Bill's Combine Research: Offensive Line

In Round 1 of a big offensive line class, Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson are the best tackles in the draft, Wisconsin's Travis Frederick might be the best center and Jonathan Cooper might be the second-best guard. We have the accolades and the personal stories.

A total of 333 players will be at the Scouting Combine, which begins Feb. 20 in Indianapolis. We're sharing our homework as we get ready for the big week. In Part 9, here are 29 of the 58 offensive linemen.

Note: All heights and weights are from the school, unless noted.

Oday Aboushi, Virginia: Aboushi (6-5, 310 at the Senior Bowl) was a three-year starter at tackle, earning second-team all-ACC honors as a junior and first-team accolades as a senior. His parents were born in Palestine, and while they moved to the States in their pre-teens, they speak Arabic at home. Aboushi, one of 10 children, grew up in Staten Island, which was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. He aided in the relief effort by bringing food, clothing and supplies.

Zach Allen, North Carolina State: Allen (6-3, 328), a self-described "mauler," made 31 consecutive starts at right guard but had his senior season end with a broken leg. The injury happened against Miami, ruining a matchup against a cousin, Shayon Green. They grew up together in Tifton, Ga.

Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: Armstead (6-5, 306 at Senior Bowl) was a second-team all-SWAC selection at offensive tackle. He performed well at the East-West Shrine Game and as an injury replacement at the Senior Bowl. Armstead received big-school interest coming out of high school but went to Pine Bluff — led by former Redskins linebacker Monte Coleman — because it was the only school that would let him participate in football and track and field. He was a three-time all-conference performer in football and eight-time champion in track and field. In 2011, Armstead won the shot put with a meet-record throw at the SWAC indoor track and field championships.

Jeff Baca, UCLA: Baca (6-3, 295) made 45 career starts, with 25 coming at guard and 20 at tackle. He made 11 starts at guard as a senior and was named the team's outstanding senior player on offense. He was academically ineligible in 2010. Retired Colts-Packers center Jeff Saturday is his favorite athlete.

Alvin Bailey, Arkansas: Early entrant. Bailey (6-5, 312) started 38 consecutive games at guard. He was a freshman All-American and second-team all-conference as a sophomore but didn't receive any accolades this year, despite shedding 15 pounds before the season. His father, Alvin Bailey Sr., played basketball for the Razorbacks.

David Bakhtiari, Colorado: Early entrant. Bakhtiari (6-4, 295) started all three seasons, including the final two at left tackle when he replaced Nate Solder. He was second-team all-conference both seasons at left tackle. A late bloomer, he never started in football until his senior season at Junipero Serra High in Burlingame, Calif. His brother, Erik, is an NFL linebacker.

Chris Barker, Nevada: Barker (6-4, 305) was a four-year starter at guard, earning all-WAC honors the last three seasons, including second team as a senior. He started all 53 games of his career. The tackle he lined up with, Jeff Nady, called Barker "a beast." Coach Chris Ault compared Barker to 11-year NFL vet Derek Kennard.

Nick Becton, Virginia Tech: Becton (6-6, 317) started 13 games at left tackle as a senior, his first season as the full-time starter. He was on pace to start as a sophomore until being sidelined by turf toe. He didn't receive any all-conference honors but was named to the all-Virginia team.

Travis Bond, North Carolina: Bond (6-7, 330) was a starting guard as a junior and senior, earning honorable-mention accolades as a senior. Bond is a good athlete. He was a 330-pounder in high school yet played basketball. And he played quarterback, tailback, fullback and wide receiver in middle school.

Braden Brown, BYU: Brown (6-6, 300) was a three-year starting tackle and was named to the FBS all-Independent team as a senior. An all-state tight end in college, he was moved to the offensive line two games into his freshman season. When he was 4, he suffered third-degree burns in a house fire and spent three weeks in a hospital. He's the older brother of BYU tight end Trevor Brown. His older brother, Les, was an Academic All-American basketball player at Westminster College who had a free-agent tryout with the Dolphins.

Braxston Cave, Notre Dame: Cave (6-3, 304) was a three-year starter. As a senior, he was a second-team All-American and a finalist for the Rimington Award, which goes to the nation's top center. He missed the final few games of his junior season with a broken foot. Cave was named after former Notre Dame football player Braxston Banks.

Emmett Cleary, Boston College: Cleary (6-7, 313) was a second-team all-ACC tackle as a senior and a two-and-a-half-year starting tackle. He moved to left tackle as a senior. Cleary, who was born in Japan, earned his degree in May.

Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina: Cooper (6-3, 295) was a consensus All-American, an Outland Trophy finalist and the winner oft he Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the ACC's best offensive lineman. A four-year starter at guard, he was all-ACC the past three seasons. The big question about Cooper, who was too big to play Pop Warner football, is his temperament. Cooper, a "lover, not a fighter," never has been flagged for a personal foul.

Jordan Devey, Memphis: After transferring form Snow junior college, Devey (6-6, 300) started all 24 at Memphis. As a senior, he started 10 games at left tackle and two at left guard. He also started at right tackle as a junior. He was second-team all-Conference USA and the team's MVP. In high school, he played tuba instead of playing football because of Osgood-Schlatters, an ailment in which the quadriceps pulls against the kneecap and causes pain and swelling. After a LDS mission to Costa Rica, he enrolled at Snow and walked onto the football team.

Chris Faulk, LSU: Early entrant. Faulk (6-6, 326) made a surprising decision to enter the draft early, considering he tore an ACL in the first game of the season. A Parade All-American in high school, Faulk started 13 games at left tackle as a sophomore, earning second-team all-conference honors. He also started at center on the high school basketball team.

Eric Fisher, Central Michigan: Fisher (6-7, 305 at the Senior Bowl) started most of his final three seasons. He was first-team all-MAC left tackle as a senior and third-team at left tackle as a junior. At the Senior Bowl, UCLA's Datone Jones compared Fisher to a player he faced in 2011, USC's Matt Kalil. A tight end for most of his high school career, Fisher's only other Division I offer came from Eastern Michigan. He arrived at Central weighing 242 pounds with a goal of becoming the next Joe Staley.

D.J. Fluker, Alabama: Early entrant. Fluker (6-5, 355 at the Senior Bowl) was second-team All-America and first-team all-SEC following a dominant junior season. In three seasons, he started 35 games at right tackle. While he didn't play, Fluker was selected to the Senior Bowl. Organizers made exceptions for Fluker and Syracuse's Justin Pugh because they were four-year players who earned their degrees.

Manase Foketi, West Texas A&M: Foketi (6-5, 320) was a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award, which goes to Division II's top offensive lineman. Foketi spent 2008 and 2009 at Mount San Antonio College before starting 13 games at left tackle for Kansas State in 2010. He tore his Achilles in the second game of the 2011 season and wanted to transfer for 2012, but Kansas State didn't grant his request. With no options but to drop down a rung, Foketi landed at West Texas A&M.

Reid Fragel, Ohio State: Fragel (6-8, 310) caught 14 passes as a tight end from 2009 through 2011 before moving to right tackle for his senior season. He gained 30 pounds of muscle in making the transition, and beat out a touted freshman to win the job. The Buckeyes boasted one of the nation's top running attacks.

Travis Frederick, Wisconsin: Early entrant. Frederick (6-4, 338) was the Big Ten's first-team all-conference center. He started 31 games during his three seasons. Had he stayed at Wisconsin, Frederick would have been working under his fourth offensive line coach in two seasons. In 2009, he became the first true freshman in school history to start on the offensive line. Off the field, Frederick was working on a double major of computer engineering and computer science. He sometimes uses three computers to get his homework completed.

Rogers Gaines, Tennessee State: Gaines (6-7, 320) was a first-team FCS All-American at left tackle. He powered the Ohio Valley's top rushing attack and didn't give up a sack, according to the school. At White House High in Goodlettsville, Tenn., Gaines was a finalist for Tennessee's Mr. Football Award, finishing second to Patriots linebacker Donta' Hightower.

Garrett Gilkey, Chadron State: Gilkey (6-6, 314) was a three-year starter at left tackle and earned Division II All-America honors as a senior. Gilkey learned about Chadron State after talking to his coach at Aurora (Ill.) Christian High School, former Bills and Packers receiver Don Beebe. Beebe starred at Chadron.

Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas: Hawkinson (6-5, 300) started every game of his college career, earning second-team honors in the Big 12 the past two seasons. He played left tackle as a freshman, sophomore and senior, with a stint at right tackle as a junior. Hawkinson was an all-state tight end and defensive lineman at McPherson (Kan.) High. He started his career at tight end and moved to defensive end before settling in at tackle as a redshirt freshman. Kansas safety Lubbock Smith calls Hawkinson "Ricky Bobby" because of his resemblance to Will Ferrell.

Eric Herman, Ohio: Herman (6-4, 319) was second-team all-MAC at guard to power Frank Solich's powerhouse running game. He started 51 consecutive games. His sister, Ellen, was the MAC's volleyball player of the year as a junior and senior.

Khaled Holmes, USC: Holmes (6-4, 305) started at guard as a sophomore before becoming one of the nation's top centers during his last two seasons. As a senior, Holmes was first-team all-Pac-12 and named one of six finalists for the Rimington Award, which goes to the nation's top center. He was also a second-team Academic All-American. He boasts a 3.11 GPA, earned his degree in classics in spring 2011 and played King Theseus in a group reading in the classics department.

Mark Jackson, Glenville State: Jackson (6-6, 320) was a three-time first-team selection at left tackle in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He was a Division II All-American as a senior. In 2010, he caught a screen pass and rumbled 14 yards for a touchdown. Jackson was a four-star recruit who chose Illinois but he was dismissed from school for off-the-field issues.

Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M: Early entrant. Joeckel (6-6, 310) won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top offensive lineman, was a consensus All-American and won the Jacobs Blocky Trophy as the SEC's top blocker. He started all 39 career games at left tackle, helping Ryan Tannehill become a first-round pick last year and Johnny Manziel win the Heisman Trophy this season. His father, David, played for Texas Tech and two brother Matt is a sophomore quarterback for the Aggies.

T.J. Johnson, South Carolina: Johnson (6-6, 319) started a school-record 53 consecutive games, playing center his final three seasons after opening his career at right guard. He was second-team all-SEC as a senior. To escape the daily grind of football, Johnson is an avid angler who likes to catch catfish. He earned his degree before his final season.

Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: Position changes aren't anything out of the ordinary, as this series has shown. What's unusual is Johnson's path. Johnson (6-6, 302) played quarterback at Kilgore College and switched to tight end, which was his original position at Oklahoma. After a stint as a defensive end, he's a likely first-round pick as an offensive tackle. He started 12 games at right tackle as a junior and 11 at left tackle as a senior, when he was first-team all-Big 12. To play the line, he's added 75 pounds. "I really do like to eat," he said.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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