Cream of the Crop
Stanford's David DeCastro
Most professional scouts regard DeCastro as the best interior offensive line prospect they have evaluated, outside of Maurkice Pouncey, since the turn of the century. Coming from Stanford's pro-style blocking schemes in which he shows good base strength, feet and athletic ability to go along with a physical, aggressive temperament, DeCastro does a classic job of placing his hands inside and is strong enough to control multiple defenders.
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Few linemen possess the mobility and body control to pull and lead through the hole as quick as DeCastro has displayed. While he might occasionally duck his head, he has the knee bend and low pad level needed to be a physical force in an offensive power scheme, along with the ability to get into the second level instantly, where he has had tremendous success neutralizing linebackers on traps and pulls.
Stanford coach David Shaw might be DeCastro's biggest fan, as he has not only enjoyed his performance on the field but the tenacity he brings coming out of the huddle, in practices and even in the locker room, where the junior is a man among boys.
Shaw joked that the quiet DeCastro "arrived in a bad mood" and had not changed. "David speaks when something needs to be said," Shaw said. "When he speaks, you better listen."
DeCastro started all 39 games he played in at right offensive guard for Stanford. He finished his stellar career with 316 knockdowns, 68 touchdown-resulting blocks and a blocking consistency grade of 91.63 percent. His grade of 96.88 percent in 2011 was the highest mark by any offensive lineman (since consistency grades were kept in 1985) in Pac-12 (10) Conference history.
Compares to: Logan Mankins, New England Patriots — Behind DeCastro's stellar blocking, the front wall allowed just 11 quarterback sacks, but none were charged to the right guard, who held his blocking assignments to a nation-low total of 14 tackles (six solos), no sacks, no pressures and no stops behind the line of scrimmage. He had at least 10 knockdowns in nine games and received a perfect grade for blocking consistency (100 percent) twice – vs. Colorado and Washington. First-round projections have him as the top lineman on the draft boards for Arizona (might go receiver if Michael Floyd is there at pick No. 13), but if he makes it down to Cincinnati at No. 21, he won't have to sit around in the NFL's "green room" after that selection.
Best of the Rest
Cordy Glenn, Georgia
Glenn not only has been a model of consistency for the Bulldogs, but has been one of the most versatile blockers to ever suit up for the university. He went on to start 50-of-53 games during his collegiate career – including 18 at left offensive tackle, where he lined up during his final campaign.
Whether lining up outside at tackle, where he used his impressive size to engulf would-be edge rushers, or clearing out bull rushers playing inside at either guard positions, one thing has been constant in his performances – domination.
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What has allowed Glenn so much success on the field is his strength and athleticism. The most powerful drive blocker in the Southeastern Conference showed off his quickness at the Scouting Combine with his eye-opening agility tests, clocking 4.96 in the 40-yard dash that featured a scorching 10-yard clocking of 1.76 seconds.
In the weight room, he further impressed by bench pressing 225 pounds 31 times. In interviews, he showed maturity beyond his years, along with knowledge for both zone and down blocking that left teams comfortable he would be an ideal fit clearing out rush lanes as an interior blocker.
In 2011, with Glenn protecting the pocket's backside, the Bulldogs finished third in the SEC with an average of 408.5 yards per game. He produced 125 knockdowns and 20 touchdown-resulting blocks while starting all 14 games. He closed his career with 63 touchdown-resulting blocks and 447 knockdowns.
Compares to: Leonard Davis, ex-Dallas Cowboys — Glenn is a smart, instinctive player who quickly adapted to any role the coaches asked from him. He has the field savvy to set protection assignments and makes good adjustments on the move. He has no problems taking plays from the chalkboard to the playing field. He is excellent at recognizing and defeating the blitz and shows good alertness sliding back or pass blocking in space. He excels at picking up twists and can switch off with ease vs. stunts. The Browns would love to line him up at left guard alongside tackle Joe Thomas, and with the 22nd pick in the draft, he will likely be there for Cleveland. If they pass on the lineman, I doubt that he gets past Pittsburgh at No. 24.
Brandon Brooks, Miami (Ohio)
Brooks' Pro Day on campus was a big event on March 1, as the massive drive blocker proved to NFL teams that they made a mistake when he was mysteriously not invited to attend the Scouting Combine. It is a bit ironic that scouts compare his style of play to Pittsburgh's Ramon Foster, a quality starter for the Steelers who also proved teams wrong when no one drafted him coming out of college.
Now, it is Brooks who will make some general manager look smart on draft day, as a player with his size, power and tenacity could be a major find battling in the trenches on Sundays. He was the main focus of the Redhawks' Pro Day, as the projected middle-round draft pick completed 36 reps on the bench press and had a vertical leap of 32 inches. He also clocked an impressive 4.99 seconds in the 40-yard dash while checking in at 353 pounds.
Brooks hoped that his body of work"during his career will not only show teams that he can be a dominating force as an interior blocker, but also provide a team with a versatile player for their front wall. During his time at Miami, he started 41-of-45 games, including 15 assignments at left offensive guard, 14 more at left tackle and 12 at right guard. He accounted for 287 knockdowns and 47 touchdown-resulting blocks as a starter.
Compares to: Larry Allen, ex-Dallas Cowboys — Brooks is an immovable object when he anchors, thanks to his strong base and massively thick legs. He might overextend and lunge on some run blocks, but once he locks on to an opponent, he puts his foot into the ground solidly, and with his strong base, has no problems handling multiple defenders on twists and games. He simply destroys bull rushers with his anchor and hand punch (through inconsistent shooting his hands). While teams regard him as a rising star, most still have him targeted in the third round. Look for the Rams, or possibly Pittsburgh (if they go for a defensive lineman in Round 1) to strongly consider taking him earlier in Round 2.
Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State
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During his span of 21 starting assignments at the demanding left tackle position, he recorded a blocking consistency grade of 94.72 percent, making him the only draft-eligible lineman to attain a mark above 90 percent for his major college career. He also reached the 90 percent level in each of his eight starting assignments in 2011, twice topping out at a perfect 100 percent (vs. Texas A&M-Commerce and West Texas A&M), adding seven more 90-plus grades during his junior campaign.
Since arriving at Midwestern State, Silatolu delivered 182 knockdowns/key blocks (10.11 knockdowns per game) that included 19 blocks downfield and 43 touchdown-resulting blocks (2.39 per game). His leadership on the front wall can not be denied. Through 560 pass plays during his tenure with the Mustangs, he allowed just one-half sack and one quarterback pressure. The team yielded just 23 sacks in the last two years, but nine of those came with Silatolu out of the lineup due to injuries. No other blocker in college football has become as important to his team's success like this left tackle's production indicates.
Compares to: Ben Grubbs, New Orleans Saints — With his upper-body strength, nimble feet and suddenness getting his hands up, Silatolu does a great job of neutralizing the defender. He flashes a powerful punch and easily contains edge rushers once he locks on to his target. If he connects, he will generally control his opponent until the whistle. The thing you see on film is his ability to roll his hips and explode off the line. Projected as a second rounder, San Francisco could pull off a surprise by taking Silatolu with the draft's 30th pick, but they might have to sweat it out a bit, as Houston at No. 26 and Baltimore at No. 29 are looking for an interior offensive line upgrade.
Dave-Te Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. With the NFL Draft Report, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft.