Christian Darrisaw breakdown

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Christian Darrisaw's Missing Ingredient

BY CIAN FAHEY

@QBDataMine

Stereotyping and holding prejudice for a group of people is never a fair or right thing to do.

With that said, all offensive linemen are meatheads.

If you've ever talked to one, even the smart ones get hung up on mindset and want. They want to see the dog inside of you when you approach a block. They want you to keep playing past the whistle because intimidation and aggressiveness is half of the battle on every single play.

To be fair to them, it's a requisite for success in the NFL. You can be respectful, you can play completely clean and you can be one of the most well-spoken, considerate players in the league outside of the stadium. But on the field, you've gotta have a very specific kind of crazy to be great.

And unlike at the quarterback spot where the shape of a prospect's jaw line and the way in which he stands on the sideline are examined for some hidden meaning regarding his leadership qualities, you can actually evaluate an offensive lineman's mindset by watching what he does on the field.



This is Christian Darrisaw of Virginia Tech. He's got an exceptional skill set and an impressive resume coming out of college. He's the kind of talent that typically goes in the top five or the top 10 of the draft. He might do that this year but the intensity required for greatness doesn't appear to be there just yet.

He's not really blocking on this play against Miami. He's the left tackle and the left guard has pulled across the formation. Technically, this play is designed to go away from him so he's not executing a key block. That likely plays into the complete lack of effort he puts into his assignment.

Since his left guard pulls to the other side, it's Darrisaw's responsibility to turn perpendicular to the line of scrimmage, sit into his stance and establish a wall that seals off that side of the offensive line. He does the first part well.

Despite being in a position to stop the defensive end, the left tackle keeps his hands down and just leans forward onto the defender.

You can even see as soon as he's beaten his reaction isn't to try and get back into the play. He looks back for the ball and runs forward to space, completely abandoning the defender he was supposed to be blocking. Darrisaw's defender wasn't the only one in the backfield, but he had no way of knowing that when he was in his stance originally.

Not having the right mindset on the field is a problem. It's fixable, players can develop and change as they grow. But it's about more than just his immediate on-field performance.

If you're not really in love with football or what you're doing on the field, you're not likely to fully commit to your development off of it. There's nothing wrong with understanding that sports are not actually that important but those aren't typically the guys you build great teams on.

Should Darrisaw follow in a long line of athletic linemen who didn't really care to get better, he'll be a quick bust. Probably not as quick as Isaiah Wilson of the Tennessee Titans last year.

Wilson is obviously an extreme case but he is an example of the overall concern with this type of prospect.

The appeal of this type of prospect is the upside. Darrisaw has every trait you need from a left tackle. He could be a hall of famer who plays 20 years and becomes a staple of every offensive line that you build. That promise will likely keep him high in the first round regardless of how he interviews before the draft.



To get an idea of how athletic Darrisaw is, let's look at a Tyron Smith-like play he made against Boston College. If you can't find him from the start of the play, work backwards from the end. He's #77 and he's the closest player to the ball carrier as the runner crosses into the endzone.

Darrisaw got out in front, blocked his linebacker once, blocked him a second time then finished him off in the opposite direction a third time. He was 30 yards downfield as a lead blocker by the end of the play and he never slowed down the ball carrier at any point.

Without Darrisaw's quality here, this ball never reaches the endzone. He opened the running lane outside the numbers.

That's the kind of play he makes constantly.



In the same game, we can see him spring his running back for a huge gain by being the lead blocker on the edge. He helps seal the edge defender initially before smoothly transitioning outside where he picks up the linebacker coming forward. After blocking down, he's immediately kicking the next defender out.

Although he makes this transition between two very different blocks look easy, it's far from it at his size. And even though he finishes the play on the floor, it's irrelevant because he understood the leverage of the block.

He had already won the play by the time the defender threw him down.



Against Miami, we saw him advance forward to make a key block on a linebacker for a touchdown run.



He also executed this perfect reach block to cut off the right-side defensive tackle on this run. His athleticism here is startling.



Against North Carolina, we saw him pull across the formation and crush the arriving defender to clear the running lane.



We also saw him sift through traffic to pick up and then pancake a linebacker as the lead blocker on a long touchdown run in that game.



For this long run against NC State, he steps forward and then cuts off the linebacker at a perfect angle. He ultimately slows down more than just the man he's blocking, creating even more space outside.

He has an innate understanding of angles and leverage. He knew exactly how to set himself up on that last block to force the linebacker into the worst possible position.

There's no block that Darrisaw can't make. To stress him in the running game, you'd have to give him an unreasonable assignment in a running play that wasn't designed by a rational mind. Whether it's reach blocking, pulling, advancing to the second level or sweeping outside, Darrisaw can do it without breaking a sweat.

His controlled athleticism is rare. And it means he's rarely in a position to feel desperate. While his tendency to be passive can cost him on occasion, he's largely very comfortable in pass protection. Nobody at the college level offered a level of speed or power that could intimidate him.



This gif moves at half speed. We can see how many steps Darrisaw takes in such a short space. He's not straining to get back against the athletic Miami edge rusher. Despite the defender's length and speed that was showcased on other plays in this game, Darrisaw is always in a position to stop him from getting to the quarterback.

He wins off the line of scrimmage by gaining depth quickly. His body is square to the defender so when the defender tries to set him up inside and go outside, he simply pushes him away. There's a level of power in Darrisaw's hands here that is impressive but it all comes back to his base.

With that established foundation in the perfect position, he's in control. He's proactive rather than reactive, making it so much tougher for the defender to get past him.



And even when that same defender successfully forces him to react after his initial step,

Darrisaw does it comfortably. The defender threatens outside this time before planting his foot to try to cross the left tackle's face. He's trying to set up a swim move that will allow him to get into the face of the quarterback.
Darrisaw's feet are too quick and his extended inside arm is too strong. He perfectly times his reaction to get his hand to the defender's chest. That stops the defender's momentum, which buys him enough time to slide his feet across.

Once again, Darrisaw is directly between the defender and his quarterback.

These are Tyron Smith plays. These are the plays that make NFL people drool. You don't get this type of talent in later rounds. High-end left tackles come at such a high standard that they very rarely fall through the cracks of draft evaluation. You're not going to mistake the litany of average prospects with Darrisaw the way you might at running back or even quarterback.

Of course, he's not perfect in pass protection. He's very good and largely consistent. His losses appeared to be mostly self-inflicted, which is a positive because if he takes to coaching, he can quickly become dominant against NFL players.



More often than not when speed rushes work against offensive tackles it's because the offensive lineman is overmatched on the first step. They're turning early, chasing the defensive end rather than kicking back to get into their blocking set. Darrisaw gives up pressure against this speed rush but he didn't lose the initial stages of the play.

He gets off the line and moves his feet very well once more. He's actually in the perfect position to establish his technique, square to the defender and stop him in his tracks.

But he never squares to the defender. He keeps turning with the speed rush, opening the gate to the quarterback. Instead of showing the defender his face and his chest, his hips are facing the sideline. He's relying on his arms to block the defender rather than his body from that point.

The negative plays for Darrisaw and the question marks about his mindset are far outweighed by the positives.

You just don't get many opportunities to add a player who can do all the things he can do at such a difficult position to fill. Most teams are desperate for average starting linemen so taking a punt on a potentially elite one shouldn't be dismissed too easily.

Even if Darrisaw doesn't develop a different mindset or show more effort when he's not the focal point of the play, he'll probably still have a long career as a starter in the league.

The quality of prospects in this draft continues to be impressive.
 
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KingInTheNorth

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That is my guy! If the Bears somehow get him they will have one young piece to shore up their offensive line for a long time.
 

jtreal3

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Im down with going O-Line

We don't have a high enough pick to get one of those QBs, so I hope Pace goes hard on o-line
 

KingInTheNorth

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In a draft simulator I had the chance to take Darrisaw and Radunz. That would take care of our tackles for the next decade.
 

SugabearMVP

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Two years ago when the obvious hole was our o-line, Pace waited to get two guys in rounds 5-6 that’s don’t even play. Now that our line looks to be improved a bit I don’t think he touches it again until the very late rounds.
 

rawdawg

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Two years ago when the obvious hole was our o-line, Pace waited to get two guys in rounds 5-6 that’s don’t even play. Now that our line looks to be improved a bit I don’t think he touches it again until the very late rounds.
That was last year. And the line isn't really improved. It's the same personnel as last year. Leno is still the LT. Whitehair was C and now will be at guard. Daniels was there last year. Ifedi was RG/RT and now is probably starting RT. Mustipher from bench to starting C.

So, I don't think the line is very "improved" at least not personnel wise. Maybe they get some guys in better positions, but they are still a group of various levels of mediocrity.

That being said, I agree I don't see them touching OL until middle rounds at best. Those 5 I named are likely starters. Bars and Wilkinson are the primary backups. Then there's the 2 they drafted. If they draft a guy in the 1st 2 rounds, he's going to start. And who do they bench? Whitehair is the best OL, he's starting. Daniels is the highest draft pick and upside guy, he's starting. They aren't benching Leno's contract. Best case would be they cut him and clear up some cap space and throw an inexperienced rookie at LT. 4.5Mil dollars says they aren't benching Ifedi. They could maybe move him back to RG if they get a tackle, but then that puts Whitehair or Daniels back at C where both were below average their most recent times playing there. Ifedi cant play LT. Plus, Biggs saying they are looking CB and WR early says a lot. They don't really have an adequate starter at CB. Then there's the possibility they trade up for a QB and don't have a 2nd early pick for OL anyway.

Darrisaw is one of my favorite players in this draft class. Top 10 player in this class, IMO. I'd LOVE to have him at 20, but I just don't see it happening as Pace has only drafted 2 tackles in 6 years, neither before the 5th round and neither ever played a snap for the Bears. He simply doesn't value OL.
 

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That was last year. And the line isn't really improved. It's the same personnel as last year. Leno is still the LT. Whitehair was C and now will be at guard. Daniels was there last year. Ifedi was RG/RT and now is probably starting RT. Mustipher from bench to starting C.

So, I don't think the line is very "improved" at least not personnel wise. Maybe they get some guys in better positions, but they are still a group of various levels of mediocrity.

That being said, I agree I don't see them touching OL until middle rounds at best. Those 5 I named are likely starters. Bars and Wilkinson are the primary backups. Then there's the 2 they drafted. If they draft a guy in the 1st 2 rounds, he's going to start. And who do they bench? Whitehair is the best OL, he's starting. Daniels is the highest draft pick and upside guy, he's starting. They aren't benching Leno's contract. Best case would be they cut him and clear up some cap space and throw an inexperienced rookie at LT. 4.5Mil dollars says they aren't benching Ifedi. They could maybe move him back to RG if they get a tackle, but then that puts Whitehair or Daniels back at C where both were below average their most recent times playing there. Ifedi cant play LT. Plus, Biggs saying they are looking CB and WR early says a lot. They don't really have an adequate starter at CB. Then there's the possibility they trade up for a QB and don't have a 2nd early pick for OL anyway.

Darrisaw is one of my favorite players in this draft class. Top 10 player in this class, IMO. I'd LOVE to have him at 20, but I just don't see it happening as Pace has only drafted 2 tackles in 6 years, neither before the 5th round and neither ever played a snap for the Bears. He simply doesn't value OL.
What position do you think Pace drafts in the 1st round?
 

greg23

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Wr or pass rusher
Don't like wr in round 1....after chase and the two bama we the difference from #4 wr to maybe the 5th round type wr is pretty slim.....get one later on not at 20.

Pass rushers are pretty weak in this draft.

If darrisaw, slater or Farley are there at 20 those are elite guys with special traits that would be hard to pass up.....could see pace falling in love with Newsome as well or taking one of the top 5 qb if someone slid (doubtful)
 

Luke

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If he trades up, QB. If he stays at 20, CB. I don't think trading back will happen. Hasn't done it yet in the 1st round.
as you know, I've been on the Newsome bandwagon for some time.
They simply don't have anything near a starting caliber CB opposite of JJ.
Imagine if JJ goes down again and they have something like Trufant, Vildor and Burns out there - yikes.
Anything short of Bears 1984 pressure and that D is doomed and so is Pace/Nagy - so I guess I hope they go OT.
 

rawdawg

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as you know, I've been on the Newsome bandwagon for some time.
They simply don't have anything near a starting caliber CB opposite of JJ.
Imagine if JJ goes down again and they have something like Trufant, Vildor and Burns out there - yikes.
Anything short of Bears 1984 pressure and that D is doomed and so is Pace/Nagy - so I guess I hope they go OT.
I'm with you on Newsome for various reasons.
 

mattb78

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I really question draft selections who don't have a good work ethic. Talent only gets you so far in this league.

He would be a difficult prospect to pass on, but I don't know if I could take a first round selection on a player known to take plays off and not work hard. Especially at the tackle position where technique is going to be so important for him down the road.

Probably doesn't make it to 20 anyway.
 

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