TRips recently asked former UA offensive lineman Griff Redmill to rank athleticism, intelligence and mean streak in order of importance when breaking down attributes needed to play on an offensive line in the Southeastern Conference.
Redmill on Jones: "He is a guy who could play any position and be really good if not great at it."
Seeing as how he started for three seasons at guard for the Crimson Tide from 1998-2000, we figured Redmill could offer an educated opinion on the topic. Based on his responses, it's safe to say Redmill didn't disappoint.
Redmill says: "It doesn't matter how talented a player is, if he's not intelligent, he CAN'T play on the offensive line. There definitely has to be a certain level of brains there just to learn all the plays, blocking schemes and line calls."
"But more important is the intelligence that is gained with experience. There is no substitute for this in today's game, where you have many defensive fronts that are constantly changing right up until the ball is snapped."
"Experience gives a guy the confindence to adjust or change his blocking assignment without an official audible from the center. When you have an entire offensive line that has this level of experience, you can even see guys changing combination blocking schemes across the line without ever hearing a call change (see: UA offensive line in 1999). Substitute one new guy into that equation and it can disrupt a lot more than just one position across the front."
Redmill says: "Assuming you're smart enough to play, this one comes second. After you know where to go, you have to be good enough to get your body there."
"The front seven of today's defenses has become very athletic and fast. Offensive line play has had to evolve in order to compete with this caliber of athlete. Footwork is most important. A player has to be able to stay on his feet and 'run' his body into position against a typically faster defender.
"Also, hand placement is important to gain leverage and control over players that may be faster but are usually weaker. These two tools are important if your typical bigger/stronger offensive lineman is going to win the battle over these faster more explosive defenders."
3.) Mean streak
Redmill says: "You have to have the first two attributes to play offensive line, but the best have one more. A mean streak is what sets apart a great player from a good player."
"You can win a lot of games with dependable guys that are smart, athletic and hardworking. But add one nasty S.O.B. to the bunch and it elevates everyone's level of play. It also creates an intimidation factor for the opponent that gives the entire unit an edge."
"One guy that I played with who was a clear example of all of these attributes was Chris Samuels. Chris was a smart and heady player who knew the blocking schemes for every position on the offense. He understood how the play was supposed to unfold, not just what he was supposed to be doing on that play."
"While Chris was always a hard worker, He wasn't really a weight room guy. I remember we were doing our weight room tests just before camp started one year. Coach [Terry] Jones had to talk him into doing his power clean test. Chris reluctantly walked up to the bar and proceded to break the power clean record that had been standing for about 10 years. That shows you what kind of athlete he was."
"He was one of the nicest guys you'd ever me off the field (but) he was a beast when it came time to strap on the pads. He was one of the most relentless blockers I've ever seen. I think he had over 35 pancake blocks his senior year."