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Matt Farniok A Scouting Perspective

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Did Farniok Improve his Draft Stock Against Illinois

Nebraska v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Heading into the 2020 season there was a lot of optimism for the Huskers offensive line as they returned all five starters including Farniok who was moving inside to guard after starting the past two seasons at right tackle. With four games under his belt now working inside I thought it was a perfect time to highlight Farniok in my weekly Scouting Perspective article.

Preseason Thoughts

Below is an excerpt on Farniok from my Scouting the Huskers for the 2021 NFL Draft article before the season started.

“While Farniock has been dependable outside, his skill set is much better suited for the interior and we could see him flourish. Despite being 6’6 Farniok plays with good knee bend, strength and lateral burst needed to contend with defensive tackles. Farniock also won’t have to play in space against faster defensive ends that have caused him issues in the past. Fighting in a phone booth is a much better place for Farniok than out on an island.”

What he did Well

Nebraska losing to Illinois was a kick in the pants but you can’t attribute much of that loss to Farniok who played a very strong game at both guard and center. Farniok was at his best in the run game where he was able to use his strength and size to move the Illinois defenders. The highlight of his blocking was when Farnoik was able to get underneath Illinois defensive tackle Deon Pate, lifting him up and move him out of the play. Even if Farniok couldn’t manhandle the defender he showed off his strength to engage and then steer the defender enough so he could seal him off.

In pass protection Farniok wasn’t as dominant but held his own keeping McCaffrey clean. You could tell Farniok was a former tackle as he was able to slide laterally with defensive tackles to keep them out of the backfield. Playing inside at guard you have to have a good anchor and Farniok showed that as a defender tried to get under him but he was able to absorb the contact and then reset his feet to stop the push and drive the tackle back.

Where he struggled

While Farniok has a strong game there were a couple areas of concern that I have with him moving forward. The one that is the most correctable is his hand usage. In pass protection Farniok too often tried to absorb contact with his chest and then get his hands underneath. This prevented him at times from really controlling the defensive tackle and even led to some blocks slipping off. If Farniok could be more aggressive in pass pro like he is against the run and attack defenders he would be better served.

Fixing his hand usage is doable, his awareness is a bit more concerning. Maybe you could chalk it up to being at a new position but too often when he didn’t have a defensive lineman on him, he didn’t know who to block. In the second half when he was at center he quickly went to his left to help out the guard but a backside linebacker blitzed right where he was and Farniok didn’t even see him. In the first half at guard he struggled going to the second level and finding blockers. When Farniok was asked to pull outside to his left he decided to wrap around the edge to help Jaimes, despite the defender already being sealed and the defensive back sitting outside was able to make the tackle for a very short gain.

Stock Up/Down

My grade and projection of Farniok hasn’t changed as I still believe Farniok has a chance to be picked on Day three of the 2021 NFL Draft and viewed as a depth interior lineman. Farniok’s ability to play all five offensive lineman positions only enhances his appeal to NFL teams who usually only dress 7 offensive lineman each game. I felt Farniok played his best at center against Illinois but was no slouch at guard. As long as Farniok continues to improve his technique he has a chance to have a solid NFL career as a backup similar to that of Jeremiah Sirles and Brent Qvale.