Auburn's Simmons among top guards

Kendall Simmons, Auburn (6-3, 311 lbs., 5.23) -- Simmons is an excellent run blocker with solid experience and knowledge of the game. A mauler, he loves to engulf his man at the point of attack. He split time between tackle and guard, but could lack the ideal footwork to survive outside on an island by himself.

Simmons comes into the NFL truly battle-tested having played against defenders like Henderson, Haynesworth, Brown, Edwards and Peppers in recent seasons. He also showed terrific durability by bouncing back from several ankle surgeries early in his career. His field strength is solid, but he recorded only 24 reps of 225 pounds during his workout. Despite his size, Simmons had the third best short shuttle time of any guard at the Combine.

He moves well in space, will be a very effective level two blocker and can play either guard spot and possibly some tackle if necessary. All of this should make Simmons one of the Top-5 offensive linemen drafted.

Terrance Metcalf, Mississippi (6-3, 318 lbs., 5.27) -- Metcalf is a versatile, intelligent player that has the ability to play guard or tackle. He has good quickness off the snap, but also plays with great strength, leverage and balance. Teams viewed him at both guard and tackle at the Senior Bowl, but ideally his physical tools and size fit best inside at guard.

His Pro Day was literally "washed" out due to poor weather conditions, but he recorded 28 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine and his footwork has always been what scouts have come away raving about. He had a serious leg injury early in his career, but rebounded and actually came back stronger and equally effective. Metcalf's ability to play several positions is what makes him such an attractive prospect and potentially a Top-40 selection.

Toniu Fonoti, Nebraska (6-4, 349 lbs., 5.42) -- A native Hawaii, Fonoti was the key component of Cornhuskers' offensive line. He was a first-team All-American and Outland Trophy finalist that allowed the Cornhuskers to gain yardage on the ground at will. His massive, strong base and ability to finish his blocks -- over 300 career pancake blocks make him an impressive strong-side guard candidate.

He has produced only average workout numbers, including 32 reps of 225 pounds, and scouts have come away thinking that he will need to shed 10 pounds and increase his conditioning. Going from the Cornhuskers option style attack to a pro-set scheme may hinder him initially, especially in terms of pass blocking.

However, Fonoti is a very strong, fiercely competitive blocker that should become a dominating run blocker in the league.

Fred Weary, Tennessee (6-4, 308 lbs., 5.37) -- Weary is one of the toughest competitors available this year. He has a non-stop motor, tireless work ethic and fights to the whistle on every play. His versatility will allow him to play either center or guard during his rookie campaign and his acumen for leadership should give him instant credibility to the locker room. He loves to get out and hit the moving target and is the type of guard that excels at pulling and trapping. Weary is a solid two-way blocker and shows good change-of-direction movement. This fireplug comes off the ball low and hard, which helps him control the line of scrimmage.

Don't be surprised if Oakland, New Orleans, NY Giants or Minnesota go after him hard on the first day.

Martin Bibla, Miami (6-3, 302 lbs., 5.12) -- Bibla is a big, strong blocker that brings a blue-collar work ethic and a lot of toughness to the field. He is a smart kid in the classroom, which has translated onto the field with him being a solid technician. His footwork in pass protection is only average, but he excels as a run blocker. He recorded 35 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine, but does not have much growth potential left in terms of adding additional weight. A player like Bibla would fit ideally with Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Oakland or Miami -- all of whom are trying to establish a power running game and don't require their guards to move often in space.

"Sleeper" -- Qasim Mitchell, North Carolina A&T (6-5, 335 lbs., 5.29) -- A small school mauler, Mitchell combines awesome size, natural strength and better-than-advertised footwork for a player of his size. In the purest sense he is a "road-grader" that absorbs and then devours opposing defenders. He has improved his conditioning by shedding some of his "baby" fat over the last two years, but still seems to wear down in the second half of some games. Mitchell moves well in space, shows good balance, but could still improve in both areas, especially if he started to use his paw-sized hands more effectively. He is not a finished product, but with some work could prove to be one of the best interior linemen chosen in this year's draft.

John Murphy, is the editor of and Director of Scouting and Evaluation for NL Sports. Be sure to check out the most in-depth, up-to-the-minute 2002 NFL Draft website and you can also email your draft questions to John from the website.

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