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Scount Inc's Top 25 Offensive Line Prospects


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Scount Inc's Top 25 Offensive Line Prospects

Long's consistency, dominance make him top 2008 OL prospect

By Todd McShay

Scouts Inc.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Draft prospects like OT Jake Long make scouting look easy. Long was the top offensive lineman on our initial top 32 list back in August, is the top offensive lineman on our board today and will be the top offensive lineman selected in April's draft. Thankfully for my job security, very few college players are as consistently dominant.

Long is not as athletic as last year's top tackle prospect, Joe Thomas, who excelled at left tackle for the Cleveland Browns as a rookie in 2007. However, Long has more than enough range to play left tackle in the NFL, and he is bigger, stronger and more physical than Thomas was coming out of Wisconsin. Long grades out slightly lower than Thomas, who went at No. 5 overall last year, but Long could come off the board earlier in what projects to be a weaker overall class.

As it stands right now, Chris Williams, Jeff Otah, Gosder Cherilus and Sam Baker are the four other tackles jockeying for consideration in the bottom half of the first round. Baker began the season not too far behind Long, but an injury-riddled senior campaign and a lackluster showing at the Senior Bowl have considerably damaged his stock.

The annual draft trend is for one guard to sneak into the first round. Logan Mankins (Patriots, 2005), Davin Joseph (Buccaneers, 2006) and Ben Grubbs (Ravens, 2007) were the past three guards to hear their names called in the opening round, and Branden Albert is the top candidate in the 2008 class. Albert and Chilo Rachal are the lone underclass additions at guard. It's no coincidence Albert and Rachal are expected to be the first two guards selected in the upcoming draft.

Of the 48 offensive linemen invited to this year's combine, 34 spent the majority of their collegiate careers at the tackle position. While that percentage seems unusually large, I project at least 11 of those college tackles will move inside to guard in the NFL. That group includes Heath Benedict, Mike McGlynn, Eric Young and Drew Radovich, who started on the same line as Rachal at USC last season.

Benedict, who starred at offensive tackle for the Newberry Indians, is one of the top small-school prospects in the 2008 draft class. The Division II product should come off the board early on Day 2 but likely will make the move inside to guard, where he can be better protected in the NFL. Other small-school prospects to look out for in the later rounds include OG Chad Rinehart (Northern Iowa), OT Demetrius Bell (Northwestern State), OG Kerry Brown (Appalachian State), OT David Hale (Weber State) and OG Mackenzy Bernadeau (Bentley).

Finally, Mike Pollak, Steven Justice and John Sullivan are the best available players in a relatively weak class of centers. Pollak and Justice are best suited to play in zone-blocking schemes in which they can use outstanding mobility and technique to overcome subpar size and strength. On the flipside, Sullivan is battle-tested with enough size, initial quickness and power to emerge as a starter at the next level. However, he lacks ideal athleticism for the center position, which is why the Notre Dame standout likely will slip to the middle rounds.

Code:

Top 25 OL Prospects in 2008 NFL Draft

Prospect School Position Height Weight Speed

1. Jake Long Michigan OT 6-7 309 5.30

2. Ryan Clady Boise State OT 6-6 317 5.15

3. Chris Williams Vanderbilt OT 6-6 1/8 320 5.35

4. Jeff Otah Pittsburgh OT 6-6 339 5.30

5. Gosder Cherilus Boston College OT 6-6 5/8 315 5.10

6. Sam Baker USC OT 6-4 1/2 308 5.30

7. Branden Albert Virginia G 6-7 1/4 317 5.35

8. Carl Nicks Nebraska OT 6-4 7/8 343 5.21

9. Chilo Rachal USC G 6-4 1/4 313 5.23

10. Anthony Collins Kansas OT 6-6 1/4 310 5.06

11. Mike Pollak Arizona State C 6-3 3/8 299 5.05

12. Roy Schuening Oregon State G 6-3 5/8 308 5.35

13. Duane Brown Virginia Tech OT 6-4 3/8 314 4.95

14. Steven Justice Wake Forest C 6-3 1/4 289 5.05

15. Tony Hills Texas OT 6-5 1/4 303 5.25

16. John Sullivan Notre Dame C 6-3 3/8 284 5.20

17. Heath Benedict Newberry G 6-4 3/4 321 5.10

18. John Greco Toledo OT 6-4 3/4 302 5.30

19. Michael McGlynn Pittsburgh G 6-4 3/8 309 5.20

20. Eric Young Tennessee G 6-4 309 5.25

21. Drew Radovich USC OT 6-4 3/8 302 5.30

22. Kirk Barton Ohio State OT 6-4 3/8 303 5.25

23. Cody Wallace Texas A&M C 6-4 1/8 290 5.35

24. Barry Richardson Clemson OT 6-6 3/8 331 5.20

25. Chad Rinehart Northern Iowa G 6-5 1/4 317 5.40

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Top 25 OL Prospects in 2008 NFL Draft

Prospect School Position Height Weight Speed

1. Jake Long Michigan OT 6-7 309 5.30

2. Ryan Clady Boise State OT 6-6 317 5.15

3. Chris Williams Vanderbilt OT 6-6 1/8 320 5.35

4. Jeff Otah Pittsburgh OT 6-6 339 5.30

5. Gosder Cherilus Boston College OT 6-6 5/8 315 5.10

6. Sam Baker USC OT 6-4 1/2 308 5.30

7. Branden Albert Virginia G 6-7 1/4 317 5.35

8. Carl Nicks Nebraska OT 6-4 7/8 343 5.21

9. Chilo Rachal USC G 6-4 1/4 313 5.23

10. Anthony Collins Kansas OT 6-6 1/4 310 5.06

I think the Jets should draft one of these guys. I think its more important to get one really good prospect than a few lesser ones (assuming of course the Jets add a lineman in FA). The lesson of the 2007 Giants is not just pass rush; they also had great protection for Manning and consistent running lanes for such notable RBs as Jacobs, Ward (a jet castoff), Bradshaw and Droughns.

In order to get one of these guys, assuming - again - the Jets dont make a trade to net more picks, the Jets will have to spend at least a second round pick. But because any of these guys would start immediately for the Jets I wouldn't want them to use a first round pick here (also, dont want to pay LT money for a RT).

At least the top five guys will be gone by the time #36 rolls around. In fact the top seven might be gone (Sam Baker, to me, is the wild card because of his injury history). That leaves Carl Nicks, who happens to be gigantic and who was coached by Callahan, our new line coach.

Personally, I'd rather they trade down and position themselves to get a better prospect than Nicks, someone like Williams, Otah or Clady. I view this as an important pick and a guy who might have to step in at LT if Ferguson continues to get plastered by the Schobels, etc, of the world. But beggars can't be choosers.

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