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Scouting report: G Brian Waters

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  September 4, 2011 04:23 PM

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What could the signing of former All-Pro guard Brian Waters mean to the Patriots?

We tried to find out.

From league sources

The Chiefs thought he was done last year and probably would have benched him for rookie Jon Asamoah if Waters didn’t have the stature he does off the field in Kansas City. That he was set to make $3.5 million this season made it easier for the Chiefs to part with Waters. … One of his big issues was the shape he showed up in the past two or three years. He was always 10-15 pounds overweight, and would need time to get into game shape. …Tremendous in the locker room and in the community, as evidence by his 2009 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award … Most around the league think he has one more solid year left in him.

What the tape says

Watched three of the Chiefs’ games last season. Here are some notes from each:

Jan. 9: Ravens 30, Chiefs 7 (playoffs)

  • Total: Allowed two total hurries and a sack.
  • Surprised by the quickness of his feet. Doesn’t have top-end lateral agility, but he is surprising light on his feet for a man that is 6-3 and 320 pounds.
  • Not very much man-on-man blocking – the Patriots do more. A lot more sliding of protection than the Patriots do.
  • Can get to the second level with ease. Can also pull, which is important in the Patriots’ running scheme which mixes zone stretches, and power.
  • Gave up a hurry when Ray Lewis came on a delayed blitz off a line stunt. Waters actually handled it fine – better than some of the Patriots linemen would (they really struggle with stunts) – it was just a good scheme by the Ravens.
  • Manhandled NT Terrence Cody with the help of Asamoah on a 3rd and 1 play.
  • On the next play, Waters tossed Cody by himself.
  • Shared a quarterback hurry with center Casey Wiegmann when Waters fell for a flash by DE Terrell Suggs. That allowed DT Kelly Gregg to split Waters and Wiegmann.
  • Waters was beat inside by DE Paul Kruger for a half hurry.
  • In garbage time with the Chiefs trailing by the final score, Waters allowed a sack to Ray Lewis when Waters got picked by the right end. Waters was a little late to engage Lewis.
  • Man, Matt Cassel holds the ball a long time. Did he do that here too?

Dec. 12: Chargers 31, Chiefs 0

  • Total: One stuff (runs of 1 yard or less) allowed, half sack, QB knockdown.
  • Chargers are the Patriots’ Week 2 opponent, and one that Waters should know plenty about being in the same division.
  • Brodie Croyle started this game at QB for the Chiefs.
  • Waters was really good in this game, not giving up much ground to DE Jacques Cesaire or NT Antonio Garay.
  • On the one stuff, Waters allowed Garay to get inside him for a tackle for a loss.
  • The half sack came on the final play of the first half on a Hail Mary when he and LT Branden Albert didn’t work well together on the play.
  • Waters had occasional trouble with the quickness of Cesaire. On one play Ogemdi Nwagbuo pushed Waters into the backfield.
  • Waters allowed late pressure on the knockdown.
  • Waters showed off a lot of old pro moves, little movements - a hand to the shoulder here, a one-arm toss there – that you only see with long-time veterans. He just knows how to play and that often makes up for some of the physical skills that aren’t quite there.

Oct. 31: Chiefs 13, Bills 10

  • Total: 2 stuffs allowed
  • Wanted to get a look at Waters against an AFC East team.
  • Waters was locked up much of the afternoon with excellent Bills DT Kyle Williams and more than held his own.
  • Allowed a stuff when Waters failed to cut Williams on an outside zone play. On the other, Williams pushed Waters as step back, and then disengaged with a shove to take down Thomas Jones for no gain.
  • Waters showed his agility with a very nice chop block on a screen pass. Didn’t tip off the block to the defender and quickly took him out.
  • What was really impressive was that on two occasions Waters threw Williams to the ground with one arm. He waits for the defender to get a little off balance and then uses his obvious strength. Waters does this at least one a game.

Verdict

If Waters is in midseason shape, in my lay opinion, he’s an upgrade over anybody the Patriots currently have to play right guard. Connolly has better overall agility, but his weakness is against power. Waters is the opposite. He’s at his best using his strength, and his foot quickness is still an asset – although he can get beat moving side to side.

While it’s a similar position, the transition from left to right guard is not something that will come overnight, not after 11 years at one position. Every step you make, every hand placement, has been perfectly choreographed for the LG position. Now Waters would basically have to be a mirror to his former self. It will take some getting used to. How long will it take? It’s impossible to say. But even an in-progress Waters might be good enough to start right away.

The sack he allowed against the Ravens was the only one profootballfocus.com said he gave up all season. They have him for four QB hits and 11 hurries all season.

Love the nastiness and toughness he would bring to the line. Not that Connolly isn’t any of those things, Waters is just different because of all the skins he has on the walls. He’s like an older Logan Mankins in terms of on-field disposition. And having Waters at RG can only help RT Sebastian Vollmer who is not the potential All-Pro that some claim him to be. He definitely struggles at time, and perhaps that has been exacerbated when RG Stephen Neal wasn’t in the lineup.

In our lay opinion, if Waters is in shape and can make the transition to RG quickly, he is here to be a starter, not a backup. Connolly is more versatile and would be more effective in a reserve role. The timeframe is all that needs to be decided. It will help that Waters played for Charlie Weis in Kansas City. The offense shouldn’t be a problem.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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