In the scope of needs for the Arizona Cardinals, fans and analysts alike agree that the team needs help on the offensive line.
Whether it’s within the interior (where I see the problem) or on the edges (where most of the pundits see a need) the consensus is there…GET SOME HELP ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE!
Unfortunately Bruce Arians and company don’t seem to feel that way, or at least that is how they are talking, but at this time of year you never know if that’s the truth or just smoke so no one is aware of the Cardinals plans.
If you asked 100 fans last year, all 100 would have said the Cardinals needed to draft an offensive linemen early last season, and they waited until the beginning of day three to actually pick one, so who’s to say it won’t happen again that way?
That means we need to know who the day three offensive line prospects the Cardinals could be interested in come draft day, and these are the three guys I’m looking at.
Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio State – 6-8, 308 lbs
The former tight end isn’t the athlete that Lane Johnson is after moving to tackle, but he makes up for it with a tenacity and understanding of run game blocking.
Fragel attacks defensive tackles and gets an immediate push despite his lack of weight. He is quick enough to control defensive ends and then overpower them.
Fragel does a good job in his footwork in both run and pass blocking and shows good lateral quickness and the ability to mirror a pass rusher in their movements.
It is obvious at times that Fragel is new to the position. He can get over-aggressive in both the run and pass game and will get beat because of that.
He also needs to learn to use his hands to control defenders instead of trying to out-muscle them, which is where the problem above comes in.
Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas – 6-3, 312 lbs
Bailey shocked many by declaring for the draft despite having a year of eligibility left at Arkansas.
Bailey is rare in that he would play both guard spots during games, depending on the formation and play call.
This shows Bailey’s flexibility and he looked comfortable at both positions, which should be an upside come draft day.
He’s a power run blocker, but he has an excellent first step that allows him to get out in front on pulling plays or when asked to get to the second level.
Despite the good movement and strong upper and lower body, Bailey plays small at times.
If he can jolt a defender on first contact he wins, but when met with similar strength, he will not use his hands and instead try to overpower, using his shoulder and getting out of a good base allowing defenders to move him.
His pass protection is not the greatest. Bailey doesn’t move laterally as well as he should, but his athleticism should help him get over that.
P.J. Lonergan, C, LSU – 6-3, 304 lbs
While Lonergan isn’t as athletic as some centers coming out this year, he is a guy that you can plug in and expect to win with consistently.
Despite his odd build (he carries his weight like a patron at the local bar more than an NFL offensive line) he moves well when asked to pull, getting to the second level on combo blocks and is a very intelligent offensive lineman when it comes to setting protections.
Where Lonergan will struggle is that he gets too high at times when he comes out of his stance and can get beat by speed because he can pop up instead of exploding out into the defender when it comes to pass pro.
He isn’t great in space, as he can spend too much time diving at ankles, instead of attacking his man.
Lonergan is a nice center prospect that could come in and back up in the middle before pushing for playing time in a couple of years.
While the Cardinals fans may feel that they need to add an offensive lineman early — and I would agree — that doesn’t mean it is going to happen, and there is some intriguing depth throughout the draft. There will be viable late-round offensive line options for the Cardinals and other teams on April 27.