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O-Line and the Draft :

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by WinnipegPackFan, Apr 22, 2006.

  1. WinnipegPackFan

    WinnipegPackFan Cheesehead

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    O-line help might be hard to find in draft


    By Pat Kirwan
    National Editor, NFL.com


    (April 19, 2006) -- Like every other position group in the National Football league, the offensive line has a history of when players are selected in the draft and the pattern is fairly predictable. What is important to me is to identify which players are heading into the draft as first-day draft picks.

    The offensive line coaches around the league appear to be at the point where they don't feel the Class of 2006 is good enough to meet the selection trends of the last six years. As one prominent line coach said to me after a month of working out all the candidates, "This is an excellent year to take developmental linemen in the last two or three rounds."


    D'Brickashaw Ferguson is expected to be the only offensive lineman selected in the top 10.
    That led me to ask a question about the top end of the draft: How many rookies could come in and start and function like a solid pro right away? After he hesitated, he said three or four.

    Well, history says there will be 13 to 14 offensive linemen drafted on Day 1 when the first three rounds are conducted, and that means a lot of money going to a bunch of linemen who are not ready to play. A good businessman would obviously then have doubts about drafting them if they're not ready. But as one NFL scouting director said, "We can't keep taking corners and running backs because the coaches don't like the linemen."

    Therein lies the rub between the coaches and the personnel people. After the top half-dozen of the offensive line population in this draft are gone, it appears many of the coaches would prefer to wait until much later on Sunday to pick up players to work with over the next few years. Coaches know the young ones will not be ready, but the earlier they get drafted, the sooner they go on the field.

    In the past six drafts, going back to 2000, 45 offensive tackles have been drafted in the top three rounds (7.5 per year), while 25 offensive guards (4.1 per year) and 13 centers (2.1 per year) have been selected on the first day.

    Number of offensive linemen taken in the first three rounds since 2000
    Year Tackles Guards Centers
    2000 9 4 0
    2001 8 1 2
    2002 6 6 4
    2003 8 4 3
    2004 6 4 2
    2005 8 6 1



    No guard or center has been a top-10 selection since 2000 and it is safe to say this year will be no different. Tackles are a different story, however, with seven men being top-10 picks since the turn of the century. Chris Samuels, Leonard Davis, Mike Williams, Bryant McKinnie, Levi Jones, Jordan Gross and, most recently, Robert Gallery have been the big money winners in the draft. This year, of course, D'Brickashaw Ferguson will become the eighth tackle taken in the top 10 since 2000.

    As for the entire first round, recent history says three tackles, one guard and maybe one center. So who are the top candidates to fill those five spots besides Ferguson? And what do the coaches think of them?

    Winston Justice, OT, USC: Justice is a great athlete who has measurable numbers personnel people dream about, but coaches feel he could have used another year of playing experience if the front office expects him to line up on Day 1 this season. If he goes in the top 15, he will be on the field right away. My feeling is that his athletic ability will help him survive the early stages if he's on the right side, where he played in college, but the left side might be too much.
    Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State: The center from Ohio State should be the next offensive lineman taken and he is the most ready to play, according to the coaches. The personnel people will struggle with taking a center in the first round considering Jeff Faine and Chris Spencer are the only two first-round centers since 2000 and Faine is on the trading block and Spencer didn't break into the lineup as a rookie. Mangold is better and deserves a top-20 selection is how one line coach put it to me.
    Now it gets hard to figure for the final two spots in the first round. Beauty is now in the eye of the beholder and the names that seem to have the best chance are Oklahoma guard Davin Joseph and Miami tackle Eric Winston. One coach told me he likes Joseph but he plays in a two-point stance too much and the coach is afraid of what the NFL defensive tackles will do to him. Winston has more coaches believing he deserves to be in the second round but realize they may have to take him in the first.
    The second and third rounds are the place where the offensive line names traditionally have come off the board at a decent pace. I suspect, with less than the average first-round selections, the next two rounds should have closer to 10 or 11 players drafted.

    Look for tackle Andrew Whitworth (who is gathering momentum right now), guard Max Jean-Gilles (who the coaches like more than the personnel people), center Chris Chester and guard Deuce Lutui to lead the way. Interesting prospects that are popping up late but appear to be strong first-day candidates, especially in the third round, are tackles Daryn Colledge and Paul McQuistan, guard Charles Spencer and center Greg Eslinger.

    There are a number of high-profile linemen who have been broken down since the coaches got in the process. The coaches either didn't like the scheme they play in, the mental capabilities they demonstrated, the medical history indicates they can't stay healthy or work out regularly, or they have never demonstrated the ability to do the things required of them on a professional football field. Some coaches tell me they have spent as much time working out defensive linemen for offensive line spots as anything else they have done this spring.

    As one coach said, "The offensive line coaches in the NFL don't buy all the hype around players. We work them out ourselves and decide." This year, it seems like they don't want as many drafted early as in the past six years.
     
  2. Popcynical

    Popcynical Cheesehead

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    ... and we'll probably pick our linemen up in the later rounds.
     
  3. porky88

    porky88 Cheesehead

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    If Mangold is there in round 2 then I think we'd take him. Otherwise I agree with you.
     

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