OK this looks really rough. I don’t know why we haven’t brought back Moore with the Depth chart looking like it does. Colon missed 5 games last year and 15 games the year before, when he is healthy he is a good guard, but staying healthy is his problem. Vladimir Ducasse still hasn’t shown that he is starting material, sometimes he can knock some players off the ball but more often than not he looks completely lost. I hated the selection when it happened, hated it a year on and still hate it to this day. Caleb is a guy that is good to keep around due to his versatility but he is not a starter in the NFL. This looks really rough to me, we are one injury away from having Ducasse starting at LG and Schlauderaff starting at RG. Ouch! That line would get the QB killed and any running back getting more than 2.5 yards a click would be doing well.
I’ve been pretty much steady all off-season in my desire to have Chance Warmack be a part of the team. For me he is the best player in the draft, he is better than Joeckle and Fisher, better than Geno and Jordan. He is a guard who will play for the next 15 years and be a pro bowler most years. He has great size, he has the strength of a prize bull, he has quick and nimble feet, he works to the next level constantly. He plays with great leverage and a good base, has lateral ability. Quite frankly he has absolutely everything you could want in a guard. He is also one of the safest selections in the draft. A lot of people say that you shouldn’t select a guard this high in the draft, I disagree. If you are getting a 10+ year starter who gives you excellent production – well then you do it. I would happily draft Chance Warmack at #9 and I hope that we are giving serious consideration to this.
Warmack is not the only first round talent in the draft however. North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper is likely to go between selections 15-25 in this draft. I can’t remember the last time two guards were taken in the top 20 selections; however I think it happens this year. So what separates Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper? Strength! Cooper is also a great athlete with good size, he blocks on two levels and has quick feet in pass protection. However he doesn’t have the strength of Warmack and on occasions a good powerful bull rush can rock his balance. However there isn’t a great deal to not like about Cooper, he is also a very safe selection and will likely be a future pro bowler. He fits between our selection at #9 and our second round selection. So it is unlikely he ends up in Jersey with the Jets.
I love looking at lineman so forgive me if this article is a little longer than my previous ones. Now we look at the second round and I think two more Guards come off the board. Former Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh and Kentucky guard Larry Warford. I really liked Pugh as a prospect but I didn’t realize just how short his arms were. This is why he will move inside at the next level. In college Pugh played around the 290lb mark but he is already up around 310 for his leap to the big league. He has excellent quickness, great feet, and good lateral ability. He has excellent body control and gives 100% effort on every single snap. The question with Pugh comes down to his strength, he was a finesse tackle at Syracuse and now moving inside he is going to have to mix it up a little bit. Does he have that? I think he’ll have a successful career at the next level inside. Worth considering in the second round? Absolutely.
Warford didn’t allow a single sack in 2012 and finished his career starting 37 consecutive games. He has excellent size and plays with fantastic leverage. He has one of the widest frames I’ve ever seen so he is very difficult to just slide past inside. Some question his feet, but he showed excellent lateral agility in 2012 to not allow a single sack against the kind of competition he faced all year. He has good initial pop and very strong hands. So why is he a late 2nd round selection? He is a little heavy and at times can be a little slow. So unlike the other guards we have covered so far, he won’t get to the second level very much. He is very much a right guard mauler, and some team will take a chance on him. He may slip into the 3rd round but he has the power and strength to be a late second round selection.
If Warford does go in the 2nd round then I don’t think we see a Guard taken in the 3rd round. However when we get to the 4th round we have a few more guys that will likely come off the board. First up is Alvin Bailey of Arkansas. Bailey looks a lot bigger than he weighs in (310), and has the core strength that you look for in a right guard. He has good feet and is very agile blocking out in space. Has been asked to pull at Arkansas so he is used to blocking in space. However he is in the 4th round for a reason and that reason is his feet. He sometimes looks like he is playing stuck in the mud, as everything above the waist is moving but nothing below it. In the NFL this will make him vunerable to losing leverage against bull rushers and susceptible to swim moves. Even saying that, as a 4th round prospect he is very interesting. I think with a year of coaching he could be a valuable starter in the very near future.
Next up in the fourth round we have a player that I covered some time ago. Brian Winters from Kent State. Obviously he has plied his trade in the MAC conference, so you question the level of competition straight away. However you also have his versatility to consider, his natural position is at guard, but he could also play at tackle and centre if needed. Now Winters doesn’t have the best flexibility and he does rely on his hands too much while playing high, but he does have a great base with strong legs that keep on driving. He is a very physical player who uses his hands to gain excellent leverage against his opponent. Much better run blocker than a pass protector but he is well worth considering here, and if we don’t take Warmack then this is the guard I want. He has also played in 49 straight games and that includes playing through a dislocated shoulder. This guy is tough.
Now we are moving onto the 5th Round. I personally have four guys coming off the board in the 5th. Those being Hugh Thornton from Illinoise, Eric Herman from Ohio and two smaller school guys in JC Tretter from Cornell and Earl Watford from James Madison. Hugh Thornton is my guy from this selection. He can get over extended and can play a little upright but he also has a lot of positives. He has an excellent base beneath him, strong legs, good hands and has a lot of upper body strength. He benched 27 times I believe and he takes great pride in just blanking rushers with his physicality. He doesn’t have the greatest speed to get out and block on the next level and can lunge at times but I really like the power he possesses and the lateral ability he has. I didn’t see a great deal of Earl Watford on the field but I watched a lot of his practises from the East/West shrine game and he was very impressive showing good fluidity and a good base. Eric Herman from Ohio is a dark horse, when I watched Ohio this year, I watched them for RB Beau Blakenship – who was running over everyone. However when you watched him, you couldn’t help but notice he was running through holes created by Herman, a player with exceptional quickness off the snap and power to move defenders out of the way.
The best of the rest include the likes of Ryan Jensen, Josh Kline, Ryan Jensen and Sam Brenner. All players who will be drafted in either the 6th or 7th round.
My Big Board
Chance Warmack – 1st Round (10-15)
Jonathan Cooper- 1st Round (15-25)
Justin Pugh – 2nd Round
Larry Warford – 2nd Round
Alvin Bailey- 4th Round
Brian Winters – 4th Round
Earl Watford – 5th Round
Eric Herman- 5th Round
Hugh Thornton – 5th Round
J.C. Tretter – 5th Round
Josh Kline- 6th Round
Ryan Jensen – 6th Round
Jeff Baca – 6th Round
Sam Brenner – 7th Round
Braden – Hansen – 7th Round