Here is the scoring system and now it’s time to look at the 28th-ranked player in fullback Bradie Ewing.
Total Score: 44
Player Grade: 49 out of 100
Teams he could start for: 11 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 5 out of 32
Teams he could find role on: 11 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +4
Positional Bonus: +2
Ewing is a relative unknown after tearing his ACL on the first special teams play of last summer’s preseason opener. He never played a snap on offense before going down with the injury. Now, he’ll be counted back to come back in 2013 stronger than ever and be a contributor as a Falcons starter.
Fullback is a dying position in the NFL, but Ewing should still be able to carve out a fine career in Atlanta and potentially elsewhere in the league.
Ewing is not a road-grading fullback in the way that he’s going to blow up linebackers at the line of scrimmage, a common sight during the heyday of Ovie Mughelli in Atlanta. But he can still be a capable lead blocker. At Wisconsin, he was very consistent when it came to locating and hitting his assignments, which makes him more efficient than impactful per se. The Falcons won’t rely on the fullback position as much this year and presumably moving forward as they did in the past. Gone is the ground and pound staple of the offense with Mughelli and Michael Turner. While the Falcons won’t shy away from running the ball, it won’t be the bread and butter of their offense. Instead, they are building the offense around quarterback Matt Ryan and largely your value on offense is based around how effectively you can make him better.
Ewing won’t contribute there as much as others like Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Steven Jackson obviously, but he can still contribute. A capable receiver, the big key for him is to become proficient in pass protection. That means he can get reps when the Falcons spread the field and go with four wideouts, a role that Mughelli occasionally held. If you can trust your fullback to keep your quarterback’s jersey clean and allow your other backs to get a rest, that adds increased value. That impact in the passing game was something that the Falcons missed last year with Mike Cox. While Cox was a capable blocker, his limitations in the passing game made him less valuable, and thus why the Falcons are more willing to turn the keys over to Ewing.
Another area where Ewing is expected to carve out a significant role will be on special teams. He was able there at Wisconsin. Cox also added limited value in that realm.
So while Ewing may not develop into the next Mughelli or Vonta Leach, he won’t really have to in order to make a home on this roster moving forward. If he’s only competent (and I think he has the upside to be more than that) and can contribute occasionally in the passing game as well as special teams, he’ll have a chance to move up these rankings down the road.