Offensive lineman on a roll

Branden Albert has suddenly appealed to many NFL teams. Read on as's John Crist describes what Albert has to offer

Virginia offensive lineman Branden Albert is rocketing up draft boards all over the NFL and could end up being a top-10 pick if his stock continues its mercurial rise. Will he end up in Green Bay?

Albert (6-5 5/8, 309) played guard almost exclusively for the Cavaliers, but he told anyone within shouting distance at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that he can also play tackle. Why would he say such a thing? Obviously, it has to do with the fact that tackles are always considered more valuable than guards, as the position is more difficult to play and good ones are harder to find. Quite often, players who fail at tackle are moved inside to play guard in order to extend their careers. Believe it or not, Albert stands a better chance of being drafted higher if he can convince team scouts that he's the No. 4 or 5 tackle available as opposed to the No. 1 guard.

OL Branden Albert
Michael Conroy/AP Images

In the 2007 draft, three tackles were taken off the board in Round 1 – Joe Thomas to Cleveland at No. 3, Levi Brown to Arizona at No. 5, and Joe Staley to San Francisco at No. 28 – before the first guard – Ben Grubbs to Baltimore at No. 29 – heard his name called. This year, tackles Jake Long of Michigan, Ryan Clady of Boise State, Chris Williams of Vanderbilt, and Jeff Otah of Pittsburgh could all be selected in the top half of the first round, while a highly-rated pure guard like Chilo Rachal of USC most likely won't go until some time in Round 2.

The Green Bay Packers have immediate needs along the offensive line, both at tackle and guard. Mike McCarthy last week at the owners' meetings in Florida said that both guard positions will be up for grabs this offseason. Veteran tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are each entering their 10th season, so it is time to build depth behind them.

Albert could be a possibility for the Packers at No. 30, and the team could then give him a shot at either right tackle or left guard in training camp and see where he fits. Maybe he does project best at left tackle one day, as some insiders suggest, which gives the Packers an heir apparent to Clifton. Or perhaps he is just a guard after all, meaning general manager Ted Thompson might have to bring in another tackle for insurance.

While the flexibility to play both tackle and guard will only help Albert's draft status, it remains to be seen if he can truly excel at just one position.

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