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Travelle Wharton's Struggles At Pass Protection In 2011 Are Misleading

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When it was originally reported that former Carolina Panthers guard Travelle Wharton was signed by the Bengals, his pass blocking and run blocking were analyzed using Pro Football Focus' grades. In 2011, while blocking for quarterback Cam Newton, Wharton earned a solid run blocking grade of 2.9, but had a pass protection grade of -7.9 for an overall grade of -1.8.

Cam Newton is one of a kind in the NFL. Not only did he throw 21 touchdown passes, but he ran for 14 touchdowns as well. While he has the ability to stand in the pocket and throw deep passes to Steve Smith, he isn't necessarily a pocket passer. Newton is very mobile and isn't afraid to run the ball if he needs to.

How about Wharton's previous seasons, though, when he blocked for quarterbacks like Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore and Jake Delhomme, who are all pocket passers, like Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is? Well, after looking into Wharton's numbers through the previous three seasons, they are much different.

In 2010, Clausen started 10 games, Moore started five and Brian St. Pierre started one. All three are pocket passers, like Dalton. Wharton only played in the team's first nine games that year before being placed on Injured Reserve with an injured big toe on his left foot. Before he went on IR, he had a run blocking score of -12.5, but his pass protection score was 4.7. In those nine games, Wharton only allowed one sack, three quarterback hits and five pressures.

In 2009 Delhomme started 11 games and Moore started the other five. Wharton had a -2.8 run blocking score and his pass protection score was -0.9 for an overall score of -0.4. He started every game that season, allowing seven sacks, two quarterback hits and 19 pressures. Wharton played the first nine games at left guard before he was moved to left tackle in 2009, though. In those first nine games at left guard, Wharton only gave up two sacks, one quarterback hit and five pressures.

In 2008, Delhomme started every game. Wharton started every game as well and had a great season. He had a run blocking score of 1.0 and a pass protection score of 6.9 for an overall score of 9.6. In 17 games that season, including a playoff game, Wharton only allowed two sacks, zero quarterback hits and only nine pressures.

So, we can see that, based on PFF's analysis of the last four seasons, Wharton was a much better pass blocker when he was blocking for a pocket passer and not a mobile quarterback. He was also much better at left guard. Wharton will be blocking for a pocket passer again in 2011 and if he can do what he did in 2008, 2009 and 2010 when at left guard for the Panthers, he will be a great addition for the Bengals offensive line.

With a guard like David DeCastro or Cordy Glenn in the first round, the Bengals could have an offensive line composed of Andrew Whitworth, Wharton, Kyle Cook, DeCastro/Glenn and Andre Smith, which could be the best Bengals offensive line since 2005.

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