Draft preview: Guard analysis

With Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz possibly on the move, the Packers could be shopping for an athletic guard. Athletic Oregon State tackle Andy Levitre is battling mammoth Oklahoma guard Duke Robinson to be the first guard off the board, and there are several prospects with the ability to play in a zone scheme.

Editor's note: This is Part 6 of our 14-part position-by-position breakdown heading to the April 25-26 NFL Draft. We continue with the guards. The prospects are listed in order based on analysis by Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber and Packer Report, with the comments that follow them based on the beliefs of league experts and insiders.

The Packers' perspective:

The Packers' starting guards the last three seasons have been Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge.

It's anybody's guess who will be the starting guards in 2009.

Colledge could be moving to right tackle, depending on what happens with incumbent starter Mark Tauscher and what the Packers do in the draft. Tauscher is a free agent and is coming off of a torn ACL, leaving his availability for Week 1 of the season in doubt.

Spitz, meanwhile, could be moving to center to challenge incumbent starter Scott Wells.

Throw in newcomer Duke Preston and Josh Sitton, who was in position to start last season until suffering a knee injury during the preseason, and both guard positions are in limbo.

This is not a strong group of guards, and even in the best years, guards are rarely coveted in the first two rounds of the draft. There are a few mid- to late-round picks who would fit the Packers' zone blocking scheme, and don't forget that many college centers could move to guard.

Cream of the crop:

Andy Levitre, Oregon State: A two-time Pac-10 first-teamer at offensive tackle, scouts see Levitre (6-foot-3, 305 pounds) moving inside to guard. His athleticism makes him a good fit for a zone blocking scheme. He's good in short-yardage situations but is at his best on the move looking for linebackers. Led all guards at the Scouting Combine in the short shuttle, which tests lateral quickness. He's fighting the guy below him on this list to be the first guard off the board. Both are second-round prospects.

Just a notch below:

Duke Robinson, Oklahoma: The great-nephew of music legend Smokey Robinson, this Robinson (6-5, 329) is the top guard on many teams' draft boards. The two-time All-American is a big, strong dominating run blocker but he lacks the lateral quickness to play in a zone scheme, so he wouldn't be a good fit for the Packers. Lack of quickness hurts in the pass game, too. Should excel for a run-first team.

— Herman Johnson, LSU: Measured 6-foot-7 and 364 pounds at the Scouting Combine. That was down about 20 pounds from his playing weight at LSU. Not a fat slob, though. He's got surprisingly nimble feet but is slow to get to linebackers. Only started one season, and his propensity to gain weight is another issue.

Others to remember:

Kraig Urbik, Wisconsin: The 6-foot-5, 323-pound Urbik is the latest Badgers lineman who seems destined for a long NFL career. He's surprisingly quick on his feet and is adept at getting to the linebackers. With his height, he sometimes loses leverage battles. Started 50 games, including 16 at tackle. Probably can play, and play well, in any scheme.

Trevor Canfield, Cincinnati: Canfield (6-5, 307) was an all-Big East performer at right guard in 2006, left guard in 2007 and right guard in 2008. His quickness, ability to block on the run and cut-blocking skills make him a natural for a zone scheme. Strong pass blocker but struggles against big defensive tackles.

T.J. Lang, Eastern Michigan: The 6-foot-4, 316-pounder was not invited to the Combine but his draft stock is on the rise. He reportedly had a pre-draft visit with the Packers recently. Was a three-year starter at left tackle but played all five positions in college. A tough, nasty, to-the-whistle blocker; that mentality stems from being a former defensive player. His short shuttle at his pro day would have ranked No. 1 among the guards at the Combine by a wide margin.

Tyronne Green, Auburn: Green (6-2, 307) moved from the defensive side of the ball to start two seasons at left guard. He's raw but athletic. He's someone to keep an eye on for the Packers late in the draft. He's well-suited for a zone scheme but could use a year on the bench for seasoning and to get stronger.

Louis Vasquez, Texas Tech: Vasquez (6-5, 333) was a three-year starter at left guard. Playing in the Red Raiders' pass-happy scheme, there's little doubt he's a very good pass blocker. But playing in a spread offense means there are questions about whether he can run block. His 39 reps on the 225-pound bench press were easily the most by a lineman.

Anthony Parker, Tennessee: Parker (6-2, 297) started six games apiece at left and right guard, and was an all-conference selection on both sides. A very good run blocker with the quickness to play in a zone scheme.

Ray Feinga, BYU: Feinga (6-4, 337) was a four-year starter. Good feet and long arms make him a good pass blocker. Despite his size, he's not a dominant run blocker. Lack of quickness makes him ill-suited for a zone scheme.

Travis Bright, BYU: Bright (6-5, 316) helped himself at the Combine by finishing among the top guards in every drill, including second in the bench press and shuttle. Broke a leg in a January 2008 bowl game but was back in the starting lineup this past season. Not quick enough for zone.

Greg Isdaner, West Virginia: Isdaner (6-4, 322) entered the draft early but is anything but an early-round prospect. His footwork makes him a prospect in a zone scheme. Playing in a spread, however, leaves questions about his ability to play the pro style.

Andy Kemp, Wisconsin: Kemp (6-5, 313) is a strong run blocker but lacks the athleticism to block linebackers on the run. In the pass game, he's better against bull rushes than quickness.

Jamie Thomas, Maryland: The massive Thomas (6-4, 331) could develop into a big-time run blocker. He lacks the agility and open-field blocking ability to play in a zone scheme.

Chris Steuber's sleeper:

Chris Jamison, Troy: The 6-foot-2, 316-pounder was an all-conference left tackle. Questionable competition but unquestioned production with 50 knockdown blocks and one sack allowed. Spent first two seasons as starting left guard, and his athleticism would fit the zone. Durable with 46 consecutive starts. Big upside, having had three line coaches.


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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. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport


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