Sharpe’n Your Skills…
Raiders rookie OT David Sharpe acquired his first starts during the last three games of the 2017 regular season. Sharpe got the nod after starting LT Donald Penn suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 14.
Although his window was short, Sharpe played a cluster of games down the stretch against stiff competition. It’s time to look back and see what we can expect from the 6’6″ 345 lb. rookie going forward.
Sharpe’s first action as a starter in the NFL came against the reigning Super Bowl Champions: the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a baptism by fire in which David actually held up better than expected. The young lineman struggled at times, dominated in spurts, and received a lot of help from his neighbors in the trench.
Sharpe received a considerable amount of help throughout the evening and on run plays in particular. A majority of Oakland’s rushing attack on the night placed blocking TE Lee Smith alongside Sharpe in double TE and jumbo packages. The extra bulk on the line allowed Sharpe to work primarily in one-on-one matchups. Given his size, Sharpe came out on top in most of these battles.
In the clip below, Brown and Smith line up adjacent to Sharpe to absorb the DE with a double team. Cook takes the outside position and is assigned to the OLB. Sharpe is left with a singular matchup against Eagles’ DT Tim Jernigan (#93). David absolutely dominates the 4th year defensive tackle by keeping his shoulders square and driving through the play. Sharpe finishes by driving Jernigan to the ground thereby displaying the power and size the Raiders coveted when they selected him in the fourth round.
In this next clip, Sharpe is pitted against the slightly better of the two edge rushers, Vinny Curry. While Sharpe isn’t able to drive the speedy Curry to the ground, he does a good job catching the pass rusher and moving his feet to stay in front of the defender.
NFL.com’s draft profile of Sharpe does a pretty good job highlighting his strengths and weaknesses coming out of college. Accordingly, his play on the field in 2017 mirrored this analysis quite well.
His deficiencies are on full display in the next series of clips. In the first, Sharpe has a tough matchup going against San Diego’s young premier pass rusher, Joey Bosa. Here, Bosa gets a quick jump off the snap and moves to the inside. Sharpe fails to move his feet, gives up leverage, and leans out in an attempt to catch the speedy DE. Carr is forced to hurry but manages to complete a 24-yard dot to Jared Cook.
Even with help, we can see Sharpe struggle at times. On the following highlight, Sharpe gets some brief assistance from blocking TE Lee Smith. On this play, Smith is to chip the edge rusher (Vinny Curry) and release into the middle as a receiver.
Sharpe fails to recognize that Smith is beat to the outside and Sharpe fails to make the adjustment. Jackson fails to pick up the stunt on the opposite side and the pocket quickly deteriorates. Carr’s quick release bails him out once again as Smith comes up with the catch and makes the best out of a bad situation.
In this final clip, Sharpe is the linchpin for what could be a major gain. On a play-action pass that is designed to get Sharpe out in the open field as a lead blocker, David whiffs bad and fails to spring Raiders’ WR Cordarrelle Patterson for what could have been a big gain.
The Raiders drafted Sharpe based on his size while turning a blind eye (no pun intended, maybe) to his raw skill set. Knowing they had Tice on staff to coach up the hulking youngster, they were willing to take a chance on someone who could impose his power on willing defenders.
Subsequently, Tice exits with the Jack Del Rio regime and Tom Cable returns to the fold. In turn, there should be little drop off in terms of coaching up the young blocker. Though Sharpe showed his vulnerability in 2017, he also showed glimpses of how dominant he can be if he can learn to leverage his size with improved balance and flexibility.
But don’t take my word for it. Lincoln Kennedy recently joined us on The Pillaging Podcast and gave his opinion on the young OT. You can hear that interview below. Kennedy’s thoughts on the future of the Raiders OT position start at the 37-minute mark.
Written by: Kenny Stapler