Monday, April 18, 2005

2005 NFL Draft coverage - Offensive line

This is not a strong batch of offensive linemen, but there are a couple blue-chip prospects at tackle along with an elite center. Here’s a look at the offensive line class of 2005.

Top dogs
1. Alex Barron, Florida State. Tall, long-armed blocker who came into his own in 2004. He has the quickness and solid fundamentals to handle pass rushers off the edge, and he is also a stout run blocker. The 2004 consensus All-American needs to be a more consistent player, as his first step and angles are not up to par some of the time. However, Barron is a fluid athlete for his size, and he has room to get bigger without losing that athletic abilty. He merits selection in the top half of the first round. Projected: 1st round.

2. Khalif Barnes, Washington. Barnes is a late-bloomer on most draft boards. The former defensive tackle started 42 straight games before a broken wrist ended his senior season. With the injury having healed, Barnes worked out and impressed the scouts with his range and athletic ability. There are issues surrounding Barnes’ work ethic, as some believe he will not be the same player once he gets that first big paycheck. However, the athletic ability and blocking fundamentals are impressive, and Barnes should go off the board in the first round. Projected: 1st round

3. Jamaal Brown, Oklahoma. Brown is a proven commodity, having been a full-time starter for three straight years. His strength is his mobility. He shows good body control and great quickness in pass protection. He needs to be more physical to fully develop as a run-blocker. Brown’s biggest weaknesses are his aggressiveness and his mental makeup. He’s not known as a player with a mean streak, and he scored just a 13 on his Wunderlic, which has some worried about his ability to pick up NFL blocking schemes. Despite these questions, Brown is a likely first-round pick because of his consistent production in college. Projected: 1st round.

Michael Roos, Eastern Washington. Roos is a native of Estonia who has only been playing offensive tackle for three years. He was first-team All-Big Sky in 2004 after earning honorable mention in 2002 and 2003. Roos has already developed into a solid prospect who has a knack for recognizing pass rush moves and reacting quickly to them. He has the room on his body to add bulk, which he will almost certainly have to do to become a factor in the NFL. However, his development has been impressive, and Roos has great upside. He turned heads during Senior Bowl week and will be drafted on the second day. Projected: 4th round.

Michael Munoz, Tennessee. Munoz has come back from serious injury and dealt with minor health issues during his college career, and he came on with a big season in 2004. His fundamentals are strong, and he has good size. However, he is not overpowering as a run blocker, and he can be beaten off the edge by good pass rushers. If he can stay healthy and become a stronger player at the point of attack, Munoz will be a factor. However, he doesn’t have much upside, and he failed to live up to expectations in college until his senior season. Projected: 3rd round.

Top dogs
1. Elton Brown, Virginia. Impressive footwork and overall athleticism for a guard. Brown is effective in pass protection, but could be better against a bull rush, where he is sometimes caught with poor leverage. Brown isn’t quite as overpowering in run-blocking as he could be, but has the impressive size and strength to be effective. A three-year starter in college, Brown has plenty of experience and is ready to make the jump. In a relatively weak guard class, Brown is the best of the bunch and warrants a second-round pick. Projected: 2nd round.

2. Logan Mankins, Fresno State. Mankins is one of the smallest of the top guard prospects at just a shade over 300 pounds. He doesn’t overpower anyone, but he plays with great intensity and is able to sustain his blocks. Mankins moves his feet well, and his technique makes up for an overall lack of upper- and lower-body strength. He’ll need to get stronger to become an NFL starter, but even with that in mind, Mankins should be drafted on the first day. Projected: 2nd or 3rd round.

Dan Buenning, Wisconsin. Buenning could end up like Bill Ferrario, a late-round pick from Wisconsin who was overmatched in the NFL. Buenning could end up like Mark Tauscher, a late-round pick from Wisconsin who has turned himself into a solid starting tackle. Buenning is excellent as a run blocker, and he is better than anticipated in pass protection. He doesn’t have ideal speed or quickness, and he is only average in the open field. However, Buenning has enough skill to be drafted in the fourth round, and in the right system, he could become a solid starter. Projected: 4th round.

Chris Kemoeatu, Utah. Massive, mauling type of guard who destroys at the point of attack and has underrated quickness, especially for his 340-pound size. Kemoeatu plays with a mean streak, but that’s not always a good thing; Kemoeatu was suspended after twice kicking players in the face during games. His conditioning and weight will always be a problem, and his work in pass protection needs improvement. Kemoeatu will likely be drafted on the first day, but will need time to become an NFL starter, assuming he’s able to become one. Projected: 3rd round.

Other notables
Evan Mathis, Alabama – 3rd round
Nick Kaczur, Toledo – 3rd or 4th round
Adam Snyder, Oregon – 4th round
Jonathon Clinkscale, Wisconsin – 4th or 5th round
Justin Geisinger, Vanderbilt – 5th round
Dan Connolly, SE Missouri State – 6th or 7th round

Top dogs
1. David Bass, Michigan. He’s the most prepared of any of the center prospects in a weak class. Bass has all the physical tools, though he is a bit undersized. He’s good in pass protection, and he shows excellent power run-blocking. Bass rarely makes mental errors, and he is an experienced player who serves as a good leader on the offensive line. While he probably won’t be drafted in the first round, Bass is clearly at the head of this class, and he should go by no later than the middle of the second round. Projected: 2nd round.

2. Chris Spencer, Mississippi. Spencer only started as a center for one season, but showed tremendous upside. He has good mobility, and he understands how to use leverage to his advantage. His lower body isn’t developed, and he risks getting pushed around early in his career unless he gets a stronger base. While Spencer’s experience is a concern for some, it’s worth pointing out that Bass only started for a single full season at center, too. When you consider the talents of these two, it’s a lot closer than some think it is, and both should go in the second round. Projected: 2nd round.

Scott Mruczkowski, Bowling Green. While Mruczkowski appears to be more of a center/guard ‘tweener, he enters the draft after two seasons as the starting center in college. He is not a mauler, instead using technique and skill to move linemen at the point of attack. His ‘tweener status hurts him, as does a general lack of athleticism. Mruczkowski is a second-day selection, but his intelligence and fundamentals will make him a tough player to keep on the bench once he learns the system. Projected: 4th round.

Other notables
Jason Brown, North Carolina – 3rd round
Benjamin Wilkerson, Louisiana State – 3rd round
Richie Incognito, Nebraska – 4th or 5th round
Vince Carter, Oklahoma – 5th or 6th round
Eric Ghiacuic, Central Michigan – 7th round

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