2015 NFL Draft Preview: OL Cameron Erving
The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the 10 weeks leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This seventh week, the focus is on offensive linemen. Our O-line prospect today is Cameron Erving out of Florida State.
After entering FSU as a redshirt defensive tackle, Erving would go on to make quite the impact on the other side of the ball for the Seminoles. The switch to offense in Erving's sophomore season payed early benefits for Coach Jimbo Fisher. The big mauler started in all 14 games at left tackle and continued to improve as the season rolled on. For the next two years in Tallahassee, Erving would establish himself as one of the premier offensive linemen in college football. He was the Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner in both 2013 and 2014, which is given to the best blocker in the conference. Erving received All-ACC First-Team accolades for both his junior and senior seasons as well, but he also notched second-team honors as a senior at the center position. He started the first nine games at left tackle in 2014 before he moved to center for the last five. The transition proved to be flawless.
There are not many guys who have the capability of playing every position on the offensive line, but that is the type of versatility Erving brings to the table. With experience at both LT and C in college, the former Seminole proved he can protect a quarterback's blind-side or be the leader of the entire offensive line. If he was able to transition to these two spots so effortlessly, playing guard in a pinch would be no issue in the big leagues.
As a pass blocker, this is a prospect who is ahead of the game. This 6'5", 313 lb. monster is a true technician who knows how to utilize his powerful strength in his favor. He does a great job of keeping his hands on the inside of pass rushers in order to control and steer them accordingly. Once he locks in on a defender's core, it is game over. Erving also does a tremendous job of anchoring (see #75 below), meaning that when he is tested with a bull rush/power move, he can hold his ground while planted and use his length and power. In the run department, the big guy takes care of his assignments and gets the job done. He has the athleticism to reach the second level and get his head out in front down the line in a zone-blocking scheme. Overall, you know what you are getting with Erving, he is very consistent. His skill set projects him best as a center, but if you needed anymore convincing, watch what Erving at left tackle against a top pass rusher in this year's draft, Virginia's Eli Harold.Cons
Erving is pretty polished as he heads into the pros, but there are a few areas of his game that hamper him. Pass rushers who rely on speed pose problems for Erving, especially when he was playing left tackle. He was beat off the edge often and had to recover to save his quarterback. The foot speed lacked in these situations, and that is why he is projected to play center at the next level. His traits are just a better fit for the position overall. Another note: Erving is solid in the run game, but he needs to work on creating more movement when he finds his assignment. Occasionally he would also miss some key blocks in the run game, but this is not a major concern.
Cameron Erving is one of the top interior lineman in this year's draft, and his experience and ability to play another position on the line will prove to be valuable as teams consider him in the war room. Injuries happen in the NFL; there is just no way around them. Having a guy who could swing around the trenches and be good while doing so is a huge plus. Check him off in the size and strength department, but most importantly, he is a very fundamentally sound player. In terms of technique, the big fella is further developed than most that enter the draft this time of year. With a little coaching at the next level, Erving is destined to become a Pro Bowl caliber player. Looks like a late first round pick right now, but if he falls into the second, he shouldn't last long.
A bunch of teams make sense for Erving with linemen always in demand. The Kansas City Chiefs are a team that desperately needs offensive line help after failing to protect Alex Smith last season. General manager John Dorsey brought in veteran guards Ben Grubbs and Paul Fanaika to sure up the line this off-season, but the Chiefs still have a hole at center after Rodney Hudson bolted to the Raiders in free agency. Erving could come in and help the Chiefs immensely early on while learning from a former offensive line coach in Andy Reid. Other teams that could use the FSU product's services are Detroit, Arizona, and Carolina. Bruce Arians could certainly use a center in the desert while the Panthers and Lions would be open to using Erving just about anywhere as a swing guy.