Last week, the Jets announced that they had signed former Washington Commanders offensive lineman Wes Schweitzer. Today, we break down Schweitzer in detail.
The 29-year old Schweitzer is listed at 6’4” and 300 pounds and was a sixth round pick out of San Jose State in 2016. He has played in 80 NFL games, starting 60.
Schweitzer was only a two-star high school recruit and originally considered joining the Marines before receiving some scholarship offers and deciding to go to San Jose State.
After redshirting the 2011 season and starting only one of seven games in 2012, Schweitzer became the full-time left tackle and started 37 games in a row over his last three seasons. He was named a second team all-Mountain West selection in his senior year.
Schweitzer was not invited to the scouting combine and wasn’t widely expected to be drafted but he did well at his pro day and was a late riser. Ultimately, he was selected in the sixth round by the Atlanta Falcons.
Although he didn’t see action as a rookie, Schweitzer won the starting right guard role in 2017 and started every game. However, he lost his job to Brandon Fusco at the start of the 2018 season. He ended up starting 13 games at left guard anyway following an injury to Andy Levitre. His final season in Atlanta saw him start seven games in 2019.
Washington signed Schweitzer and he started off as a backup but ended up starting three games at right guard and 10 at left guard in 2020. He made five starts in 2021 and a further six in 2022.
His contract expired at the end of the 2022 season and the Jets signed Schweitzer to a two-year, $5 million deal.
Now let’s take a look at what Schweitzer brings to the table, divided into categories.
Schweitzer is still listed at the same height and weight as he was when he attended his pro day workout but may have added some weight since then. He lacks length, which is why he moved inside at the NFL level.
He shows some good movement skills on film. He also had some good numbers during his pro day workout, including a 5.15 in the 40-yard dash, 108-inch broad jump and 28 bench press reps. His agility numbers were also above average but his vertical jump was poor.
Schweitzer was a starter at left tackle in college and also played some snaps at right tackle in his first season. However, he was always likely to move inside at the NFL level.
He started off at right guard with Atlanta in 2017, then had to move to left guard in the following season and impressed the staff by adjusting well.
They gradually started working Schweitzer in at center and he increasingly saw action in preseason there over the next few years. Prior to 2019, he had only played seven regular season snaps at center, but he started one game there in 2021 and five last season so it’s something he’s started to get more comfortable with.
He has also played four snaps at tackle and 15 as a jumbo package tight end at the NFL level and he lined up four times in the slot in college.
Schweitzer has adjusted well to the different challenges of pass blocking on the inside. In his first year as a starter, he gave up seven sacks but he’s only given up 14 in five years since then.
He is at his best when being the aggressor in pass protection and has some ability to re-anchor himself. However, he’s not the kind of player you would trust to block an elite player one on one.
He can be moved off his spot by power rushes and also can have problems with initial quickness.
According to Pro Football Focus, Schwietzer’s pass blocking grade in 2022 was the worst of his career. However, that may be slightly misleading because it is skewed by some bad snaps on passing downs in his first season playing extensively at center.
Schweitzer has had mixed results as a run blocker over the course of his career, but does put some impressive moments onto film. On this play he gets a good surge blocking downhill at the point of attack.
He pulls well and makes good contact with his target here, but perhaps the most impressive thing about this block is how he finishes it.
Schweitzer has a good understanding of angles, walling off his man well at the second level on this play.
Both the Falcons and Commanders had some success running behind Schweitzer in short yardage situations but he can get stood up at the line at times. That happens on this play but he keeps battling to help the running back get into the end zone.
Schweitzer is adapt at getting out in front of a screen pass and he moves and hustles well and is good at finding a target.
He displays impressive athleticism on this play to change direction a couple of times to spring the tunnel screen for a touchdown.
Schweitzer was acutely aware of the technical differences required in switching from tackle to an interior role, even though he downplayed it and adjusted well to the role. As a high school wrestler, he has a good understanding of leverage.
Now that he’s been playing at center more, one issue that does need work is his snapping. As often happens when guards move to center, he will at times snap the ball high, low or wide because he’s so focused on his first step when firing off the line or dropping into his stance.
His hand placement is usually good and he keeps his hands inside well initially and punches aggressively. However, he can struggle to recover if he doesn’t make clean contact.
In the running game, his balance can be an issue when moving laterally and he can be susceptible to being knocked over.
After committing nine penalties in his junior season at SJSU, Schweitzer focused on his on-field discipline and only had one penalty in his senior year.
At the NFL level, his discipline has been good, especially over the last four seasons where he has just nine penalties. Six of those nine were holding penalties.
Over the course of his career, he has 17 holding penalties, nine false starts and one ineligible man downfield penalty. He has no personal fouls.
Schweitzer’s only special teams contributions have been blocking on the field goal kicking unit during regular season action, with no pressures allowed. He did also see some preseason action blocking on the kickoff return units and had a good block on one return.
Schweitzer is extremely intelligent and intends to try and obtain a PhD at the end of his career. In college, he always chose the most challenging classes and ended up getting a degree in chemistry, spending extra time in research laboratories and earning all-conference academic honors four times and a place on the National Football Foundations Hampshire honor roll in 2016. This intelligence has no doubt fed into his ability to play multiple positions.
On the field, Schweitzer will often be employed as a spare man in pass protection and can be aggressive when he goes looking for work.
He has made mental errors at times though. He lets a stunting lineman through unblocked for a pressure on this play.
He had seven pre-snap penalties in his first two seasons as a starter but only has two in four years since then.
Schweitzer is quiet and shies away from the limelight, but his coaches have praised his hard-working attitude and desire to get better. He has a professional attitude and good discipline, which perhaps came from his father who served for 25 years in the Army.
He’s finish plays aggressively at times, as he did on this unsuccessful screen pass where he lit up a defensive back.
Schweitzer missed eight weeks in 2022 due to a concussion, which is an obvious concern going forwards. Prior to that, his durability was pretty good, although he did suffer a bad ankle injury that landed him on injured reserve late in the 2021 season. He also had a hamstring issue last year.
Schweitzer’s athleticism, smarts and versatility should make him an ideal depth piece for the Jets on the interior.
Current Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was on the Falcons’ staff when Schweitzer was in Atlanta. He has also been a teammate of current Jets cornerback Jimmy Moreland in Washington.
The Jets don’t currently have a starting center, so bringing Schweitzer aboard at least gives the team an option in that position. However, he’s likely to have been brought in to replace the role Dan Feeney played over the past two years. He does have a lot of experience, but most of it was at guard.
Perhaps the Jets saw something in Schweitzer when he made the switch to center at the end of last year and they think he has the potential to be a good starter in that role. This best case scenario would be somewhat reminiscent of Damien Woody, who the Jets signed as a tackle at a similar age, even though he had been an interior lineman for most of his career and he was surprisingly one of the better tackles in the league over the next three seasons. This seems unlikely for Schweitzer though and he should instead provide them with a reliable depth piece who hopefully won’t be a weak link if called upon.
Look for the Jets to make further moves at the center position between now and the summer, which should solidify Schweitzer’s role as one of the main interior reserves.