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Kaleb Mcgary: Why understanding scheme and technique is important in player evaluation

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Don't know if this was posted yet or not, but I didn't see it's own thread. I know some people are grappling with the Mcgary trade up. With guys like Taylor and Ford on the board, we took a guy many think/thought we could have waited until #45 to take instead of a consensus first round talent in those other two guys. I didn't really care about that, my concern was his lack of foot speed when I watched his film and him getting beat on the edge similar to Ryan Schraeder, who I thought was his most in line comp during the process. Well, the guys are Cover 1 wrote a very detailed article about Kaleb Mcgary that both initially had the same assessment of Mcgary as I did, but then came to a realization of what Mcgary was taught and how he, and the Washington OL, were executing their blocks in establishing a pocket. (The article has a ton of videos, which are very useful, but I can't post them all so the link is posted first to paint the whole picture.)

Quote

https://www.cover1.net/nfl-draft-player-evaluation-scheme-technique/

Player evaluation can sometimes be dull. As much as I love breaking down film, some prospects’ film just isn’t gripping, and sometimes it can be downright boring, especially this late in the draft cycle. Typically, in the weeks leading up to the draft, I am trying to tie up loose ends by peeking at a few games of a prospect. Rather than watching his entire season, I will scout 4-6 games versus the best competition. Well, I tried that with Washington Huskies right tackle Kaleb McGary, and it didn’t work. His film left me wanting more . . .

McGary’s technique is so nuanced that if you don’t understand what he is being taught or you’re asleep at the wheel like I was, you may incorrectly identify strengths or weaknesses.

For example, as I was trying to speed through his film, I noticed McGary had a tendency of turning his shoulders in his pass sets. You will see him aggressively set to meet the edge rusher with his shoulders turned.

While the main issue with the prior clip is that he over-sets, throwing off the half-man relationship, universally, turning the shoulders is a big no-no. Offensive line coaches preach to players to keep their shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage and to stay square.

So as I continually saw McGary turn his shoulders perpendicular to the line of scrimmage, I ignorantly dinged him for it on his grade sheet. But as I watched more tape, rather than focus on his play, I backed away from my focus on McGary and watched some of his teammates. I noticed they also suffered from the same ‘affliction,’ and that’s when it hit me; it was actually something that McGary was being taught. This discovery took my evaluation from a cram session to more of a refresher on the teachings of Howard Mudd that he shared at the 2017 COOL clinic.

But then it dawned on me, what about those evaluators who may not be familiar with common scheme, techniques or assignments (STA) — how does it affect their grade on McGary?

McGary was coached early on in his career by Mudd, known as one of the Godfathers of offensive line play. You may remember Mudd as the offensive line coach for the Colts during the Peyton Manning years. Mudd lives in Seattle and was a consultant at the University of Washington spending time with former offensive line coach Chris Strausser (2014-16), therefore, working closely with McGary.

Mudd’s philosophies are some of the best in the game. His core tenet is aggressiveness. He loves aggressive pass sets, and every time I saw an aggressive set from McGary on film, Mudd’s famous line of “go jump the SOB and distort his line” echoed in my brain. Notice the shoulders of the tackle?

He wants his linemen to meet the pass rusher as close to the line of scrimmage as possible and to close the space between them and the rusher. Rather than vertical-setting, gaining depth and meeting them at a point, he wants linemen to “start at the end point”, then do their work.

He explains that here. Pay attention to what he says about the right tackle, #58 — yep, that’s McGary.

While Mudd is one of the premier offensive line gurus, some of his methods are unconventional, so it can fool some evaluators when watching prospects who are taught similar principles. Mudd challenges offensive line coaches to be different; he wants his players to think outside of the box and to be problem solvers. Offensive line play is technique-driven, and the good players have long careers because of their technical savvy, but there is also an element of just getting the job done. The process of securing the block may not always be pretty, but the most important thing is to use the entire toolbox to get the defender blocked.

So when I returned to several of my notes on McGary turning his shoulders, or the depth of his kick slide, it all made sense. They weren’t flaws; it actually was technique driven, just not conventional technique. McGary was consistently meeting wide rushers with his shoulders to the sideline because of the aggressive techniques being asked of him. In the next clip, you will hear Mudd talk about his linemen “working the line” — aggressively setting, turning their shoulders, then blocking down the imaginary line and ultimately helping maintain what Mudd refers to as the “contour of the pocket.” Then you will see a few clips of McGary executing the drills in practice and in the game.

A lot of analysts will say that McGary lacks the athleticism to hang with speed rushers in the NFL. To some degree, they may be correct, but it isn’t because he isn’t athletic. He posted an elite 9.83 Relative Athletic Score, so he definitely has an athletic profile. His “questionable range” in his kick slide conclusions were drawn from watching his footwork and foot speed. At times it looks like he struggles to cover a lot of ground because when he kick slides wide, he executes what Mudd refers to as “stepping over the pencil.” They are short steps taken by the pass protector to maintain balance and their center of gravity. Listen to Mudd explain it, followed by some film of McGary executing it.

I think when people watch his film they equate these aggressive sets to the lack of athletic ability, which I believe is not true. Look at the “fast, slow, fast” tempo, the angle, and ground he has to cover. To me, that takes a certain level of athleticism.

 

One of my biggest worries with McGary was his arm length. The 6-foot-7 plus, 324-pound tackle possesses 32 7/8-inch arms, which is well below the average tackle, so having a plan or the ability to process on the fly will be important.

 

Aggressive sets often force pass rushers to make their moves sooner than they want, or it can force them to go to their counter even when it’s not needed. Here, the rusher expects McGary to shoot his hands, so McGary makes them disappear by using a “circle punch”, making the pass rushers’ long arm counter ineffective; McGary wins the rep.

 

In my opinion, jump, angle and chase down sets minimize the below par arm length of McGary. By “jumping” defenders, he not only may catch them off guard, but in the event he does lose, it isn’t at the feet of the quarterback. Here his angle on the first couple of “chase down” steps are too shallow. So as he goes to “shake hands,” the rusher is able to dip below his hands.

2019-04-07_14-13-23.jpg?resize=800%2C316&ssl=1

He then has to make up for it as the rusher flattens to the QB, but the key to this rep, which he arguably lost, is how far from the QB that rusher still is. Although his set was bad, he “distorted the line” of the rusher and kept him far from the QB. He wasn’t beaten due to the lack of athleticism. (VIDEO IMPORTANT HERE!)

McGary possesses an enormous amount of competitiveness to go along with his technique. He is always looking to find work, and offense reaps the benefits.

 

He is a technician, but he also is a mean SOB whose strong grip and understanding of how to use rotational force make it easy to pry open holes for his running backs.

 

When the Huskies asked the Fife, Washington native to execute feed blocks to help his teammates gain leverage, he created massive holes.

 

His football IQ is through the roof. On this play, there is no way that McGary can reach block the edge defender, so he just has to “pry open” the hole, which means simply torquing the defender towards the sideline as much as he can. He does that, hands the defender off to his teammate, then replaces him to seal the entry point. This is the best blocking sequence I have seen this draft season.

 

The NFL probably likes McGary more than most online evaluators because they know Washington’s STA. But they also know that he has a large toolbox, a toolbox that contains a lot of Mudd’s unconventional and downright hilarious teachings. His belief in problem-solving has led him to tag some blocks as “*** blocks.”

 

Here McGary is blocking on the back side of an outside zone run, and on the snap, he hooks the defender and runs. The defender isn’t really in pursuit mode, so McGary is taught to fight resistance with resistance, and it ends up being an “*** block.”

 

McGary even made Mudd proud at the Senior Bowl.

Another Mudd belief is “blocking a defender on the angle you found him.” Rather than wasting time trying to get the proper angle and leverage to drive block a defender, block them on the angle that you found them. McGary possesses the athleticism and processing to fit up a defender on the angle he found them and move them.

 

Overall, I believe that McGary is one of the better technicians in this class and a late second-round pick. His best fit will be on a run-heavy team. He will quickly become the identity of the offensive line. When the offense needs a yard, they can run behind him. In the passing game, McGary’s skillset favors aggressive pass pro schemes, especially teams that use a lot of play-action to allow McGary to jump pass rushers and get in their faces early.  Over the course of his career, he has only surrendered six QB sacks and four QB hits, per Pro Football Focus, and it’s because of those kinds of sets. I believe he is a lot more athletic than many people realize, and the foundation that Mudd has instilled has shown me that his ceiling is also much higher than many people realize. McGary has a large toolbox thanks to some tremendous coaching from Howard Mudd and offensive line coach Scott Huff, and I think the NFL will covet that.

A toolbox that a lot of Draft Twitter may not be aware of because they don’t know common schemes, techniques or assignments. The understanding of STA is critical to evaluation. What you know and don’t know will be reflected in your evaluation, and I think McGary is a great test subject for this.

After this, plus the tweet thread that is referenced throughout this entire article, I've been sold on McGary. He's a f****** dancing bear on the edge that isn't looking to play any kind of passive blocking scheme. He's looking to fight for sixty minutes and dominate his opponent any way he can. It's not pretty and he can be beaten, but the thing is that the way he's looking to fight, he's in a favorable position that when he loses, the QB has plenty of time to navigate it or get the ball out because he's effective at distorting the line of a wide rusher, something I never even knew or thought about. His run game demeanor is downright nasty. He's looking to bring that 6'7 frame and lay it on you every chance he can get. If he gets his hands on you, it's most likely over and you're most likely getting landed on. He is always looking to make his opponent miserable. It's not just talk. You see it throughout his tape in the run game. My absolute favorite part about him and Lindstrom is they aren't grass blockers. They both are always looking for work and DL to knock out if their guy goes away. Here's an example:

He's got work to do, admittedly. He's not the cleanest on the edge or in space. But his athletic scoring and testing tells you he can handle playing in a zone scheme and on an island in space. We also are a heavy play action team, which should help him as well. I'm excited about McGary. I was iffy on the Lindstrom pick at #14, but once you take them together, you've literally added two guys who will bring pain in short yardage and a much cleaner pocket in the pass game, but will be bringing the muscle for 60 minutes. You can't see that as a negative, no way you slice it. Matt Ryan just got better and we didn't think that was possible. 

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Definitely believe he can be a factor in the run game, hope he can handle nfl pass rushers.. Hes got time to develop, will wait and see what he becomes but thanks for the article 

atlbaby likes this

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Being a heavy PA scheme, adding more Inside Zone, adding a big back in Ollison to pair with (healthy) Freeman, adding a like-kind in Lindsey...  all of these just serve to make McGary an excellent fit for Falcons.  I understand EXACTLY why we went up to secure him as a late 1st Rd pick to pair with Lindstrom!

capitan, No.11 and Drew4719 like this

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Pats would’ve taken him with the next pick if we didn’t trade up. I’m pretty sure we got the two offensive lineman that the patriots liked most in the entire draft, which should make those who want us to be more like them very happy.

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5 minutes ago, m2Falcons said:

Being a heavy PA scheme, adding more Inside Zone, adding a big back in Ollison to pair with (healthy) Freeman, adding a like-kind in Lindsey...  all of these just serve to make McGary an excellent fit for Falcons.  I understand EXACTLY why we went up to secure him as a late 1st Rd pick to pair with Lindstrom!

Yeah. McGary will probably start right away. FO and scouting department must have done their homework with him to know that his technique will immediately translate to what we like to do on offense.

ya_boi_j, atlbaby and capitan like this

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I’ll admit my concerns regarding McGary are still there, but I’m coming around.  His tape vs the the two fast & physical defenses he played is atrocious (Auburn/Bama).  He seemed unable to handle the edge.  Instead of forming pockets he would hold, accounting for his 9 penalties last year.  Simply put, he isn’t a natural pass blocker.  Great in the run game, though.  The few zone sets Washington ran were Slip Zone, very little zone wide, so that may take time.  

I honestly still believe he moves inside where his sluggish feet & short arms won’t be exploited.  Could be dominant inside.  Has a Dahl like attitude which we need.  But time will tell.  I love his attitude & work ethic.  Fingers  crossed it’s a home trim for TD/Quinn

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McGary is coming to a near perfect situation for him. If he struggles early, Ty can start for a few games. He's going to have a very good blocking TE next to him if he needs it.  Ryan is a master of play action. Going to be exciting to see the offense. They may score 35 points a game.

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Thank you for reposing this.  I was thinking about doing so as well.  I keep seeing people complaining about his technique, but they don't get that he was doing exactly what he was coached to do.  He wasn't playing sloppy or poorly, he was playing exactly the way he was told to... which means he is coachable and adaptable.  I think that is a big positive.

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Shouldn’t have to make excuses, justifications, and arguments for a guy we traded up for in the first round 2 select. Better players were there. And NOBODY knows if NE would have picked him. That’s just speculation to make people feel better. 

FalconsSavant likes this

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5 minutes ago, RYNE said:

Shouldn’t have to make excuses, justifications, and arguments for a guy we traded up for in the first round 2 select. Better players were there. And NOBODY knows if NE would have picked him. That’s just speculation to make people feel better. 

Or, you know, no one on this board has spend 1000 man hours evaluating McGary, and he IS the best player available, because no one else has spent a 1000 man hours on the other prospects either. NE spent a good deal of time with McGary as well. There was a run on tackles early second round. Falcons got the one they wanted.

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1 hour ago, Falconsin2012 said:

I’ll admit my concerns regarding McGary are still there, but I’m coming around.  His tape vs the the two fast & physical defenses he played is atrocious (Auburn/Bama).  He seemed unable to handle the edge.  Instead of forming pockets he would hold, accounting for his 9 penalties last year.  Simply put, he isn’t a natural pass blocker.  Great in the run game, though.  The few zone sets Washington ran were Slip Zone, very little zone wide, so that may take time.  

I honestly still believe he moves inside where his sluggish feet & short arms won’t be exploited.  Could be dominant inside.  Has a Dahl like attitude which we need.  But time will tell.  I love his attitude & work ethic.  Fingers  crossed it’s a home trim for TD/Quinn

This sums up my feelings as well. I'm not sure what dropped Ford out of the 1st. I know Taylor for medical (knee). That made the list for RT alot shorter. I think NE takes either (Lindstrom & McGary) at 32. NE passed on Ford as well so that makes me feel better about McGary.

FalconsIn2012 likes this

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40 minutes ago, RYNE said:

Shouldn’t have to make excuses, justifications, and arguments for a guy we traded up for in the first round 2 select. Better players were there. And NOBODY knows if NE would have picked him. That’s just speculation to make people feel better. 

Lmao "shouldn't have to learn something about nontraditional blocking techniques to better understand the value of a player we coveted enough to move up for"

Alright bro, you do you. 

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That article explains why his film looks odd but we won't be doing any of that stuff so I find myself projecting what he will be in our system.  Love the athleticism and he plays like a long guy.  Throw in the attitude and that he was the best T left unless you wanted a red flag Taylor or alleged attitude questions with Ford and it was probably the most ideal  T pick we could have made at that point.

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24 minutes ago, youngbloodz said:

I tried to tell people evaluating o linemen isn't easy. Howard Mudd is the greatest o line coach ever. And he absolutely loves McGary as a player. 

Truth. 

JDaveG and atlbaby like this

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28 minutes ago, youngbloodz said:

I tried to tell people evaluating o linemen isn't easy. Howard Mudd is the greatest o line coach ever. And he absolutely loves McGary as a player. 

I’m going Scar, Lombardi & Landry. 

But Mudd is great.  Surprised he agreed to return to Indy.  He lives in Seattle so it seems logical he and Kaleb would have spent time together. Mudd was at the Huskies facility a bunch

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1 hour ago, Falconsin2012 said:

I’ll admit my concerns regarding McGary are still there, but I’m coming around.  His tape vs the the two fast & physical defenses he played is atrocious (Auburn/Bama).  He seemed unable to handle the edge.  Instead of forming pockets he would hold, accounting for his 9 penalties last year.  Simply put, he isn’t a natural pass blocker.  Great in the run game, though.  The few zone sets Washington ran were Slip Zone, very little zone wide, so that may take time.  

I honestly still believe he moves inside where his sluggish feet & short arms won’t be exploited.  Could be dominant inside.  Has a Dahl like attitude which we need.  But time will tell.  I love his attitude & work ethic.  Fingers  crossed it’s a home trim for TD/Quinn

I don't think the falcons would have moved up for a guard. Not that they can't be wrong, of course, but it certainly looks like they think that his problems with speed rushers weren't caused by slow feet, but by the way he was taught. His measurables certainly look good enough for that to be so. 

If  that's so, and the falcons have two plug and play picks for the Oline, going to be a good year to be a Falcons fan.

 

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1 hour ago, Falconsin2012 said:

I’m going Scar, Lombardi & Landry. 

But Mudd is great.  Surprised he agreed to return to Indy.  He lives in Seattle so it seems logical he and Kaleb would have spent time together. Mudd was at the Huskies facility a bunch

Mudd is so different that when you evaluate his techniques it looks odd. I respect the heck out of him. I didn't like the pick at first. But listening to what Mudd says about him makes me look deeper into him as a player

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5 minutes ago, youngbloodz said:

Mudd is so different that when you evaluate his techniques it looks odd. I respect the heck out of him. I didn't like the pick at first. But listening to what Mudd says about him makes me look deeper into him as a player

As I’ve said, I don’t not like the players. But Dexter and McGary made more sense than Lindstrom & McGary

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2 hours ago, Falcons_Frenzy said:

This sums up my feelings as well. I'm not sure what dropped Ford out of the 1st. I know Taylor for medical (knee). That made the list for RT alot shorter. I think NE takes either (Lindstrom & McGary) at 32. NE passed on Ford as well so that makes me feel better about McGary.

I heard that Ford gained upwards of 15 pounds after the combine. Teams didn’t trust he could keep the weight off. It was mentioned in passing on ESPN prior to Ford going off of the board. 

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4 minutes ago, Falconsin2012 said:

As I’ve said, I don’t not like the players. But Dexter and McGary made more sense than Lindstrom & McGary

Lindstrom will be an All Pro level guard. And those are more valuable than a 2 down DT

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