The high-powered Arizona Cardinals offense is packed full of household names and explosive skill position playmakers. But one of the men who quietly helps them executive that impressive offensive attack –tackle Jared Veldheer — offers some of the most underrated value in the league.
Earlier this week, Vincent Verhei of ESPN.com ranked the Most Underrated Players for all 32 NFL Teams and appropriately gave Jared Veldheer the nod for the Arizona Cardinals.
"Veldheer has never made a Pro Bowl, but the massive left tackle had his best season in 2015. He ranked third at his position in snaps per blown block, and the Cardinals improved from 32nd to ninth in adjusted line yards for runs off left tackle."
Even when being recognized as underrated, Veldheer sill finds himself somewhat overlooked.
Beyond just giving up precious few pressures due to blown blocks or assignments, Veldheer has been the model of consistency for Arizona. Since joining the team in 2014, he has started 35 consecutive games (32 regular season, three Playoff) and committed only 11 total penalties during that span. He’s also allowed just 6.5 sacks in those 35 games.
In 2015, Veldheer had arguably the best season of his professional career, finishing the season having started all 18 of the team’s games, allowing 4.5 sacks and limiting himself to only six penalties. Pro Football Focuses graded him out with a relatively impressive 78.9.
After the season, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller also ranked Veldheer among the Top 10 Left Tackles in the NFL.
"The primary focus of the Arizona Cardinals the last two offseasons was to upgrade their offensive line with size and toughness. In 2014, they did just that with the signing of Jared Veldheer. At 6’8″ and 321 pounds, they do not come much larger than Veldheer, who has proved to be a huge free-agent signing, figuratively and literally.Veldheer is aggressive in terms of the way he approaches pass protection. The majority of times, he is at his best when he uses his short set to get his hands on guys right away. Veldheer does possess the range and athleticism needed to set to a landmark if needed but would rather immediately use his length, anchor and ability to react and recover to end the fight early.Veldheer is a capable in-line blocker, excelling in gap scheme-type blocks, where he is able to take advantage of square power to consistently push the point of attack. He shows the ability to get movement off the line of scrimmage on base blocks and the feet, targeting, hand placement and hips to reach-block edge defenders. He also understands when to turn it into an angled-drive block if he cannot hook and seal."
Despite being a seven-year NFL veteran, Veldheer is still ascending and could soon enter the conversation about the league’s top-tier left tackles. He could also be headed to his first Pro Bowl if he’s able to remain healthy here in 2016 — something he’s worked hard on during the offseason, even going as far as to complete a principles of nutrition course at Hillsdale College, where he also has a degree in biology.
While Cardinals fan are undoubtedly aware of what Veldheer brings to the table, it’s about time the rest of the NFL starts paying attention.