Tough-As-Nails On Offense (Part 2)

Tough Stanford fullback Owen Marecic leads off our next installment of Dave-Te Thomas' Tough-as-Nails prospects for 2011. He's notonly a fullback, but also a linebacker and special teams guy. Bet the Giants could use a guy like that.

By Dave-Te Thomas

If you're looking for somebody to spice up the offense or give a kick in the rear to a special teams unit, try these prospects on for size.


Owen Marecic Stanford University Cardinal #48 6:00.3-246

Marecic is a throwback to the leather helmet days, and perhaps every woman's dream in a mate – as he's what Susan Sarandon was looking for in the movie "Bull Durham" – a sixty-minute man. Playing both fullback and linebacker for the Cardinal, Marecic also toils on all three special team units. His ability to play on both sides of the ball helped him earn "Tough As Nails" honors over other stellar fullbacks, Anthony Sherman-Connecticut and Ryan Taylor-North Carolina, as both also ranked with the nation's leaders in special team tackles.

It was perhaps fitting that this versatile performer became the recipient of the inaugural Paul Hornung Award in January, 2011. An All-Pac 10 Conference selection at both middle linebacker and fullback, he averaged 110 plays per game as a senior. He capped off his stellar college career with excellent performances in the classroom and on the gridiron.

Graduating with a degree in biology, he was also one of the top performers during the week-long practices leading up to the prestigious Senior Bowl.

Once described as "the perfectly engineered football player" by former Stanford head coach and present San Francisco 49ers honcho, Jim Harbaugh, Marecic is a true throw-back to another era. The senior brought a playing style reminiscent of the 1960s when players prided themselves on toughness.

Marecic even drew praise from one of the National Football League's most famous "Sixty-Minute Men" in Chuck Bednarik, who started at center and linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949-60. "That's football," the Pro Football Hall of Famer said. "This two-platoon stuff is pussycat. It's not worth a crap."

On offense in 2010, Marecic paved the way for a rushing attack that ranked 17th in the country, posting 213.77 yards per game on the ground, as Cardinal runners racked up 2,779 yards with 34 touchdowns behind the fullback's punishing blocks. Defensively, he captained a unit that placed 19th in the nation vs. the opponent's ground game, as Stanford allowed just 120.85 yards rushing per contest.

Entering his senior season, Marecic spent virtually all of spring practice taking snaps at inside linebacker. His toughness was a valued commodity, and the coaching staff opted to let him start on both sides of ball. "The idea is to get him on the football field as much as possible," said head coach Jim Harbaugh.

After three seasons of being used almost exclusively as a fullback, blocking for the Cardinal tailbacks and seldom getting to touch the ball, Marecic began starting both on offense (as a fullback) and defense (as a linebacker) in 2010. He carried 23 times for 46 yards (2.0 ypc) and five touchdowns, producing 14 first-down runs, as he converted 8-of-9 third-down carries and 4-of-4 fourth-down attempts. He also delivered 51 tackles (30 solos) with two sacks for minus 20 yards and 5.5 stops for losses totaling 26 yards.

COMPARES TO: Ahmard Hall-Tennessee…Both players are well-built athletes with a nice blend of speed, strength and natural hands. Marecic plays with a "take no prisoners" approach as a blocker, as he simply explodes out of his stance to get into the rush lanes as a lead blocker. He is a good route runner who is used mostly on controlled routes, but has the vision to locate the soft areas in the zone. He rarely gets an opportunity to carry the ball, outside of short yardage situations, but he adds to his resume with his tackling ability and will not only provide reserve depth at middle linebacker, but also be an asset on special teams.

Marecic is a very intelligent and alert player. While not used much as a runner, he is a physical blocker with very good lower body strength to widen the rush lanes or take the ball up the gut and score on goal-line situations. He is like a "bull in a china shop" in the open field. He lacks the hip snap to elude, but will square his shoulders and simply power through arm tackles. He constantly keeps his feet moving when pushing the pile as a blocker, but when he gets too high in his stance, his feet will stop, causing him to struggle taking on moving targets.

The fullback has also developed into a clutch third down receiver, showing natural hands and very good hand/eye coordination to catch away from the body's frame. He has the top-end speed to explode out of his stance and generates good power while maintaining balance leading the way through the rush lanes. One of his better traits is his solid pass catching hands out of the backfield, as he can easily reach and pluck, adjust to off-target throws and track the ball over the shoulder.

TEAMS SHOWING THE MOST INTEREST: Baltimore, Tennessee, Tampa Bay and New York Giants…The Ravens appear to be making plans for life without Le'Ron McClain and look like they will be the first team to draft a fullback, more likely in the fifth round. With Hall a potential free agent, Tennessee could opt to replace him with a player favorably compared to the former Texas A&M Aggie. Tampa Bay has been looking for a physical back since B.J. Askew failed to recover from injury woes after the 2008 season. The Giants were in the same situation as Tampa Bay, as injuries wiped out most of the 2010 season for Madison Hedgecock, and were forced to use H-backs at the position last season.


Jason Kelce University of Cincinnati Bearcats #60 6:02.5-282

One look at Kelce's size and he does not exactly fit the mold of big, bruising men in the pivot that will regularly face massive nose guards. Just don't judge a book by its cover, for despite his lack of great size, there is no question that Kelce is one of the most gifted athletes in the draft at his position – and tough, to boot. Just how tough?

At the 2011 NFL Combine in late February, Kelce dazzled professional scouts and coaches with what many regarded as the best performance of any offensive lineman in attendance. He was one of just two linemen to run under 5.0 in the 40-yard dash (4.89), as he recorded the best dash times (1.70 10-yard; 2.83 20-yard), top broad jump (9'2"), 20-yard shuttle (4.14) and three-cone drills (7.22) of any center at the event.

What made that performance even more impressive was the fact that he ran the drills with what doctors first thought was a bad case of the flu. Upon arriving back home, it was discovered that Kelce performed in the agility tests with a burst appendix, undergoing surgery on March 9th.

One of the most explosive offensive linemen in the collegiate ranks, Kelce's initial quickness and hand placement skills, along with his impressive strength and leg drive, helped him compensate for a lack of ideal size for an interior offensive lineman. The three-year starter joined the program as a walk-on, but his tireless work ethic earned him a starting job at left offensive guard for two seasons before returning to his more natural position at center for his final campaign.

Kelce's move to the middle of the line coincided with the Bearcats reviving its once dormant running game, as Cincinnati averaged 156.67 yards on the ground in 2010, its best season total in the lineman's four years at the university. During his three campaigns in the starting lineup, the lineman averaged 7.16 knockdown blocks per game, as 37 of those pancakes resulted in touchdown-resulting blocks.

Kelce added All-American honorable mention and All-Big East Conference first-team honors after shifting to center as a senior. The passing game suffered slightly due to inexperience and injuries at the quarterback position, but the center helped open holes for a running attack that averaged 156.67 yards per game while the team again led the Big East in total offense (417.33 ypg).

Kelce started his final 38 games at Cincinnati during a 47-game career – 26 at left offensive guard and 12 at center. He recorded 259 knockdown blocks and 38 touchdown-resulting blocks as a starter, adding five tackles (four solos) after Cincinnati turnovers.

COMPARES TO: OLIN KREUTZ-Chicago…Kelce might lack great size, but he shows very good explosion off the snap and does a very nice job of locking on and jerking down defenders coming out of his rise. Kelce does a good job of extending and anchoring vs. the inside pass rusher. His anchor is strong and firm vs. the bigger opponents, and he has enough punch and slide to stay with his man shooting the gaps. He shows good hip sink to prevent the taller defenders from pushing him back, but could use more strength in his anchor.

When he plays in control and does not try to lunge, he is perfectly capable of sustaining and riding out the rusher. He showed in 2010 improvement in attempts to keep his weight back, stay square and slide and adjust. He can anchor vs. the bull rush and shows great alertness to tricks. The thing you notice on film is that when he keeps his hands inside his frame, he can slide and mirror defenders, using his hand placement to defeat swim moves. He showed a very good base set to pop and drop, quick hand usage upon initial contact and tenacity in his play as a senior. He plays flat-footed with good knee bend to deliver the full force behind his hand jolt, even if it does not always shock the bigger defenders.

TEAMS SHOWING THE MOST INTEREST: Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, New England and New York Giants…Both Atlanta and Jacksonville like quick, aggressive zone blockers from their pivot performers. The Falcons' Todd McClure is still one of the most underrated blockers in the game, but he will be 35 next year and has been in the league 13 seasons.

Jacksonville's Brad Meester has had injury issues, along with seeing his performance drop off noticeably the last three years. It seems that ever since Tim Ruddy retired that Miami has been on an endless search for a center. Signing Jake Grove last year proofed foolhardy, as he was cut before the season got under way.

New England's Dan Koppen has been in the pivot for nine years, but the Pats, with a slew of draft choices, are looking to upgrade depth for the interior line and Kelce's ability to play guard could fill the void created by Steve Neal's sudden retirement. The Giants are greatly concerned that Shaun O'Hara will never return to the player he was after several surgeries to repair leg woes and fill-in, Rich Seubert is needed more at left guard. If he's forced to shift to center in 2011, the team could opt for a left tackle and slide David Diehl over to guard.


Orlando Franklin University of Miami Hurricanes #74 6:05.4-316

It is fitting that he plays like a true warrior in the trenches, as tribal tattoos snake up and down his massive right arm. Last season, Franklin was the man most responsible for protecting UM quarterbacks, as no defensive lineman managed to record a sack vs. the Hurricanes blocker. "Orlando is more ugly than he is mean,'' joked Detroit Lions rookie tackle Jason Fox, UM's left tackle in 2009. "He smiles off the field, but when he's on the field, he's all business - like he should be."

The team's former offensive guard found a home at left offensive tackle late in his junior season. He used that two-game audition in 2009 to give him experience to develop into a dominant drive blocker during his final campaign, where he registered sixteen touchdown-resulting blocks. He not only sealed off countless edge rush attempts, but led a young offensive line that allowed only sixteen quarterback sacks in 2010 after giving up 35 the previous season and 29 more in 2008.

Franklin would go on to start 40-of-51 games for the Hurricanes. During his junior season, the Hurricanes amassed 5,199 yards in total offense, which rank fourth-highest in school history. With Franklin taking over left tackle duties in 2010, Miami generated 5,477 yards, the second-best season total in UM annals. He produced 122 knockdowns combined, as a junior and senior, coming up with 29 touchdown-resulting blocks during that span.

COMPARES TO: JEFF OTAH-Carolina…Whether he is placed at left tackle or moved back to his original position of left guard, a team will have a classic mauler in their trenches. Franklin is best when driving forward to knock defenders off the ball for the ground game. When he uses his hands properly to engage, he has good success in attempts to maintain inside leverage. He uses his size well to lean into and push defenders out of the way and if staying in the short area, he has enough power to widen the rush lane. He is not the type that can get out and cut at the second level, but once he gets a piece of his man in closed quarters, the battle is soon over.

Franklin is a raw talent with the frame to simply engulf the smaller defenders, especially when he keeps his hands inside the frame. He shows great competitiveness on the field to finish off blocks, playing with good nastiness, as added experience has allowed him to come off the snap with better aggressiveness than he showed as a junior. He uses his lower body power and size to move defenders off the snap and shows the quick feet in his in his kick slide, along with proper hand usage and the long arms well hold off defensive ends on the edge.

Some teams feel that he lacks the ideal foot speed to play on an island at left tackle, but with his ability to quickly recoil and reset his hands after initially locking on to the opponent could see him earn a starting job quicker at right tackle at the next level. The thing you see on game films is that he is an explosive hip roller, as he shows good body control to generate movement and is best when driving forward to knock defenders off the ball for the ground game.

TEAMS SHOWING THE MOST INTEREST: Indianapolis, Chicago, Green Bay, Detroit and Buffalo…Everyone from their franchise quarterback to the water boy will tell you that the Colts greatly miss Tarik Glenn, their perennial All-Pro left tackle that retired several years ago. Tony Ugoh proved to be a bust and left offensive tackle is a prime need for the Colts. If they opt to bypass one in the first round, Franklin could get the call in round two, allowing Charles Johnson to shift to his more natural right tackle spot. Chicago is in the same situation as Indianapolis, as failed performances by Orlando Pace and Chris Williams leaves them again searching for a left tackle. Green Bay might be best served to continue revamping the offensive line and Franklin will be a perfect fit, whether at guard or tackle. Detroit needs to replace aging Jeff Backes and Demetrius Bell might show promise, but Buffalo can't afford him spending any more time in the trainer's room rather than the football field.

Tyron Smith University of Southern California Trojans #70 6:05.0-307

The first thing a scout is taught when evaluating potential draft prospect is the "look test". Does the player measure up? Is he tall enough? How is his frame? Is he carrying too much weight? Does he need more weight? Does he look good in his pads? Can he play a lick of football? All of these aspects form that first evaluation.

There's a phrase out there that coaches use all the time to describe those that pass the look test, but fail where it counts, on the field: "Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane". From all appearances when watching film on Tyron Smith, it doesn't take long before scouts can comfortably say that the Trojans offensive lineman can be a "big time" football player.

Part of a stellar recruiting class that also included standout Southern California left offensive tackle Matt Kalil, head coach Lane Kiffin had to be grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat when he first stepped on the practice field to see what he inherited from Pete Carroll during 2010 spring camp – bookend tackles that are destined for great things at the next level.

Even though some scouts might have been concerned when they first saw Smith at 265 pounds last summer, his well-built frame showed the ability to fill out to NFL-caliber proportions. By the time he arrived at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, the USC right tackle measured in at an impressive 307 pounds. December knee surgery prevented him from competing in the agility tests, though.

But when Smith lifted 225 pounds 29 times in the weight room, showed off his 36 3/8-inch arm length, 10-inch hands and 83 7/8-inch wingspan, NFL teams were certain to book their flights early and make hotel reservations to attend the Trojans' late March Pro Day. In recent rehab workouts, the offensive tackle appears to be very fluid moving around with his new 300-plus pound frame, eliminating fears that the added bulk would negate his impressive initial quickness.

Smith appeared in 34 games at Southern California, starting the final 24 contests that he appeared in at right offensive tackle. He registered 172 knockdowns, fifteen down field blocks and 23 touchdown-resulting blocks in his two seasons as a starter. He was the recipient of the Pac 10 Conference's Morris Trophy, given to the league's top offensive lineman, becoming the 11th Trojan blocker to receive that honor and 15h overall player (also awarded to a defensive lineman).

COMPARES TO: Walter Jones-ex Seattle…Smith is not the wide body that Jones was, but both have outstanding athleticism. While it is rare for a top-level player to also be placed on this team, it was a no brainer. After all, Smith is the best mauler in the collegiate game, hands down.

Smith has outstanding quickness and foot work in his kick slide. He shows the agility and balance to make plays into the second level and shows good lower body flexibility in attempts to change direction. He has excellent open field acceleration, moving well and adjusting easily while taking angles to neutralize the linebackers. He is an above average knee bender who can recover on the rare occasions that he waist bends.

Smith has very good quickness and movement ability to mirror edge rushers. He plays on his feet with very good balance and body control, doing a nice job of adjusting and picking up defenders in space. He is also a solid leverage player who can slide and sustain. He has a strong hand jolt to shock and opponent working down the line and does a good job of driving into his man in attempts to wall off.

Not only does Smith demonstrate above average quickness, but he positions himself well and gets his hands up quickly on the rise, generating strength with quickness to impact, pop and surge with sudden force. He also displays very good hip and leg explosion, as well as a strong jolt with his hand punch. He plays with good aggression and has the flexibility and power to gain leverage, especially when attempting to create a crease for the ground game.

TEAMS SHOWING THE MOST INTEREST: Dallas, Kansas City, Baltimore and Cincinnati…It's not like other teams are shying away from Smith, it's just that Dallas has made it known that he is their primary candidate to fill the void created when they dumped Flozell Adams prior to last season. Kansas City would love to snatch up the left tackle, as it would let them shift Branden Albert to left guard or right tackle after two less than inspiring seasons from their present left tackle. Baltimore can do likewise with Michael Oher, who played with a strong base at left tackle last year for the Ravens, but after eight holding penalties, he may be better on the right side, where he won't be left on an island vs. the edge rushers so often.


John Moffitt University of Wisconsin Badgers #74 6:04.2-319

Gabe Carimi needs to give half of his Outland Trophy to his left side running mate. Without "Moff" doing the dirty work, Carimi might be exposed for the overrated talent quite a few teams deem him to be.

Having started all but three games during his tenure at Wisconsin, Badgers faithful came to embrace "Moff" as the linchpin to their postseason aspirations. Even Perry Mason knows that he can make a strong case to show Moffitt's value to the team. As a freshman, the versatile lineman patiently waited for his opportunity to show his "wares." During the team's first seven games of the 2007 schedule, the Badgers ground attack struggles to establish its presence.

The "meat and potatoes" of their offensive game plan was establishing a strong inside running game.

During that first part of the season, Wisconsin averaged just 177.0 yards and 1.86 touch-downs per game rushing. Head coach Bret Bielema, looking to "spark" his offense, decided a change up front was necessary. An injury to left guard Andy Kemp opened the door for Moffitt to be inserted into the first unit. With the freshman establishing his presence in the trenches, Kemp was forced to shift to right guard upon his return from the injury list. The squad would go on to average 228.5 yards and 2.67 yards per game rushing during the youngster's six games as a starter.

Further evidence of Moffitt's value to the team came in the early stages of the 2009 season. The lineman suffered a pectoral muscle strain in August camp that would force him to miss the first two games of the schedule and see just a handful of snaps upon his return in the third contest. With Moff out of the lineup, UW averaged 170.0 yards per game rushing. With Moffitt returning to the lineup for the final ten games, the Badgers would average 210.0 yards and 2.45 touchdowns per game on the ground.

Moffitt sat out part of the 2010 spring camp while recovering from his hernia surgery. He returned to left guard for the 2010 campaign, producing perhaps his finest season of an already impressive collegiate career. The All-American first-team choice recorded thirteen touchdown-resulting blocks. The Lombardi Award candidate was also credited with 66 knockdowns while leading a blocking effort that saw Badgers quarterbacks get sacked just fourteen times.

Moffitt started 42-of-45 games at Wisconsin, lining up with the first unit at left guard for 22 contests and fifteen others at center. In 42 starting assignments, he was credited with 280 knockdowns/key blocks that included 46 touchdown-resulting blocks and fifteen blocks down field, grading 85.56% for blocking consistency. As an offensive guard, he delivered 174 knockdowns and 28 touchdown-resulting blocks, posting 106 more key blocks, including 18 touchdown-resulting shots at center. On 2,915 offensive snaps, the lineman allowed just two quarterback pressures and 3.5 sacks, as he was penalized only twice during his time with the Badgers.

COMPARES TO: JEFF HARTINGS-ex-Pittsburgh…As an interior lineman, Moffitt's ability to work in unison with other blockers on double teams has been critical. I really like him better as a center, as he has that forward burst and lower pad level to easily defeat a defender lined up over his head. He is also effective on traps and pulls working the short areas as a guard. He plays with a strong base and has the loose hips and upper body strength to win most one-on-one battles in the trenches. Like Hartings and Jacksonville's Brad Meester, his versatility should be a valuable commodity and speed up the process for him to earn considerable playing time at the next level.

Moffitt is blessed with good balance, body control, intelligence and leg drive. He is the type that puts forth the extra hours in the weight room to increase his upper body strength and in the film room preparing for opponents. He can play any interior position on the offensive line, but with his lateral range and hand quickness, he has the potential to be a quality center at the next level.

Moffitt has good frame growth potential and plays with enough short area burst to gain leverage and movement. He rolls his hips on contact and has the ability to cave the line of scrimmage. He consistently finishes his blocks for the running game and with his ability to widen the rush lanes and neutralize defenders in the second level, he is also perfectly capable of playing offensive guard.

Moffitt is quick to gain position in the second level and is outstanding working the short pull. He gets a bit straight-legged, at times, but he recovers nicely. It is rare to see him have problems with twists, as he can recoil and recover with ease. He will not over-extend or slip off blocks and does a nice job of playing flat-footed. He shows functional quickness off the ball and the hip snap needed to get in front on blocks. When working in-line, he is good at keeping his feet on contact and gets movement on level one defenders.

TEAMS SHOWING THE MOST INTEREST: New England, Philadelphia, Miami, Pittsburgh and Arizona…The Pats lost Steve Neal to retirement and might have a repeat of the long holdout staged by Logan Mankins last year. With New England also looking to upgrade depth at center, Moffitt could fill both needs. Philadelphia also had interior line issues, especially at right guard, where Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole failed to impress. The Dolphins want a better center than Joe Berger and "Moff" can slide their with no issues, evident of his performance in the pivot in 2009, but a better fit in Miami would be to put him at left guard and shift Richie Incognito into the pivot. Pittsburgh wants tough, aggressive blockers on the front wall and even though they have more pressing needs at tackle, a guard in the mid rounds to add depth is needed. Arizona has come to realize what the Jets did prior to 2010 - Alan Faneca is no longer able to play even at a journeyman's level. With Deuce Lutui a donut shop order away from being on the "Biggest Loser," the Cards need drastic upgrades on their front wall to protect whoever might be their starting quarterback in 2011.

Danny Watkins Baylor University Bears #59 6:03.3-310

Remember the credo for being a member of this team? True grit and being a fighter are some of those requirements. Then, it only seems natural that a firefighter is included on this team. Watkins served as a part-time firefighter back home in Kelowna, British Columbia and playing football never entered his mind, that is, not until 2007. Butte College has been a haven for some players from north of the border and one that didn't quite know the importance of the position he was playing was their new offensive tackle, Danny Watkins, who had originally enrolled at the school to attend their firefighting academy.

After a solid freshman season, the big man who hails from north of the border started to hear from several four-year programs. "I had never played football before I came down here to play," Watkins told "After I graduated from high school, I started working as a fire fighter, but I had always wanted to play football so I started looking into things and I knew a couple of guys who had come down here to play so I headed down as well."

Watkins was one of eleven players to start all twelve games for Baylor in 2009. The team's new left tackle received All-Big Twelve Conference honors as he delivered 103 knock-downs protecting the blindside of QB Robert Griffin III. The Bears' revived passing attack saw the team average 242.33 aerial yards per game, but the ground attack finished 108th among the 120 major colleges with an average of 100.58 yards per game on the ground.

Now a strapping 310-pound lineman, the senior received All-American and All-Big Twelve Conference first-team honors in 2010. He had been selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 Canadian Football League draft by his hometown British Columbia Lions, but decided to return to college for his final season.

His stellar blocking thrust Baylor back into the bowl game picture for the first time since the 1994 season. He flattened most defensive linemen that dared to get into his path, leading the league with 134 knockdowns, as he also posted 17 touchdown-resulting blocks.

Behind Watkins' leadership, the offense jelled into one of the elite in the collegiate ranks. Baylor finished 13th in the nation in total offense (475.31 ypg). Their most noticeable improvements came from their blocking and running attack, as the Bears ranked 24th nationally with an average of 194.62 rushing yards per game. After yielding 31 sacks in 2009, the front wall allowed only 20 sacks during the 2010 season.

Watkins recorded 27 touchdown-resulting blocks and 237 knockdowns in two seasons at Baylor. In 20 games at Butte College, he collected 194 knockdowns while coming up with 24 touchdown-resulting blocks. For a player that never played football before attending college, he finished that career with 51 touchdown-resulting blocks 431 knockdowns, an average of 8.62 knockdown blocks per game.

COMPARES TO: LOGAN MANKINS-New England…Watkins is blessed with natural ability with above average overall strength levels. He has a wide body, very good knee bend, and always seems to get the job done. He has competed against some very good defensive ends and tackles in the Big Twelve Conference and continues to be efficient, even dominant. He is the best pass protector in the Southwest. The thing you notice about him is his intensity. Watkins can be engaged with a defender, and still punch to control a blitzing linebacker. He struggles a bit when getting into the second level, but compensates by taking proper blocking angles. His quick first step off the ball allows him to gain advantage. He has the size and strength to move the larger defenders off the ball and plays with an almost perfect base and pad level. His active hands prove very beneficial when he works them to switch on stunts.

Another evident factor is his ability to anchor, slide and adjust to the speed rush. He has very good balance, even when he occasionally bends at the waist. His base and foot movement allows him to seal off the edge rush. Watkins looks intense and very athletic when pulling. He may throw his hands at a defender a little early, at times, but is quick to recoil and reset.

TEAMS SHOWING THE MOST INTEREST: New England, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Oakland…The list of teams that could find a starting job for a player of Watkins caliber is mostly everyone, but like Tyron Smith with his connection to the Dallas Cowboys, the Pats have a busload of choices and unless a team goes for the Baylor blocker before New England first picks, the folks in Foxboro will have an instant replacement for Mankins or Steve Neal. Kansas City has a more pressing need at left tackle than along the line's interior, but Watkins was a collegiate tackle and there is no question he can play there. Pittsburgh is in the same boat as Kansas City – looking for a tackle first, but like versatility from their front wall blockers. If he slides into round two, look for the Raiders to try and trade up to snatch Watkins, as both starters from 2010, Cooper Carlisle and Robert Gallery are not expected to return to the Silver & Black.

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