While Zoltan looked into the defensive line and college draft prospects, I have been looking into the offensive line.
I know a lot of Jaguar fans don’t believe this, but the improvement of Eugene Monroe was very impressive. I believe him to be close to Pro Bowl caliber play and have documented it. No matter, I think we are fine at left tackle and Monroe will provide both good pass protection and surprisingly good run blocking.
The other line player that is beginning to impress is Uche Nwaneri. Uche played left guard in 2008 and right guard in 2009. The improvement he showed year over year is impressive. Now before I go on, let me say all of my information comes from ProFootballFocus.com. They look at every play and every player and provide game by game grades on the player. I don’t know how accurate, but they seem to tie out to what I see, so let’s go with it for now.
In 2008, Uche Nwaneri started all but one game and was on the field for over 1000 snaps. ProFootballFocus grades each play and assignes a value of +2 to -2 with zero as an average play. You have to do something really good to earn +2 and really bad to earn -2. Scores are done in .5 increments. The total of all plays is the game score and the total of the games is the season score. For the season, Uche Nwaneri, in 2008, was considered the 69th best guard out of 74. In short, it was hard to find a worst player at guard. His weakness was pass blocking where he was 69 out of 74. Any idea why David was hit so much? In run blocking, he improved to 65th out of 74 guards. To be blunt, Uche Nwaneri stunk up the place in 2008.
But let’s look at 2009. For the season, Uche improved to 37th out of 84 guards overall. That is an impressive move up the standings. He was 56 out of 84 for run blocking. Not a lot of improvement in run blocking, but some. For pass blocking, he improved to 30th out of 84. Now even if the scoring is slightly flawed, that is tremendous improvement. The fact is Uche is not a run blocking guy, but he has become a very good pass blocking guard in the last season. He is clearly working at his craft.
When you look at his 2009 season by games, he had 5 standout pass blocking games, 8 average games, and 2 bad games. Compare that to the best pass blocking guard Josh Sitton from Green Bay. He had 5 standout pass blocking games, 11 average games and one slightly bad game. The difference is Josh was more consistent. What I am saying is if Uche improves a little bit more, he will develop into a top pass blocking guard.
Uche Nwaneri is a keeper as a Jaguar. He was tried out at center for few plays. Don’t be surprised if he becomes the top candidate to replace Brad Meester.
Later I will look at Vince Manuwai and report on his progress. If you can’t wait, go visit ProFootballFocus.com. Those guys do a great job.
– Terry O’Brien