2014 NFL Draft: Pre-Season Breakdown – Cameron Erving, OT Florida State

Dec 1, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Devonta Freeman (8) celebrates with offensive linesman Cameron Erving (75) after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter in the ACC Championship at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida State program has been able to put talent at just about every position in the NFL since Jimbo Fisher took over.  This includes the offensive line, which has been one of the most talented zone blocking schemes in the country.  With players along the lines of Zebrie Sanders, Rodney Hudson, and most recently, Menelik Watson having done well in the NFL Draft, there is a decent amount of anticipation with their junior left tackle, Cameron Erving.  Erving was a sophomore left tackle while Watson was at right tackle season.

Erving has a nice combination of athleticism and size that makes him an intriguing prospect as he enters his junior year.  Light on his feet with the ability to slide to pass protect as well as pull, kick out, and reach the second level, Erving is really in position where he needs to continue adding strength and work on the finer points of his game like improving the angles he takes in his protection and simply trusting what he sees in pass protection.  Right now, Erving looks like a top 100 pick but if he can take another step forward in his game, he could make a huge move up draft boards and potentially put himself in the top 50 or perhaps in the first round.

Vitals & Build

Erving is listed at 6’6” 310lbs with a great build and athleticism for the position.  Erving is light on his feet and is extremely fluid in his movements.  He has pretty good functional strength but this is an area that should only improve with more time.  Erving appears to have the frame to continue adding weight without giving up any athleticism.  His adding bulk and just improving the composition of his body will really give him the potential to have a breakout season for the Seminoles.

Run Blocking

Erving has the quickness and athleticism to consistently get in position to seal off opponents from coming inside of him and getting to the ball carrier.  While he prefers to wall off opponents and the Seminoles ask him to do that quite a bit, he is able to lock on and drive defenders off of the ball.  He is able to get to the second level with ease and is pretty accurate when it comes to making sure he connects on the block.

Erving will occasionally run into problems by misdiagnosing the angle or how far he needs to slide to get into place to make the block.  As a result, he will occasionally overcompensate or come too far underneath and give the opponent an outside lane.  While still significantly better than an inside lane, it still occasionally results in too much penetration from the defense and allows them to stop the play.  This same issue can also result in Erving not making flush contact with his opponent and falling off of the block too early.  The fact he is so athletic allows him to recover, but that might be more difficult in the NFL.  He does not make the mistake of lunging at opponents on the second level but can still overcompensate the angle and give them a lane to get past him.  In many ways, Erving is ahead of the game with his ability to land blocks on the second level because he gets in position to make the block effectively; he does all of the hard work and then misses the easy part, which is taking out the much smaller opponent once he has his hands on them.

Erving can continue to work to finish more blocks but he does demonstrate a mean streak and brings a high level of aggressiveness as a run blocker, especially when he is able to lock on and drive opponents.  When able, he is looking to send a message to the opponent.

As he is able to continue adding strength, he should only get better but he needs to continue to improve his angles and where he sets to make the block on opponents.  For Erving, it is more about ironing out smaller details in his game and polishing his game.

Pass Protection

Erving’s natural athleticism and light feet make him more than capable of protecting the blind side.  He is able to use his long arms to control opponents and shield them from the quarterback.  Erving is extremely comfortable in his ability to kick slide and maintain balance and body control to block.

Erving does not appear to always trust what he sees from opponents and there are times when he appears hesitant while making a block.  Along with this, Erving will miscalculate how much he needs to slide at times.  When he makes the mistake, he tends to slide too far and open up an inside lane but there are times when he will stop too early as well.  Erving possesses the athleticism to recover well, but it is not always enough and this would be far more problematic in the NFL.

When he trusts what he sees and is right with his feet, he can shut down speed rushers with relative ease.  He can either use his hands to stop them in place and just stone them or ride them out of the play with relative ease.  He can be dominant enough at times where guys just stop and give up on certain plays.

Erving has shown a little more trouble with power moves, but this is another area that should improve with time and increased strength.  There are times when he will play too high and has trouble establishing his anchor and these are usually situations where he is facing speed to power transitions.  When that happens, he will get driven back and have trouble sinking down and stopping the bleeding.

Erving can continue to work to play with a lower base and avoid getting caught too high when he is mirroring the opponent.  If he is unable to adjust, he will see speed to power moves from anyone capable.

Erving has a ton of potential as a pass blocker and the time to really improve before making the move to the NFL.  He needs to work on playing with a lower base and trusting what he sees more, but he could make a huge step forward as a junior.

Technique

For the most part, Erving uses his hands pretty well, but there are times when he will get caught trying to make the best of a bad situation caused by his feet and angle.  Occasionally, he will fall off of blocks because of his hand placement.  When he is right, he is able to control opponents with his hands and shut opponents down.  The other area that Erving can improve upon is throwing a better punch.  In part because of the scheme, he is not asked to punch that often, but it would only help him in how he can get in position to cut opponents off and control them.

Footwork

Erving is a natural foot athlete and is able to do everything a team could ask of him in terms of range and being able to slide in pass protection.  He is extremely comfortable pulling, kicking out to lead the run, and going to the second level.  As a result, he is able to do attack all of these areas while maintaining his balance and staying in control to make the block.  The only area that can hurt Erving’s footwork are the angles he takes, whether he overcompensates or cuts the angle too short.  More experience should only help him in this area and compared to the issues he could have, this appears to be relatively minor.  Still, it is the area of concern that pops up the most often and one to keep an eye on going forward.

System Fit

Erving is a natural fit for a zone blocking scheme that puts emphasis on athleticism, positioning and the ability to slide and move the protection scheme.  That is the system that Florida State runs, so he also comes in with a ton of experience in it and could make a nice transition to the NFL.  The fact that Erving is so athletic and so capable to protect on the blindside makes him attractive to any team that needs a left tackle and plenty of teams are willing to sacrifice some scheme fit to get a capable blind side protector.

Schedule

Mon, Sept. 2 at Pittsburgh
Sat, Sept. 14 vs. Nevada
Sat, Sept. 21 vs. Bethune-Cookman
Sat, Sept. 28 at Boston College
Sat, Oct. 5 vs. Maryland
Sat, Oct. 19 at Clemson
Sat, Oct. 26 vs. N.C. State
Sat, Nov. 2 vs. Miami(FL)
Sat, Nov. 9 at Wake Forest
Sat, Nov. 16 at Syracuse
Sat, Nov. 23 vs. Idaho
Sat, Nov. 30 at Florida

Notable Games

The opening game against Pitt in their welcome to the ACC game could see Erving face off a decent amount of time against Aaron Donald.  Donald is a fantastic technician that can play tackle or end.  He is someone who can give Erving a ton of different looks and if Erving has trouble with adjusting from speed to power, Donald is the type of player who can exploit it.  The game against Florida in the season finale should be a great matchup for Erving.  The Gators can employ a number of different looks with their personnel including having Dominique Easley as a tremendously athletic end with strength or Ronald Powell who presents a linebacker with speed but can show power.

NFL Comparison

Erving’s game compares to a rawer version of Joe Staley of the San Francisco 49ers.  Athletically, the two are extremely similar and able to bring the same type of ability to the left tackle position.  Staley was more polished coming out of Central Michigan but needed to improve his strength in his first few years with San Francisco.  Erving looks as though he should possess the strength necessary but is still working on the polish, but he may end up getting it like Staley did before he leaves college.

Draft Projection

Cameron Erving’s combination of size and athleticism will draw a lot of attention from NFL teams even if he were not to play another down at Florida State.  He brings a ton of ability in how well he can move and slide into position.  Erving needs to work on his angles and trusting what he sees to make his blocks and avoid giving up lanes to opponents.  Along with that, Erving should only get stronger with another year or two in the Florida State strength program.  Entering the season, Erving looks like a top 100 pick but he could really come into his own this year and substantially improve his draft stock this season, getting himself in the top 50 or perhaps even securing himself a spot in the first round.

Topics: 2014 Mock Draft, 2014 NFL Draft, Cameron Erving, Florida State Seminoles Football, Offensive Tackles

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