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Inside the War Room: Offensive Guard Edition

Inside the War Room Offensive Guard Edition

In this week’s Inside the War Room I take a look at the top senior guards in the draft, the top offensive line in college football, a couple of juniors who will likely enter the draft, and much more.

 Top Senior Offensive Guards

This year’s senior offensive guard class is led by two Florida State standouts in Josue Matias and Tre’ Jackson. Overall, I could see four offensive guards going in the top two rounds of the draft with Arizona State’s Jamil Douglas, and Rutger’s Kaleb Johnson earning second or early third round grades. The top junior offensive guards include Max Tuerk of USC, Landon Turner of North Carolina, and Vadel Alexander of LSU.

Top Seniors

  1. Josue Matias Florida State 6-6 331

Matias is a big bodied lineman with surprisingly good athletic ability. While other people may rate his teammate Tre’ Jackson higher I think Matias has more upside which is why he is the highest rated offensive guard on my board.

  1. Tre’ Jackson Florida State 6-4 339

Jackson is one of the more powerful offensive guards in the draft, and he should be a dominate run blocker in the NFL. If he can improve as a pass blocker he could go late in round one 

  1. Jamil Douglas Arizona State 6-4 301

Douglas will be moving to left tackle this season for the Sun Devils, but I think he will shift back to guard in the NFL since he lacks the length to play tackle in the NFL. I love the athletic ability, and tenacity Douglas shows.

  1. Kaleb Johnson Rutgers 6-4 305

Johnson strongly considered entering the draft, but decided to come back to school after earning a day three draft grade from the draft advisory board. Johnson is a big powerful blocker whose best fit will be in a power running game.

  1. Arie Kouandjio Alabama 6-5 315  

Arie is the younger brother of Buffalo Bills second round draft pick Cyrus Kouandjio. Arie has surprisingly good feet for his size, but he needs to work on his pad level and balance.  

Sleepers

  1. Quinton Spain West Virginia 6-5 332 #9 OG

Spain is a versatile player who has played both tackle and guard at West Virginia. He has good size coming in at 6-5 332 pounds, and moves fairly well for someone his size. He projects best to offensive guard though, since he lacks the quick nimble feet to play tackle in the NFL.

  1. Bobby Hart Florida State 6-4 318 #10 OG

Hart plays right tackle for Florida State, but due to lack of height and overall athletic ability will shift inside to guard in the NFL. That being said Hart is a good pass blocker, who should have a solid career in the NFL.

  1. Hamani Stevens Oregon 6-3 307 #15 OG

Stevens had an impressive spring both physically, and mentally. He has shown more leadership this year, and is more coachable then he has been in the past according to Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood 

  1. Garrett Frye Georgia Southern 6-4 277 #22 OG

Frye is my top rated small school offensive guard. Last season, Frye was named second team All-American, and helped Georgia Southern led the nation in rushing last season. If he wants to stick in the NFL he will have to get bigger, and prove he can play in a pro style offense.

Top Offensive Line in College Football

One of the major reasons Florida State won the National Championship last season was due to their outstanding offensive line. The Seminoles return four fifths of their offensive line from last season, with the only loss being center Bryan Stork. I consider all four of these returning offensive lineman draftable players, and three of these players first or second round draft prospects.

The highest rated offensive lineman Florida State has is offensive tackle Cameron Erving who I currently have rated as the second best senior offensive tackle in the draft. Erving won the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy last year which goes to the top offensive lineman in the ACC. He was also named first team All-American last year by the Sporting News, and USA Today. What impresses me so much with Erving is his outstanding athletic ability. He has very quick feet, and defiantly has the potential to play left tackle in the NFL.

Florida State also has the top two senior offensive guards in college football in Josue Matias and Tre’Jackson.  Matias was named to the All-ACC second team last season after posting the top offensive line grade in three games last season. On the season he posted the third highest grade on the offensive line last year with a season average of 78.5%. When evaluating Mathis the first thing that stands out is his size coming in at 6-6 331 pounds he defiantly has the size to play in the NFL. I also like his athletic ability, and burst off the line of scrimmage.

A lot of people consider Matias teammate Tre’ Jackson the top offensive guard in college football. Last season, Jackson was named All-ACC first team, and he had the second highest grade on the FSU offensive line with a season average of 80.2%. When scouting Jackson what stands out to me is his physical play especially when run blocking. I do think Matias is a slightly better athlete than Jackson which is why I have Matias rated higher.

The last returning offensive lineman for FSU is offensive tackle Bobby Hart. Hart is one of the youngest seniors in college football as he will only be 20 years old when the college football season starts. Hart is an interesting player due to his young age, and quick feet. I think he will have to move inside to offensive guard though due to fact he is only 6-4 which is on the short side for an offensive tackle.

The other player who will be starting on the offensive line is center Austin Barron. Barron replaces Bryan Stork who was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round in the 2014 NFL Draft. While I don’t have Barron currently on my draft board, I am guessing he will be added once he proves he is a capable starter.

Going Pro

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution it looks like Georgia running backs Todd Gurley, and Keith Marshall will enter the draft after this season. Georgia head coach Mark Richt also backed this assumption up when he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the chances of Gurley, and Marshall sticking around for a long time was not good.

Gurley is a powerful running back who rushed for 989 yards in 10 games last season. He also proved to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield recording 37 receptions for 441 yards. When evaluating him the first thing that stands out is his powerful running style. This is both a positive and a negative. It is a positive since he does not go down on first contact, and picks up yards after contact on a regular bases. It is a concern due to the fact he has battled injuries due to his running style. Last season he battled an ankle injury and missed three games. He also wore down some in the Florida game, which raises some concerns about him being a feature back like Marshawn Lynch. Gurley has good quickness to go along with his power. He has a nice burst to the line of scrimmage, and while he is not a home run threat speed should not be a concern with this prospect. One more positive with him is that he has been used as a receiver at Georgia, and he has the overall skills to fit in any NFL offense. If Gurley decides to come out he should be a late first round or early second round draft pick depending on what other running backs enter the draft, and if he can stay healthy this season.

Marshall only played in five games last season before tearing his ACL. In the five games he played in he rushed for 246 yards, and had six touchdowns. Marshall’s best asset as a player is his outstanding speed. He has the speed to go the distance on any play, and would be a good change-of-pace back in the NFL. I would like to see him more involved in the passing game though. He only recorded eight receptions last season, and in his career only has 19 receptions. I currently project Marshall as a mid-round pick, and think he would be smart to return to Georgia for his senior season to prove he can be a lead back.

Overall, I think Gurley would be smart to enter the draft for a couple of reasons. The first reason he should enter the draft is that he has shown he is a top-notch college running back, and coming back for another year won’t allow him to improve his draft stock much. I also think he would be smart to enter the draft since he is a physical back who is already starting to show some signs he is starting to wear down. I think Marshall should stay in school so he can prove he is a lead back, and prove that he can be more of a threat catching the ball out of the backfield.

Supplemental Draft

It’s the time of the year where players start thinking about entering the supplemental draft. So far this year SMU RB Traylon Shead, and New Mexico WR Chase Clayton have entered the draft, and according to NFL Draft Diamonds DT LaKendrick Ross of Virginia Lynchburg is applying to enter the supplemental draft.

Last season Shead played in only four games for SMU due to injuries. In these four games he rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns. However he was a highly regarded recruit coming out of junior college in 2013. He rushed for 1,194 yards and 17 touchdowns for Navarro College in 2012. He also was a highly regarded prospect coming out of high school, and he originally signed with Texas before enrolling at Navarro. I doubt Shead will get drafted, but I would not be surprised if some team brought him in as a free agent.

Clayton is a player who may draw some NFL interest due to his physical traits. He is listed at 6-3 204 pounds, and has solid if not great speed. He has yet to put up big numbers in college so far, and in 2013 only recorded one reception. He will most likely go undrafted, and be brought in as a free agent this summer.

The other prospect who has expressed interest in the supplemental draft is Virginia Lynchburg DT LaKendrick Ross. Ross is a player who will catch scouts eye with his imposing size coming in at 6-5 335 pounds. However, I doubt Ross will get drafted if he decides to enter the supplemental draft. He is not overly physical, and lacks the agility to play defensive tackle in the NFL.

Ten Football Thoughts

  1. I think one of the most intriguing defensive prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft is Kentucky DE Za’Darius Smith. Smith has outstanding size coming in at 6-6 264, and shows solid athletic ability for his size. He is still very raw though, and must work on using his hands better. He has very limited pass rushing moves, and has trouble getting off of blocks. One other thing he needs to work on is his pad level. Smith should continue to grow as a player though since he played only one year of high school football, and then went to junior college. In his one year of major FBS football he recorded 59 tackles, and six sacks.
  2. I think a defensive end to keep your eye on next season is Nevada DE Brock Hekking. Last season, he had 14.5 tackles for loss and 9 sacks. He is a very aggressive player who knows how to lay the wood. I would like to see him add bulk so he can hold up better vs. the run.
  3. I think Wisconsin offensive guard Kyle Costigan will be taken off of some team’s draft boards due to knee injuries. In 2012 he dislocated his right knee cap, suffered a slightly torn meniscus cartilage, a sprained medial collateral ligament and strained his medial ligament. It is also worth noting that some of the damages he suffered in 2012 is permanent, and can’t be repaired.
  4.  I think Kansas State DE Ryan Mueller will have to move to OLB in the NFL. He lacks the power, and bulk to hold up as a defensive end in the NFL. He has been extremely productive at Kansas State tying a school record last season with 11.5 sacks. I love the motor he shows, and worst case scenario he should be a solid special teams player in the NFL.
  5. I think Florida DT Leon Orr will be my top rated senior defensive tackle going into the season. Orr only started eight games last season, and only recorded 21 tackles on the season. The reason Orr is the top rated defensive tackle though is due to his athletic ability, and size. He has a good first step off the line of scrimmage, and has good agility overall. His agility, and quick burst allows him to be a threat as a pass rusher even though he only recorded 2.5 sacks last season. His size (6-5 305), and strength allows him to hold up vs. the run as well. His best fit would be in a one-gap defense though since he is more athletic then powerful. 
  6. I think a few players CFL players worth keeping an eye on this year when the CFL season starts this weekend include Montreal WR S.J. Green, Montreal CB Geoff Tisdale, Calgary RB Jon Cornish, and Calgary K Rene Paredes. Green led the CFL in touchdown receptions last year, and came in second in total yards. He also has good size coming in at 6-2 216 pounds. Tisdale led the CFL in interceptions last year with 7, and also has NFL size coming in at 6-1 185 pounds. Cornish led the CFL in rushing last season by over 200 yards, and also averaged a very impressive 7 yards per carry. Pareds made a CFL record 94% of his field goals last season, and also had the longest field goal in the CFL in 2013 with a long of 52 yards.
  7.  I think a couple of players to watch in training camp this season who played in the CFL last year are Carolina DE Alex Hall, Indianapolis LB Henoc Muamba, and Oakland RB Kory Sheets. Hall is one of the more intriguing players to come out of the CFL. He has outstanding size coming in at 6-5 250 pounds, and also has produced on the field. In 2013 he recorded 16 sacks which was the second most in the CFL. Muamba finished second in the CFL last year with 106 tackles. Sheets was named the 2013 Grey Cup MVP after rushing for 197 yards.   
  8. I think the Chicago Bears will be better than Las Vegas Hilton’s projection of eight wins. They return a top ranked offense, and made several upgrades on defense last season. If the Bears don’t reach the eight win mark look for the team to be in the market for a new defensive coordinator next season.
  9. I think I agree with Las Vegas Hilton’s projection that the Jaguars will have the first pick in next year’s draft. I don’t see a lot of talent on this team, and the players they drafted last season especially Blake Bortles will take time to develop. 
  10. I think one of the more interesting stories I have seen while researching draft prospects has to belong to Mississippi State DT Kaleb Eulls who saved a bus full of kids from a girl who was carrying a gun and threatening to shoot people in 2009. Eulls tackled the girl which allowed the students to evacuate the bus.

Notes

Oregon junior WR Bralon Addison hopes to be ready for Oregon’s season opener after tearing his ACL this spring. … West Virginia has named senior QB Clint Trickett their starting quarterback. I currently have Trickett rated as the 18th best senior quarterback. … Utah junior quarterback Travis Wilson has been cleared to play after battling a head injury. Wislon should be the starting quarterback this year for Utah. … Baylor has kicked sophomore WR Robbie Rhodes off the team after he was arrested last month on marijuana possession, and tampering with physical evidence. … Penn State junior linebacker Ben Kline suffered a torn ACL this week. … Ole Miss senior CB Senques Golson was arrested on disorderly conduct charges. … Syracuse senior DT Eric Crume underwent minor surgery on his left knee. … There will not be an Inside the War Room article next week since I am moving and the Fourth of July holiday….

This piece was written by our head D1 scout John Blair of Inside the War Room.  Make sure you follow him on Twitter @NFLDraftITWR. 

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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