2006 NFL Draft Preview: Guards

After selecting Michigan's David Baas and Oregon's Adam Snyder on Day 1 of the NFL draft this spring, it stands to reason the 49ers won't be on the lookout for another offensive guard early in the draft next year. Then again, you never know. The team could look to fortify its currently weak depth at the position again next spring, and there will be a lot of less-heralded prospects available in a dime-a-dozen crop, including Baas' Michigan teammate, Matt Lentz.

Guards aren't usually considered a hot commodity on draft day, but the 49ers placed priority and high value on the two guys they got this year to complement the rebuilding of their offensive line.

That allowed them to land two of the best prospects in the draft, but 2006 - like most years - at this juncture doesn't appear to offer a plethora of highly-ranked, can't-miss prospects.

In the past decade, only eight guards were first-round selections and three of those were chosen during the initial frame of the 1996 draft. Most guard crops entering the draft lack quality and quantity, and next April will be no different.

Very few prospects at this position presently look like first-day choices.  And while the guard spot would benefit from an injection of underclassmen, it is highly unlikely anyone breaks into the first round.

Aaron Lips of Louisiana Tech is one of the higher rated seniors at the position.  Possessing solid size (6-4/310) Lips is a terrific run blocker who holds his own in pass protection.  Opening holes last season for Ryan Moats, the junior ball carrier selected in the third round of April's draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, Lips looks like a solid pick in the late part of day one.

Oklahoma's Davin Joseph has been an outstanding blocker for one of the nation's most prolific offenses the past two seasons.  Playing with terrific fundamentals, Joseph does the little things incredibly well.  A tad undersized at 290 pounds, Joseph offers a lot of upside for the next level and could make a charge up draft boards with a good senior campaign.

The Texas Longhorns already have one quality senior offensive tackle in next April's draft and could also offer a pair of solid guards.  Will Allen possesses solid size and the ability to get consideration at a number of blocking positions.  Effective in pass protection, Allen also holds his own as a run blocker and presently sits as a first-day prospect. 

Allen's teammate, junior Justin Blalock, has done a terrific job at tackle for Texas yet projects to guard in the NFL.  Offering a terrific lineman's build, Blalock is a thick blocker who dominates the opposition and could be an early pick in the future.  

Matt Lentz of Michigan is quite similar in playing style to many of his Wolverine predecessors -- big, strong yet a blocker best in a very small area.  Lentz is not the prospect of recent Michigan blockers selected in the draft (David Baas most notably) yet could thrive in certain NFL schemes.

Louisville's Jason Spitz is a player that does not get much national attention yet is a prospect who projects nicely to the next level. An explosive blocker, Spitz is tough as nails and plays a smart brand of football.  His ability to block on the move stands out on film and will be a highly desired ability in April.

Penn State offers a pair of prospects with contrasting styles.  Charles Rush is an athletic blocker with great explosion and upside potential.  Flashing dominance, Rush must improve his playing balance and wherewithal.  Tyler Reed on the other hand is very efficient and close to the finished product.  Not the athlete of Rush, the upside potential Reed holds is limited.

A few other seniors to remember include Will Montgomery of Virginia Tech, a hard working lineman productive on the college level.  Florida's Lance Butler has also been consistent yet is a limited athlete restricted to the types of systems he will be effective in at the next level.

There are several sleepers from the senior class who could rise to prominence with good seasons in '05.  Frank Davis of South Florida is a dominant blocker who opens huge holes for the running game yet must improve his consistency.  Likewise, Baylor's LeQualan McDonald offers tremendous size and strength but must dedicate himself and become more reliable on an every-own basis.  Steve Franklin from Syracuse offers terrific explosion and must also be watched.

Possibly the best guard prospect in the nation comes from HawaiiSamson Satele has been productive at guard and center for the Warriors since he was a red-shirt freshman.  Now entering his junior campaign, Satele offers great upside for the NFL and is already highly regarded. 

Other underclassmen to watch are Stephen Parker of Arkansas and Dan Mozes of West Virginia.

Top 20 NFL-prospects at Guard

 Name School
Samson Satele* Hawaii
Aaron Lips Louisiana Tech
Davin Joseph Oklahoma
Jason Spitz Louisville
Will Allen Texas
Stephen Parker* Arkansas
Frank Davis South Florida
Charles Rush Penn State
Matt Lentz Michigan
Steve Franklin Syracuse
Lance Butler Florida
Dan Mozes* West Virginia
LeQualan McDonald Baylor
Roy Schuening* Oregon State
Will Montgomery Virginia Tech
Tyler Reed Penn State
Aldo De La Garza Texas A&M
Mark Setterstrom Minnesota
Jeremy Sheffey* West Virginia
Matt Turner Purdue

*- denotes underclassmen