Scouting Combine Research: Guards

The 12-man contingent of guards is led by four-year starters A.J. Cann of South Carolina, Laken Tomlinson of Duke and Jon Feliciano of Miami. It's an accomplished group with some inspiring stories. (Brett Davis/USA TODAY)

Trenton Brown, Florida (6-8, 361): Brown spent two seasons at Florida, where he started five games (at right tackle) as a junior and six games (at guard) as a senior. He was a Junior College All-American at Georgia Military College in 2012. “We all felt like we were in third grade again, looking up at a high schooler,” said 6-foot-3, 320-pound teammate Tyler Moore. “I’m not used to looking up at guys. I’m used to looking at guys or looking down. I haven’t looked up at somebody in a while.” Despite his intimidating size, it took him a while to show signs of dominance.

A.J. Cann, South Carolina (6-3, 318): Cann, a 51-game starter at left guard, earned several first-team All-American selections as a senior. He’s a three-time member of the SEC’s Fall Academic Honor Roll, as well. In July, Cann spent 10 days in Israel along with senior starting quarterback Dylan Thompson. “It was crazy witnessing the life they live up there. It’s different. They don’t have a lot of the opportunities that we have here in the United States.”

Jon Feliciano, Miami (6-5, 324): Feliciano essentially was a four-year starter. He showed his versatility as a senior, when he started games at left guard and right tackle to earn honorable mention on the all-ACC team. Reaching the NFL will be a happy ending for Feliciano, whose challenging childhood started when he was born with a deformed foot. Some nights, he slept with friends. Some nights, he slept in his condemned home. All he wanted was to play at Miami. His high school coach made it all possible. And he plays for his mom, who has breast cancer.

Mark Glowinski, West Virginia (6-4, 307): Glowinski was first-team all-Big 12 as a senior. He started at right guard in both seasons for the Mountaineers. Before West Virginia, Glowinski played left tackle for Lackawanna College, a junior college in Scranton, Pa. Glowinski didn’t immediately impress the coaching staff at West Virginia. “Coming in, there were many days we had our Sunday night football stuff and I looked at him like, ‘Boy, did we make a mistake here,’” coach Dana Halgorsen said. “He couldn’t play two or three plays in a row. He was breathing hard. He was struggling and just did not look good.”

Jarvis Harrison, Texas A&M (6-3, 325): Harrison started all 26 games at guard as a sophomore and junior. The start of his senior season was derailed by offseason shoulder surgery (the second of his career). Finally, he played in the final 10 games, with five starts at left guard and two at left tackle. Harrison didn’t play football until he was a high school junior.

Tre Jackson, Florida State (6-4, 323): Jackson was first-team all-ACC for the second consecutive season and was a consensus All-American as a senior. He was a three-year starter. Getting Jackson was a big coup for FSU, since Jackson had committed to Georgia Tech as a defensive tackle.

Arie Kouandjio, Alabama (6-5, 326): Kouandjio, whose brother and former Alabama teammate, Cryus, was a second-round pick by Buffalo in 2014, had an excellent senior season. Not only was he first-team all-SEC, but he was named to the Capital One Academic All-American Team with his 3.46 GPA. He earned his master’s degree in economics in December. Kouandjio started every game at left guard over his final two seasons but endured multiple knee injuries early in his career. Kouandjio’s toughness came from frequent tussles with his brother. "Our dad got real good at fixing walls," says Arie, the older of the two by 15 months. "Then it got to the point where he told us that we had to start fixing them ourselves. But that's where our love of physical contact started."

Josue Matias, Florida State (6-5, 328): Matias was second-team all-ACC as a senior and a three-year starter at left guard. He was born in the baseball-loving Dominican Republic but fell in love with football when he immigrated to the United States at the age of 7. Matias wasn’t sure what would become of his budding football career when his senior season in high school ended before it started because of a knee injury.

John Miller, Louisville (6-3, 321): The three-year starter was an honorable mention on the all-AAC team after earning second-team honors as a junior. He was a key member of the school’s Miami pipeline that was constructed by former coach Charlie Strong, who served as an assistant at Florida for 12 years.

Robert Myers, Tennessee State (6-5, 310): Myers started all 26 games over his final two seasons, earning second-team all-Ohio Valley both years. He earned some FCS All-American honors as a senior. He is penning a diary for FoxSports.com. In one right after his appearance at the Senior Bowl, he explained why his nickname is “Snacks.”

Adam Shead, Oklahoma (6-3, 316): Shead broke into the starting lineup at guard as a freshman and never left. As a senior, he started 12 of 13 games at left guard and earned second-team all-conference honors. His father, Kenneth, played linebacker for Nebraska. Before starring at Oklahoma, he played for Team USA.

Laken Tomlinson, Duke (6-3, 320): Tomlinson was first-team all-ACC on the field and academically. He started all 52 games in his career and might be the best guard in this year’s class. Tomlinson was a four-year starter as well as at Lane Tech high school in Chicago. It was there where he picked up the nickname “Fluffy.” It lit a fire that never went out. “I got angry and took it out on the next guy. I did put a guy on his butt after that …” Tomlinson was born in Jamaica and spent his first nine years there before moving to Chicago. It was culture shock for a boy who ran around barefoot playing soccer on the streets. He chose Duke because of its medical program, and medicine (and football) became his dream after the death of a grandfather.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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