You may have heard that the Kansas City Chiefs traded a fifth-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for guard Ben Grubbs on Thursday afternoon. New Orleans needed cap relief, Kansas City needed a guard, and both teams walk away happy.
In the aftermath, there were two sides of opinion for the trade from the Chiefs perspective. Some believed Grubbs, a two-time Pro Bowler, was slipping and no longer a quality player. Others believed Grubbs is still a top-notch guard who represents a major upgrade along the front.
So, naturally, I decided to do my job and stuff and look at film.
I chose to look at four games from the 2014 season. I began with Week 5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Week 7 versus the Detroit Lions, Week 12 against the Baltimore Ravens and Week 13 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
My reasons for choosing those games were to see a variety of different fronts, including both 4-3 and 3-4. I also wanted to see Grubbs work against Gerald McCoy, Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh and Haloti Ngata. No weak sauce here, just quality defensive linemen. Here is what I found:
Grubbs is going to be a joy to watch on screens. What the big fella gets into space, he can really make things happen at the second level. While Paul Fanaika is basically an ice box with legs, Grubbs is a guard who prefers to get out of the phone booth. Without question, Grubbs is best in the run game when he can guide his opponent, rather than maul.
Against the Buccaneers, Grubbs was very solid except for one comically bad pass play in which he did not touch the oncoming rusher. It was like Mike McGlynn with four broken limbs bad. Outside of that calamity, Grubbs really dominated inside, including his matchups with McCoy.
In Detroit, Fairley was a full-blown beast. Fairley definitely got the better of the play early, but Grubbs rebounded to stone him for the majority of the final three quarters. Watching this game confirmed what the Tampa Bay tape showed; Grubbs is an athlete who loves to get onto linebackers.
If there is one weakness with Grubbs, it is being walked back into the pocket. We aren't talking McGlynn-level, but just being jacked up occasionally. It was not consistent, but happened enough it is worth mentioning. On the flip side, Grubbs was rarely beaten with an athletic maneuver. For a man listed at 6'3 and 310 pounds, he can really move.
Of the four games I watched, his best came on a Monday night against Baltimore. Grubbs was picture perfect in the pass game and only twice allowed his man to slip away from him on running plays. Grubbs truly was dominant facing Ngata and others, despite the Saints losing.
Another facet of Grubbs' game that must be mentioned is his ability to handle stunts and twists with ease. Unlike Fanaika who struggles with understanding the defense at times, Grubbs is very aware. On multiple plays throughout the film study, there were a multitude of plays when Grubbs immediately saw a twist, stunt or blitz and stymied it. Outside of his athleticism, it is his best trait.
His play against Brett Keisel and the Steelers was good for the most part. In the first quarter, Keisel showed why he has been such a good player for so long, using great technique to beat Grubbs on a few run plays and one pass play. After that, Grubbs was a wall sans one play in the fourth quarter where he allowed a hit on Drew Brees. Overall, it was a good day of work, if unspectacular.
See for yourself section
This is Grubbs in the screen game. Of all his strengths, this could be his biggest:
In the next frame, we see Grubbs getting out ahead of the back, ready to plow the way for a touchdown.
This is the end of somebody's life who plays for Tampa Bay
Taking on a stunt is something every interior lineman has to handle. Grubbs demonstrates perfect technique here.
Below we see Grubbs understanding that a stunt is coming and anticipating. This is something that murdered Kansas City's guards last year. I can't stress this enough.
Grubbs has handled the stunt. Look at the pocket Drew Brees is enjoying. Even the man who is completely down on Alex Smith would concede a pocket like this would certainly help.
Here we get a good look at how Grubbs can get to the second level and dominate.
Here, Grubbs is three yards downfield and locked onto Dane Fletcher (see the arrow) before the back cuts upfield.
The end result is Grubbs completely erasing Fletcher from the play, running him into the sideline.
Grubbs is a very talented player who is best served for a zone blocking scheme. He will be a terrific fit for Andy Reid's offense, especially in plays which demand he get out in space, such as screens and draws. Grubbs is one of the more athletic lineman I've studied tape on.
At times, Grubbs will get walked back into the pocket. Luckily, Smith has enough mobility to mitigate some of those problems. Generally speaking, Grubbs is a solid pass protector, but his strength is in the run game. I expect to see a ton of screens to the left side this year, and plenty of sizable gains for Jamaal Charles.
Giving up a fifth-round pick is more than worth it for a player the caliber of Grubbs.