The all-star circuit is upon us! After we send 5 staff members to the Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, our entire staff is heading to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. And just wait until you see the coverage we have planned...
To get you ready, we've been previewing the prospects slated to participate at the Senior Bowl and next up are the guards and the centers.
Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
Last year, the best interior offensive lineman at the game was Will Hernandez out of UTEP -- I think Lindstrom is a better version of that player. Doesn't bring the same exact power, but has similar strengths in terms of people-moving ability in a phone booth. Quicker feet than you'd expect for a big dude, too.
Dru Samia, Oklahoma
The entire offensive line for Oklahoma was draftable this year, but their center wasn't eligible -- that makes Samia the best of interior players. Samia is an ideal athlete for the interior who regularly wins by framing rushers and striking early to maximize his length. His ability to tag second-level defenders in space will attract heavy zone teams.
Ben Powers, Oklahoma
Unlike Samia, Powers' athleticism may forever limit him in terms of starting potential in the NFL. That said, he's still a technically sound player who wins with great hand usage -- he's willing to work and re-work his hands late in the rep to control fits and has a penchant for finishing, as well. I think ideally Powers is your OL6, but he will fit at guard for teams who run heavy gap-schemes.
Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama
I'm worried about Pierschbacher the athlete long-term, as I don't see enough movement ability for him to hang with quick rushers at the next level. Plodders need to win with strong hands; when they land their punch, they have to be lockdown in terms of grip strength and control. I'm not sure that's Pierschbacher, so he has to help that image in Mobile.
Michael Deiter, Wisconsin
I really like Deiter for one big reason: it's the versatility. It's the starting experience literally everywhere. Deiter is the ideal reserve offensive lineman because he's equally effective at a ton of different spots, though you'll likely list him as a guard on the roster. He needs to have solid 1v1 reps when lined up at tackle, though, to really fire that point home for teams.
Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin
While Benzschawel came into the season with more hype than Deiter and David Edwards and Tyler Biadasz, I don't think he's the same caliber of player. Balance is his big issue, as he'll get caught leaning on blocks and lunging into contact when he needs to keep his power in his base and his feet underneath his hips. Can he be an NFL starter? Sure -- but I don't think he'll be a complete player in that regard.
Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State
I like Elgton! I think he's an NFL starter at center with good flexibility -- strong, and able to re-anchor and re-direct even if he's initially been shocked back. That's a huge trait for a center, because of how late his hands can get activated off the snap. Elgton is long and a good mover and looks for work when he wins early, as well. Interested to check out his leverage this week.
Garrett Bradbury, NC State
Bradbury is probably the second-best player of the bunch here. Dude's tape at NC State is clinic-worthy in terms of angles, lateral mobility, and hand placement as a run-blocker. Teams looking for a potentially elite zone center will likely invest in Bradbury, but have to ensure he can hold up in pass protection when he's attacked early with power.
Nate Davis, Charlotte
Davis has a fan in Joe on staff, who think he can be a developmental guard for next-level play. I really like Davis' power in a phone booth, but I don't know how well his movement skills will translate at the NFL level -- I think he's off-balance and out-of-control frequently. The improved level of competition at Mobile will be big for him to prove he can handle changes of direction in pass protection.
Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
McCoy was a late addition to the roster, in that he is a graduating junior who only qualified for an invite once he graduated. That said, he's one of the players with the most to gain, across all positions. Not many have watched McCoy's film, but he looks good on the hoof and has nice lateral agility and body control as a pass protector. Won Offensive MVP awards and weight room awards for the Aggies this season, too.
B.J. Autry, Jacksonville State
I'm really excited to see what B.J. Autry brings -- dude's an absolute unit at 6-foot-5, 340 pounds. An unknown coming into the Senior Bowl, Autry rose out of the JUCO ranks to be the top ranked guard in his class, and originally signed with Baylor before ending up at Jacksonville State. That size is only helpful if you can get it where it needs to go -- you gotta be able to move. Will Autry -- who played tackle for the Gamecocks -- be able to hold up on the move?
Javon Patterson, Ole Miss
A super-late addition who has starts at center and both guard starts -- and had some freshman year starts, as well -- the Senior Bowl staff has lauded Patterson for the improvements he rendered over his final season of college play. Patterson has a strong base and rarely loses to power in the trenches, but I wish he fought more stalemates into wins -- and had some quicker feet as well.