*Steve's NFL Daily: June 10th, 2013
Apparently I’m merely third string here at PFF when it comes to daily musings as I’ve taken the reins for the day from entrenched starter, Neil, and his top backup, Khaled. With both men on secret double assignment for PFF, I’ve gladly ditched the clipboard for a shot at today’s NFL news. As always, June news is tough to come by, but there are a few recent moves that are worth our attention.
Monday, June 10th
Carimi to the Bucs for a Sixth-Round Pick
It’s rare to see a first-round pick traded with only two years of experience under his belt, but Gabe Carimi’s short-lived career as a Chicago Bear is now over as he looks to start anew with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears received a sixth-round pick in exchange, which may actually be decent value for Carimi’s current level of play, but it will certainly hurt their retrospective draft grades for 2011.
During the draft process, Carimi received the dreaded “right tackle only” label from a number of scouts and analysts, which I’ve spent countless hours trying to disprove as an archaic description of offensive line talent. In today’s NFL, the right tackle’s job is just as difficult, and just as important, as the left tackle’s, so when a player is deemed as “not having the feet for left tackle,” and they’re sent to the right side to block the likes of Cameron Wake, Von Miller, or J.J. Watt, it may be time to re-think the qualifications for the position. I’ve been quite adamant that the term “right tackle only” be replaced with “he’s a guard” and Carimi seems to fit this description perfectly.
After playing left tackle at the University of Wisconsin, Carimi managed only 100 snaps in an injury-shortened rookie season, all at right tackle. He pulled a +0.6 grade in his limited time, including -0.2 as a pass blocker. Carimi entered the 2012 season in the same spot and right from Week 1, the results were ugly. Though he was stellar as a run blocker, Carimi notched only one positive grade in pass protection on his way to ranking 78th out of the top 80 tackles as a pass blocker at -20.3.
His struggles on the outside facilitated a move inside to right guard where he came in as a reserve in Week 12 before starting three more game at the position. The move appeared to help his pass protection woes as he graded at +2.9 on his 207 snaps, but his run blocking, which was above average for a tackle (+9.1), registered as only slightly above average amongst guards (+1.4). When you add it all up, we see a player who was extremely one-dimensional as a right tackle and adequate as a right guard.
So where does Carimi fit in with Tampa Bay? The Bucs got surprisingly solid right tackle play last season from Demar Dotson and he returns to man the position while right guard Davin Joseph missed the entire 2012 season as Tampa Bay turned to Ted Larsen and Jamon Meredith to fill the void — though neither player was particularly impressive. It looks as if Carimi was brought in as injury insurance at right guard, though Joseph has never been a favorite of ours at PFF, and there’s a real chance for competition for the starting spot in training camp. If Joseph holds onto his spot, Carimi could make for a good option in six offensive lineman sets where his run blocking will be accentuated and pass blocking issues protected.
More Protection for Luck
The Indianapolis Colts’ are rumored to be in the running to sign running back Ahmad Bradshaw and while fantasy football experts scramble to figure out his potential value (along with Quarterback Andrew Luck’s and incumbent running back Vick Ballard’s) perhaps the most important part of Bradshaw’s addition would be his contributions beyond the box score, in pass protection.
The Colts have not taken lightly the beating that their franchise player took in his first season and they’ve gone to great lengths to ensure a cleaner pocket in 2013. They dove headfirst into free agency with the additions of right tackle Gosder Cherilus (+21.0 Pass Block) and left guard Donald Thomas (+1.1 Pass Block) who both represent upgrades over RT Winston Justice (+1.0 Pass Block) and the left guard duo of Seth Olsen (-7.5 Pass Block) and Joe Reitz (-5.4 Pass Block).
Adding Bradshaw to the mix would only help as he hasn’t finished worse than third in our running back pass blocking ratings since 2009 and he was by far the best in the league last year grading at +6.2. Sure he’s a good runner and he can add some life as a receiver out of the backfield, but bringing in a running back who has only allowed 17 pressures on his last 550 pass blocking attempts is the kind of subtle move that could do wonders for Luck’s development as a passer.
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