The Bears lost Lance Louis in free agency and to cushion the loss Phil Emery went out and signed former New York Jets guard Matt Slauson. Slauson is a fourth year guard who hit the open market and didn't generate much interest prior to the Bears going out and signing him. He started all 16 games at left guard for the Jets and graded out at a plus 2.4 overall on the 2012 season according to ProFootballFocus. His overall run blocking grade was a negative 4.2 while his pass blocking grade was a 5.1 on the season. Slauson allowed only one sack, four hits and nine QB hurries on the season by PFF's grades.
Beyond that I wanted to get a look of what type of player Slauson is on film and what his capabilities are on offense. Where did Slauson struggle, where does he have success and what type of player does he project to be for the Bears?
Watching Slauson on tape, one thing becomes clear rather quickly, he's not an athletic guard prospect. Slauson shows minor signs of short area quickness, but there is no real explosion off the ball or nimbleness in his game. As a run blocker Slauson is below average at best. He's a very one-dimensional player who can block the guy directly in front of him, but ask him to pull, or get a guy in a gap or laterally from him, and he struggles. When he pulls he is good to get around the center and hit the two hole on the opposite side, but does not get out around the corner or around the edge in the run game.
Slauson lacks even average athleticism, he is a straight line guy that could likely contribute as an inside zone guy and with some power plays that come his way but you're not going to ask him to do a lot in space. In comparison to what Aaron Kromer preferred and had in New Orleans with the Saints Slauson is slow. Kromer had quick athletic guys like Carl Nick, Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs who could explode out of their stance and get to the second level or around the corner on power plays. Slauson doesn't fit that profile as a run blocker. Another problem is he has a tendency to get up right and lose the leverage battle and get pushed back in the pocket.
As a pass blocker Slauson is better, than he is a run blocker which could benefit the Bears if they move away from getting off the bus running. Slauson has a good anchor, and good hand punch in his pass protection. His pass protection set is pretty good and when he doesn't lose leverage he usually competes well through the whistle. Perhaps his biggest weakness in pass protection may come from guys with more speed or guys who cross his face as a pass rusher. Slauson is strong and nasty, but he's very limited in his overall ability. Usually he doesn't give up the inside rush because he can anchor well with this inside leg and drive the rusher laterally into the hip of the center.
What's interesting about this signing is that Slauson isn't an athlete like Lance Louis or the players that Kromer had in New Orleans. Slauson is a one-dimensional player who at times will literally pull himself along the backs of his linemen when he's asked to pull and get out in front of the running back. Slauson may very well wind up the starter at left guard for the Bears, but if he starts with Carimi on the interior of the offensive line the Bears will be extremely limited in what they can do with their guards. There isn't a lot Aaron Kromer can clean up in Slauson's game because you can't coach a player to have ability he simply doesn't possess. This is the case with Slauson there are things he simply can't do that will limit him as a starting offensive guard.
Still fairly happy with the signing since it gives us at least a viable starter at the LG position. Even if he is one-dimensional, it's better than no-dimensional with the likes of Rachal and Spencer. The LG play at this point CAN'T be worse than last year. I still see them drafting one or two more interior linemen though!
@kzehn2324 It's true that right now the way it looks after the 2012 season that Slauson is a viable starter at the LG spot. My concern is the change of scenery and change of offense/responsibility he may have in the Bears offense could effect his game.
What we see from Slauson right now is as good as it's going to get, there is no high ceiling on him as a player. That's fine I'm not concerned about that, that makes him competent as a player.
The real concern is if he takes a step backwards. A guy like Chris Spencer was a good player in 2011, he was considered a viable starter at that point. Problem for Spencer was, 2011 was the high point of his career and then 2012 was all down hill from there.
If Slauson isn't viable in pass protection, then he's not a viable option at all because he's not at all a very good run blocker. He's a player who simply can't afford to have any drop off whatsoever, because if he does the results will not be very pretty to watch.
@MidwayIllustrated Hmmm very fair point. I definitely agree with that. It'd be bad if he regresses. Even worse if both he and Carimi regresses. I'd still draft a high pick capable of playing on either the right or the left side. See how Carimi does, if his pass pro suddenly improves dramatically and still has great run blocking, then he can stay guard and we can swing the rookie to the left side and let Slauson be a very solid back-up. He's only getting paid 815K this year anyway, so it's still a good bargain pick up.