The Stanford football program has truly become an NFL hotbed over the past several years, having produced 14 NFL Draft picks since 2010. They may add to that collection in the 2014 NFL Draft with offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, although he will have to step up his on-the-field performance this year in order to guarantee that he will be selected.
Fleming has all the ideal skills that are desired in a lineman: he’s huge, has lots of experience against elite competition, has been coached well and is intelligent. The only problem for Fleming, who is entering his senior year but still has a year of eligibility due to Stanford’s unique redshirting process, is that he has failed to prove himself as an elite player in games. As the starting right tackle, he has continually had struggles with handling pass rushers and making blocks at the second level. In his collegiate career thus far, these weaknesses have not hurt his team too badly, but they are much more likely to result in sacks and shortened gains against NFL defenders.
At this point, Fleming doesn’t look to have a very good chance of developing into a serviceable tackle in the NFL, but he may have a better chance at guard. He’s on the bigger side for an interior lineman, but we’ve seen more and more 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6 lineman moving inside in recent years, and Fleming could be a candidate. He obviously is very strong, and he always works well on double teams, so there doesn’t seem to be a glaring reason which would prevent him from at least getting a chance at guard.
Fleming’s best move probably is to stay at Stanford next year and try to further boost his draft status, but if he decides to come out this year, he may be able to slide into the draft in the final rounds. While he hasn’t been spectacular on the field thus far, don’t count him out as someone who could develop into an NFL starter in the future.
- Will have three years of experience starting in a pro-style offense.
- Will be looked on favorably by teams due to his attendance at a great academic institution; he is an aeronautics and astronautics major.
- Though he struggles to stay with defenders, he is very rarely responsible for sacks.
- Obvious strength, though he has difficulty using it at times.
- Very successful when he participates in double teams.
- Not exceptionally quick and his footwork is very lacking.
- Tends to get ran around by defenders on pass plays.
- Struggles to square up with defenders.
- Not very efficient at getting to the second level.
Fleming should be an important part of a Stanford line that may be the most important element of a transitioning offense. Having lost head coach Jim Harbaugh, quarterback Andrew Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton over the past two years, Stanford’s offense may be in a bit of a rebuilding phase this year, and they will need solid line play in order to compete with perennial Pac-12 forces USC and Oregon, and the newly-rebuilt UCLA.
Fleming’s toughest challenge this year may be going up against UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, who is widely considered to be the second-best pass rusher in the country and registered 13 sacks last season. More than anything, he needs to better exert his physicality and show that there’s more to him than just his size.
2014 Draft Projection: Seventh Round.
Film Watched: vs. Duke (2011), vs. Oregon (2012), vs. USC (2012)