NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
With their penultimate pick in the draft the Patriots took yet another Guard to add to an already crowded interior Offensive Line group. With so many players at Guard already on the roster, including another rookie drafted 3 rounds earlier, it is hard to imagine Ted Karras making the Patriots final 53 man roster. So what was it about Karras that made the Patriots think they needed to draft him over players at other positions?
Name: Ted Karras (#69)
School: Illinois (Sr.)
Weight: 307 Lbs.
Pro Day Results
40-yard dash: 5.28 seconds
Vertical: 26 1/2 inches
Broad jump: 8 feet, 10 inches
Short shuttle: 4.71 seconds
3-cone: 8.13 seconds
Bench press: 32 reps of 225 pounds
Watching interior line play is right up there with watching Safeties as one of the hardest things for me to do. Unless a Guard is pulling or is getting to the second level to block, it can be really hard to see exactly what is going on in there. I fully admit that I struggle with grading out Interior Lineman, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt. While I never watched Karras specifically this year, I did catch quite a few Illinois games because I was a big fan of their Runningback Josh Ferguson. The first thing I noticed was his strength. Once he got his hands on the defender, it was over. He could manipulate where he wanted his opponent to go and consistently got his guy on the ground. Many of Ferguson’s successful runs came because of the holes Karras created. Karras does a nice job of keeping his head up and on a swivel while blocking. He showed great awareness to shed off of one block and make another. He does a nice job of playing angles. He knows the only thing he needs to do is stay between the defender and the QB in pass protection. There have been several post draft articles that have talked about his pre game ritual and that same intensity shows up on the field as well. He consistently plays to the end of the whistle and he has no issue mixing it up with defenders. Karras showed the ability to get out on screens and once again, showed good technique as he would square up on linebackers. Karras also played some Center, which gives him some position flexibility, and if we know anything, it is that BB and the Patriots love position flexibility.
Where Karras struggles is speed and leverage. He showed that he has the strength to take on the biggest of Defensive Lineman, but he struggled against smaller, quicker guys. Karras is very stiff in his lower body, showing little knee bend. This allows defenders to get under his hands and through to the Quarterback or the Runninback. Because he is so stiff in his lower body, he rarely wins the leverage battle. He made up for it with his strong upper body, but in the NFL, that will not cut it.
I think Karras is going to have a tough time making this team, but they clearly feel that the interior of the Offensive Line needs to improve. Karras will probably end up on the practice squad and maybe his toughness, strength, and intelligence will win him a roster spot down the road.