Guard and Center Rankings
1. Mike Iupati- Iupati is one of my favorite players in this entire draft class. I think he is the ultimate guard prospect, and should be in the Pro Bowl every year. I know there is speculation of moving him to tackle, but I would keep him right where he is at. I think he is a mauler on the inside and has the perfect size/strength/athleticism combo. He has missed some time with injury making him raw in some areas, which is one of the primary reasons why I wouldn’t move him. He still needs to be refined as a guard before he should kick out to tackle. If he sticks at guard, he starts from day one, and doesn’t give up that role for 15 years.
2. Vladimir Ducasse– Ducasse has fallen down some draft boards this off-season, but should still be considered a quality prospect. While the early expectations laid on him about being an offensive tackle were too optimistic, Ducasse should be a very good starting guard in the NFL. Sure he is a little raw coming from 1-AA, but Ducasse should be able to handle what the NFL throws at him. He has a ton of potential and I think he is a good bet to reach it.
3. Jon Asomoah- Asomoah is a pretty good guard prospect and should here his name called sometime during the 2nd round (possibly early 3rd). There is nothing he is superb at, but he isn’t really deficient in any area either. At times he doesn’t finish blocks, but honestly that is nitpicking considered he played on one of the worst teams in the NCAA last year. Asomoah was by far Illinois best player, and might get some criticism since the offense failed to produce.
4. John Jerry- Jerry played both tackle and guard at Ole Miss, but is best suited inside in the NFL. Consistency is the only question with Jerry at the next level. He has the perfect size and strength, and has shown the ability to be a dominate blocker. The problem is though he doesn’t dominate enough, given his talents. If Jerry can get a little quicker and show more consistency, he could be a top-notch guard in the NFL.
5. Zane Beadles- Beadles was a tackle for Utah, but projects much better on the inside of the line. He is a mauler who can drive defenders off the ball, but lacked the lateral movement to stay outside. He does offer some versatility since he could always temporarily shift back to tackle due to injury. Beadles still needs a little refinement, but should develop into a pretty good starter, who should dominate in the ground game.
6. Mitch Petrus- Petrus has impressive strength, which he showed by pacing the offensive linemen in bench press reps at the Scouting Combine, but that strength doesn’t always show up on the field. Too often Petrus couldn’t drive his man off the ball, and he needs to work on his technique to get the most out of his skill set. Even still, Petrus is worthy of a 4th round pick, given his potential of being a pretty good starting guard.
7. Marshall Newhouse- Newhouse is an interesting prospect, one that could end up being a top sleeper in this class. He had a solid East-West Shrine game, and has followed it up with pretty good workouts, which has vaulted his draft stock considerably. Physically, Newhouse possesses everything you look for in a starting guard. Mentally though there is a question if Newhouse is ready for the NFL. He was inconsistent in college and did not play up to his full potential. He projects as a devastating run blocker who could win a starting job by year two if all goes right for him.
8. Mike Johnson- Johnson is a solid but unspectacular guard prospect. He likely will end being no more than a stopgap starter in his career, but he is a tough solid blocker worthy of a mid-round pick. Johnson projects best in a power blocking scheme as he struggles in too much space.
1. Maurkice Pouncey- Pouncey is maybe a little over-hyped in this draft given his status as the top center. He would also grade out as the 2nd best guard, and could handle that position at the next level. While I admit and love his talent the reason I say he is over-hyped is because he is rumored to be a top 20 selection. Now as much as I love Pouncey, I think that is a bit high for him, and feel he is more of a late-first round pick. I think he should stay at center where I believe he will quickly develop into a Pro Bowl player. While at guard I think he could be very good, I don’t know if he will ever be at that Pro Bowl level.
2. J.D. Walton- Walton is an interesting prospect, because I feel he often gets overlooked. Walton is too often compared to the top center this year, Pouncey and the deep center classes of 2009 (and 2011). While Walton might not grade out as high as they all do, he is a good center prospect in his own right. Next to Pouncey, he is the only center who could start from day one this year, and should be a solid to good center for years to come. He might slip to the 3rd round range, but will be well worth the investment for the team that takes him.
3. Matt Tennant- Tennant is a solid center prospect, and a fair bet to develop into a starter. He plays with good leverage, but doesn’t possess the brute strength teams are looking for in the run game. While he holds his own, he needs to get stronger and tougher to succeed in the NFL.
4. John Estes- Estes played in a pass happy offense at Hawaii, which would make you think he would be a liability in the ground game, but has surprising held his own when asked to run block. Estes relies on quickness and guile instead of strength, which could make him a liability against big nose tackles. Even still Estes has a solid football I.Q. making him a safe mid-late round pick.
5. Eric Olsen– Olsen I like better than most draft analysts, I think he is a fiery center who has a chance to develop into a starter in a few years. He’s had a strong off-season, but still has his doubters. I think he would make a solid late 5th round pick for a team. He also has some ability to play guard giving him added versatility, and prospect value.
6. Ted Larsen- Larsen is a borderline 7th round prospect, but will likely get picked given the lack of quality centers in this draft. Despite his shortcomings, Larsen is a tough worker, who stays with blocks. He should be able to be a solid back-up center, but his starting potential is very limited.