Tracking the Draft Prospects: Offensive Guard

mascho

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Time to look forward.
 
Solicited suggestions in the Draft Thread about having dedicated threads to a few positions that the Patriots might need to address in the draft.  So far we have TE/OL/DL.  Open to more.  
 
Here is a list of the OGs available in the draft.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Rs5uG_3rU
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUtzj6Lmpwk
 
I like Su'a-Filo a lot.  Love his lateral quickness.  Good initial punch.  Great footwork and base.  I think he'd fit well with the Pats.  
 

Super Nomario

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I posted this in the other draft thread:
 
Maybe a Mankins 2.0 pick makes sense. Mankins played LT at Fresno State (and has at times in the NFL) but was an immediate starter at G in the NFL level. Just a quick perusal of OT prospects who fit this profile are LSU's La'el Collins, Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi, and Nevada's Joel Bitonio. Collins and Ogbuehi both started their college careers inside, and Bitonio is a near-Mankins-doppleganger in size (6'4" ~310) and experience (three-year starters in the WAC). A day one starter at RG and someone who could ultimately shift to LT, LG, or RT depending on how the contracts and injuries shake out.
 
EDIT: Notre Dame's Zack Martin and Stanford's David Yankey also fall in this bucket. Vanderbilt's Wesley Johnson is a potential option in a later round, and he has experience at C, too.
 

mascho

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That's part of the reason I like Su'a-Filo.  6'4" 310, and UCLA did some things with him including lining up at LT.  He started as a freshman but then missed two years on a Mormon mission.  
 

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Every ND-side analysis I've seen of Zack Martin has gushed about his technical play at LT for the Irish.  His measurables are not prototypical for LT, so the conventional wisdom seems to be that he's likely to move to guard, but it seems foolish for the team that drafts him not to give him a shot at tackle.
 
(In fact, there are some ND observers who are a little mystified that Lewan from Michigan is likely to be picked ahead of Martin, but there's an obvious bias there.)
 

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Super Nomario said:
I posted this in the other draft thread:
 
Maybe a Mankins 2.0 pick makes sense. Mankins played LT at Fresno State (and has at times in the NFL) but was an immediate starter at G in the NFL level. Just a quick perusal of OT prospects who fit this profile are LSU's La'el Collins, Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi, and Nevada's Joel Bitonio. Collins and Ogbuehi both started their college careers inside, and Bitonio is a near-Mankins-doppleganger in size (6'4" ~310) and experience (three-year starters in the WAC). A day one starter at RG and someone who could ultimately shift to LT, LG, or RT depending on how the contracts and injuries shake out.
 
EDIT: Notre Dame's Zack Martin and Stanford's David Yankey also fall in this bucket. Vanderbilt's Wesley Johnson is a potential option in a later round, and he has experience at C, too.
 
Going going, back back, to college college
 

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Any chance that with the return of Vollmer, Cannon moves inside to RG?  

Related question:  coudl Wendell move to RG?  My sense is that he might be better than Connolly at this time in their careers.

I bring these questions up as they relate to the need for OG's -- maybe what they really need is a Center.
 

Super Nomario

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Saints Rest said:
Any chance that with the return of Vollmer, Cannon moves inside to RG?  
I think this is a definite possibility - Cannon played a bunch of RG in camp and again week 6 when Connolly left with an injury.
 
Saints Rest said:
Related question:  coudl Wendell move to RG?  My sense is that he might be better than Connolly at this time in their careers.
This doesn't make a lot of sense because a) Wendell isn't under contract for 2014, b) you'd still need a C if you move Wendell off C, and c) Wendell is small for a G and really only fits at C.
 

ElcaballitoMVP

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Mr. Wednesday said:
Every ND-side analysis I've seen of Zack Martin has gushed about his technical play at LT for the Irish.  His measurables are not prototypical for LT, so the conventional wisdom seems to be that he's likely to move to guard, but it seems foolish for the team that drafts him not to give him a shot at tackle.
 
(In fact, there are some ND observers who are a little mystified that Lewan from Michigan is likely to be picked ahead of Martin, but there's an obvious bias there.)
 
This may be a case similar to Justin Pugh from Cuse last year where the Giants valued him as a tackle so they took him in the 1st, well before most draft experts thought he'd go because they all thought he'd have to move inside due to his short arms. If someone thinks Martin can stick at tackle, I could see him off the board by the time the Pats pick in round 1. If not, he'd be a great guy to look at for G/T depth. It wouldn't be sexy, but you can never go wrong building through the lines. 
 
I don't know enough about Su'a-Filo, but I'll watch some tape. I do like David Yankey from Stanford as another G/T depth option. I don't think C. Richardson or G. Jackson are good fits for the Pats offense. 
 

SMU_Sox

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Zach Martin got rave reviews for what it's worth. I'd post the reviews but I am on the mobile.
 

Super Nomario

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My binky Joel Bitonio gets high marks from NEPatriotsDraft.com's Mike Loyko:
Joel Bitino, OT, Nevada – A very impressive prospect. He has been playing LT in practices, but also can play OG in the NFL. Out of all the OL interviews I conducted, he’s one of the guys that stands out. Knows how to use his leverage, get hands on the defender, and control space. Pancaked Daniel McCullers at least once. Understands technique and offensive line schemes
 
He sounds like a Patriot, doesn't he?
 
High marks for Jon Halapio (Florida) and Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State), though both those guys skew bigger than the Pats typically like their interior guys.
 
EDIT:
More positive pub for Bitonio:
Mel Kiper: He has great versatility. He had a good year. He moves well. He has the toughness. He has the quickness, agility. I think he'll end up as a possibility for the second round.
 
RC Fischer ‏@CFBMetrics  Jan 22
OG Joel Bitonio, Nevada has been impressive. I haven't seen him beat by the rush, and I've seen him rock bigger guys.
 

ElcaballitoMVP

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Super Nomario said:
My binky Joel Bitonio gets high marks from NEPatriotsDraft.com's Mike Loyko:
 
He sounds like a Patriot, doesn't he?
 
High marks for Jon Halapio (Florida) and Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State), though both those guys skew bigger than the Pats typically like their interior guys.
 
EDIT:
More positive pub for Bitonio:
Mel Kiper: He has great versatility. He had a good year. He moves well. He has the toughness. He has the quickness, agility. I think he'll end up as a possibility for the second round.
 
RC Fischer ‏@CFBMetrics  Jan 22
OG Joel Bitonio, Nevada has been impressive. I haven't seen him beat by the rush, and I've seen him rock bigger guys.
 
Just came in here to post about Bitonio. He really does seem like a Patriots kind of guy and a great fit in that swing OL role being able to move from guard to tackle in case of injury. He's looking like a round 2 pick at this point. If teams view him only as a guard, he'll drop, but someone will likely give him a chance to stick at tackle. If the Pats drafted him, I could see him spending his rookie season as the swing tackle with Cannon moving inside to start at RG. 
 

( . ) ( . ) and (_!_)

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ElcaballitoMVP said:
 
Just came in here to post about Bitonio. He really does seem like a Patriots kind of guy and a great fit in that swing OL role being able to move from guard to tackle in case of injury. He's looking like a round 2 pick at this point. If teams view him only as a guard, he'll drop, but someone will likely give him a chance to stick at tackle. If the Pats drafted him, I could see him spending his rookie season as the swing tackle with Cannon moving inside to start at RG. 
 
So the best part of the draft forum is that people are only going to hound you for information in one spot now, huh?
 

Super Nomario

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This is really a catch-all OL post, but whatever.
 
My thinking, as stated above, is the ideal fit for the Pats in the early rounds is a player who projects as a really good interior lineman but has some positional flexibility. Vollmer and Solder both have injury concerns, and Mankins and Connolly are both old, so while the immediate need is at C / RG, having versatility to plug a few holes long-term would be nice.
 
Looking at the top OL prospects:
Robinson, Matthews, and Lewan are not going to be there when the Pats pick at 29, and they look unlikely to be trade-up candidates.
Kouandijo, Moses, Richardson, and James are all 6'6"+, which means they project better at OT than G.
 
So I'm looking at (probably in this order):
Zack Martin, Notre Dame - 6'4", 308, LT in college, height projects more as a G in the NFL
Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA - 6'4", 307, listed as a G but has experience at T
Joel Bitonio, Nevada - 6'4", 302, LT in college, height projects more as a G in the NFL
David Yankey, Stanford - 6'6", 315, taller than the Pats like inside, but extensive experience at G
Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State - 6'3", 336, he's likely a G only
Marcus Martin, USC - 6'3", 320, C / G
Brandon Thomas, Clemson - 6'3", 317, G body but played a lot of T in college
Travis Swanson, Arkansas - 6'5", 312, C / G
Weston Richburg, Colorado State - 6'3", 298, may not have the bulk for G
 
Any other thoughts on options for the first couple rounds?
 

mascho

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I'm on the record about Su'a-Filo.  Huge fan.  I also like Yankey, mentioned him in the OP.  I love that both can bring flexibility to the roster.  Can start at G but can be moved to T if situations require such a move.  
 
Also warming to Bitonio, although I doubt he is a first round pick, and he likely won't be around near the end of the second round, as you suggest.  
 
I'll admit to not watching much of Martin.  I'll hold off on judging him.  Will also need to look at the other guys you mention.  
 
I'd be very happy with XSF at 29.  
 

ZMart100

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Super Nomario said:
Any other thoughts on options for the first couple rounds?
 
Here's where I am right now on interior linemen.
Martin and Jackson - Not scheme fits, Martin should be in a west coast offense and Jackson needs an offense like Pittsburgh. If they are around in the 3rd fine, but they don't make sense as Patriots. Martin seems a bit overrated to me anyways.
 
1st rd
No one
 
2nd rd possibles
Xavier Sua Filo UCLA - Moves well, good in pass pro
Joel Bitonio Nevada - Nasty, moves well good athlete
Marcus Martin So Cal - I really like him, though this may be high to take a pure C.
 
3rd - 4th round
Travis Swanson Arkansas - Mean streak, like him a lot
Anthony Steen Alabama - G
Dakota Dozier Furman - T at Furman likely a G in the pros
 
5th round
Charles Leno Boise St - Good athlete, horrible footwork at LT, needs some development but high upside
 
6th round - Undrafted FA
Russell Bodine UNC
Bryan Stork FSU
Weston Richburg CSU - I don't see it.
 
This is a pretty good youtube collection for offensive linemen
 
[edit] Forgot Thomas - I don't think he's a great fit for the Patriots, but he'd be in the last category.
 

Super Nomario

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ZMart100 said:
Martin and Jackson - Not scheme fits, Martin should be in a west coast offense and Jackson needs an offense like Pittsburgh. If they are around in the 3rd fine, but they don't make sense as Patriots. Martin seems a bit overrated to me anyways.
I see a lot of folks on Twitter who think Zack Martin is borderline as a T but will make a great G. Given the Pats' needs, I think that's a reasonable fit, but he's likely gone at 29 anyway. What do you think of him on the inside?
 
ZMart100 said:
Marcus Martin So Cal - I really like him, though this may be high to take a pure C.
Marcus Martin played mostly G before this year, and has the size (6'3" 320) to play G. I don't think of him as a C only like Richburg.
 
ZMart100 said:
 3rd - 4th round
Travis Swanson Arkansas - Mean streak, like him a lot
Anthony Steen Alabama - G
Neither of these guys looks high-upside or particularly versatile, so I guess the question is: are they plug-and-play day one?
 
ZMart100 said:
Dakota Dozier Furman - T at Furman likely a G in the pros
Charles Leno Boise St - Good athlete, horrible footwork at LT, needs some development but high upside
Dozier and Leno are both in that height-weight sweet spot where they can maybe play T but might project better inside. Might be good late-round options depending on what they nab early.
 

ZMart100

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Super Nomario said:
I see a lot of folks on Twitter who think Zack Martin is borderline as a T but will make a great G. Given the Pats' needs, I think that's a reasonable fit, but he's likely gone at 29 anyway. What do you think of him on the inside?
I actually like him better as a tackle. He gets in good position in pass protection and his footwork is excellent. However, he lets defenders get into him and doesn't sustain his blocks very well. What concerns me as a guard is that he doesn't get much movement in run blocking.
 
Marcus Martin played mostly G before this year, and has the size (6'3" 320) to play G. I don't think of him as a C only like Richburg.
You're probably right, I tend to get a bit scared of guys who played center in college. It often is a coach trying to hide poor athletes. I don't think it's the case with Marcus Martin or several other of the guys in this class.
 
Neither of these guys looks high-upside or particularly versatile, so I guess the question is: are they plug-and-play day one?
I think Swanson would be at C. I think the battle between Steen and Cannon would be interesting at RG.
 
 

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ZMart100 said:
 
Here's where I am right now on interior linemen.
Martin and Jackson - Not scheme fits, Martin should be in a west coast offense and Jackson needs an offense like Pittsburgh. If they are around in the 3rd fine, but they don't make sense as Patriots. Martin seems a bit overrated to me anyways.
 
1st rd
No one
 
2nd rd possibles
Xavier Sua Filo UCLA - Moves well, good in pass pro
Joel Bitonio Nevada - Nasty, moves well good athlete
Marcus Martin So Cal - I really like him, though this may be high to take a pure C.
 
3rd - 4th round
Travis Swanson Arkansas - Mean streak, like him a lot
Anthony Steen Alabama - G
Dakota Dozier Furman - T at Furman likely a G in the pros
 
5th round
Charles Leno Boise St - Good athlete, horrible footwork at LT, needs some development but high upside
 
6th round - Undrafted FA
Russell Bodine UNC
Bryan Stork FSU
Weston Richburg CSU - I don't see it.
 
This is a pretty good youtube collection for offensive linemen
 
[edit] Forgot Thomas - I don't think he's a great fit for the Patriots, but he'd be in the last category.
 
Richburg in the 6th or later would be an absolute steal. He should be long gone by then.
 
Pretty good list otherwise. 
 
Another name I like is Wes Johnson from Vanderbilt. He's a little tall for what BB usually likes to play inside at 6'4"-6'5" but he's extremely durable (51 college starts), and has good footwork and lateral quickness. He has experience along the whole offensive line and I've seen some articles saying he could transition to center easily. Could be worth a late round pick or picked up as a UDFA.
 

Super Nomario

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Brandon Thomas has a torn ACL:
 
Adam Caplan ‏@caplannfl  16m
G Brandon Thomas (Clemson), who is rated as one of the top interior OLs for this year's draft, suffered a torn ACL last week, per source.
 
Seemed like a good option in the 2nd or even late 1st - now how far does he fall? Might be a nice option with one of the 4ths.
 

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Sucks for the kid, but his shot at being a Patriot just went up. Bill doesn't mind drafting lineman that aren't projected to help much in year one.
 

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I know its stupid to bet that much on a kid coming off an injury that we dont even have yet......but I wonder if we just found our new LG for 2015.
 

Super Nomario

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No one's mentioned LSU's Trai Turner yet. He sounds like a prototypical RG, which is both good (since that's arguably the position of greatest need on the OL) and bad (he's not as versatile as some of the other options). Probably available in the 2nd, not in the 3rd.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdqS2RO0rNc
 

Super Nomario

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Nice article breaking the OL prospects into different categories: http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/cfb/47097/321/offensive-lineman-categories
 
Joel Bitonio: "Bitonio lacks power but he is an absolute bulldog who never lets up.  He can play tackle or guard and loves to get after defenders on the second level. ... I haven’t spoken with a scout or offensive line coach who doesn’t love this guy’s football character."
Brandon Thomas: "Thomas has long arms and rare, jarring power in his initial punch."
Trai Turner: "He’s not the strongest player in the draft, but he’s more of a grinder with good feet.  That’s a winning combination.  He makes blocks on the move like a seasoned zone blocker ..."
John Urschel: "He’s a little bit short, isn’t very explosive and has average straight line speed, but he’s highly competitive on every snap, good strength, intelligent and takes good angles."
 

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At this point I think I'd shy away from guys who "lack power" or "not the strongest". Guys like Wendell and Connolly work hard, good technique, etc., but it feels like the OL breakdowns in the playoffs have been because guys are getting out-muscled. If the Pats go interior OL, I want power. Maybe that's just my perspective though.
 

Super Nomario

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tims4wins said:
At this point I think I'd shy away from guys who "lack power" or "not the strongest". Guys like Wendell and Connolly work hard, good technique, etc., but it feels like the OL breakdowns in the playoffs have been because guys are getting out-muscled. If the Pats go interior OL, I want power. Maybe that's just my perspective though.
I think when interior OL get beat, it often looks like they're getting out-muscled, but the issue might be footwork or technique rather than strength. When Knighton threw Mankins aside like a rag doll in the AFCCG last year, it looked like he dominated him physically, but the real problem was that Mankins mistimed his punch and ended up off-balance.