ESPN writer Vincent Verhei broke down the most “underrated player” on each NFL team, and he selected left tackle Jared Veldheer for the Arizona Cardinals.
Veldheer has never made a Pro Bowl, but the massive left tackle had his best season in 2015. He ranked third at his position in snaps per blown block, and the Cardinals improved from 32nd to ninth in adjusted line yards for runs off left tackle.
Veldheer made 48 starts and played in 53 games for the Oakland Raiders to begin his career. He was a serviceable lineman in his time with Oakland, however a torn tricep limited him to just five games in his final season with the Raiders.
Arizona was looking to bolster their offensive line at the time and they were surprised to be able to land the young tackle in free agency. The signing has more than paid dividends.
Veldheer has started all 32 possible games since joining the Cardinals. He has only committed 11 penalties — two holding penalties — and allowed just 6.5 sacks, according to the Washington Post.
In fact, following the 2015 season, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller named Veldheer the No. 10 left tackle in the NFL.
Veldheer is aggressive in terms of the way he approaches pass protection. The majority of times, he is at his best when he uses his short set to get his hands on guys right away. Veldheer does possess the range and athleticism needed to set to a landmark if needed but would rather immediately use his length, anchor and ability to react and recover to end the fight early.
Veldheer is a capable in-line blocker, excelling in gap scheme-type blocks, where he is able to take advantage of square power to consistently push the point of attack.
The behemoth left tackle generates outstanding force out of his stance when asked to double-team and combo block and shows the body control and awareness to keep shoulders square and come off on second-level defenders.
Veldheer signed a five-year, $35 million contract in 2014 that will keep him in Arizona through the 2018 season.