The Falcons’ attempted makeover of the league’s worst offensive line started Monday with the signing of former Bear and Buccaneer Gabe Carimi. Carimi hasn’t made many fans happy since his days at Wisconsin, as so far he is widely considered to be one of the busts of the 2011 draft. Speaking of Wisconsin, are Wisconsin linemen losing their luster? Is it time to start thinking of linemen as products of their system?
Joe Thomas is one of the very best tackles in the league, but Wisconsin has largely failed to produce other impact linemen in the NFL. Since Thomas was drafted in 2007, 6 top-100 picks in the NFL Draft have been used on Wisconsin linemen. Kraig Urbik, John Moffitt, Carimi, Peter Konz, Kevin Zeitler, and Travis Frederick have at least found playing time, but they haven’t exactly measured up to Thomas’ standard.
But let’s get back to Carimi. Using Pro Football Focus’ outstanding plus/minus grades, here’s how Carimi has graded out in his career:
|Year||PFF Overall||Pass Block||Run Block||Penalty||Sacks/Hits/Hurries|
The Falcons clearly aren’t bringing in Carimi due the allure of his past production, of which there is little to speak of. Carimi could benefit, however, from a shift inside. Here’s a look at his career by position based on whether PFF’s grade was in the green (that’s good), neutral, or in the red (only counting games where he had at least 25% of his team’s snaps):
|Position||‘Green’ Games||Neutral Games||‘Red’ Games|
At RT, his drafted and intended position, he has been pretty bad, achieving neutral or better grades in less than 50% of his games. However, at guard he has managed neutral or better in 67% of his games. As long as the Falcons are planning on playing Carimi inside, this could perhaps be an inspired pick up. He’s low risk, and given his draft position, you’d have to still consider him high reward. Even better, if Carimi plays RG it would allow the team to release Garrett Reynolds and clear up some extra cap space. On the other hand, if the plan is for Carimi to solve the problems at RT, it seems more like a shuffling of deck chairs than a solution.