We continue our position-by-position preview of the NFL Draft with the offensive line.
A year ago at this time, the Green Bay Packers had arguably the best guard combo in the NFL with Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. That’s not the case anymore following Sitton’s release at the end of training camp last season and Lang’s free-agent departure. The Packers had Lane Taylor waiting in the wings to replace Sitton; they don’t have an obvious in-house candidate to replace Lang. That makes guard a major need for Green Bay — and why we are writing only about the guard prospects for this preview.
General manager Ted Thompson hit home runs with Sitton and Lang, fourth-round picks in 2008 and 2009. However, neither had to play major roles as rookies. Sitton started only two games as a rookie; Lang didn’t start a game at guard until his third season. There might not be that luxury this time. The Packers need strong guard play so quarterback Aaron Rodgers can step up in the pocket to get out of the pocket.
Since the switch to the zone-blocking scheme in 2006, Thompson has drafted 18 offensive linemen. Of the 16 that did the 20-yard shuttle, 14 ran it in 4.75 seconds or faster. The exceptions are two guys who didn’t stick around — offensive tackle Jamon Meredith (4.82) in 2009 and guard Caleb Schlauderaff (4.81) in 2011. If that’s not enough, check out Thompson’s shuttle history with guards who developed into starters: Lang (4.42), Sitton (4.50), Jason Spitz (4.55) and Daryn Colledge (4.56).
It’s slim picking to find that type of elite athleticism. In fact, it’s a list of two: Wyoming’s Chase Roullier (4,47) and San Diego State’s Nico Siragusa (4.56).
The current crop of guards, former undrafted free agents Taylor (4.72), Don Barclay (4.70) and Lucas Patrick (4.66), all beat 4.75.
With that as a backdrop, here are our top prospects. Our cut-off is 4.80 in the shuttle. (Note: All of these players translate to guard. The position listed in front of their names shows what they played in 2016.)
LT Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky (6-3 5/8, 309; 5.00 40; 4.62 shuttle; 34 bench): Lamp was a four-year starter, with all but three of his 56 starts coming at left tackle. He was a second-team All-American as a senior. Lamp was first-team all-Conference USA as a junior and senior. He capped his decorated college career with a touchdown. He finished first among all offensive tackle prospects in 2016 in ProFootballFocus.com’s pass-blocking efficiency, which measures sacks, hits and hurries per pass-blocking snap. According to data in PFF’s Draft Pass, Lamp allowed no sacks, three hits and two hurries for five total pressures. Yes, competition played a role in that, but he allowed only one hurry against Alabama. He finished No. 1 in PBE among our top prospects.
Lamp played football and basketball at Venice (Fla.) High School. At the end of his junior year of football, he weighed 210 pounds. Recruiters weren’t exactly knocking down Lamp’s door to get him to come their school. But Lamp’s coaches at Venice saw the big picture. And that required Lamp to get bigger. “I had to quit basketball just because I had lost so much weight playing basketball. My high school staff was unbelievable. They sat down with me at the end of my sophomore year — what I had to eat, when I had to eat it. ... It included everything my family would cook, those three meals a day. But in between that, eating a peanut butter and jelly every hour. Muscle Milk. I would go to the weight room and the coach would have a fridge full of Muscle Milk for me. I’d have one of those between classes. The teachers would let me leave real quick for five minutes.”
Lamp is a first-round fit for the Packers beyond his talent and shuttle time. The Packers, like many teams, prefer drafting collegiate left tackles and moving them inside. Of Green Bay’s five starters last season, Lang, Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari were left tackles. Of Thompson’s 20 offensive line selections, 13 played left tackle in college. Some teams are considering him as a tackle but 32 1/4-inch arms might necessitate the move inside.
G Dan Feeney, Indiana (6-3 7/8, 5.24 40; 4.68 shuttle; 26 bench): Feeney was a four-year award-winning guard, punctuated by first-team All-American honors as a junior and senior. According to the school’s coaches, he allowed two sacks in four seasons. According to PFF, he gave up one sack as a senior but ranked only eighth among our group of top prospects in PBE (10 total pressures). He is a good but not great run blocker. Feeney started at right guard in 2012, 2014 and 2015 — a foot injury sidelined him in 2013 — before splitting time at right guard and right tackle as a senior. Feeney is just the fourth two-time All-American in program history. He was extremely well-coached and should be a ready-made starter who will go in the second round. “I think just from doing a whole bunch of punch drills at Indiana. (Line coach) Greg Frey was big on having hand play; I think that’s one of my games I can improve on. Just placement, and being more precise with them. So I think Coach Frey did a great job at Indiana trying to improve those. I think baseball (in high school), scooping balls at first base might have helped with a little more accuracy, I think.” One scout compared him to former Wisconsin and current Bengals standout Kevin Zeitler.
LT Dion Dawkins, Temple (6-3 7/8, 314; 5.11 40; 4.78 shuttle; 26 bench): Dawkins started two games at tackle as a true freshman in 2013 before suffering a broken foot. He wound up starting at left tackle in each of the next three seasons, earning first-team all-conference as a senior and second-team honors as a junior. His mentality? “I must win. I have to be great at everything, and if I’m not, what do I have to do to change in order to be great at it?” Length (35-inch arms) and athleticism have him considered a tackle by some teams. Whatever the position, he’ll go in the second round. He’s a powerful player who finished fifth in PBE among our top prospects (two sacks, nine total pressures). He’s also an excellent run blocker — perhaps the best among our top four guards. Dawkins was headed to Cincinnati to play on the defensive line before new Temple coach Matt Rhule made a recruiting visit. Rhule left the Dawkins family house without offering a scholarship, then returned before hopping in his car. Dawkins was arrested in March 2015 for his alleged role in a fight but the assault charges against him and a teammate were dropped. “It was very emotional. I watched practice from my window every single day. In Philly, the facility is right across the street from (his dorm) and I picked a room where I could watch the football field. Every morning, my brothers were on the field grinding, and I'm sitting in a room and I'm a captain, I'm one of the big dogs, and I'm sitting there watching somebody else play my position. I could be there if I'd just made a better decision.”
G Nico Siragusa, San Diego State (6-4 1/4, 319; 5.35 40; 4.56 shuttle; 28 bench): First thing’s first: No, Siragusa is not related to former NFL defensive lineman Tony Siragusa. Siragusa was a three-year starter at guard and helped power Donnel Pumphrey to the all-time FBS rushing record. Run blocking is his forte. “Heck, yeah, I love run blocking. I love getting around pulling, I love double-teaming, I love being-one-on-one. I feel like I’m the people mover.” With that said, in our group of top prospects, he ranked second in PBE (one sack, three pressures in run-heavy offense). He was first-team all-Mountain West as a junior and senior. His power makes him a stalwart against bull rushes; he’ll have to hone his technique and better harness his athleticism to win against athletic defensive tackles. Siragusa turned down offers to play in the Pac-12 so he could stay home and be nearer to his father, Ramon, who waited for more than seven years before getting a kidney transplant. “He’s all good. I’m just glad he could come watch me play football. For a couple years, I didn’t know if he was going to make it to the end of college.”
G Danny Isidora, Miami (6-3 3/8, 306; 5.03 40; 4.90 shuttle; 26 bench): First, an important note: Isidora improved his shuttle to 4.70 at Miami’s pro day. We’re going with that time because it’s more in line with how he played at Miami. After redshirting in 2012 and missing almost all of 2013 with a foot injury sustained the day before the start of fall camp, Isidora started the final 39 games of his career at right guard. He was a two-time all-ACC selection, including a second-team choice as a senior. He ranked sixth in our group in PFF’s PBE (four sacks, nine total pressures). That’s his forte. Isidora and Siragusa look like third- or fourth-round options. Isidora might be more NFL-ready than Siragusa because of, one, better competition, and, two, his experience in the Hurricanes’ NFL-style dropback passing game. Three, he’s a better second-level blocker than Siragusa. Four, he’s got zone-scheme experience. However, Isidora doesn’t play with Siragusa’s power in either phase of the game. That’s a concern because the Packers can’t afford to have the pocket constantly collapsing.
C Pat Elflein, Ohio State (6-2 5/8, 303; 5.32 40; 4.71 shuttle; 22 bench): Elflein was a first-team all-conference guard as a sophomore and junior. As a graduate senior, he moved to center. Nothing changed. He was first-team all-Big Ten again, winner of the Big Ten’s Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year, a unanimous All-American and won the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center. Elflein ranked 10th in our group of top prospects in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency (three sacks, 16 total pressures). A standout high school wrestler who has a wrestler’s tenacity, power and knack for leverage, he landed at Ohio State only because a higher-rated recruit decommitted. Practices at Ohio State got him ready for the big stage. “That’s what you get when you go to Ohio State and I feel like that’s why we were able to get pretty good at times because of the talent you go against in practice. You had Joey Bosa, Adolphus Washington, Johnathan Hankins, John Simon, our linebackers. Everyone is an NFL-caliber player so you go against that talent every day and I think that’s why we have a good track record of guys transitioning well to the NFL playing at a high level.” It’s worth noting the shortest guard or tackle selected by Thompson was Spitz (6-3 1/2).
C Chase Roullier, Wyoming (6-3 3/4, 312; 5.54 40; 4.47 shuttle; 19 bench): In his first season at center, Roullier was named a second-team All-American — the school’s first since 2006. He ranked sixth among our group of prospects in PFF’s PBE (no sacks, eight total pressures) and was an effective run blocker due to his lower-body power. Roullier was a three-time all-Mountain West Conference pick — first team at center in 2016, second-team at guard in 2015 and honorable mention at guard in 2014. Plus, he was a semifinalist for the William Campbell Trophy — aka the Academic Heisman Trophy. His shuttle was unbelievably good, which would be a big asset in a zone scheme if he could get it to translate to the field — which wasn’t always the case. His bench press, however, is an obvious problem, as was level of competition.
RT Collin Buchanan, Miami (Ohio) (6-4 3/4, 316; DNP 40 and shuttle due to hamstring; 23 bench): Buchanan was a three-year starter at right tackle who earned his first all-conference accolades — second-team all-MAC — as a senior. He ranked 11th in PBE (three sacks, 16 total pressures) among our group of top prospects. He’s neither an excellent pass protector or run blocker. Short arms (32 3/8) likely will send him to guard, which should improve his play in both phases of his game. Buchanan is hoping to get healthy enough to work out for teams before the draft, which would fill in that missing shuttle time.
LT Jordan Morgan, Kutztown (Pa.) (6-2 5/8, 309; 5.36 40; 4.73 shuttle; 21 bench): Morgan won the Gene Upshaw Award, which goes to the best lineman (offense or defense) in Division II. Morgan, who started all 43 career games at left tackle, was a two-time first-team All-American, three-time All-American and a three-time all-conference first-team pick. Morgan’s path is pretty incredible. He played one-half a season of football at Germantown High School in Philadelphia. The only reason he wound up at Kutztown is because two teammates were being recruited. When he arrived at Kutztown, he weighed merely 235 pounds. He’s got 34 5/8-inch arms, which could give him guard-tackle flexibility. As a small-school player, PFF does not have any stats. He dominated his level of play based on sheer physical skill but will need a technique overhaul.
RT Aviante Collins, TCU (6-4 1/8, 295; 4.81 40; 4.69 shuttle; 34 reps): Collins started 13 games as a true freshman — 10 at right tackle and three at left tackle. But his career really never took off. Collins started nine games in 2013 (three at left tackle, six at right tackle), only once in 2014 (at left tackle) and had his 2015 end after three games due to injury. He started 13 games at right tackle as a senior but didn’t receive any postseason honors. While Collins was blessed with his size, his father was blessed with athleticism. Billy Collins qualified for the 1976 Olympics. Not surprisingly, Collins was a Combine star with easily the best 40 time among the offensive linemen. That edge didn’t show up often enough on Saturdays. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed four sacks and 33 total pressures, placing him in a tie for 13th in PBE among our prospects.
G Corey Levin, Tennessee-Chattanooga (6-3 7/8, 307; 5.16 40; 4.73 40; 26 bench): Levin was a three-time All-American, including first-team honors during his final two seasons. Levin started 51 career games, including the final 45, earning starts at guard and both tackle spots during that span. He played only left guard as a senior. He faced his best competition while at practice, when he faced 2015 draft pick Davis Tull and likely 2017 draft pick Keionta Davis. PFF does not have data.
G Jake Eldrenkamp, Washington (6-4 1/2, 302; 5.39 40; 4.71 shuttle; DNP bench): Eldrenkamp was a two-year starter at guard. Not only was he first-team all-conference as a senior but he was named the Pac-12’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He ranked seventh in our group of prospects in PFF’s PBE (two sacks, 10 total pressures). He’s a solid run blocker who pulled frequently, but struggled in the playoff game against Alabama. He graduated with a 3.71 grade-point average and was an eight-time member of the Dean’s List.
G Cameron Lee Illinois State, (6-4 5/8, 312; 5.44 40; 4.75 shuttle; 18 bench): Lee, a former walk-on, moved into the starting lineup at right guard as a junior and started there for most of his senior season before bumping out to right tackle late in the year. He was an honorable mention on the all-Missouri Valley Conference team. The lack of accolades given the competition is the major reason for concern. Shouldn’t an NFL prospect dominate the MVC? PFF does not have stats for this small-school player.
Potentially off the board
G Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh (6-4 7/8, 300; 5.27 40; 5.09 shuttle; 21 bench): Johnson is arguably one of the top four guard prospects in this class but his shuttle was terrible — and barely improved at Pitt’s pro day — which might not make him a consideration for Green Bay. Johnson was Pitt’s first first-team All-American offensive lineman since Ruben Brown in 1994. He broke into the starting lineup late during his freshman season and concluded his career with 40 consecutive starts. He was a three-year starter at left guard, with second-team all-ACC honors as a junior and first-team accolades as a senior, when he finished third for the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which goes to the league’s top lineman. He ranked third among our prospects in PFF’s PBE (one sacks, seven total pressures). He’s got massive 35 1/4-inch arms.
G Isaac Asiata, Utah (6-3 1/8, 323; 5.34 40; 4.93 shuttle; 35 bench): While Utah left tackle Garett Bolles is the belle of the O-line ball, it was Asiata who won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12’s top offensive lineman as a senior, as voted on by his peers. He finished ninth in PFF’s PBE (four sacks, 15 total pressures). He figures to be a Day 2 pick. Asiata started 42 games in his four seasons, with 25 at left guard as a junior and senior, seven at right guard and six at left guard as a sophomore, and four at right tackle as a freshman. Asiata’s 35 bench-press reps led the O-line class at the Combine, and he plays with that power. Asiata has three brothers and two sisters, and is cousins with Vikings running back Matt Asiata. Because of a two-year LDS mission, he'll be a 24-year-old rookie.
LT Sean Harlow, Oregon State (6-4 1/8, 303; 5.15 40; 4.81 shuttle; 26 bench): Harlow started for most of his four seasons — the final nine at right tackle as a freshman, five starts at right tackle and seven at left tackle as a sophomore, seven starts at left tackle before a season-ending broken ankle as a junior and at left tackle as a senior. Before the 2016 season, Harlow said it was “pretty official” that he’d take a medical redshirt and come back for 2017. By Oct. 1, he was back in the lineup, starting nine games at left tackle and earning second-team all-Pac-12 accolades. He ranked a dead-last 15th among our top prospects in PFF’s PBE (one sack, 19 total pressures), though the injury is a factor there. He was much better in the run game. It was odd mix of power in the run game but a lack of power in pass protection. His 32-inch arms mean he’ll move to guard in the NFL.
RT Jermaine Eluemunor, Texas A&M (6-3 7/8, 332; 5.22 40; 4.85 shuttle; 34 bench): Eluemunor was born just north of London. A channel-surfing Eluemunor found an American football game and loved what he was watching. With American football taking hold in England, he joined the London Blitz. At age 14, he moved to New Jersey to chase his dream. Eluemunor redshirted in 2014, was a backup in 2015 — his biggest splash being a victory in the Hot Chicken Eating Contest before the Music City Bowl — and broke into the starting lineup at right tackle as a senior. He finished 12th in PFF’s PBE (three sacks, 19 total pressures) but was strong in the run game.
LT Erik Austell, Charleston Southern (6-3 1/4, 301; 5.23 40; 4.90 shuttle; 24 bench): Austell began his college career on the defensive line in 2012 before converting to the offense and starting 12 games at tackle in 2013. He was a second-team FCS All-American as a junior and a first-team All-American as a senior and started 39 games in his career. He wa the first player in school history to be invited to the Combine. PFF does not have stats for this small-school player.
LT Ben Braden, Michigan (6-6 1/2, 329; 5.04 40; 4.90 shuttle; 25 bench): Braden was a three-year starter, including earning second-team all-Big Ten as a senior despite being slowed early in the season with a back strain. He played right tackle as a sophomore, guard as a junior and split time between left guard and left tackle as a senior. Braden tied with Collins for next-to-last in PFF’s PBE (two sacks, 20 total pressures). It’s not just the shuttle that might keep Braden off Green Bay’s board but his height, since Thompson hasn’t drafted a guard taller than Colledge’s 6-foot-4 3/8.
LT Jessamen Dunker, Tennessee State (6-4 1/4, 318; 4.98 40; 4.90 shuttle; 23 bench): Dunker was a four-year starter at TSU, capped by earning first-team FCS All-American honors as a senior. Dunker played all over the line — left tackle as a freshman, left guard and left tackle as a sophomore, left guard as a junior and back to left tackle as a senior. Dunker started his career at Florida, redshirting in 2012. He got in hot water there following a Jan. 17, 2013, arrest for grand theft of a motor vehicle. PFF does not have stats for this small-school player.
The bottom line
Overall, this appears to be a great draft. That’s not the case for the offensive line, though. If replacing Lang is truly a concern, then drafting one early must be a priority. There simply are not many prospects who meet the Packers’ apparent parameters and have the potential to be a Day 1 starter. If Lamp makes it to Green Bay’s spot at No. 29, he’d be a strong consideration. Feeney is the best of the rest. Would the Packers go outside of their shuttle box for someone like Asiata?
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.