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Chiefs Pro Scouting Series: Eric Fisher

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The debut article of Matt Lane, the artist formerly known as KelcesKrazies

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Fisher.

Close to an elite NFL left tackle? Barely capable of starting at left tackle in the NFL? The phrase one chooses to associate with the real Eric Fisher can greatly depend on the game, drive or even particular snap in question, essentially meaning the answer falls somewhere in between.

While cliché to default to the “middle” of the two extreme takes, Eric Fisher is truly a player who plays on either end of the spectrum often enough to continue to generate such debate. At the end of the day, can someone with such a high variance on a play-by-play basis ever be considered elite? Can someone capable of following through with the most difficult and complex tasks at his position be considered a fringe starter?

Now I’ve gotten ahead of myself and started flooding you with questions that you may have the answers already worked up for, or you may want to hang out and dig to the bottom of it.

Either way, I have you covered. But first let me introduce myself.


To many around Arrowhead Pride, I’m known as KelcesKrazies.

I changed my username recently, and for those that don’t know, I’ve been a member of the community since 2015. Over that time, I’ve written my fair share of FanPosts, focusing the most in-depth on the NFL Draft with bits and pieces of NFL work mixed in. I thoroughly enjoy breaking down the film of games and learning about the Xs and Os of football but also who is executing them well and how they are going about doing that.

I am thrilled to be an official part of the AP Community now and to be in a position to do some film review and share what I’m seeing with you guys.

After that brief interlude, what exactly are we going to be doing with this “film review”?

I know the first thing popping into people’s heads are Seth’s (MNChiefsFan) fantastic work with AP over the years and his charting of wins/losses during the off-season. I am not trying to replicate nor take that over but instead will be working in the same film review realm but focusing on the how or why a player is winning/losing while playing his position.

This is a similar process to scouting college prospects coming into the NFL, and I’m using a very similar scale that I use for that process, but rather than relying purely on traits and skills and projecting them at the next level, we will be looking at how those particular skills and traits are being executed at the NFL level.

This Pro Player Scouting Series will span the rest of the offseason, checking in with how some of the veterans on the current roster have performed over the past year and how they match up to the rest of the NFL at their respective positions.

To grade these players, we have to have a form of system and ranking scale to put such a subjective idea into context.

(Note: If you have no interest in reading about the grading system and are just here for some fun gifs, some not-so fun-gifs, and the takeaways just go ahead and scroll down the page a bit.)

My system and ranking scale

  • Four key skills/traits are chosen that are absolutely necessary to play each position
  • Four accessory skills/traits are chosen that assist in executing the key skills/traits
  • All eight skills/traits are scored based on the game film and are called “Raw Scores.” These scores are all out of 91 possible points.
  • These Raw Scores can be compared to the same grading scale (provided soon) to look at how well the player performs that particular skill.
  • The Raw Scores are added together and weighted (key skills > accessory skills), then averaged out to generate the bulk of a player’s Score, which is out of 100.
  • There are bonus points left out of the scoring system to account for: injury history, leadership, toughness and general demeanor on the field (the total points that can be earned as a bonus aren’t significant unless a player is toeing a grading line and can never hurt a player).
  • The bonus points are added to the averaged Score, which will give us our final Grade of a player.

(Note: At this point, most have probably just skipped on to the actual review, but I only have a quick bit left; if you are still reading, you are probably itching to know the actual scale)

PSS Grading Scale

Score Range Grade
Score Range Grade
84.51+ All Pro Caliber
78 - 84.5 Pro Bowl Caliber
71.63 - 77.99 Above Average Starter
65 - 71.62 Average Starter
58.63 - 64.99 Below Average Starter
52 - 58.62 Rotational Player
45.63 - 51.99 Good Back-Up
39 - 45.62 Back-Up/Special Teams
32.63 - 38.99 Depth Player
26 - 32.62 Practice Squad
19.5 - 25.99 Camp Player

All right. So you’ve hung in here this long. Let’s get to the part that you clicked in here for: the Eric Fisher Pro Scouting Report.

Eric Fisher: Left Tackle

6’7” | 315 lbs. | Exp: 6 Years

Key Skills/Traits

Pass Blocking

Pass blocking is the cream of the crop in terms of skills required by offensive linemen, especially offensive tackles, in the NFL. For that reason, it’s listed at the very top. This is the closest I will get to a win/loss percentage, but ultimately, how often a player loses in pass protection is highly impactful on a his overall performance at OT. Some other skills that will be included after this play a role in the overall performance as a pass protector as well, but this score is looking at consistency, effectiveness and versatility in pass protection rather than specific technical components of each rep.

So, moving on to Eric Fisher in pass protection, in the five games I watched, Fisher showed more pass sets than most OTs have in their entire arsenal. Quick sets, flat sets, vertical sets, some 45° sets, and finally multiple sets that combined them together, which is great, as it allows Fisher to keep EDGE players from trying to read him as the ball is snapped and allows the Chiefs do different things as an offense.

Along with versatility, Fisher’s best set is often his quick set or flat set, which allows him to get into a defender early and then use his athleticism to mirror them while engaged.

This play is a great example of a quick set (or in this particular case, a skip set), in which Fisher immediately gets out to the edge in front of the DE and gets to engage him before his second step is complete. Fisher is asked or opts to use a quick set more often than most OTs in the NFL, which is a nod to his athleticism and ability to cover that space quickly.

Most times you see a quick set like this it’s coming on a one-read pass, but as you can see above, this was a five-step drop and while the ball comes out quickly, Fisher will toss this in on any depth of drop.

If versatility as a pass protector is the biggest strength for Fisher, his biggest weakness has to be consistency, especially in regards to hitting his set points. Just as Fisher flashes the ability to employ any of these pass sets, he shows the ability to completely botch any of them with not enough depth, using the wrong set based on alignment, or taking poor angles out of his stance. Specifically looking at Fisher’s V-Sets (45°), the path and depth Fisher gets is all over the place. The next issue that shows up often is Fisher’s hand usage, but we’ll have more on that later.

Here is another play that Fisher tries to flat set, which is a form of a quick pass set, a defensive end lined up in as a wide-9. Fisher has to know there is too much ground to cover to try and flat-set this play without the traffic between them like on the previous play.

You can almost even see Fisher realize this and open his hips up completely to get out there on his second skip. This opens him up for the inside move by the DE given Fisher’s hips are now facing the sideline more than the DE. Rather than try to force this flat set at an awkward 2 to 3-yard depth, Fisher should be using a V-set or vertical set if the DE is uncovered like this.

It’s impossible to say if he is choosing a flatter set in this situation or being told do so via the coaching staff, but the former seems more reasonable given the near impossibility of pulling this off with any consistency.

Raw Score: 68.25

Run Blocking

Similar to the pass-blocking category, this is about consistency, effectiveness and versatility as a run blocker. This is an area where Eric Fisher has shined more than most throughout his career and while I do think there was a slight step backward this year compared to some years past, he was still highly effective and asked to do difficult tasks.

The Chiefs run mostly inside and outside zone with some occasional mid-zone plays and then sprinkle in counters, traps and power runs. The best part for the Chiefs is that Fisher operates equally efficiently in all off these situations, whether asked to down-block defensive tackles, get up to the second level, get out in space on the edge or work a combo into the second level. Again, Fisher is able to use his athleticism to pull off most of these feats but there is certainly some power and ability to move players in his game.

Fisher starts this play off with a beautiful gallop step to close the distance between him and Bryan Witzmann quickly in case the defensive tackle tries to shoot the gap, but his help isn’t needed, so rather than trying to get greedy, Fisher works down the line of scrimmage to close off the pursuit.

As he sees the safety and linebacker react to the ball, he is able to get vertical, break down in space and get hands on them, slowing both of them down and forcing them into extremely passive angles. I love the finish of the play, as Fisher runs with the defenders in case Kareem Hunt is ready to cut back inside as well.

I mentioned that I thought Fisher regressed a bit as a run blocker this year and this could be based on the games I focussed on, but the reasoning behind it was simply due to Kansas City running less behind him. In the past, it seemed like Kansas City had great success running behind Fisher or getting Fisher out in front of the running back, whereas this year he was much more often asked to reach backside pursuit or seal off the second level. He is very adept at both of these things and the Chiefs were mixing and matching their OL all season long, so it could be based more on circumstance than his actual play.

I did also see a few too many whiffed blocks in space for a guy as athletic as Fisher that I don’t think showed up since his rookie year.

Raw Score: 78

Mental Processing

Mental Processing at the OL position is extremely valuable and hard to quantify. It’s simple to see a missed stunt or blitzer, which certainly plays a part, but OL also have to be able to recognize defensive alignment, pass-rush techniques being used, angles defenders are taking to the ball and what the rest of the offense is doing at the same time.

Overall, Fisher shows well in most of these areas, he picks up under guys on stunts quickly, when defenses send two guys at him he takes the inside man, he calls out players crowding the line of scrimmage, etc.

He never appears to be overmatched on a large scale and reacts quickly to the team around him, helping the left guard often or squeezing the space between them when he can.

The biggest area of improvement for Fisher here, as we saw above on the pass rush loss play, is recognizing the pass rushers’ plan of attack based on their alignment and techniques they can use during the play. He doesn’t always seem to quickly process what move a defender is trying to pull off, which allows them to set him up throughout the game.

Think of the pass rushers that have given Fisher the most trouble through the years: James Harrison and Khalil Mack. While both are extremely strong, both also are very adept at setting players up throughout the game and Fisher begins to play both hyper aggressive or overly passive when he isn’t getting a good read at the pass-rushing plan.

Raw Score: 68.25

Explosiveness & Range

We can probably keep this section relatively short because not only is this Fisher’s best trait, by far, but it’s also a simple one to lay out.

When talking about explosiveness for a OL, I’m focusing mostly on when they are coming out of their stance. Do they cover a lot of ground and do it quickly and are capable of doing it in multiple directions?

The more you watch Fisher, the more you have to like his drive-catch in his pass sets. He can get great depth out of his stance when setting vertical or as we’ve seen get horizontal before defenders can finish their drive off the line of scrimmage. When looking at range, we are talking about both in the run game and the passing game. In the running game (or screen game), it’s simply how far can you get from your starting point and still be effective as a blocker, turning players you need to turn or sealing players you need to seal. In the passing game we are looking the ability to get depth on seven-plus step drops and the ability to block for a moving pocket. Fisher excels in all of these aspects at a high rate.

You can see the depth Fisher is able to generate and how quickly he can get there. He is using a vertical set, which allows for the greatest depth in a timely fashion, but Fisher is still covering as much ground as the rusher in the same amount of time while moving backward with a good pad level.

Raw Score: 87.75

Accessory Skills and Traits

Hand Technique

A pretty self-explanatory category but to make sure we are on the same page, hand technique is looking at the timing, placement, power and versatility in the ability to hand-fight with defending players.

Fisher, like many parts of his game, has a high variance with his hand-fighting. His placement with his hands is oftentimes in a good enough location and he shows enough power to effectively knock players off their pass rush route. He can also show good patience with his hands by not over-reaching earl and getting off balance, which would open him up to counters. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost, as he can be too late with his hands allowing rushers into his body which does get him off balance and unable to regain the advantage.

Fisher also doesn’t showcase the quickest of hands and the most versatility with them.

Here we have Fisher quick setting up Joey Bosa and then delivering a quick, powerful punch into Bosa’s chest, getting him off his line. Fisher follows it up by mirroring him and is using his inside hand to control the inside counter as well as drive him around the pocket. Good rep with good hands.

Then there is the bad rep with bad hands.

Fisher’s set here is fine with good depth, good balance and is squared up with the rusher, but he just leaves his hands in the holster too long. The defender gets his hands not only inside on Fisher, but also lands them first, as Fisher is playing with more of a catch technique.

I like the patient idea Fisher shows often, but in order to pull it off, he has to showcase quicker hands with more versatility. Fisher essentially has a straight two-hand punch or a catch technique that he uses. I would like to see him utilize his inside hand far more often when he’s playing patiently and even some quick jab punches to keep pass rusher from being able to gear up for a bull rush.

Raw Score: 55.25

Balance & Foot Technique

I combined balance and foot technique because they greatly lead into one or the other and it can be hard to decipher which one is the result of the other.

When looking for balance and foot technique, we are trying to see if a player is crossing his feet, taking a ton of steps, taking false steps, having to reset his body to continue moving in a particular direction and simply, if they are standing or on the ground. Overall, Fisher’s feet move very well without too many concerns in terms of his footwork.

His backpedal and shuffles are clean, quick and fluid while covering plus distance and he shows the ability to pull that off through contact when mirroring players. In space he breaks down with quick, choppy steps and gets his hips under him to roll them into defenders. There is the occasional body realignment Fisher has to pull off but it’s more following mental mistakes rather than a technical or physical limitation.

Fisher shows adequate balance but struggles to play with great leverage at all times given his height. Defenders are able to get under him which gets him off balance and while he usually can stay upright, he becomes very movable due to being on his heels.

Fisher takes the under man on the stunt and engages with a wide base and active feet when being bull rushed. He keeps his knees bent and drops his butt, allowing him to stop the rush and then you see the ability to work laterally with a defender who is open his hips to run to the sideline. As the defender gets square to the sideline, you see Fisher seamlessly turn his hips while still maintaining contact with the defender to maintain the block down the line of scrimmage.

Raw Score: 68.25

Recovery

Losing reps happens in the NFL.

There will be times where any offensive tackle is beaten by the pass rusher and it’s up to the OT to get back into the play after the initial loss. This is an area Fisher has struggled with despite being a very athletic player, which usually leads to better recovering players.

Once the play begins to roll downhill for him, Fisher struggles to get it back on track the majority of the time. He has the foot quickness to drive players around the pocket, and with some quarterbacks, that would work even better than it has currently for him, but overall that’s his only recovery move.

If a pass rusher gets into Fisher’s chest to get him off balance or gets to a half-man relation, there often is just a sense of “hang on,” rather than recovering the block entirely. The biggest culprit here is the lack of great hand usage and the ability to re-establish the leverage on the play.

This play may not seem like “recovery” was an issue, but look at how deep they are when Khalil Mack gets even to Fisher’s hip, 3-4 yards.

At this point, Fisher is behind in the rep because he has less momentum and has to try hard to take away the speed rush due to being even with Mack.

When Mack plants to long-arm him, Fisher needed to use his inside hand to stay clean and re-anchor, but instead, he tries to catch Mack’s body and is easily discarded as his momentum carries him backwards while Mack helps him along.

So while not looking like he’s chasing a player that has already beaten him, this is a prime example of an area Fisher struggles in terms of getting back to an advantageous position when in pass protection.

Raw Score: 58.5

Power

Power is another simple one: How much movement can you create when engaging with a defender?

Fisher may not have the heaviest of hands as he punches into a player but once engaged, he is capable of digging players out that are lower than him and moving guys backwards by himself.

Fisher even shows the ability to down or drive block defensive tackles to generate running lanes and can even be used as a lead blocker while pulling. Fisher shows very good power once engaged with defenders. If he can survive the initial punching phase of the engagement, he rarely gives up ground. One thing that does zap Fisher off some power is when he plays with bad leverage/off balance. There will be times that Fisher just struggles to get movement based on being too high and he doesn’t have the best upper body strength to consistently press players off his chest from that position.

On this play, you can see Fisher work down the line of scrimmage and get tasked with the trap block on Fletcher Cox. While Fisher has the advantage of momentum and knows what is about to happen, you can still see Cox prepare for the contact and still get up enough ground to open up a hole on the play.

Raw Score: 68.25

Bonus Points: 5

For the bonus points section, Fisher was awarded a point for not missing any game time, a point for consistently being involved with teammates outside of football, two points for having an edge to him on the field and a point for being active in calling out shifts, alignments and blitzers pre-snap.

Overall Score: 75.69 | Grade: Above Average Starter

Outlook Going Into 2018

Eric Fisher will likely continue to be a high variance OT equally capable of being a star doing amazing feats for a man his size as he is to allowing an untouched pass rusher get to his QB.

If he recaptures his 2016 form and can add just a bit more consistency with his hands, Fisher could really solidify the LT spot and begin to erase questions over his play. Even showing he’s plateaued in his development, he provides a quality NFL starter at an extremely important position.

Barring a steep regression on last year’s play, Fisher shouldn’t be in any form positional battle or roster bubble (even with the hefty contract) over the next couple seasons.