The Jets, desperate for some offensive line depth, today traded for Caleb Schlauderaff, a Packers’ sixth round pick from April’s draft. Clearly this guy is not exactly a household name, so after the jump, I’ll be presenting scouting notes from all four preseason games, as well as relaying some quotes from the Milwaukee media and Packers blogs.
It’s worth noting that Schlauderaff was a left guard for all four of his college seasons, although (in the event of an injury) don’t forget that Matt Slauson has played as an emergency center before in the NFL.
Let’s begin with some quotes from the media. Be warned, these comments are not all that promising if you’re hoping this guy can step in and be a reliable backup.
Caleb Schlauderaff is behind the curve in part because of the offseason lost to the NFL lockout.
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Rookie Caleb Schlauderaff had an unimpressive first week at right guard after starting four seasons at left guard for Utah. He has had a few turns at left guard in the last few days, and O-line coach James Campen has seen improvement.
“I’d like to play better, and I will,” said Schlauderaff, a sixth-round draft choice. “I’m not disappointed about it. I got lucky in college. I got in at left guard and started 40-some games. Here, you’ve got to learn to play multiple positions. It’s part of the growing process.”
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Schlauderaff … struggled badly in pass protection at right guard [in week one] before moving over to play some left guard in the 4th quarter.
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The situation is about clear as mud because rookie Caleb Schlauderaff and veteran Nick McDonald, the two players the Packers hoped would solidify their interior, have failed to emerge.
After a lousy performance in Indianapolis, Schlauderaff was pushed back to third-string guard this week in favor of veteran Evan Dietrich-Smith, who has quietly put together a very solid training camp.
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Schlauderaff, a sixth-round pick out of Utah, mostly struggled through training camp. In one-on-one drills, he lost leverage frequently. He did bounce back from a very rough game in Indianapolis in the preseason finale. Against Kansas City, Schlauderaff entered the game midway through the third quarter and was OK. Overall, he looks to make up for limitations in athleticism by finishing plays. He has an edge … The 6-foot-4, 302-pound guard says he knows where he must improve his game.
“I need to get a little firmer in pass protection,” he said. “I need to anchor a little quicker and use my hands a little better.”
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So, this is mostly negative, although this reminds me of how Vladimir Ducasse received similar negative comments in the media after the first game despite the fact that he did have some positive moments. Let’s hope that the film reveals similar bright spots for Schlauderaff and that his apparent improvement in the finale is a good sign.
Game One – Cleveland
Schlauderaff entered the game with 2:39 left in the first and remained in the lineup for the rest of the game. Here’s how he fared:
– Opened up at RG.
– Was almost beaten on the inside, but used his strength to ride his guy off-track and enable the QB to get the throw off.
– Initially the defensive lineman stood him up at the point of attack and the runner ran into his back, but then he got some traction and surged ahead for a three yard gain.
– He sustained a block pretty well on Brian Schaefering, who he was mainly matched up with in the first half. Schaefering was on the field for 500 plays last year and recorded nine pressures, so he is not just camp fodder.
– Was clearly beaten on the outside by Schaefering, who chased the QB out of the pocket for a pressure.
– Blocked his man well initially in pass protection, but when the QB was flushed from the pocket by pressure from the RT’s man, his guy got off his block and chased him out to the sideline.
– Did get plenty of help from his center in pass protection.
– Was driven back on a bullrush, but just about managed to hold up long enough. There was a load of constant pressure from the outside though, so the tackles were struggling much worse than he was.
– He reacted well to pick up a stunting DE, leading to a long completion.
– Was again driven back by his man on a bullrush, but held his man off just long enough. Most of these bullrushes came from rookie DT Travis Ivey, who has 20 pounds on him.
– Made a good seal block on a run and drove his man out of the play.
– Was driven back by a bullrush for the third time, again just about holding his man up long enough.
That was it for him as a RG. He moved to his more familiar LG position for the last play of the third and all of the fourth. At this stage, it’s interesting to note that this was the game where he supposedly struggled until he move back to his natural position. However, he was only cleanly beaten once, by an NFL regular and although he looked susceptible to the bullrush, he only gave up one pressure and, in my view, graded out positively as a run blocker.
Now let’s continue with his stint at LG:
– Made a block at the second level, driving his man back, although his man did eventually get off the block to make the stop.
– His man got inside leverage on him, but he was able to ride him to the ground before he could disrupt the run up the middle.
– On the next play, his man got inside leverage again and although he was again able to ride him to the ground, it slowed the runner who was stuffed for no gain.
– Sealed and peeled to make a block at the second level. Well executed run block.
– Nice job to again pick up a stunting DE.
– Again picked up a stunting DE, although this time, the tackle got beaten by the DT.
I think the assessment of Schlauderaff’s performance that he “struggled badly” might be a little overblown. Contrast this performance with any of the Jets’ backups from their preseason opener and he blew them all out of the water. I’d also say he should get a positive grade for run blocking, although he didn’t show the same level of dominance as Vladimir Ducasse did in the first Jets game.
Game Two – Arizona
Schlauderaff entered the game late in the second quarter and played until early in the fourth quarter. Here’s how he fared:
– Entered at RG.
– On the first play, his center was driven back and surrendered a sack. Schlauderaff tried to help him at the last minute, but didn’t get there in time. Later plays would show that Schlauderaff’s assignment required him to pick up a blitzing linebacker and then help out his center if the linebacker did not blitz, so maybe he was a beat slow to react to the non-blitz, but he didn’t really miss an assignment and the center was beaten badly.
– On a 25 yard screen play, he didn’t find anyone to block in space, but did look athletic getting downfield.
– Had a key block on a two-yard TD run, driving his man back and to the inside to create a huge hole. He peeled off and hit a linebacker in the endzone to stop him filling that hole for good measure.
– Sealed his block well, forcing his man to the outside. The play failed because the LT was beaten badly inside and his man stuffed the play at the line.
– Picked up a blitzing LB well on a quick pass.
This performance was only a quarter and a half (if that) so it was half as long as the first game. For that long, he was able to remain practically mistake free in pass protection and added some good run blocks. Unlike with Ducasse, this is all against backups, but he did grade out well.
Game Three: Indianapolis
This is apparently the game where he played so badly that he got bumped off the second unit. Schlauderaff entered at the start of the second half at his more familiar position of left guard. Let’s see where he went wrong:
– His man shed his block to stuff a run.
– Was beaten inside and his man made a hit in the backfield for no gain.
– Beaten inside again and this time his man assisted on a tackle for a short gain.
– Beaten inside for a pressure in pass protection as his man flushed the QB out of the pocket.
– Drove his guy off the line on a run that went for three.
– Knocked a guy on his back in pass protection.
– His man showed good lateral pursuit and fought him off to stuff a run for a short gain over the right side.
Yes, this was a poor performance. He started to get better towards the end, but that was perhaps more a product of the Colts playing more second and third stringers. Schlauderaff was poor against the run and got beaten for another pressure. He really struggled in his matchup with Fili Moala, but again this is a guy who is an NFL regular. In 2010, Moala saw action on 534 snaps and had one sack, three hits and seven pressures according to PFF.
Game Four: Kansas City
This is apparenly where he looked “okay”. He entered at LG with eight minutes left in the third at left guard and played until there was five minutes to go. Let’s see how he performed:
– No issues on his first series, but the Packers went three and out and then didn’t get back on offense until there were 11 minutes left in the game, due to a pick-six and a muffed punt.
– Made a surging block to drive the NT way out of the play and the run went for 11 up the middle.
– The center got beaten, but he picked him up and prevented a pressure.
– Sealed on the edge and then made a second level block.
– Turned his guy to the outside and out of the play on a run.
There wasn’t really much to go on here, but Schlauderaff had no issues in pass protection and once again graded out positively as a run blocker. It’s worth noting that some Chiefs starters including Tamba Hali played into the fourth quarter.
I’ll confess that when I read the media comments before watching footage from the games, I was slightly concerned that the Jets were making a big mistake. It also concerned me when I heard that Rex Ryan was suggesting he could back up at the center position. Schlauderaff has never played center at the NFL or NCAA level, so if that’s what Rex said, I think he was misinformed, especially since Schlauderaff admitted he struggled with the switch from left to right guard. It’s times like these that you wonder if they know what they’re doing.
However, the Jets apparently hoped to be able to draft Schlauderaff and obviously kept tabs on him during preseason. Assuming they saw what I saw, they’ll have reached the conclusion that he appears to much more of a sure thing than Robbie Felix or Matt Kroul and also looks to be more reliable than Ducasse at this stage.
I only had Schlauderaff down for two pressures surrendered, even though the Packers gave up a ton of pressure as a team. Perhaps more importantly, he had ZERO penalties. Both tackles really struggled on the second unit for the Packers, but the interior linemen did much better. Even so, other than Dietrich-Smith, I felt he outperformed all of the backups, even when accounting for his poor performance against the Colts.
I’d agree with the assessment that he sometimes loses leverage and his own feelings that he needs to anchor himself better in pass protection. However, he sustains blocks well, seems to be strong and reasonably athletic and has a bit of a nasty streak in him.
Let’s hope the improvements he showed in the last preseason game are a sign that he’ll pick up the Jets system quickly. A lot of the assignments he was given appeared to be the same as in the Jets blocking schemes, so that should ease his transition. He could be a player that has the potential to develop into more than an emergency backup, but right now, the best outcome this season might be if he never sees the field – not because he’s not good enough, but because that will have meant the first unit stayed healthy.