Today we’ll take a look at someone who needs little introduction for many of you, Travis Frederick, center, Wisconsin.
Frederick settles back into his pass protection set up out of his stance with decent quickness and is usually squared and set to punch the defender as he arrives. Frederick appears to have a relatively weak initial punch that doesn’t slow the defender’s pass rush and allows the defender to quickly get his hands on Frederick and into his body. Once engaged, Frederick tends to play high and often gives up leverage to the defender. That said, Fredrick keeps his base very wide and moves his feet quickly in response to the defender’s movement, and is thus very good at staying in front of the defender and is rarely driven off the line far despite often giving up leverage. Frederick shows good hand placement, keeping them inside of the defender, and was very quick at replacing his hands when they were knocked away, denying the defensive lineman an effective release or effective pass rush moves. Due to Frederick’s upright pass protection style, he has a bit of a dangerous forward lean and is sometimes susceptible to quick moves such as spins and inside swims. Most of the pressures that Frederick gave up tended to come from such maneuvers.
When picking up rushing linebackers, Frederick was okay at indentifying and accounting for extra rushers and tended to react appropriately, but in a few instances let a defender come free. When taking on the linebacker, Frederick showed good technique, squaring himself to the defender and extending on contact to kill their momentum. When passing defenders off, Frederick appeared to remain engaged a little too long on occasion but was generally good at recognizing when to time the pass off. Frederick was good at receiving defenders from others, showing good awareness and footwork to pick up the new man and not let him split the gap. When there was no immediate pass rush threat, Frederick was sometimes slow to help his guards on double teams and occasionally seemed a bit lost in these scenarios, appearing to anticipate additional defenders coming.
When coming off the line to run block, Frederick displayed average explosiveness at best. However, Frederick fired out low and showed amazing leg drive to push defenders off of the line. Frederick was also very good at turning his opponent’s shoulders and turning his own body to not only shield the run lane but move the defender out of the gap entirely. Frederick did appear to narrow his feet when driving, however, and sometimes slipped and fell, allowing the defender to come free to make a tackle. Frederick on rare instances had trouble reaching defenders who were shaded far outside of him, resulting in defender coming free into the backfield. In addition, Frederick often seemed to have trouble when he was asked to trap from center, seeming to lack the explosiveness to turn and reach the free defender before he could make a play. Frederick was much better at this when asked to trap as a pulling guard his red shirt sophomore year, as these plays developed more slowly and allowed Frederick time to gain a head of steam. All of this suggests that Frederick is somewhat lacking in his lateral agility.
Frederick was good at double teaming, getting his hand into the defender’s chest when assisting and driving the defender out of the run lane while leaving his outside free to combo block. Frederick rarely seemed to receive help on double teams as the principal blocker but as you can imagine was highly effective at moving defenders when he did receive help.
Frederick was absolutely fantastic at blocking second level defenders. Whether coming off of an initial block or releasing off of the line, Frederick took fantastic angles, latched onto the linebacker and drove and in many instances drove him entirely away from the play, not allowing the linebacker to extend or shed him. Frederick on rare occasion would miss a linebacker, but it’s unreasonable to expect him to hit every single block. Several long runs and touchdowns are directly attributable to Frederick’s ability to run block down field.
Frederick was very good on draw plays, expertly feigning the pass and then quickly switching to a driving run block to knock defenders out of the gap. Similarly, Frederick was good off of screen plays, releasing well and reaching the second level to drive defenders out of the way.
Frederick’s line generally seemed well put together and defenders rarely seemed unaccounted for. A free defender coming free would occasionally occur, but even the best centers will botch a line call here or there. Frederick’s snaps seemed to generally be on target, but there were a few instances on film where he would snap high. I didn’t see it enough to believe it will be a real problem, and I think he could iron it out over another offseason of practice.
All things considered, I see Frederick as a somewhat flawed, but none-the-less effective pass protector and a very good to exceptional run blocker. I think that Frederick would be slightly better fit on a team that utilizes man-blocking schemes but I think he can still be very effective on a team that uses zone blocking despite what I perceive to be some athletic limitations.
On the Packers, I believe Frederick could come in and immediately improve the run game, despite this being Evan Dietrich-Smith’s area of strength, but I don’t see Frederick as much of an upgrade as a pass protector at the moment if he represents an upgrade at all. Frederick could develop into a much better pass protector if he learns to play with his hips lower and develops a better initial punch, but at the moment I believe he’ll have trouble with more explosive interior defenders such as Ndamukong Suh. Though Frederick has good footwork and a wide base, his upright play and forward lean will likely leave him somewhat vulnerable at the next level. Overall, I think a late second round value seems just about right for Frederick.