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Ask a former NFL player: What style of quarterback is the easiest for an OL to block for?

This week, retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz explains why he’d prefer to block for a Patrick Mahomes type and weighs in on the most recent Steelers drama.

The mailbag is now a weekly article! Thank you for all the questions. Without your participation, this wouldn’t be possible. So please continue to send questions to either my Twitter account or Instagram. Both are open for direct messages.

Last week, I answered questions about how the NFL should tweak its offseason schedule. This week, I’ll tackle what it’s like to walk into a team meeting for the first time and the Steelers’ latest drama. But first, an offensive line question — my specialty.

Let’s get going.

Hi Geoff, I wanted to get your opinion about blocking for different stylistic QBs in an offense. For example, the starter is a more pocket-oriented passer, while the backup has a tendency to leave the pocket quicker. From the OL perspective, which do you prefer blocking for? Is there a noticeable difference into the OL’s approach? Also, what is the drop-off in terms of plays that can be called (whether that’s overall volume or complexity of plays)? — @adamrads0925

Great question, Adam. What offensive linemen want from their quarterback is consistency: Drop to the same point and climb the pocket. Don’t panic. If the ball is supposed to be out quickly, throw it quickly.

Pass protection at its simplest is just staying between your man and the quarterback. If you know where the QB is going to be, it makes it easier. Quarterbacks who are less mobile tend to do all these things at a higher rate. They want to get rid of the ball to avoid having to move or getting crushed in the pocket. They don’t rush out the back of the pocket or make quick decisions to roll out. We know exactly where they will be.

The downside of a “pocket” quarterback is just that. They stay in the pocket and can’t escape when we get beat. Mobile quarterbacks are more likely to make defenders miss, get out of the pocket, and then make a sweet downfield play.

Now, there’s a HUGE difference between a mobile quarterback and a QB who’s a rusher. For example, Russell Wilson is mobile in the pocket and looks to run last. Pat Mahomes is the same — avoid pressure, eyes downfield, find a receiver, and run at the last moment.

Then there are mobile quarterbacks who tuck and run at the first sight of pressure. Those are the rushing quarterbacks. Those don’t last long in the NFL. So of course I’d like to play with a mobile quarterback who can make me look good if I screw up. Next would be a pocket passer and third is the rushing quarterback.

For backups, yikes. Just hope you don’t have to play much with them. They are typically backups for a reason — slow to process information and don’t have the arm to make all the throws. In that case, being able to run is a plus.

I’ve always wondered what’s it like to be drafted and walk into an NFL building as a player. Is it a surreal moment?@jaymez82

It’s intimidating and overwhelming more than anything, and even more so if you’re a lower draft pick.

If you’re the top guy, everyone knows who are you. They are pumped you’re in the facility and ready to work. You know you’re there for years to come as opposed to the rest of the rookies fighting to make a roster. Your locker is with the veterans and not in the makeshift locker area for rookies. (NFL locker rooms typically don’t have enough lockers for everyone so they have temp lockers for rookies during the offseason program.)

So these players shouldn’t be as intimidated as someone like me. I was a seventh-round draft pick. No one knew me. No one really cared. I was one of the better players on my college team and suddenly the lowest member of an NFL team. And then, to make matters worse, my flight was delayed so I was late for the first team meeting. I walked into a giant meeting room with 89 other Panthers players 30 minutes late. Everyone turned toward the door to see who walked in. Then I had to quickly and quietly find a seat.

What do you think of what Ramon Foster tweeted about former Steelers players?@JamesBoutros

My thoughts about the Steelers drama have been clear. You can find what I’ve written about it right here. So I LOVE what Foster said:

That’s leadership. It doesn’t help anyone to air out grievances over Twitter, especially like when former Steeler Rashard Mendenhall called Ben Roethlisberger racist and then backed off that tweet a few hours later. So Foster wants to control the messaging and use his experience, plus that of Pouncey, to smooth over tensions.

To his point, the Steelers are a model organization and once you’ve played for them, you’re like family. Family deals with things in private. So, I loved it, man.