Cowboys Film Review: UDFA Center Jake Brendel ✭
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Cowboys Film Review: UDFA Center Jake Brendel

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Cowboys Film Review: UDFA Center Jake Brendel

Anyone with a basic knowledge of the happenings of the NFL understands one thing; the Dallas Cowboys have the best offensive line in football.

Maybe a team such as the Oakland Raiders could challenge for their spot, but I doubt it. It’s pretty clear to most how great this offensive line is in Dallas, with three All-Pro quality players and another one (La’el Collins) in the making.

However, as is the case with most teams, depth behind these five starters is a problem. I recently detailed the swing tackle problem which faces the Cowboys, but on the interior line it’s not much better.

Sure, guard Ronald Leary has proven to be a legitimate starter in this league, but being as disgruntled as he is about his current role it’s fair to ask if he is even willing to be just a backup. The odds are Leary wouldn’t even be active for regular season games as it is, due to his lack of position versatility and inability to play center.

The importance of a reliable and smart backup interior offensive lineman cannot be understated, and the Cowboys might have found just this in undrafted free agent Jake Brendel.

A four year starter at UCLA, Brendel is the all time leader in starts for the school with 52. Being a four year starter on the offensive line is damn-near unheard of as it is, but starting a total of 52 games over those four years is simply incredible.

Aside from one game in 2014 where he was forced to miss with a knee injury, Brendel started every single UCLA football game from 2012-2015. Brendel was also named team captain in 2013, and remained captain until graduation. That’s right, he was voted team captain as a sophomore, wow.

Brendel was also named first team Academic All-Conference, and second team All-Pac-12 during his junior and senior seasons.

Maybe I am overstating his reliability and leadership qualities, after all he is just an undrafted free agent. With all of these positive character qualities, you would expect teams to find any reasons they can to fit him into their draft board.

While this is true, most of Brendel’s on-field troubles come from a lack of lower body, functional strength. His average lower body movements lead to a loss of balance, and his lack of functional strength stops him from re-establishing position with his feet and hands. When all of this comes together, you end up with either a missed block or a holding penalty. In other words, it can be a big problem.

Jake Brendel – UCLA Football – C – 2015 BYU Game

Jake Brendel – UCLA Football – C – 2015 BYU Game

Here we see why that lack of strength is an issue. He is immediately stood up after snapping the ball, and is unable to get any type of movement on the down-lineman. Then, he loses his balance a bit and gets beat across his face. You can never get beat across your face.

What Brendel lacks in brute strength and power he was able to make up in quickness and hand placement while at UCLA. He may not be able to push those big 1-tecnhqiues a few yards off the ball, but he is quick and smart enough to be in the right position to occupy and shield the defender from the running back.

Jake Brendel – UCLA Football – C – 2015 BYU Game

Jake Brendel – UCLA Football – C – 2015 BYU Game

Here is that quickness I am referring to. Brendel gets off the ball with a purpose, gets the right positioning on the defensive lineman, and does just enough to clear a path for a touchdown. No, it isn’t a La’el Collins-esque pancake, but it is effective.

Jake Brendel – UCLA Football – C – 2015 BYU Game

Jake Brendel – UCLA Football – C – 2015 BYU Game

These are the plays where his smarts come into play. He recognizes the blitzing linebacker and the stunting defensive lineman, remains patient, and makes the block.

He also served as an effective pulling center at times, showing me that he could transition to guard if needed.

The smarts, reliability, and toughness of a kid like Brendel are very appealing. Being named captain as a sophomore, we can assume he is a strong locker room presence, and the kind of player that Jason Garrett would adore.

With all that being said, I simply don’t know if Brendel can match up physically with NFL defensive lineman. While he can develop more strength and improve his power and punch, it is impossible to say if it will be enough to keep him in the league for any serious amount of time.

Regardless, Brendel is still a player you should keep an eye out for during training camp and preseason games.

Kevin Brady

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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