It was only a year ago when I had serious doubts about the Raiders' new third-round rookie Jared Veldheer. There was little known about Veldheer. He had solid measurables, but his 33" inch arms were a giant red flag and too reminiscent of the short comings of Robert Gallery. But more than anything was the worry that Veldheer was the possible source of the leak that resulted in the Raiders being penalized for having too much contact in OTAs.
Was Veldheer afraid of working hard, I wondered. Considering he needed to adjust from Division II football to the NFL and possibly deal with a position switch an aversion to hard work was not going to help.
Once Veldheer got on the field those concerns began to disappear. This guy was learning how to play center on the fly while still adjusting to life as a tackle. Sure, he sucked at center when he started in week one, but just getting on the field was an accomplishment, and a sign that this young man was willing to put in the work to succeed in the NFL.
Veldheer switched back to LT, and soon won the starting LT spot. He had a very up and down season. Veldheer had way too penalties and gave up way too many sacks. In his defense he was asked to block some of the best pass rushers in the NFL, and he was doing so a year after blocking Division II talent. Take the jump....
All in all Veldheer's run blocking and overall rookie performance had the majority of Raider fans excited about his future. And this offseason is only raising my expectations. Veldheer has spent his offseason by opening up a business with a friend.
"We are doing performance training for football players, wrestlers, any athlete in any sport who wants to get stronger, get better physically." Veldheer told Greg Johnson of the Grand Rapids Press. "It’s going to be a workout that will help them, and really be different than they have had before. It’s a combination of what we both know, and for football I offer offensive line skill training. That includes footwork training, hand technique for blocking, technical skills, resistance blocking drills, run-blocking technique, those types of things."
Veldheer's partner Mark Ehnis has a dgree in exercise science and the pair are leaving no stone unturned in their workout programs.
"I have tractor tires we will hit with sledge hammers, some different things I’ve picked up for training," Veldheer said. "I have learned a lot since high school. We can better somebody’s physical performance with power and explosive exercise.
"When you combine that with the science, we think we can really help people in any sport."
That is some straight up Rocky shit right there. And it is all good with me. This young man whose work ethic I questioned a year ago has devoted his time away from football to building and teaching the best possible workout for offensive linemen.
I am not 100 percent confident that Veldheer will ever be an elite pass blocker (that pesky arm length thing) and that may keep him from being an elite level left tackle. If anyone can overcome that it is Veldheer. Just look at how much he has already overcome in such a short time.
And if he doesn't ever make the transition as an elite left tackle, I am 100 percent confident that he could dominate every other offensive line position, and for a long, long time.