April 12, 2008

Draft Day Duck: Geoff Schwartz

At 6'6" and 330 pounds, Geoff Schwartz will be the next Oregon offensive lineman to play in the NFL. An impressive figure, Schwartz came to Oregon from Pacific Palisades in Southern California and has been a force on the Ducks offensive line for the latter half of his career at Oregon. One big reason, he got himself into better shape.

At the end of his sophomore year Schwartz weighed nearly 370 pounds. But a better diet and a more focused approach helped him become a leader on the Ducks offensive line. By the beginning of his junior campaign he was already down to a svelte 335. A consummate team player, Schwartz stands to be chosen as high as the fourth round in the NFL draft, but is more likely to be chosen in the fifth or sixth.

Schwartz started all 13 games at right tackle for the Ducks last year and had 36 career starts while at Oregon. Those 13 starts come on the heels of rehabilitating his back after surgery for a bulging disc. The surgery looked like it never happened once he stepped back on the field. Schwartz has a terrific frame, is athletic for his size, coachable, and plays smart.

The last of those things might impress NFL coaches the most once he's in the league. Schwartz possesses what coaches call a high football I.Q. An ability to learn concepts quickly then execute them in games.

Oregon Ducks spent the better part of '07 lighting up scoreboards all over the Pac 10 and Ann Arbor. One of the biggest reasons was the outstanding play of the offensive line. The Ducks' run game allowed them to maul the Huskies this year at home, wipe out Washington State, and control the game when they needed to against USC. Then came the complete domination of South Florida with the run game in the Sun Bowl. Schwartz was in the middle of all of those successes. Helping pave the way for a team rushing average of 5.3 yards per carry. And creating the kind of time that allowed Dennis Dixon to play at such a high level, he led the Heisman race at one point. Schwartz' strengths include his huge body and his athleticism that allows him to drive block effectively on the edge of the line. Scouts say he still needs to work on his ability to deal with speed rushers in pass protection and to strengthen his upper body.

Schwartz also ran a quick 5.1 at the Oregon pro day in the Moshofsky Center in March. That's a full two-tenths faster than he did at the NFL combine a month earlier. He'll have to prove he can play out of the three-point stance at the next level after playing in a two-point stance in Oregon's spread offense. It can be a tough adjustment for a lineman but not one that looks difficult for Schwartz. One of his strengths as was noted earlier, is his coachability.

Schwartz has explained that the biggest difference between the two stances for him is in pass protection. While in the two-point stance he can take two kick slides and be set up to block but in the three-point stance it requires three kick slides. The difference creates timing issues for a lineman's feet and the punch he'll throw with his hands.

Back in January Schwartz played in the East-West Shrine game in Houston and struggled at times in both the practices and the game. That could affect where he's taken but if so, it's not likely to have a huge affect.

Schwartz has already graduated with a degree in history and is working out at least two hours a day to make sure he's ready for training camp.

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