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Analyzing 7th Round Pick Joshua Frazier: Pad Level

July 16, 2018
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Analyzing 7th Round Pick Joshua Frazier: Pad Level

Stats sometimes do not appropriately reflect the contributions of a player. Last year’s national champion Alabama Crimson Tide team was one of the deepest  in recent history. If there were any doubts as to how talented this team was, a total of 12 Alabama players were selected in this year’s draft; such names included Minkah Fitzpatrick, Calvin Ridley, Rashaad Evans and Da’ron Payne. Lost in the shuffle of talented Crimson Tide players, was one that spent his entire collegiate career a backup, one that was a big reason for their success last season; a player whose stats do not tell the whole tale.

For Joshua Frazier, nothing came easy for him throughout his collegiate career. In his freshman year, Frazier saw minimal time as a reseve defensive tackle. In sole game he played that year against Western Carolina, he made the most of it by contributing a sack and a solo tackle. The following season, Frazier saw a slight increase in playing time, as he played six games and accounted for three assisted tackles.

In his junior year, Frazier became a much active member of the Crimson Tide defense, playing in 14 game and contributing 8 total tackles and a sack. In his senior year, Frazier increased that total to 15 total tackles along with three passes defended, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

When viewing Frazier on film, while he does not possess a unique skill that sets him apart, yet he employs an important attribute needed to contribute at the NFL level; that being proper fundamentals. Specfically speaking, the area of strength he displayed in relation to proper fundamentals, was his pad level.

Why is pad level is important to a defensive lineman? Pad level is an essential skill in order to win battles in the trenches. Playing with leverage entails playing with a lower pad-level; thus allowing a defensive lineman to keep his size and strength at a base, as opposed to his upper body. For someone like Frazier who stands around 6’3, this is especially important in order to win one-on-one battles and take on double teams. From viewing his film, Frazier’s pad level is impressive and likely to get better under the continued guidance of defensive line coach Karl Dunbar.

Frazier vs Ole Miss

Having proper pad level may not necessarily flash on film, but the outcome is very noticeable . In this goaline play, Frazier is seen on left, playing at the defensive left tackle position ( he slightly shaded on outside shoulder of the Ole Miss right guard). As the ball is snapped, Frazier manages to get underneath the right guard’s should pads. In this posititon, the left guard has no leverage; Frazier instead has control in this battle. By winning this battle, note that the Ole Miss running back has little room to run in the gap between the center and the right guard, known as the A gap. As the play unfolds, Frazier is able to shed the lineman enough to assist in stuffing the run, resulting in no gain. Had Frazier not won this battle, there would have been enough room for the Ole Miss running back to go through, perhaps resulting in a touchdown.

Frazier vs LSU

This clip is a prime example of how much control a defensive lineman can have over an opposing offensive lineman, when using proper pad-level.  In this clips against LSU, Frazier is now seen at the right end position (as his slightly shading the left tackle). When the ball is snapped, Frazier uses a lower base and is able to get underneath the LSU tackle’s shoulder pads. As the play continues, Frazier is able to control the opposing lineman while moving laterally towards the ball carrier. Though he is does not make the assist on this play, he had control of the LSU lineman the entire sequence till the end when he throws him to the ground. Frazier has been noted for his natural strength, the fact that he is able to compliment it with proper technique increases his value to a team.

Frazier vs Three linemen

If there is one play that best exemplifies Frazier’s potential, it is this one against the Washington Huskies in the 2016 Peach Bowl. In his clip, Frazier is seen aligned as a nose tackle. When the ball is snapped, Frazier is able engage successfully against the Huskies center. As this takes place, the Huskies left guard converges on Frazier to assist the center; a few seconds later, the Huskies right guard joins in to assist the other linemen. What makes this play impressive to watch is not just the pad level he uses to fend of the three linemen, it is also his foot movement. Had Frazier stayed stationary, he would have likely been pushed over. As the play unfolds, Frazier is able to breakaway and take down the Huskies quarterback for the sack. Of all the plays I viewed from Frazier, this one is his trademark play; perhaps the one which attracted the attention of several NFL teams like the Steelers.

Final Assessment

When reviewing the interior defensive linemen currently on the Steelers roster, the only players with a definite spot on the roster are Steelers defensive captain and All-pro interior lineman Cameron Heyward, and third-year defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. With uncertainty surrounding the value of Daniel McCullers and undrafted free agent Parker Cothren yet to prove himself, Frazier is one player that should not be overlooked. With position flexibility along the defensive line, and familiarity with coach Dunbar’s methods, Frazier already has a leg up on the competition. Though he may have been utilized to his full potential while at Alabama, Frazier’s strong fundamentals makes him as valuable as any of the players selected by the Steelers in this year’s draft.

Kelly Anozie http://www.pittsburgh-blitz.com

Born and raised Ottawa, Ontario Canada, Kelly is a Steelers contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Formerly a contributor for SBNation's 'Behind the Steel Curtain'. Kelly can be reached via the Twitter handle @kanozie80

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