I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can. Find all the profiles here.
Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State - 6'5, 313 - RS Senior - 5.15 40
We may all know, deep down inside, that certain football players are dependent on their coaches to find their proper home. There is a popular thought that a guy is a "football player" and you can just plug him in anywhere and he will be fine. Well, 90% of the time, that is absurd. You can't just put a guy anywhere and he will excel. The sport is too competitive where his ability and your use of his ability are equally responsible for reaching his potential. I think that is pretty well demonstrated here with Cam Erving, a player who was a Defensive tackle, then a left tackle, and now the top center prospect in the entire draft. To watch Erving, we viewed Clemson, Miami, and Georgia Tech.
What I liked: He is a bit of a complex study, because he was only moved to center at about the first week in November. So, we have a rather small body of work for him at center, but it is very impressive. He is a strong, smart competitor who was being exposed in space, but in the phone booth of the interior line, he is really very good. He tested well at every single combine event, showing as one of the very top athletes in the offensive line division. But, he had to find that home inside where he can use what he does well and avoid what he doesn't. He run blocks with a mauling ability and doesn't lose. He gets out in space and runs very well. Above, notice how he gets pieces of 3 different rushers as Miami is trying to blitz inside. He gets all 3 of them. That clip shows how quick he is and how he gets squared up against them and is able to avoid being off-center where holding happens. He seldom gets pushed back and is able to keep that pocket from ever collapsing from the middle. I really think this is his proper home and one where he can get into that 1st round even if someone wants to invest that highly.
What I did not like: He was just out of place at left tackle - despite being an All-American and All conference at that position. He had no chance against Vic Beasley in his meeting against Clemson (see below) and was just obliterated in space. He can't get to the edge in time to cut off the speed rushers. Could he do it most of the time? Yes. But, in the NFL, one failure a game is often too much, so let's move him inside where he won't be attacked and exposed in space anymore. I think this was a great idea from Florida State - even though the narrative was that they had to do it due to injury - to get Erving inside where he was going to be matched up against giant DT-types, not the quick edge rushers like Beasley. Perfect fit. He also needs to get squared on his pulling opportunities, because Miami's Denzel Perryman knocked him silly from the side in the Miami game.
Summary: Overall, in Erving, you have a versatile player who might be able to play anywhere on your offensive line in spurts, but I highly recommend you keep him at center because that one move turned his situation into a near lost cause into one of the more interesting and desirable OL prospects in this draft. He just needed to find a spot where he is exceptional, and on the inside - center or either guard - he can dominate and really turn into an anchor that you set your line around. I am not suggesting there are no rough edges at all anymore, but he sure looked the part once they moved him in those final 6 games or so on the inside protecting that pocket from the front. Teams started to avoid the middle blitzes, and Dallas fans will tell you that everything on the offense started turning around when they got a top-class center in the middle to patrol any sort of challenges opponents would want to present. Erving can be that guy for someone.
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