Free agent center Kevin Mawae is confident that no teams are pursuing him because of his position as president of the NFL’s Players Association, going so far recently as to call it “collusion” in an ESPN interview.
The media perception is that Mawae, a 2009 Pro Bowler and 16-game starter on the line that blocked for 2,006-yard rusher Chris Johnson, can still play at a high level. ESPN’s Mark Schlereth recently called Mawae “still one of the best five centers in the NFL.”
The website Profootballfocus.com respectfully disagrees.
According to PFF, Mawae was the worst run-blocking center in the league last season. Pro Football Focus’ metrics consider Mawae still a mediocre pass protector, but such a liability for the ground game that, overall, he’s just the 30th-ranked veteran at his position.
He’s also 39 years old, an age at which decline is swift and typically unstoppable.
Sam Monson of Profootballfocus.com described how his website charted Mawae’s season on a snap-by-snap basis:
“As for how we actually break down the film, we take several passes at each play, watching for certain things in sequence, and then looking at the blocks on a given run play, and assigning the grades.
“We grade run blocking in an adversarial way between defenders and blockers. On most plays, Mawae will be going against a defender, and he’ll either win, lose or draw that blocking battle.”
Monson also discussed the positives and negatives of Mawae’s pass blocking, and summed up the seven-time Pro Bowler’s 2009 season overall:
“He only gave up one sack last season, BUT, he also gave up 13 QB pressures by our figures, which we count on an objective and consistent time-scale play-by-play. … That total pressure figure is a lot less than great and largely explains why his pass protection grade ranks just middle of the pack.
“Suffice to say that for Mawae to grade out as badly as he did in our system … he was consistently losing his battle with the defender and getting moved backwards at the point of attack.”
So while Mawae maintains that some sort of conspiracy is costing him a job, there is reason to believe in an alternative explanation.
He just isn’t any good.