Ed reported this morning that the New York Giants will be signing Brett Jones of the Calgary Stampeders. Shortly after that, he asked 'Invictus' or myself to take a look at the tape of the offensive lineman and do a quick film study and scouting report. And since that is certainly better than my morning cardio, I jumped off the Stair Monster and here we are.
The 23-year-old center was voted the best offensive lineman in the CFL last year. Depending on your opinion of the CFL, that is roughly equal to winning the Outland Trophy, awarded to the best college interior lineman in the country. For reference, some recent winners of that trophy have been Joe Thomas, Ndamukong Suh, Barrett Jones, Luke Joeckel, Aaron Donald, and, yes, Brandon Scherff.
So, going to the tape, what does Brett Jones bring to the Giants?
*Note: Since it was the best I could find, though I'm going to keep looking, this is the same tape as Ed posted earlier.
The major failing of the Giants' offensive line, and the interior of that line in particular, was run blocking. If they are going to upgrade the line, that is where to start.
Play 1) 0:00 - 0:15
This is a pretty basic power run play. The right tackle takes on the outside linebacker, while the right guard takes on one of the down linemen. Jones helps the left guard with the other down lineman while the left tackle pulls around to blow open the running lane.
Jones does a nice job of exploding out of his stance and into the G/C double team. I would have liked to have seen him extend his hands and bench press the lineman before releasing into the second level, but the shoulder check worked well enough. Once he gets to the second level, he just straight bullies both defenders back so the back can pick up yards behind him.
Play 2) 1:15 - 1:23
First off: That upright is annoying.
Now on to the play. It appears to be a zone run against a two-down front. Once again Jones initially helps with the G/C double team before working up to the second level. Once again he uses that shoulder check coming out of his stance on the double team. But once he gets to the second level, he actively looks for guys to block. This play isn't quite as successful as the previous run play, but the power Jones shows is nice to see.
Play 3) 2:14 - 2:30
This might be my favorite play of the whole tape. It's just beautiful.
This looks for all the world like a zone run to the right. In fact, it's a play-action pass, but it is so well executed that even the end zone camera man is faked out. The defense lines up with a nose tackle directly over Jones, and for the first time in this section, we see him get his hands on a defensive lineman, and it's impressive. Jones is quick out of his stance and bench presses the nose tackle directly into the right guard's waiting hands. Almost immediately he flips his hips and shoves the linebacker coming up to fill the "hole" a good two yards back. He stays on the block and knocks the linebacker another five yards back. The effect is that the defense is completely sold on the run and doesn't notice the play-action until it's too late.
Like I said: Just beautiful.
Despite all the negativity surrounding the Giants' 2014 patchwork offensive line, they were actually pretty good at pass protection. Even with injuries and backups at both guard and the right tackle positions, Eli Manning was only sacked 28 times in 601 pass attempts. That's one fewer than Tony Romo with the much-heralded Dallas line, but in 166 more pass attempts.
Play 1) 0:40-0:50
This play is bit of a mixed bag for Jones. It is a five-step drop with a hitch for the quarterback while the wide receiver on the right side of the field runs a post route. I'll start with what I'm not crazy about: Jones doesn't really get his hands on the nose tackle, and doesn't anchor versus the rush. However, he does a good job of using his hands to still set a good depth to the pocket and keep the lineman from getting a good rush at the QB until the ball is on its way out. If he tried this against a DT like Johnathan Hankins, he would probably get walked backwards into the QB's lap.
Play 2) 0:58 - 1:10
Now we get to see that power again, and a look at his movement skills.
The play calls for slide protection to the right, and Jones' feet look pretty good, with short, choppy steps as he slides. He does a good job of keeping the gaps even between himself and the guards.
Once again there are two down lineman, and the right DT, who is initially lined up at the 3-technique between the RG and RT, beats the RG with a quick swim move. Fortunately for the quarterback, Jones shows off those heavy hands again, and doesn't just pancake the defensive tackle, but also the right tackle. I don't think the tackle especially appreciated it, but I'm sure the QB and receiver who made the deep reception did.
Play 3) 3:21 - 3:35
Okay, if the play action pass was my favorite play on the tape, then this is my second favorite, but it's close.
The defense has a ton going on around the snap here. They are lined up in an "Amoeba" defense, with two down linemen and a bunch of linebackers and defensive backs just milling around. This was a favorite of the Packers' when they made their run to the Super Bowl back in 2010, and makes it very difficult for the offense to get a bead on where the rush is coming from.
Right at the snap, the inside and outside linebackers run stunts, with the inside linebackers rushing to the outside. Meanwhile the outside linebackers run a double A-gap blitz. Jones keeps his head and correctly identifies both blitzes, then manages to defend both of them. Because the linebackers' timing is just half a tic off, No. 93 hits the left A gap before No. 41 is able to hit the right gap. That gives Jones half a second to power 93 into the left guard, then flip around and block 41 as he tries to break through the right A-gap. That gives the QB enough time to get the pass off.
With how the Giants' interior line dealt with stunts, twists, and blitzes last season, That would have been a jailbreak rush on Eli and Ryan Nassib might have had to finish the game.
Make no mistake, this is a highlight reel. However there is a ton to like about him. In his introduction, Ed mentioned that an evaluater told Jordan Ranaan that Jones lacks positional versatility and is only a center.
I'll freely admit that just using this tape is limiting, but I disagree. If anything Jones reminds me of former Giant Richie Suebert. I'd like to see him get better with his hands and anchor when taking on rushers in pass protection, but he shows plenty of power when he gets his hands on defenders. He has the feet for the position, and like Suebert, he has a definite mean streak, and plays downright nasty.
I think he can step in and compete for the starting left guard position, and his ability to obviously play center and call protections should make him a natural backup to Richburg as well.
Here is the Jones video once again.