In our offensive line free agency series (which is based off of the CBS top 50 free agents) we have looked at two different offensive tackles, Tyson Clabo and Jared Gaither. While they are very different as players, they would both seemingly fit very well in the Cardinals offensive line.
Today, we will be looking at a guy that, much like Clabo, is a very versatile lineman. Last year he filled the role of right tackle very well when Jared Gaither had to sit out the season with a back injury. Also like Gaither, he was a part of a line that was great at pass protection and run blocking, helping the Baltimore Ravens make it into the playoffs. If you have not guessed who I am speaking of by now, then I present to you Marshal Yanda.
Hit the jump to hear more about Yanda and how he could potentially be a great signing for the Arizona Cardinals.
Marshal Yanda is going to be entering his fifth season in the league in 2011, being drafted out of Iowa in 2007 in the third round. He is by far one of the most versatile lineman in the NFL, which he has shown. In 2009, Yanda played at the right guard position, but when Jared Gaither was injured during the preseason in 2010, Marshal was forced into the right tackle position (he also played some guard towards the end of the 2010 season).
In 2010 as a tackle, Marshal allowed only four sacks, three hits and 25 pressures on 655 pass rush snaps. That is a total pressure rate of only 4.9%.
To compare Yanda to someone you may be more familiar with, Levi Brown's stats were much less impressive (this one's for you az78true). During Levi's 2010 campaign he allowed ten sacks, ten hits and 50 pressures on 642 snaps. His pressure rating was more than double, coming in at 10.9%.
Here is what Scouts, Inc. notes about Marshal Yanda:
Yanda had nine starts in 2009 and had his most productive season of his three-year career. Yanda is a versatile lineman who can play right tackle or guard. He doesn't have the ideal height or athletic ability for tackle and plays with too narrow of a base to be a pile-moving guard. But Yanda is fundamentally sound for such a young player and has an aggressive edge to his game. He looks to finish, but his strength is just marginal, so keeping up with his blocks for an extended period of time is often a problem. He continues to improve his technique and overall consistency, and is an integral part of the Ravens' offensive line.
In terms of mass, Yanda is not quite the same build as Clabo or Gaither, but his versatility more than makes up for it. He is about 6'3" tall and weighs 315 pounds with limited athleticism, so big defensive ends that are also quick may be able to get the best of Yanda from time to time. He is only 26 years old, so there is always time to improve.
Many people believe that if Yanda were allowed to remain a guard on an offensive line, he could become a Pro Bowl caliber player. He has good fundamentals and is always looking to improve, which makes him a commodity in a buyer's market. This is another type of guy that reminds me a bit of Lyle Sendlein in terms of size (same height and close weight) and likability. Russ Grimm would more than likely give a guy like this a stamp of approval.
Other than a season ending knee injury in 2008, Yanda has been able to remain healthy. He played and started in all 16 games last season.
To me, Yanda is a lunch pail kind of guy that is willing to get the job done at any costs. This may be speculation on my part, but I doubt that he will command the type of money that players like Gaither and Clabo will in free agency. Yanda will present himself as a tackle, which will allow him to ask for more money than if he were to look for a job as a guard. But if he leaves Baltimore, I fully expect to see him as a guard on his next team.
Luckily for Arizona, we have some vacancy at both positions -- hooray! Between the retirement of Alan Faneca, the uncertainty of our free agents-to-be (Sendlein, Deuce Lutui, Brandon Keith) and the underwhelming play of Levi Brown, Yanda could basically come in and fill whatever hole that needs plugged.
If Yanda is acquired, a potential line could look like this (from left to right):
Again, I am assuming that Lutui is as good as gone if they bring in a big time free agent for the offensive line. If Yanda is projected as a guard and has the potential to be a Pro Bowler at that position, then I fully expect him to play there.
So what do you say Cardinals fans? Yanda does not have great size or superior skills to play at the tackle position like Gaither or Clabo, but the guy is effective and versatile. Also, he will probably cost less money than Gaither or Clabo. He could be a great signing for the Arizona Cardinals.
Oh ya, and the guy can throw some big blocks. Check out this video from his days at Iowa. Wow...