The Kansas City Chiefs were a train wreck up front last year. Upgrading the offensive line was, and still is, an obvious need for general manager John Dorsey this offseason. So far, Dorsey has been active, signing Paul Fanaika to a three-year contract and then trading for former Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs less than 24 hours later.
While we know Grubbs can play, what are we getting in Fanaika? The 28-year-old has only been a starter for the past two seasons, getting ample time at right guard with the Arizona Cardinals. The Pro Football Focus is negative, so most dismissed Fanaika as either a bad signing or questionable depth.
I wanted to see if those sentiments were correct or short-sighted, so I watched four games of Fanaika in 2014 against good teams. Other than the quality of the opponent, I had no reason for picking those contests. I watched every offensive snap of those games twice, and wrote down notes as I went along.
Instead of giving you a bunch of stats, charts and pictures, I decided it might be most helpful to literally copy and paste my observations into the article.
Week 3 - San Francisco 49ers
Fanaika starts every play with a very high stance. He doesn't get his butt down, but pretty much just stands in a squatting position. This would make you think that Fanaika is susceptible to a defender getting leverage underneath his pads, but it didn't happen. Fanaika can be beaten with a speed move toward the outside if he doesn't get his hands on the opponent. However, Fanaika demonstrated that if he gets a good punch on you, it is over.
One of the biggest drawbacks of Fanaika in the game was occasional indecision on who to block during pass plays. When the 49ers ran a twist or stunt, Fanaika took a split-second to understand the concept at times.
His biggest positives are his strength, nimble feet and ability to reach the second level. Throughout the game, Fanaika dominated against Ian Williams and Ray McDonald one-on-one while consistently taking on linebackers in space. Fanaika will be an asset to Kansas City when the Chiefs run inside and on screens.
Week 5 - Denver Broncos
He can get beat with inside speed, no doubt. He is not fast, much more of a phone booth guy in pass protection. In the run game, he can really maul defenders.
The best thing about Fanaika is his punch. Fanaika is terrific at getting a player off-balance with good punches to the chest. Once he gets his hands on a guy, it is over.
Week 8 - Philadelphia Eagles
Fanaika continues to show that he can legitimately maul defenders in the run game. I was impressed how he got to the second level and was able to consistently engage. On the down side, I did see Fanaika getting bull-rushed a little bit too often in the first half. In the second half, it was much more like the previous two games. In general, Fanaika has the ability to re-anchor, something that is severely underrated in interior linemen. It was a ho-hum day for Fanaika, with some excellent blocks and some pressure allowed.
Week 10 - St. Louis Rams
More of the same from Fanaika, showing he is steady. Again, it was obvious that Fanaika has good punch. He was able to hold off one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL, getting into their chests and holding a firm position. Fanaika was excellent in this game at getting to the second level and being able to lock on linebackers in draws and screens.
It was obvious that his biggest weakness is quick-twitch moves in the phone booth. Fanaika does not handle quick inside moves well with consistency.
I believe Fanaika will push Zach Fulton and might win the job, although I would bet on the second-year pro out of Tennessee. I see them as having similar skill sets, with Fanaika having better punch and Fulton having more leg strength.
If Fanaika has to start, he will not be a disaster. He is certainly not Mike McGlynn or Jeff Linkenbach. He has his issues, but he will not get Alex Smith into trouble consistently. Provided Dorsey does not hand Fanaika a ton of guaranteed money, I find this to be a solid signing that will allow the Chiefs to survive an injury at the guard spot.