Blake Cashman 6’ 1 1/8” 237 lbs LB Minnesota #36
There are certain people who you like. There are people you respect, and there are people you root for. Blake Cashman is one of those people who can be all three. He is a self-made player who wasn’t offered a scholarship to a Division I school so he enrolled at Minnesota and walked on to the football team while paying his own way.
He wasn’t offered a scholarship after his first year and came back with a vengeance his second year. Playing part time as an OLB he had 8 sacks and 11 TFL. This solidified his place on the team, but he had yet to win a scholarship. They had a team-building function that featured an egg hunt where you had to find your egg and bring it back to the meeting room. Each egg had a note inside to give instructions on how to prepare for the following season. When all the eggs were found every player but Blake had the same message; it said, “Blake Cashman has won his scholarship,” and Blakes message just said, “Congratulations.”
His teammates all were happy for him considering all the hard work he put in and made a party out of it. Blake was now a respected member of the team, and it pushed him harder. He was moved to ILB after that season. This hurt his stats, but he gained respect. He would learn to prepare for every game like a pro, studying film and going over scouting reports. He began to make plays all over the field and get recognition for his efforts. He was later voted a team captain, a designation for all his perseverance.
He learned how to read the line and where the gaps are on certain running plays. Here he is just reading and reacting quickly in a tied game late in the 4th quarter.
He slides through the line clean and makes a nice wrap tackle. Cashman is a solid tackler who usually wraps up. He is playing an inside LB position here, but with his speed (4.50/40) he projects as a run and hit WILL.
This next play is similar to the last as he reads the play and slides through the hole. He is even held on the play by the center, but he still makes the play short of the first down. You see the snow on the ground. He played in the Big Ten so he is used to playing in difficult conditions.
I have read a few interviews with this kid, and I always come away impressed. When asked what kind of guy a team is getting when they draft Blake Cashman, this was his response.
“They’re gonna get somebody that’s gonna come in and work harder than anyone else there. I don’t say or take that lightly. I know what it took to get myself into this position. It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication. It’s just part of the journey of being a walk-on. On top of that, I’m somebody who believes that football games are won during the week. They’re won in the film room and they’re won when you prepare right. It’s one of the most important factors of the game. I spend a lot of time in the meeting rooms to make sure I fully understand the defensive scheme and what our plan of attack is. I can help a team at the linebacker spot. I have good speed, I can cover the field sideline-to-sideline. I’m a very versatile player. Whether it’s on special teams or all 3 downs, you can play me in blitz packages and so on. There’s a lot of areas that I can help a team in.”
That is the type of player I want for the Jets
I mentioned speed, and here he is on a blitz.
He is easily able to avoid the cut block and just as easily chase down the QB. Northwestern has a good running QB, but Cashman runs him down quickly.
This next play isn’t a super great play. I just like it because of its simplicity. The line is slanting left so Cashman has outside contain on a read option play. With the entire line slanting left there is no opening to the right so the QB keeps the ball and heads to his left.
Cashman keeps his contain and slowly moves upfield to coral the QB. He uses excellent technique, a wide base, short choppy steps with the QB squared up between his numbers. When the QB shoots back to his right Cashman is there to make a TFL.
I said earlier about him reading the line and finding a hole to get through and avoid all the traffic. This is a perfect example of that very thing.
In an interview, when asked about his favorite part of playing linebacker he said the following.
“If you know what you’re doing out there and you’ve done a good job preparing yourself throughout the week, it’s a whole lot of fun. You’re the second wave of the defense and you can easily find gaps in the offensive line if you have good vision. It’s about being able to sift through the offensive line and find where the gaps are. That’s what I most enjoy about being a linebacker.”
You would think he would say making great plays like this one, but he is a linebacker. Those guys march to a beat of a different drummer.
This again is just a technically sound play. He has a wide base and slide steps (never crossing his feet) while keeping the player directly in front of him. He has the QB dead to rights, but he sees an opportunity for a big play and makes it.
He is going to be a run and hit WILL LB so lets see him do that. On this play he is again playing the LILB position, and the contain to the left is demolished.
No problem as Cashman is able to chase down the back with ease as he tries to get around the corner. It’s a nice play considering he started almost on the right hash and made the play by the numbers on the left side.
Here he is again on a poorly set up Nebraska screen play. He is such a smooth mover in space he makes it as easy as 1,2,3,4
1) Read the play - Okay screen pass
2) Take on blocker - Discard blocker
3) Run down back - With a nice angle and speed
4) Make forceful tackle - Try and pry ball loose while you are at it
This next play is again a read and react play, but this time he actually anticipates what is going to happen.
Cashman is in zone coverage, and he sees the outside receiver on a short drag across the middle is wide open. This is probably the fruit of his film study because he leaves his zone and follows the receiver long before the ball is thrown. It turns what could have been a first down into a 1 yard gain.
Here again is speed from a run and hit LB. He is on the far hash, and the play is away from him to the far sideline. Cashman has to avoid blockers and make it across the field untouched if he has any hopes of getting in on the tackle.
Cashman has some really nice range as a LB. He even takes a false step when QB Haskins feigns a move to his right. He still makes it to be in on the tackle.
This last play against Ohio State is what Cashman desribed earlier. Make it through the line, and make a play.
This is 4th and 1, and Cashman is able to slide through the line and get the ball back for his team. (They would later just fumble it back to Ohio State.)
Cashman was one of my sleeper picks I was going to bring to your attention closer to the Draft, but he went and had a great Combine. The Golden Gopher is out of the bag so to speak, and he is a Draft darling now. It probably moved him from a late 4th round pick to a mid 3rd round pick.
I had a late 3rd/early 4th grade on him before the Combine so my new grade (I moved him up about 15 spots.) is about where he will be drafted. I was hoping we could get him at #105, but that may be too late for him. If we trade Lee we could get Cashman and have a LB who can actually tackle.
Hopefully someone in the Jets scouting department (Hello!) sees this post and does some research on our boy to at least get him an interview.
What do you think?