I will be honest. Until a couple of days ago I didn't really know anything about Cleveland Browns fullback Lawrence Vickers. Good friend Pat Traina, editor of Inside Football, was stumping for Vickers recently in an excellent Giants' free-agency analysis that -- as of this second -- is required reading for all of you. Of course, you are also required to come right back.
So, if Vickers has the Traina stamp of approval I figured I had better find out more about him. Here is what Pat had to say about Vickers and the Giants:
Vickers would appear to make the most sense for the Giants from a veteran free agent perspective. The Browns drafted Owen Marecic this past April, a player that is believed to be a better fit for the West Coast Offense that the new coaching staff is said to be planning to install.
Vickers, 6-foot, 250 pounds, meanwhile, is only 28 years old and appears to be a better fit for the power rushing style that the Giants employ.
Here is the scouting report from SB Nation's Vickers player page:
Assets -- Punishing blocker. ... Can move the pile on a short yardage plunge. Flaws -- Old-school fullback with a lack of speed, poor receiving skills and no open-field running ability.
Maybe it was just a function of the way the Browns played offense, but Vickers started only four games in 2010 and nine in 2009. In 2010, he was the only fullback Cleveland had.
Vickers was non-tendered by the Browns, who drafted Stanford's Owen Marecic as a likely replacement for the five-year veteran. Cleveland is installing a West Coast offense, and Vickers' apparent limitations seemingly make him a poor fit for that style, which doesn't rely on a pure blocking fullback.
For a 'punishing blocker' who ESPN AFC North blogger James Walker calls "one of the best run-blocking fullbacks in the NFL" Pro Football Focus does not like the work Vickers has done in the blocking department the past couple of seasons. In 2010, Vickers was -9.8 as a blocker in 385 snaps, 28th out of 30 fullbacks who played 25 percent of his teams offensive snaps. In 2009, Vickers was -2.6 as a blocker, 19th out of 29 fullbacks. He was +2.4 in 2008, 12th out of 34 fullbacks.
So, what changed? Has Vickers slipped? Had Cleveland's offense changed to one that did not suit him the past couple of seasons?
I don't know the answer. Vickers might be a fit for the Giants, who employ more of a straight ahead power running attack, and he would without doubt be less expensive than Vonta Leach of the Houston Texans. But, would he be effective leading the way for Giants running backs? Again, I don't know the answer. The skill set, and reputation, are intriguing. While they aren't any sort of definitive measuring stick, his PFF grades the past two seasons are, however, a concern.