Why Kansas City Chiefs' Jon Asamoah Is NFL's Most Underrated Guard
There aren't a lot of people outside of Kansas City who could tell you much about Kansas City Chiefs right guard Jon Asamoah. Very few people would know about the former University of Illinois offensive lineman who was drafted in the third round (No. 68 overall) by the Chiefs back in 2010.
That should change this season.
Asamoah sat his rookie season behind one of the most storied offensive linemen in Chiefs history, Brian Waters. Then the Chiefs made the decision to let Waters go and move on with Asamoah as their future right guard. He's proven that was the right decision.
If you were to take Asomoah’s 2011 pass-blocking grade and combine it with his 2012 run-blocking grade, he would have been the fifth-highest graded guard last season. The fact that he’s shown prowess in both the pass and run blocking disciplines is very promising.
Asamoah finished the 2012 season as PFF's No. 10-ranked guard, and that's combining both the left and right guard positions. Not bad for a player who many across the country couldn't tell you anything about.
Here's Asamoah with some pretty well-known players based on their play last season.
It hasn't helped Asamoah's cause that the Chiefs have been terrible over the last two seasons. It's hard for a player to be noticed around the league, even if he's doing a great job, if the team he's playing on isn't winning football games. That's especially true for an offensive lineman.
It's easy for people to still look at Jamaal Charles and think he's pretty good. There are a lot of "flashy" stats out there you can find about a running back's play. That's not the case with offensive linemen. The guys over at Pro Football Focus do a great job in helping bring a better understanding of what's happening away from the ball. Especially with the guys who aren't carrying, catching or throwing the ball.
So let's take a look at the tape from a couple of plays from Asamoah last season to see what he's been doing well enough to earn him these grades from PFF.
Both of these plays are against the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in Week 5 of last season, and they're also consecutive plays.
In this first play you'll see Asamoah's athleticism to his left on display. He has the responsibility of sealing off the defensive lineman who's shaded to his inside shoulder, and he needs to get across his face to seal him to the inside.
Asamoah does a great job of maintaining balance with his shoulders and remaining "square" to the line of scrimmage. While he's engaged with his upper body with the defender, he's positioning his lower-half to seal-off the defender and give Charles a lane to run through.
It doesn't take much time for Charles to burst through a running lane and Asamoah shows good balance and body positioning to allow the lane to develop.
On the very next play we'll see a similar action from Asamoah, but this time instead of showing athleticism to his left, he'll be moving to his right. You can see in the picture before the snap how far Asamoah has to get in order to seal off the defensive lineman to the inside. This allows Charles to run right through the outside shoulder of Asamoah.
There's a thin black line in this picture that shows the shoulder-positioning from Asamoah on the play. Similar to the play we saw above, Asamoah is able to position his lower-half to seal off the defender while engaged with his upper body. It takes great strength to keep the defender from gaining ground in the backfield while also moving your feet from the inside shoulder to the outside shoulder of the defender, thus sealing off the defender and creating a running lane.
Asamoah seals the lane and gives Charles just enough room to run through. Charles is able to pick up 11 yards on this play, and six yards from the play above, largely because of the great work from Asamoah.
Obviously these two plays were successful, but running through Asamoah proved to be successful over the course of the season for the Chiefs as well, via Pro Football Focus.
Running through the holes on Asamoah’s left and right, Chiefs running backs averaged 4.8 yards per carry.
Who's the most underrated player on the Chiefs roster?
If Asamoah is able to put up another season like we've seen from him recently, combined with any kind of success from the Chiefs, there's no reason to believe he won't break out and get recognition on the national level.
He's not on the level with the best guards in the NFL right now, but he's just now entering his fourth year, only his third as a starter, and there's reason to believe that he could be even better in Andy Reid's offense in Kansas City. He'll have the opportunity to show his athleticism out in space and continue blocking for one of the top backs in the NFL in Jamaal Charles.
Hopefully if that happens people will start recognizing the guy helping create the lanes, not just the guy racking up the yards. But that won't happen unless the Chiefs are winning games.
BJ Kissel is a NFL Featured Columnist and Special Projects Contributor at Bleacher Report. You can follow him and tell him what you think on Twitter at @bkissel7.
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