Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Breaking Down the Chicago Bears Second Round Pick: Kansas State OG - Cody Whitehair

This was one of the most well-received picks by the Bears as many saw Whitehair as a first round talent, and they were able to get him near the end of the second round. I checked out his games against Baylor, Arkansas, and Oklahoma to see what all the hype was about, well, as much hype as a guard can get at least.

Well, the first thing that should probably be mentioned is that although he is projected as a Guard, he played Left Tackle in college. This is something I love to see, especially as an Iowa fan who has seen left tackles like Brandon Scherff and Marshall Yanda make a seamless transition to becoming dominant guards in the NFL. But you put your best offensive lineman at left tackle most of the time, and Whitehair proved to be just that for Kansas State.

If there is one word that I would want to describe my offensive lineman (outside of obvious ones like excellent, All-Pro, or Hall of Famer), I would go with nasty. I like a guy with a little bit of a mean streak, and I saw that Whitehair plays through the whistle and takes his shots when he's tangled with someone. None of it was dirty, but it was hard-nosed, which is essential as grit is necessary as his skin color means that he was not blessed with athleticism.

Well, except for the fact that he is kind of a physical freak when it comes to his combine numbers. He put up elite numbers in the 40, the short shuttle, the ten yard dash, the broad jump, and the three cone drill. The only thing to really worry about is his short arm length which is not as important for a guy on the inside as it is for somebody out at tackle. I know I'm not allowed to say this about a white guy, but this dude is a hell of an athlete.

Kansas State pulled their tackles a little bit which gave an idea how Whitehair would move in space. I wasn't overly impressed in how he generated momentum in his blocks. His feet moved well, but I still didn't see much explosiveness when making contact with the defender. This was a little odd, but as a tackle, there weren't a ton of opportunities to make any long-term conclusions.

It was clear that once Whitehair got his hands on somebody, he locked onto them and they weren't getting away.

The only real negative that I saw is that he occasionally got high up during his blocks and would get bent backwards. He was still able to use his strength and flexibility to keep his guy off the quarterback, but it's especially important that he stays low when he moves to the inside.

Whitehair's most interesting performance was probably his game against Baylor as they have a lot of very talented linemen. One of those linemen was Shawn Oakman who likely would have been a day two pick had he not been accused of domestic abuse. At one point, it looked like Whitehair knew of the allegation, as he absolutely abused Oakman on this play.

And just a couple plays later, what Whitehair did to Oakman should definitely not be legal.
In fact, it isn't legal, as Whitehair did get called for the penalty, but that is still phenomenal work of completely punking somebody out. Obviously, the snapdown is great, getting on top of him after is wonderful, but I most loved that he lifted the left leg to put extra weight on Oakman to dole out the maximum punishment.

Here's the thing with Whitehair. Outside of him being on a mission to punish Oakman, there weren't a lot of plays where he popped off the screen. But on the other side of that coin, he rarely seemed to lose his one-on-one battles. He just finds a way to hang in there no matter what in the passing game, and he simply does his job when it comes to the running game. Here's the thing about interior offensive linemen. You can find some great ones late in the draft, but at the same time, the guys who are highly thought of almost always work out for the team that drafted them. Whitehair is probably a top-25 talent at a position that is very undervalued, but as long as you focus on the former, there is no way to be anything but happy about what the Bears did with this pick. 


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