There's just some extra hanging around.
At last year's rookie combine, Monroe tipped the scales at 309 pounds. By the time he signed with the Jaguars and suited up for their first preseason game, he had bulked up to 329.
Again, not a bad build—just a little unnecessary flab. Watching Monroe play in tune-up games and as a 16-game starter at left tackle, his impressive quick feet, strong hands, and menacing demeanor were always on display.
As, unfortunately, was a hint of sluggishness.
According to Luke Richesson, Jacksonville's second-year strength coach, that won't be a problem anymore. On June 15, Richesson mentioned in an interview that Monroe has cut his weight down to 300 pounds.
"He's 17 percent body fat and he's brutally strong," Richesson said.
It's typical for an NFL player, especially one looking to earn a reputation, to put in heavy work on his physique in the offseason. But a 30-pound weight loss? That's nothing short of phenomenal.
Considering that Monroe was likely working with the guidance of top-notch fitness professionals, it's safe to assume that most of his cut weight was fat, not muscle. Crunch the numbers, and his efforts amount to nearly a double-digit drop in body fat percentage.
Outstanding—and, when I read about it, a little close-to-home.
This January, I made a New Year's resolution to get in shape before the start of rugby season in March. At the time, I weighed close to 220 pounds and had been limited to playing as a forward when I tried out for the University of Virginia's club team.
Fast-forward to March, and I had turned myself into a 190-pound inside center—a back and the main ball-carrier in my club's "crash ball" offense. In terms of body fat, I had dropped from nearly 20 to around 15 percent.
I wasn't (and still am not) in "perfect shape," but my legs were just as strong while pushing less weight around. The results were better explosiveness, better endurance, and all-around better in-game performance.
When Eugene Monroe lines up against the AFC South's fearsome pass rushers this season, that's exactly what he'll need, too.
Considering his pre-draft reputation as a "finesse" lineman, Monroe was a shockingly effective road-grader for the Jaguars' ground game as a rookie. He rarely failed to set the edge on runs outside him and was used to great effect as a lead blocker. So it's good news that, according to Richesson, he'll be even stronger this year.
But Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard will be happier about Monroe's improved lateral quickness and late-game energy. Opposing defensive ends—especially former All-Pro Dwight Freeney—learned to beat Monroe with speed early and often last season, capitalizing in crunch time and giving Garrard a weekly beating.
Monroe can't be crowned a brand-new athlete, of course, until the Jaguars hit their practice field at the end of July for training camp. If he's done the work that Richesson says he has, though, I'll be the first person to promise you it's going to make a world of difference.
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