To a casual football fan, the entire offensive line as a unit may not come off as important. For those who actually understand the game of football, however, a strong offensive line may actually be the most important unit on a roster.
Some may argue that an offensive lineman has the most impact on a game. They create running lanes for teams to have success in the running game. They also protect the quarterback from opposing teams, giving him time to read the defense and make the right move. Without a strong offensive line, it is very difficult to have consistent success on the offensive side of the ball.
Our roster breakdown for the San Diego Fleet’s offensive linemen will come in two different groups. This piece will highlight the team’s center and guard positions, while another piece will take a look at the tackle position.
The Fleet currently has a combined eight players that are listed as either a center or a guard on their roster. Before diving into this breakdown, I want to preface that this was easily the hardest positional breakdown I have done. Without any stats to go off with offensive lineman, my observations and comments are based on film and scouting reports.
Starting off this roster breakdown is none other than Damien Mama out of USC. The St. John Bosco product was the most highly-recruited offensive guard coming out of high school and would end up making 17 starts with the Trojans over a three-year span. Standing at 6’3″ and 334 pounds, Mama is too small to play tackle and has great size for a guard. For almost all of his time at USC, Mama primarily operated as a left guard and it should be expected for him to play on the left side of the line for the Fleet as well.
The first thing that stood out to me with Mama was how ferocious he was as a blocker. His size alone gives him an advantage over others, but how physical and aggressive he is when initiating a block is what makes him a special player. He has absolutely no problem running people over and creating running lanes for whoever is running behind him. Playing on the left side of the football, Mama’s pass protection skills do not concern me. While he projects better long-term as a primary run blocker, he is more than capable of protecting his quarterback and is not a liability from that perspective.
Despite his size, Mama struggles with technique and does not hold blocks well. This causes him to struggle against quicker and more agile defenders because they are able to free themselves from his grasp. From an athletic standpoint, Mama does not move laterally well and needs to improve his footwork to improve his overall game. Consistency has also proven to be an issue for Mama during his time in college. In 2015, he was regarded as an excellent run blocker that lacked abilities to protect in the passing game. In 2016, however, scouts spoke out about how he improved tremendously in pass protection but began to struggle as a run blocker.
Mama has the intangibles to be a starter on this Fleet offensive line and be an impact player for them. If he can make small adjustments to his technique and footwork, prepare yourselves to watch him run people over all season.
Beau Nunn, despite the fact that he never played a snap as a center or guard in college, is the most polished offensive lineman on this entire roster. Nunn started 41 of the 43 games he appeared in at Appalachian State and was one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the entire country during his senior season. As a senior, Nunn only allowed four quarterback pressures all season and earned an 86.6 Pro Football Focus grade which ranked 19th out of 260+ tackles in the entire country.
His technique and blocking abilities are absolutely impeccable. Nunn rarely let defenders get past him and has outstanding footwork for a guy that is 6’4″ and 300 pounds. He is built like an Ox, as Nunn put up 38 reps on the bench press at his pro day.
The only concern that I have with Nunn is the fact that he only played tackle in college despite being listed as a guard on the Fleet roster. Transitioning from the edge to an interior role may be difficult for some people, but Nunn has such good technique that this transition for him should not be difficult. He should be a lock to make this roster and should have no problem being a mainstay in the offensive line, whether it be as a guard or a tackle.
Another San Diego State Aztec finds his way onto this roster, as Darrell Greene is an intriguing offensive line prospect for the Fleet. Greene started 33 games with the Aztecs and would have started more had he not been suspended for the final six games of his senior season because of a marijuana charge.
Greene is your prototypical big mauler, run blocking offensive guard. He stands at 6’4″ and weighs in around 325 pounds, but absolutely dominates anything that gets into his way. He is easily the most aggressive offensive lineman on this roster and just throws people to the ground when they get in his way. Greene was one of the primary run blockers for Donnel Pumphrey Jr. while he was an Aztec and paved the way for two of Pumphrey’s historic rushing seasons.
Like most big-time run-blocking guards, Greene is not the best in pass protection. He struggles against pass rushers when they run right at him, rather than when he is leading the charge in the run game. His physicality masks the fact that Greene is not very strong and he will need to get stronger if he wants to play in the NFL someday. The positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to Greene and he will seriously compete for a starting job come opening day.
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