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Old 02-17-2009, 10:28 AM   #1
El-Gonzo Jackson
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Default Top 10 O-Line Prospects

SI.com's Bucky Brooks, a former scout, is ranking the top 2009 draft prospects by position group. The lists were compiled through a series of conversations with scouts and game-tape evaluations

Offensive lineman

1. Eugene Monroe, Virginia, OT: A dominating tackle prospect with exceptional athleticism and body control. Best described as a "dancing bear" on the edge, Monroe does an outstanding job of shadowing agile rushers off the edge. His ability to stay square in pass protection is rare and has scouts raving about his potential on the next level. Though some would like to see Monroe play more aggressively as a run blocker, his finesse style is effective due to his sound technique and fundamentals. He is masterful at working angles and is an efficient blocker on the second level. Monroe is undoubtedly the best tackle prospect at the position and should be the first offensive linemen taken on draft day.

2. Jason Smith, Baylor, OT: A former tight end who brings outstanding athleticism to the position. Smith has the lateral quickness to neutralize speed rushers off the edge and possesses the strength and body control to stop bull rushers in their tracks. Though Smith is exceptional in pass protection, he has also shown signs of developing into a dominant run blocker. He consistently moves defenders off the ball and is one of the best finishers in this year's draft class. With a rare combination of size, strength and athleticism, Smith is a franchise-type offensive tackle who should come off the board early in the first round.

3. Andre Smith, Alabama, OT: A mammoth offensive line prospect who simply mauls defenders at the point of attack. Blessed with exceptional size and strength, Smith is most effective as a drive blocker in the running game. His ability to create a surge along the line will improve any running game. As a pass blocker, Smith has good balance and body control, but struggles against speed off the corner. Though he is able engulf most rushers with his size, he will have problems containing elite rushers as a pro. In fact, his struggles have led some scouts to project Smith as a guard prospect. Smith is still considered a first-round talent, but teams are undecided to which position will best suit his skill set.

4. Michael Oher, Mississippi, OT: An intriguing prospect with the physical tools to develop into a top notch offensive tackle. As one of the best athletes at the position, Oher displays the balance and body control to handle finesse rushers off the edge. Additionally, the former Rebel has the strength to stop bull rushers without allowing penetration. Oher also shows good strength and power as a run blocker. He routinely dominates defenders at the point of attack, and creates a solid push along the line. Though scouts would love to see Oher dominate his foes consistently, they love his potential and view him as one of the top prospects at the position.

5. Alex Mack, California, C: An outstanding prospect with terrific size and strength for the position. Mack is explosive after the snap and shows tremendous power moving defenders off the ball. His ability to hold his own against a number of heavyweights at the Senior Bowl cemented his status as a top-notch interior run blocker. While Mack has been lauded for his physicality in the running game, he also has the balance and body control to neutralize pass rushers. He anchors well against power and shows surprising quickness when mirroring quick rushers in pass protection. It is rare for a center prospect to come off the board in the first round, but Mack's overall ability is so superior he warrants serious consideration at the bottom of the round.

6. William Beatty, Connecticut, OT: The former Husky's performance during Senior Bowl week skyrocketed his value on draft boards. An exceptional athlete with outstanding size and strength, Beatty shows the potential to develop into a franchise-caliber offensive tackle. Though he is still raw in some technical aspects of the position, Beatty's footwork and lateral quickness allow him to effectively shadow speed rushers off the edge in pass protection. As a run blocker, Beatty has the quickness and movement skills to work effectively on the second level. He routinely seals the edge on outside runs and is an impressive blocker in space. With enormous potential and upside, Beatty will continue to climb up the charts with solid pro workouts and may wind up sneaking into the bottom of the first round.

7. Max Unger, Oregon, C: An exceptional center prospect with rare athleticism and body control for his size, Unger possesses outstanding movement skills and is one of the few centers in the game capable of getting out of his stance to pull on outside runs. Additionally, Unger is a quick-footed athlete who is nimble enough to shadow finesse rushers in pass protection. His balance is rare for such a big man, and many scouts project Unger as a combo player (center/guard) as a pro. At any rate, Unger is one of the top interior blockers available and should hear name called near the top of the second round.

8. Jamon Meredith, South Carolina, OT: An experienced and durable prospect with solid overall skills. Meredith started 25-consecutive games for the Gameco@ks and projects as a right tackle as a pro. Armed with a strong punch and surprisingly light feet, Meredith shines in pass protection. Though his lack of bulk (he only weighed 289 during his senior season) makes him susceptible to bull rushes and power moves, he does a respectable job of battling top rushers on the edge. As a run blocker, Meredith lacks the power to consistently move defenders off the ball, but is a sticky blocker who works hard to finish. With solid tackle prospects scarce, teams value an all-around prospect like Meredith and will make a play for his services in the second round.

9. Eben Britton, Arizona, OT: A prototypical tackle prospect with exceptional size (6-foot-6, 310 pounds) and skills for the position, Britton is a better-than-advertised athlete who effectively uses his long arms to keep defenders stymied in pass protection. Although he occasionally loses discipline with his footwork and fundamentals, Britton's raw talent allows him to win the majority of his battles on the edge. As a run blocker, Britton is neither dominating nor forceful, but he is effective at keeping his guy out of the play. Britton is far from a polished product at this point, but his size and untapped potential makes him an intriguing prospect in the second round.

10. Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma, OT: The former Sooner star is a behemoth (6-8, 348 pounds) with good strength and power. Loadholt uses his massive frame to engulf defenders at the point of attack and is most effective as a straight-line blocker in the running game. Although he flashes some agility for his size, he lacks the movement skills to be effective on the second level. In addition, his lack of athleticism is exposed in pass protection, as he routinely struggles against speed rushers off the edge. While Loadholt is sure to have his struggles on the edge as pro, some scouts believe that he has a chance to develop into a serviceable pro in the right run-based system

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Old 02-17-2009, 10:53 AM   #2
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Default Re: Top 10 O-Line Prospects

Nice information.

Mack, Beatty and Unger seem good from the description. I think looking for athlettic guys with good footwork should be a priority. A center that can pull is a great thing.

I looked back at previous drafts to see how many tackles typically come off the board by round. Obviously the talent in a class affects this.

Here are the stats by year for round 1/2/3/4

2008: 7/0/1/4
2007: 3/1/4/3
2006: 1/5/3/4
2005: 2/3/4/3
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Old 02-20-2009, 09:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Top 10 O-Line Prospects

Steely McSmash:

I agree with you regarding Mack, he could potentially drop to the Burgh at #32 overall.

Take Mack and use him at a Guard position and back-up for Hartwig, ready to move into that role one day. He's probably the best interior lineman available in the draft.

Why isn't Duke Robinson OG out of OU not mentioned here?

The other possibility is an OT to start for the expensive back-up franchise OT Max Starks.

Go figure.
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Old 02-20-2009, 10:29 AM   #4

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Default Re: Top 10 O-Line Prospects

4. Michael Oher, Mississippi, OT:

I ran across this article about Oher..thought it was pretty interesting..


INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael Oher was not about to be blindsided in his give-and-take with a group of reporters here on Thursday afternoon. So, Oher made sure he did the giving. This 6-foot-6, 322-pound offensive tackle proved quite nimble behind the microphone.

"Do you think your past is going to hurt you?" he was asked.

"What do you mean by that?" Oher, in turn, asked.

"I mean, can the story of your hardships be held against you?" was the spin.

"I think my past helps make me the talent and person that I am," Oher said.
2009 NFL Scouting Combine

"Think you should be mentioned among the other top three left tackles at this combine," Oher was challenged.

"I think I'm the best of the group," Oher insisted.

It was an unusual and odd blend from Oher, sometimes passionate, other times so mild-mannered and soft-spoken it was if he was half asleep.

Oher calls that "calm, laid-back, relaxed."

Some NFL teams are wondering if that means he will lack the relentless aggression and physicality they demand from their left tackle.

After all, that position, in most instances, protects the quarterback's blind side when he is in the pocket preparing to pass. It is a cornerstone position from which most offenses are built and can become the signature position for an entire team.

Oher says check the record. He allowed no sacks last year at Mississippi. One sack the year before. Four total in his career, he said.

And as far as the Michael Lewis book, "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game," which chronicled Oher's life in Memphis, Tenn., before 2006 -- a father he never really knew who was murdered, a mother battling drug addiction, the repeat of both the first and second grades and 11 different schools in his first nine years, foster homes, homelessness and, finally, a family that took him in and gave him stability and hope -- well, Oher said he has never bothered to read it. And the fact that it could one day become a movie? Oher shrugged that off, too.

Tom Cable, the Oakland Raiders' coach, said no matter.

"An offensive lineman not only giving interviews but having a book written?" Cable asked, smiling. "That breaks the code. You know linemen don't talk. So what if he hasn't read it -- he already said it all. I think this player is very interesting for a lot of people at this combine. He is a good player who jumps out at you, the consistency, the flexibility. He really has great athletic ability."

Oher said that attribute -- athletic ability -- is one he has had to match with attitude, hunger, nastiness, temper, the grimy stuff that NFL teams want from their left tackles. Oher believes he has it, but, really, he has to find a way to convince questioners of that here in his drills, in his interviews.

His passion for football goes beyond his rugged background and the questions of his temperament.

"It has been a little more than a year since I lost my brother, Deljuan, in a car accident back in Memphis," Oher said. "I have 12 brothers and sisters. Deljuan was 25, and he was in a car with two other of my brothers. The car wound up wrapped around a telephone pole. He didn't make it. I got the call after a game we had played against Vanderbilt. No matter what had happened to me before, my struggles, my story, you cannot prepare yourself for that kind of call. He was just like me -- calm, laid-back, relaxed.

"I think about him every day. I think I've taken from that how much life I have to live, how much football I have left to play and how I will succeed in this game. I will be successful at this in the NFL. I am driven toward it all and know the value of hard work and pressing forward. That is how I got to this point. That is how I will reach all the great things to come in my career and in my life."

He has taken it all. He gets it. Now he will give it.

NFL teams are lining up here at the combine to have a word with Oher. To put him at the board and discern his football smarts. To challenge him over his past, his present, his future. They want to know that he can handle big money, the big time, make decisions about his future that will not hinge solely on correcting his past. That he can move forward without being whacked by his past and some of the people closest to him who, in the end, will want his fortune as much as his friendship. Every young NFL player faces some of that. This one, to some of them, because of his fragile past, could be risky.

I have always believed that if NFL teams and coaches stay connected to the player and teach and advise him on these things as much as they do on how to handle the zone blitz that success all around can follow. Invest in your investment. The team that drafts Oher would be smart to do that, stay connected, help him figure it all out.

Much, he already has.

"A lot of people come up to me and say they feel like they already know me and are familiar with the struggles I had," Oher said. "That doesn't bother me. I'm going to build a different life for myself. A lot of stuff I will do for my family."

But first, more give-and-take here at the combine. And Oher has a flair for the giving part.
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