This series asks a few more detailed questions about the newest Redskins. This year I had the pleasure of asking the writers at Gobbler Country about Redskins 5th round pick Tim Settle. Jay Johnson and John Schneider gave us some great information regarding new Redskin DL Tim Settle.
Cadillactica: The Redskins were dead last in run defense last year in the NFL. The team was devastated by injuries and have needed to upgrade the DL for a long time. The team did just that in the first round by selecting Da’Ron Payne out of Alabama who coach Jay Gruden said would start at NT. The team did not stop there, they picked up Settle in the 5th and bolstered the depth of the NT/DT position. Is Settle a pure NT or can he move around a defensive front like Payne? Is he a guy that can only play a limited number of snaps? Does he have any pass rush ability that might keep him on the field on 3rd downs?
John Schneider: I wouldn't move Settle out of the “A” gap unless I was operating some sort of trick stunt to mess up line audibles. He is quick enough to play single and double gap coverage, though I wouldn't think a DC would want the center covering the ball exchange from him by playing him nose up. That being said, he is a true Nose Tackle. If he keeps his weight under 330, he can play every down. I am not sure that he could sustain a full game without any relief, but Fuente had him playing on the punt and kickoff teams covering and blocking so he has some stamina when he's in shape. Settle is quick through the gaps, and hits like a truck so he can definitely get penetration enough to make Quarterbacks very nervous. He was credited with 8 sacks and 19.5 Tackles for Loss during his two full seasons at Tech, if that gives you an idea.
Jay Johnson: While I do think Big Tim certainly can be comfortable as a pure Nose Tackle, I am going to disagree with John a bit that he is an unadulterated NT. IF he stays in shape and improves his fitness I believe he has the speed to move around the line. That same caveat would also need to be met if one was looking to avoid limiting his downs. I think after a few seasons of NFL level coaching and conditioning he could become an extremely versatile player that could contribute to the pass rush.
Cadillactica: Settle posted pretty impressive production for such a big guy especially regarding tackles for loss and sacks. Could you tell us how that came to be? Is he more athletic and strong than his test numbers would indicate?
John Schneider: His first Spring Game as a Redshirt Freshman he registered a pick, and that was when he was carrying too much weight. Underneath that less than aerodynamic shape, there is a surprisingly agile athlete. How that translates in the pros will remain to be seen.
Jay Johnson: The ceiling for Settle’s production is directly correlated to his fitness. The man is a natural athlete. After his first season playing full time the coaches challenged him to drop weight and he answered by shedding 25+ pounds. The benefit of this change is evidenced by the steep game performance of this past season. Granted, he wasn’t a starter the prior season, but I would argue that his conditioning level would’ve kept him off the field regardless.
Cadillactica: I read that Settle had gotten up to 360 lbs at one point. He slimmed down considerably for the combine and came in around 325. Could you give us more insight into his weight loss journey as it relates to football? Should his fluctuation be a concern?
John Schneider: No one is going to blow sunshine and smoke around this issue. Tim Settle as a serious weight problem. It's going to take a professional level training routine and a responsible dietitian to keep him at a playing weight. As with many folk’s weight problems (myself included) I don't see the signs that he could do it himself.
Jay Johnson: Looks like I got ahead of myself a bit with the previous question’s answer! His weight was certainly a concern throughout his time in Blacksburg. I think that team dieticians and trainers will help him, but at the professional level, there is more of an expectation that the player manages their health responsibly by themselves. I hope that he uses some of his NFL money to retain the services of a motivating personal trainer and dietician, especially during the offseason.
Cadillactica: Could you tell us about his technique and motor? He will be with the best defensive line coach in football to help him learn but he will also be up against some tough QBs and RBs in the division does he pursue and work to the whistle? How is his ability to get off blocks and maintain his gap assignment?
John Schneider: Technique? He's a college football interior lineman. In Bud Foster's defense, he generally had a one gap responsibility, and from what I could tell a limited number of keys and stunts. He's pretty quick in traffic and wraps up his tackles well. It isn't unusual to see him in pursuit, downfield.
And there is that “Mayock” term “motor”. What motor? I don't know of any healthy humans that have motors. In all the years that I have been a football fan, played it as a kid, and covered it, there are a few “jargon buzz words” that just sound silly that popped up in the modern game. “Motor” is a lame inhuman way of saying that someone is highly motivated, active, and aggressive. Maybe in the new version of two-hand touch football “aggressive” will be a frowned upon adjective.
Jay Johnson: Last year, in my opinion, he demonstrated a solid ability to get off a block and keep his eye on the ball. This reality directly led to Tim leading the ACC in tackles for a loss. Tim plays with extensive energy, almost to a fault, he will give it his all and did show flashes of overpursuing.
Cadillactica: Could you tell us a bit more about his strengths and weaknesses? What do you think will be his biggest challenge when adjusting to the NFL?
John Schneider: Settle an interior lineman who has two years too little experience, and it will show this preseason. His biggest challenge will be that he’s now, average, if not below average, and my suspicion is that he'll have to work hard to catch up.
Jay Johnson: His tangible strengths are his size and surprising athleticism. His intangible strengths are his motivation and genuine desire to learn and improve. As far as weaknesses go, his weight struggles have been mentioned several times already. Beyond that, it seems that Settle carries his extra weight around the mid-section, which is basically the worst place. Above I mentioned his penchant for over pursuit, and that can result in him on the grass, and out of the play. His largest challenge will be inexperience. I was surprised to see him declare as early as he did. I personally think he would have drastically benefited from another year or two under Hokies DC, Bud Foster, and would’ve been an easy first or second round pick had he waited. I still think he needs another season or two to develop. It will be a few years before we start to see what kind of professional player he is going to be.
Cadillactica: What do you think his floor and ceiling is? Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said he had Pro Bowl potential. Others may think he’s just a rotational player. What say you?
John Schneider: He’s at best rotational, and if he makes a Pro Bowl it won't be for a few years.
Jay Johnson: I agree with Zierlein regarding his ceiling. I believe that lofty assessment is tied to his conditioning and ability to adjust to the speed and athleticism of the NFL. If he struggles with his weight he will likely be relegated to a rotational player.
Cadillactica: If you had to pick one word or short phrase to describe him what would it be?
John Schneider: BIG TIM! Its what we all said, on the sideline, when he came up with a big play. We said it a lot.
Jay Johnson: Deceptive!
Thanks again for Jay and John for their time with this Q&A. I was strongly in favor for the Redskins double dipping at either OL or DL in the draft and they did just that when they selected Da’Ron Payne and Tim Settle. For the first time in a while, the Redskins are consistently adding young homegrown talent to their roster. Not only do I think fans should be embracing this approach because it fosters competition and allows the Redskins to move on from dead weight like they did with Terell McClain this offseason but it puts the unit in a position to succeed in the future because these young guys have something to prove and arguably can develop a better chemistry with one another.
I don’t know how difficult it is for Settle to control his diet but it's clear he may need help at the next level. The good thing about Settle is that it's clear he has no problem moving and is very athletic for a man his size. If calorie counting/portion control is his biggest problem the team may be in good shape regarding his weight issue. If Settle can stay around the 315 - 325 mark I think the sky is the limit for his career trajectory. Here’s to hoping for the best. I can always give him some veggie-centric recipes.