Secret Superstar: Atlanta Falcons
Ryan Schraeder was an undrafted free agent in 2013 from Valdosta State who played just 315 snaps as a rookie and graded -3.7 overall with negatives in both the running and passing games. In 2014, however, he took a big step forward, ending the season as the starting right tackle after taking the job from Lamar Holmes and Gabe Camari in Week 8.
Without question Schraeder is better in pass protection than blocking in the run game. Posting the 10th-best Pass Blocking Efficiency at the position in 2014 (96.4), he only allowed three sacks, two hits and 13 hurries on 412 pass blocking snaps. He graded out as the 18th pass-blocking tackle in the league at +8.2 while most of the others around him saw at least 200 more pass-blocking snaps.
In the running game Schraeder is far from perfect, however his grade of -2.7 on 240 snaps, is closer to average than it is to poor. He actually looked on course to finish the season with a positive grade, but the combination of impressive defensive tackles in Carolina were too much for him to handle on downblocks. If Schraeder can continue improve as a run blocker, it increases his value, given his success as a pass blocker.
When Schraeder is at his best as a run blocker he often uses the momentum of the defender against them, effectively sealing the hole by allowing the defender to overshoot their gap. At the second level he is able to get his body in the way, while he doesn’t move the defender he is able to keep his body in the away to prevent the linebacker from making the play on the ball-carrier.
Just like in pass protection he can get into trouble when the defender is able to get into his body, he struggles to recover if he loses on the initial punch, too often he gets rocked in and the defender has a clean way to the running back. With the lack of strength Schraeder struggles to sustain blocks when get his hands on the defender.
Coming into this season the Falcons’ right tackle job looks to be a competition between Schraeder, Lamar Holmes and Tyler Polumbus, with Sam Baker moving inside to guard. Holmes is the highest drafted of the trio, but has a career grade of -45.5, it might not be surprising to see Holmes given another shot next season, but he hasn’t shown the same ability that Schraeder has up to this point. Polumbus has finished three of the past four seasons with a grade of -10.0, though the one season where he didn’t he impressed enough to be our fifth-highest graded right tackle. He has played under Kyle Shananhan in Washington and should know the scheme. The difference for Schraeder is that he has shown progression over his first two seasons, with room to improve still.
The hire of Shanahan as offensive coordinator should play into Schraeder’s strengths, with the lack of power being somewhat nullified by more zone blocking scheme. Schraeder’s footwork should work well in the outside zone, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is able to become a better run blocker because of it.
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