This all about the big men on the O Line and who I like and what to see get a shot that is not the day one names you will here about.
First lets talk about Centers. Yes we all will hear about Peter Konz from Wisconsin and he is a legit 1st round prospect. I think he will be over valued and drafted higher then he should but such is the demand for a starter caliber Olineman.
There are 6 Centers that I have looked at and I think any of them can be really coached up and be great.
With a 3rd round grade I like Ben Jones from Georgia; 4th round grades Michael Brewester from Ohio State and Philip Blake from Baylor (he is older like Watkins was at 26yrs) ; 5th round grade Quentin Saulsberry from Mississippi State. They have different round grades but in my draft scoring they are almost interchangeable. Their size and speed seem very similar and I will have to really see combine drills to settle a final order for the big board.
As you can see with patience a team can draft a solid Center later in the draft. We also see TT looks into the last round(s) for this position.
There are also 2 Centers that I have graded in the 7th that have my eye. Scott Wedige from NIU was the key to that schools amazing run in the MAC. He handled his assignments well and looked very good at senior bowl practices. William Vlachos from the national championship Alabama squad is the other. Both have shown quite a bit on film and looked pretty good. I don’t think either is a day one starter in the NFL but they are both great value picks in the 7th round or a steal if brought in as a UDFA.
Guards are an interesting group as well with Stanford’s David DeCastro, Miami(FL) Brandon Washington, and Georgia Bulldog Cordy Glenn getting the top praise and 1st and 2nd round draft grades. With Guards we have seen teams look for Tackles and convert them (Packers) or some draft inside players that know their role (Patriots). Both methods have proven fruitful with good coaching on fundamentals and technique.
There is some great talent available lower in the draft with Guards. One of the faster climbers on my big board moving up about 54 spots is Troy’s James Brown (6-4; 307lbs.) He was a LT that was asked to play inside at Senior bowl. He looked raw but good against the top Dlinemen while playing inside (like a long armed TJ Lang). His practices are going well and a good showing at the combine will land him as a 3rd or 4th round pick, a definite TT kind of player.
Jeff Allen (6-4; 305) from Illinois is also an interesting player. He played Left and Right Tackle but looks more like a pass blocker then rush. I figured maybe a 5th or 6th round pick and then the Senior Bowl happened. He was one of the top guys there. He was no rush blocker but in a pass happy NFL he should be fine playing on the interior. He will need to show up to the combine more ripped then he was for the Senior Bowl. With a good combine he should be a steal as a utility line man that can play Guard but can slide outside for depth at Tackle. Should be a solid 4th round pick.
Another big riser that I want to see in person at the combine is Lamar Holmes from Southern Miss. He was a Juco transfer and played Tackle. He is to slow in my opinion to handle LT/RT on Sundays but looks perfect to fit inside at Guard. He plays nasty and has great hands and a low center of gravity. He moved about 120 places on big board to go from UDFA camp invite to a last day 6th or 7th round pick.
Onto the big money players, the Tackles. With the last two 1st round picks tied up in OTs I don’t see Green Bay drafting one again unless 27 GMs lose their minds and pass on Kalil, Reiff, or Martin. All three appear to be day one starter NFL Tackles.
There are two Tackles that have my eye on. They seem to be sliding under the radar and maybe starters as well but could slide all the way to round 3. Mitchell Schwartz from California is being media blitzed out the spotlights by the All Great Tan One and the Talking Head. His grade is solid and at 6-5 and 317lbs he has great film against Oregon and USC defenses. He looks good. So why so low?? He played RT and looks to be a great one and all the love is on the left side. He is a day one NFL RT that can be had in the 3rd round. A steal for any Oline needing help.
The other Tackle is Matt McCants (6-6; 309) from UAB. As the anchor LT of the line UAB only gave up 24 sacks in their last 30 games. He has some issue like poor knee bend but his size speed and potential should be overlooked. He is coachable and can be a starter LT. I have him just a tenths of a percentage point behind Schwartz in draft grade which means I see him as a 3rd round pick that could make a GM look brilliant. The combine will help him out.
Next up – The Defensive side of the ball starting with the D-line.