Not many fans of the NFL have a great understanding of offensive line play. Many casual viewers would probably be hard-pressed to even name the guys that make up their team’s offensive line. It’s an unglamorous job that only really draws attention a player when he’s making a mistake, or plays at a high level for a big brand like the Dallas Cowboys.
Thankfully, there are writers out there who know their way around an offensive line. Brandon Thorn and Duke Manyweather of Inside The Pylon recently released their All-Underrated Offensive Line for the 2016 season, and behold: New Orleans Saints lineman Zach Strief earned the nod over every other right tackle in the game today.
Other members of the All-Underrated team include:
- Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva
- Tennessee Titans left guard Quinton Spain
- New England Patriots center David Andrews
- Kansas City Chiefs right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
Thorn and Manyweather are experienced evaluators and are my go-to sources for finding out what’s the word on offensive line prospects in the draft and around the NFL. This list of underrated offensive linemen (plus a series of clips on the best blocks of the 2016 season) is well worth your time.
Here’s some of what Thorn and Manyweather had to say about Strief, who allowed just two sacks in 2016 per Pro Football Focus’ charting:
Pass Protection. At this point in Zach Strief’s career, pass protection doesn’t come easy. Strief has to be very efficient with his pass pro technique in order to consistently have success versus the NFL’s dynamic pass rushers, and for the most part, 2016 saw just that from Strief. Strief is at his best when he can set firm and get his hands on defenders to end the fight early, but Strief does show he can expand his set points, get to his landmark to punch and anchor rushers attempting to get upfield.
They were equally effusive of Strief’s strength in paving the way for the Saints’ tailbacks like Mark Ingram, who got his first 1,000-yard season running behind Strief:
Run Blocking. Zach Strief has always been and is still a mauler in the run game and plays with very good physicality and an edge. Strief plays with good square power and is able to explode out of his stance, quickly engaging to hit, lift and drive defenders off the point of attack on base blocks or angled drive blocks. Strief maintains an outstanding base and generates very good power through his in-steps that allow him to sustain and drive or re-leverage to break stalemates.
There’s much more in their scouting report on Strief and the other members of the All-Underrated Offensive Line, which you can find here if you missed the first link earlier. I recommend checking out ITP and subscribing to its newsletter if you’re a fan of intelligent football analysis.