2009 Draft Countdown: Guards/Centers

With the 2009 NFL draft only days away, we offer our extensive position-by-position breakdown. Each report includes an analysis of the Dolphins' status at the position, the likelihood of a draft pick being spent at the position, a look at which prospects the Dolphins have worked out or visited with, a list of the top prospects, and the sleepers. We continue with the guards and centers.

Where the Dolphins stand: The Dolphins think they upgraded at center in the offseason by signing free agent Jake Grove away from Oakland to replace Samson Satele, who ironically was traded to the Raiders. But the big key in the interior of the offensive line will be how well guards Donald Thomas and Justin Smiley can bounce back from season-ending leg injuries. If both of them can perform at 100 percent, the Dolphins should be strong up front. There's a lot of young depth on the roster with Shawn Murphy, Andy Alleman, Ikechuku Ndukwe and Joe Berger, but the key guys clearly are Smiley and Thomas.

Likelihood of the Dolphins using a pick at the position: Tony Sparano said last year the process of building an offensive line never ends, so the Dolphins always will be on the lookout for prospects up front. The reality, though, is there are more pressing at a lot of different places, so we wouldn't expect a high pick to be spent on a guard or center.

The top prospects: 1. C Alex Mack, California; 2. C/G Max Unger, Oregon; 3. G Duke Robinson, Oklahoma; 4. C Eric Wood, Louisville; 5. G Herman Johnson, LSU; 6. G Kraig Urbik, Wisconsin; 7. C Antoine Caldwell, Alabama; 8. G Andy Levitre, Oregon State; 9. C Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas; G Trevor Canfield, Cincinnati

Summary: It's a rare occurrence when the quality of the center class outshines that at guard, but that's exactly what is happening this year. It's really a great year for centers, with as many as four projected to get drafted before the end of Round 2. The quality isn't so good at guard, where there's no first-round prospect and a lot of question marks.

Sleepers: G Roger Allen, Missouri Western; C Cecil Newton, Tennessee State


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