Moving on to the second guard in our three part series, we will be looking at the first of two consecutive Atlanta Falcons guards. Yesterday you were given a little background on Davin Joseph and why he may be a good fit for the Cardinals.
Today, let's focus on Justin Blalock. He comes in at #36 on the CBS top 50 free agents list and could be an addition that Ken Whisenhunt could look to add to the team.
First, let's take notice of the impeccable health of the Atlanta Falcons offensive line. You may recall that Tyson Clabo, the Falcons' right tackle, has not missed a game in over three years. Well, the same can be said for Justin Blalock. He has started every single game for the Falcons since 2008 and started in 14 during his rookie season of 2007.
Blalock attended Texas University and was drafted in the second round in 2007. He had won prestigious awards such as Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year during his college days, so he was already coming into the NFL with a stacked résumé.
Here is the Scouts, Inc. profile on Justin Blalock:
Blalock is a thick, wide body with above-average initial quickness and body control. He has limited lateral range in pass protection but can be very effective in a limited area. He has improved his techniques when it comes to hand use as well as keeping his pad level down, but he plays tall at times which causes him to lose his leverage on run blocks. He can engulf and overpower opponents with his raw power once he gets his hands on them, but still needs to work on keeping his intensity at a high level over the course of the whole game.
What the stats don't tell you is that Justin Blalock is very protective of his quarterback. Last season he allowed a total of three sacks, seven hits and 16 pressures on 706 pass snaps. That comes in at a low pressure rating of 3.7%.
To compare him with a guy that is beginning to become a household name, let's look at Logan Mankins of the New England Patriots. Mankins held out for the first 6 games of last season over a contract dispute, so keep in mind that his numbers may look a little better than they would if he had endured a full season.
Mankins allowed two sacks, no hits and six pressures on 348 pass protection snaps. His pressure rating was a mere 2.3% in ten games played.
Should the Arizona Cardinals go out and sign Justin Blalock? Absolutely is my answer. He is a great pass protector and an even better run blocker. He would be expensive, but he could bring a massive upgrade to our interior line. Also, health is not a factor unless he has a freak accident and he also has youth on his side (he is only 27).
Again, this could be the guy Russ Grimm was looking for when he pursued Alan Faneca so hard last season.
A potential lineup could look like this:
What do you say Cardinals fans? This might be one of my favorite linemen yet, but it is up to you. Should the Cardinals go out and grab Justin Blalock?
Watching this video of Blalock's days of protecting Vince Young at Texas, you may notice a familiar face in Lyle Sendlein. Maybe the Cardinals should get Blalock and Vince Young to go along with Sendlein and Sam Acho so that we can have a Longhorn reunion party in Arizona. And yes, I know the video is extremely corny, but you get the point of it, right?