NFL draft preview: Guards
Stanford guard David DeCastro during pro day at Stanford Practice Fields. (Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE / April 15, 2012)
Waistlines aside, this is a thin class of guard. It is possible no guard will be selected in the first round, and only two in the first 64 picks. On the third day of the draft (rounds four through seven), guards will start coming off the board as teams try to find developmental prospects.
1. David DeCastro, Stanford, 6-5, 316:
He is big, tough and physical. The underclassmen is a better run blocking than in pass protection. He locks on to defenders and sustains his blocks. DeCastro is a no-nonsense player who has top intangibles and should play for a decade or more. He is not an elite talent, however. Some have talked about moving him to right tackle, but many scouts think that would be a reach.
2. Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin, 6-4, 314: A typical Wisconsin blocker, Zeitler is average athletically but he's tough and has functional play strength. He can clear a path for a running back, as he has shown repeatedly in college. He also can get out in space and pull. Zeitler uses his hands well. As a pass protector, he is average. He is considered NFL ready. He has helped his stock with fine workouts and has the potential to play center as well.
3. Brandon Brooks, Miami of Ohio, 6-5, 346: A massive blocker, he inexplicably was not invited to the scouting combine and he showed what an oversight that was by lighting up his pro day workout. His potential is excellent because he is so big and so athletic. He is a power player who uses leverage well. He did not always play up to his capability, however. Brooks is a four-year starter who also has some experience at tackle.
4. Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State, 6-3, 311: He was a dominant small school player who will have to adjust to much better competition. He played left tackle in college but has a guard's body. Silatolu has very good athleticism and great potential. He plays with an excellent base and is a good knee-bender. He is sudden in his movements. He has natural strength and a good disposition for the position.
5. Senio Kelemete, Washington, 6-3, 307: A former defensive tackle who also has played left tackle, Kelemete is simply a football player. His body type suggests his best position will be guard. He is very aggressive and tough, but isn't that powerful. He is quick and can pass block pretty well. Kelemete was a little inconsistent on the field, and could take awhile to become a starter.
6. James Brown, Troy, 6-4, 306: His athleticism and strength make him intriguing. He has quick feet and comes off the snap hard. Brown was considered an underachiever in college. A developmental prospect, he needs to improve his technique, hand usage and footwork. He is not NFL-ready. He also has some potential to play tackle.
7. Lucas Nix, Pittsburgh, 6-5, 317: He is a tough, aggressive blocker who excels in a short area. He is a little stiff athletically and overextends at times. His foot quickness is just average. Right tackle also is a possibility. A knee injury limited him during the 2011 season.
8. Rishaw Johnson, California (Pa.), 6-3, 313: He has an NFL body with long arms and he fires off the snap well. He will need time to adjust to a higher level of competition. Johnson needs to show he is willing to work hard and commit himself.
9. Joe Looney, Wake Forest, 6-3, 309: He has quick feet and can move to get to the second level. Looney also plays with pop. He sometimes struggles in pass protection against quick defensive tackles. He was a four-year starter who showed leadership and a strong work ethic. A foot injury could limit his draft status.
10. Antoine McClain, Clemson, 6-5, 329: He has an NFL body and the power to run block. He is not the quickest or most flexible prospect. If he gets off balance in pass protection, McClain sometimes struggles to recover.
11. Johnnie Troutman, Penn State, 6-4, 325: He is a wide-based road grader who has some punch off the snap. He is effective in pass protection in a short area. He shows power in one-on-one drive blocking. Troutman has been inconsistent, however.
12. Josh LeRibeus, Southern Methodist, 6-3, 312: LeRibeus has a nice combination of quickness and strength. He can pull well. He has had a problem keeping his weight in check.
13. Trevor Robinson, Notre Dame, 6-5, 300: He has average movement skills but is effective in a small area. Robinson has no outstanding traits, but no glaring deficiencies, either. He does not have great upside, but could make it as a backup who could develop.
14. Joel Foreman, Michigan State, 6-4, 315: His size is what should get him drafted. Foreman also has solid intangibles and was a producer over a long period of time against good competition. He is not the most athletic or powerful blocker, however.
15. Markus Zusevics, Iowa, 6-5, 303: He is a smart, competitive, tough blocker from Prospect High School. He has a blue-collar mentality and gets the most out of his abilities. Zusevics played tackle at Iowa but could move to guard in the NFL. He is limited as an athlete. He plays tall at times. He needs to improve his strength and ability to anchor. Zusevics tore his pectoral muscle at the combine, and his draft stock might be affected a bit.