first half compared to -4.1 in the second half of the season.
Fisher giving too much ground to the inside:
Run Block Snaps: 321
Things weren’t much better in the running game where Fisher once again ranked second-worst among the rookie offensive tackles, this time trailing only David Bakhtiari. He struggled while blocking at the line of scrimmage, once again allowing too many plays to be made to his inside. He did, however, show well when climbing to the second level or when asking to pull in space. Many of his best blocks came in these instances, as he often showed the athleticism that made him the No. 1 overall pick.
Fisher shows his athleticism out in space:
It’s much too early to put a label on any of these players, much less Fisher who will now move back to left tackle in 2014. His rookie year issues were obvious, but whether it was the position change, physicality, or the step up in level of competition, he should be in better position to prove his worth this coming season.
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