Notre Dame's Braxston Cave isn't getting a ton of attention during the draft process. However, he's the type of player capable of making an immediate impact. His use of sound technique, non-stop motor and high football IQ will help him compete for a starting spot early in his career.
This is just the type of player who quietly gets the job done.
|+ Quickness off the snap||- Overall Athleticism|
|+ Effort/Leg Drive||- Shorter Arms|
|+ Leverage||- Versatility|
Height: 6’3” Weight: 303lbs Arm Length: 32” 40 time: 5.33
Intangibles/Character: This article by Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times does a great job looking at Cave’s competitive nature. Potash said the following at one point during the article:
“At 6-3, 305 pounds, Cave has a knack for playing football. He has a football mentality — inherited from both his parents — that you can’t develop at a training academy or a weight room.”
System: Braxston Cave is a versatile player who boasts the skills needed to fit multiple systems.
Pass-Blocking: Cave’s awareness is his best attribute as a pass-blocker. He always has his head up and on a swivel. This allows him to feel the pass rush and provide help to his teammates. Communication plays a major role in an offensive line’s ability to protect the quarterback.
Outside of his awareness, Cave does a good job keeping his pads down and hands out in front. He is able to absorb the initial contact and re-set. This helps him limit the effectiveness of the defender’s bull rush.
The one concern surrounding Cave’s pass protection is his foot speed. Cave doesn’t have the lower-body quickness to hold up in space. This is why he’s pretty much limited to playing the center position at the next level.
Run-Blocking: Nobody will confuse Cave with a physically imposing run blocker, but he’s able to get the job done. His best attribute is his ability to quickly get off the line of scrimmage. Cave shows the potential to consistently get across the face of the defender and seal him from the play. This has a lot to do with how he snaps and moves all in one fluid motion.
The clip below shows that quickness and the running lane it helped create:
Cave generates solid separation off the snap because he uses an effective hip roll. This combined with good inside hand placement and continuous leg drives helps Cave get a push off the line. The image below shows his use of leverage, inside hands and hip roll.
This past season, Notre Dame focused on running the football to find offensive consistency. Cave’s presence in the middle of the offensive line helped make that game plan successful. He isn’t a player who’ll stand out as physically dominant, but he has the football IQ needed to find success.
Blocking in Space: Because of a lack of foot speed, Cave is best suited to remain at the center position where he can avoid working in space. He just isn’t the type of fluid athlete who’s capable of mirroring quicker defenders.
His weakness in this part of his game is hidden because he’s surrounded by the guards. It also helps that he typically faces the bigger and slower defenders on the field.
Cave’s 32” arms are another hindrance to his ability to hold up in space. Offensive tackles need long arms to keep defenders out of their frame.
Hand Fighting: Obtaining inside hand placement is one of the keys to Cave’s success. He’s able to consistently gain this advantage because of his effort and quick initial step. Once his hands are inside the frame of the defender, Cave possesses the upper-body strength to seal him from the play.
Recovery: The majority of Cave’s recovery is tied to resetting after the initial contact made by the defender. He uses his balance and leverage to regain his position and avoid being pushed back into the pocket.
In the running game, Cave does a good job keeping his forward momentum. He is rarely pushed into the backfield because of his snap-and-move ability.
Technique: Cave works with a low center of gravity, fights for inside hand placement and plays with balance. His sound technique allows him to overcome some of the physical limitations he faces.
The one area he could work to improve is keeping a wide base with more consistency. At times, he’ll bring his feet together in pass protection. This impacts his ability to hold at the point of attack and remain balanced.
Below is a clip that shows Cave backpedaling with his feet close together. In this scenario, he should have a wider base and fight to hold at the point of attack.
Future Role/Versatility: Cave’s future in the NFL is at the center position. It’s where he can best use his football IQ and other strengths. The possibility of him making the move to guard isn’t bright. He just isn’t physically dominant enough to really excel at that position.
Draft Projection: Late fourth to fifth round