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2020 NFC West: RGs

Cleveland Browns v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Background: GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 15: Offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy #64 of the Arizona Cardinals blocks Larry Ogunjobu #65 of the Cleveland Browns during the first half of the NFL football game at State Farm Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona.

ARI: J.R. Sweezy, 31, 6-5, 298, 9th year, R7 SEA 2012, 2019 PFF grade: 61.6, 1/$6.5M ($1.5M guaranteed)

LAR: Austin Blythe, 28, 6-3, 290, 5th year, R7 IND 2017, 2019 PFF grade: 50.7, 1/$3.9M ($3.5M guaranteed)

SF: Tom Compton, 31, 6-6, 314, 8th year, R6 WAS 2012, 2019 PFF grade: 49.7, 1/$2.75M ($750K guaranteed)

SEA: Phil Haynes, 24, 6-4, 322, 2nd year, R4 SEA 2019, 2019 PFF grade: N/A, 3/$2.4M

J.R. Sweezy brought a good blend of physicality and bounce to the Cardinals’ OL in 2019. His PFF grades were similar to his linemates’ in that he scored a good pass blocking grade of 71.0 (giving up 1 sack and 28 pressures), but scored a below average run blocking grade of 52.5 (which, in part, was the result of 7 penalties).

Putting the grades aside, Sweezy has maintained a good reputation around the league as a physical run blocker, so much so that even despite a 45.5 run blocking grade for the Seahawks in 2018, he was the lone Seahawk OL to receive Pro Bowl recognition (alternate) on a line that led the NFL in rushing.

Yes, the penalties hurt Sweezy’s grade last year, but the majority of those penalties appeared to be questionable/ticky-tack and there is no question that Sweezy’s consistent ability to leverage and move DTs off of their anchors was one of the main reasons why the Cardinals’ running game finished 10th in the NFL.

Clearly, Kliff Kingsbury, Sean Kugler and Brian Natkin remain very high on Sweezy. They could have saved $5M in cap space by opting out of his $6.5M cap hit in 2020 by trading or releasing him. However, the Cardinals would very much like to pick up where they left off last season when they averaged 183.2 yards rushing over the last 3 games versus the Browns, Seahawks and Rams.

The Rams’ Austin Blythe is coming off a subpar season, grading: 50.3 overall, 54.0 in pass protection and 47.5 in run blocking. he becomes an UFA in 2021, so this is a contract year for hm.

The 49ers signed UFA Tom Compton (Jets) to a one year deal, but he only started 5 games at RG last year and graded 49. 7 overall, 52.2 in pass protection and 49.2 in run blocking. Kyle Shanahan worked with Compton for one year while with the Falcons, but Compton scored a 50.6 grade then when he was a swing guard and tackle.

The Seahawks are turning at RG to their 2019 4th round pick, Phil Haynes, whose rookie season was marred by a hernia injury that kept him on the PUP list until November and then, despite the number of injuries the Seahawks had incurred across the OL, Haynes did not play until the Seahawk’s’ playoff game at Green Bay. The former 2nd team All ACC guard (Wake Forest), gave the team a good, solid 45 snaps in that game to the point where Pete Carroll said, “Phil did a good job. What we’ve seen in Phil is that he’s really strong and he plays real square. He did it in that game. He did very well. Was really pleased to see him. He has had such little playtime since he’s been here. It was great to see him do well.”

While Hayes might be the brightest young talent at RG in the NFC West, it would be reasonable to claim that the Cardinals’ J.R. Sweezy is the cream of the crop in the division.

Happy Birthday to Roy Green. I was at that game in 1981 (click on first video!) and was going crazy when rookie QB Neil Lomax hit Green for the GW TD! Love the Cardinals’ all white uniforms. Lomax was so smooth that day—-it was freezing cold, too. Green was 3/79/1 TD, RB O.J. Anderson was 29/95/1 TD and RB Wayne Morris was 11/41/1 TD, Lomax: 20/28/280/1 TD/0 int. Cards win 27-20.