Adam Gettis has many attributes that will benefit the Redskins.
Adam Gettis is a typical Mike Shanahan lineman. When the Washington Redskins drafted him in the fifth round this year, that statement was the stock response to reports that he was undersized for his position.
Listed at 6’4” and 280 pounds on Iowa’s profile, it was a justifiable concern. The NFL is a big step up from college and one where the rookie linemen often find themselves unable to cope with the force of the veterans.
Like so many other Redskins, he had an injury history, too. In 2010 he started just two games; although he rebounded to start every game for Iowa—earning a second team All-Big Ten spot in the process—this was an extra strike in the box marked “Reasons Not to Draft.”
However, Shanahan is a slave to his own system, as we all know. He saw things in Gettis that he knew would benefit the future of the franchise. He pulled the trigger in the fifth and Gettis became a Redskin.
The offensive line seems doomed to repeat itself this year, with injuries piling up by the day. The difference this time around is the level of depth, which has improved since the draft.
Whether he’s ready or not, Gettis is going to see playing time this year, so it makes sense to find out some more about him. Here are some things he brings to the party.
Coming from Iowa, Gettis had extensive experience in a zone-blocking scheme. Shanahan’s system has similar traits—plus Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz always seems to produce excellent offensive linemen—so he must have immediately seen that Gettis could contribute to the team.
With experience in a system that shares a lot of the same principles, the learning curve isn’t as steep. This was ably demonstrated during the preseason game against the Bills. Chris Chester was injured, so Gettis got his first taste of NFL action.
Gettis showed that familiarity with a scheme allows for a greater awareness of the field. He knew his assignments and was also able to modify his decision-making based on the developing play. In his analysis of the offensive performance for The Washington Times, Rich Campbell singled out Gettis for praise:
The Redskins converted third-and-12 in the second quarter when the second-string offensive line picked up a pair of stunts by the defensive linemen. Gettis so strongly punched DT Dwan Edwards to the right that he had a clear look at DE Shawne Merriman looping around. Gettis blocked Merriman, and QB Rex Grossman found WR Josh Morgan for a bobbled catch.
In the same article, Campbell also highlighted a play where Gettis was able to get off his block to meet the linebacker and create a running lane for Evan Royster.
It’s this basic knowledge of the system that will allow Gettis to quickly develop into a true NFL guard.
The way that Gettis approaches his game shows that he is a student of his position. He understands that technique can overcome strength along the line and has made sure that his knowledge is sound.
The doubts about his size can be erased in his first year through studious application of technical fundamentals. Gettis is already aware of this, indicating as much when speaking to Kevin Ewoldt at Hogs Haven prior to rookie camp.
Ewoldt asked about blocking at the line of scrimmage and whether technique could overcome a poor first second. Gettis responded with an astute answer:
I believe technique can overcome anything. I'm small, but I've been able to make it this far and I believe it's through technique.
It's more though the whole three to four seconds of the block. First second you have to get after somebody and he may shed off the block that first second, but you may be off some body for two to three to four seconds and they shed the block and make the tackle ... so you gotta be technique style throughout the block.
Applying himself to the intricacies of blocking has led him to overcome the red flags raised by his perceived lack of size.
However, it’s also easy to forget that Gettis weighed in at the combine at 293 pounds, an increase of 13 over his college weight. This is yet another example of his dedication to improvement that will serve him well over his career.
Gettis has excelled in camp so far, which carried over into the first preseason game.
The combination of technique and speed is always going to cause problems for an opponent.
Gettis is blessed with both, running the 40 in 4.91seconds at the combine. According to ProFootballTalk, he had the fastest unofficial first quarter among offensive linemen. He ran the first 10 yards in 1.65 seconds.
It’s true that a GM will look for much more than pace when scouting offensive linemen—after all, they’re unlikely to be making many 40-yard sprints to the end zone—but Gettis also has good explosion off the line, which enables him to get underneath bigger linemen and use leverage to win battles.
His pace also manifests itself in his footwork, which aided him against the Bills. He looked very mobile when blocking, which again allowed him to shed one block and create running lanes by then removing the linebacker from the equation.
If Gettis was to continue to add weight, there is a danger that he could lose some of his speed. He might not win all his matchups against larger defensive linemen at his current weight, but his technique and pace buy just as much time for his quarterback as an extra 15 pounds would.
The Redskins front office seems to be of the same opinion, which was also alluded to during Gettis’ interview with Hogs Haven:
I received a note saying I have to come in at under 300 pounds, so I'm somewhere between 297 and 298 right now. I'm staying there until they give me the green light to get a little bigger.
This would indicate that the Shanahans want to see how he performs at his current weight before asking Gettis to add more.
Evaluating his progress in training camp and preseason is a sensible strategy; it means the Redskins don't risk losing the attributes that made them draft Gettis to begin with.