Saturday, August 20, 2022

A 1970s-Type Defensive End Excelling in the 2000s—Aaron Schobel

 By John Turney 
Most informed football fans remember the name Aaron Schobel and may even remember he was a very good player. But how many remember he was about 20-30 pounds underweight for his era?

Schobel was 6-4, 263 pounds and ran a 4.75 forty at the combine. So he has some speed but was not blinding fast so as to compensate for his lack of size. Still, Shobel was a successful pass rusher in an era where he was outweighed by 40-80 pounds week-in and week-out. 

However, from 2007-2009 he was listed at 243 pounds about 20 pounds less than his listed weight in his earlier seasons. 

As a comparison, his height and weight were about the same as Gino Marchetti, Jack Youngblood, and Jim Marshall—star defensive ends of the 1960s and 1970s. But in their era they were giving up maybe 10-30 pounds in general, facing tackles who were maybe 255-285 pounds. In the 2000s tackles had grown to 300-320 pounds or even more. Schobel faced an uphill battle his last few seasons.

No, he was not the only smaller defensive end in his era—Hall of Famer Jason Taylor was listed at 245 pounds at a height of 6-6. The Colts Robert Mathis measured 6-2, 245. Both of them had a season of 10 sacks or more from 2007-09. Schobel also garnered a 10-sack season, his final, at the reported 243 pounds. Those are the only three defensive ends to achieve that number in those three seasons. 

Earlier in his career (usually listed in the 263-pound range), he was a Second-team All-Pro in 2006 and went to the Pro Bowl that year and in 2007 he went to the Pro Bowl at his new, lower weight. From 2003-07 only Jason Taylor had more sacks (59.0) than Aaron's 52.0 though, again, only in 2007 was he listed at around the same weight as Taylor. 

If we could talk to Schobel we'd ask him why he dropped the weight, especially after his career year of 2006. There is nothing we could find in old papers or online that reports on the change, other than the different listing. 

2007 roster

Perhaps his biggest fan was Bill Belichick said, "He's got a great motor. He works hard on every play. He's never out of a play. He's got several good moves . . . Even though he's not the biggest guy, he's got explosive power. He's hard for everybody to block."

Schobel played at TCU in the late-1990s and was well-decorated—He was named First-team All-Western Athletic Conference in 1999 and 2000, Second-team All-WAC in 1998, and was the WAC Defensive Player of the Year in his final year as a Horned Frog. He also left as the school's all-time sack leader and forced fumbles (both since broken).

He was a second-round (46th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft and secured a starting job as a rookie and held it through 2009. He ended his career with 78.0 sacks and 21 forced fumbles, not eye-popping numbers but pretty good for a nine-year career and for a guy his size (either at 263 or 243) in the era he played. 

He's worth remembering.

Career stats—

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