+Elite pass blocker
+Covers a lot of ground
+Uses good fundamentals in pass pro.
+Creates a fairly wide base
+Some core strength
-Mediocre run blocker, even against terrible competition
-Mediocre on balance as a run blocker
-Lacks strength on film
-Gets an awful initial punch
-Below average on field awareness, namely as a run blocker
-Leans on his hands (leans as in puts his weight on, not relies on)
-Solid flexibility, but not flexible enough to make up for his height
Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher is one of the more overrated prospects of the draft. His length and athleticism are elite, but his maddening lack of production as a run blocker against mediocre competition will not serve him well in the NFL.
Fisher has good measurables. One thing to keep in mind; by itself, height is a disadvantage for offensive linemen. In football, the low man wins, and, the taller you are, the harder it is to get low and get good leverage. Fisher is no exception. However, there is a natural correlation between height and arm length, and, in most cases, the extra length is worth the difficulty in terms of leverage. Fisher is 6’7, and his arms are 34 1/2 inches long. You’d kind of like to see a first rounder crack 35 in if he’s 6’7, but, still, he has just enough length for it to be considered worth his height. Everything else is nice. A solid 27 bench reps at 225lbs at the combine, and 5.05 40 yard dash at 306lbs. He also has a pretty muscular build and a nice, wide frame.
Fisher is an overrated run blocker. It’s so frustrating to see such mediocre play from such a talented player, especially against mediocre competition. He moves well and does a good job in the second level, but looks pretty lost at times, and his solid weight room strength doesn’t translate on film. All of his strength is currently in the upper body; his core is best described as average and his legs are pudding. That’s a big problem as a run blocker. Fisher has a major tendency to lean on his hands as a run blocker when driving defenders off the ball, which is suicide because the minute his opponent tries a swim or rip move on him, he loses his balance and falls far forward, even all the way to the turf. When driving defenders off the ball, he needs to rely on his legs if he will ever succeed, which is a problem, given his lack of strength in the lower body. Another problem; he doesn’t play particularly hard. He’s not awful here, but he doesn’t play with a mean streak or show much passion for the game. He doesn’t always finish plays or put maximum effort onto the field. His on field awareness is also below average. He oftentimes can’t find anyone to block, can’t read certain defensive schemes, and often gives away the play call with his stance at the line of scrimmage. Also, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, height is a disadvantage for O-linemen by itself, because getting good leverage is difficult. Arm length makes up for it, especially as a pass blocker, but, in Fisher’s case, his height make him a worse run blocker. His flexibility is solid, but, at 6’7, he needs to bend like a Yoga instructor to get good leverage, and he can’t do that, so leverage is a huge problem for him as a run blocker. But here’s the biggest issue: he’s going to be hopeless the second he has to block someone his own size. I wrote an article a couple of years ago stating that drafting O-linemen is a bit of a crap-shoot because it’s almost impossible to find a guy athletic enough for the game’s best 4-3 5 technique ends (Cameron Wake, JPP) but also strong enough for the game’s best 3-4 5 technique ends (Justin Smith, J.J. Watt), and college tackles pretty much only have experience against the former unless they played in the SEC. Over 10 of the 32 NFL teams run a 3-4 defense. Most 3-4 defensive ends are between 290lbs-315lbs. Because Fisher was in the MAC, he didn’t actually face a defensive end over 265lbs this season (William Gholston played on the strong side). Again, about a third of the NFL’s teams use a 3-4, so guys at least 290lbs will be his opposition 1/3 of the time. Who is to say that he won’t be physically overwhelmed the minute he’s matched up against someone his own size? Given that he doesn’t look that strong against 265lbs players, I’d be surprised if he isn’t. He could be dominated by 3-4 defenses, and, given how many there are, that’s a problem, especially because he wasn’t a great run blocker to begin with.
The worst part of that 3-4 defense thing is that it will extend to his pass blocking in the NFL. Again, he never blocked a guy 270lbs last season. His prospects are dim the minute he needs to block Calais Campbell or B.J. Raji. 3-4 defensive ends aren’t really known as pass rushers, but they’ll get their share of pressures against Fisher, who has a terrible initial punch with no power as a pass blocker, and he’s also untested against quality bull rushers. Aside from his initial punch, he’s perfect here. He’s a great athlete that creates a wide base and has elite quickness, and his footwork and hand placement are both magnificent. His length is solid and his fundamentals are pretty close to flawless. Although he can’t get very low due to height, he knows how to use his length against shorter pass rushers and dominate the game. However, his on field awareness is mediocre. Still, he projects to be a remarkable pass blocker against 4-3 speed rushers, though he will inevitably have his troubles when he’s facing a 3-4 defense.
I’m not a Fisher fan. His lack of strength and his projection when it comes to blocking 3-4 defenses is scary. I can’t see how he’ll ever be able to block Justin Smith or anyone else his own size, and that’s a problem, because he’s going to have to face a lot of 3-4 defenses in the NFL. The sad thing, though, is that he’ll likely make some Pro Bowls, because you average fan/announcer doesn’t really care about run blocking and the fairly low sack numbers he’ll allow will give him a superstar reputation, i.e., the guy I’m comparing him to.
NFL Comparison: Ryan Clady, except he’s a bit skinnier
Grade: 90 (worthy of a late first or early second round pick)
Projection: 99 (will be a top 3 pick)