That Love-in Feeling

The Carolina Panthers struggled with injuries and inconsistencies on the offensive line last season, a trend Ron Rivera is determined to correct in 2011. One quick fix is to draft a talented swingman like Arkansas's DeMarcus Love. Love spoke to PantherInsider.com publisher Michael Lombardo about making the leap to the next level.

There is an old NFL adage that says the more you can do, the longer you'll stick around. DeMarcus Love is counting on it.

A four-year starter at Arkansas, Love (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) began his career at right guard before sliding out to tackle. Because Coach Bobby Petrino's scheme uses strong- and weak-side tackles -- as opposed to left and right -- Love spent his final two seasons playing on both sides of the line.

Love handled the position well, earning first-team All-SEC honors as a senior, but is best suited to play right tackle or guard in the NFL because of his mediocre foot speed, agility and balance.

"I'm a versatile lineman who can play more than one position," he said. "I can play left tackle, right tackle and both guard positions. I'll play any position they want me to play. That's how I'm trying to sell myself."


OT DeMarcus Love
Joe Robbins/Getty
The process of selling himself began in earnest at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where Love met with more than a dozen NFL teams.

The all-star environment gave him a chance to showcase his skills against other players who figure to play on Sundays. While he had some struggles, especially with speedy pass rushers, it gave him a chance to get his game NFL-ready.

"I want to work on my pass-pro technique," he said. "I'm working on technical stuff with my hands and head, keeping my head up and stuff like that. Other than that, it's been pretty solid. Whenever I have trouble it is usually with my hands."

To be fair, Love's hands are not his only flaw. He struggles to change direction quickly, which at tackle leaves him susceptible to counter moves and at guard gives him problems when pulling and trapping. Also, occasional bouts of pour posture leave him caught out of position.

Nonetheless, he is one of the most powerful blockers in this year's draft class -- when he gets his hands on a defender, the battle is over. He also has experience against elite college competition and, as a two-time captain, is a proven leader.

There is a lot on Love's résumé to like. He is trying to add even more, spending the next couple months at the Michael Johnson training facility in Dallas, TX.

"I'm working to get ready for the NFL Combine, my Pro Day, things like that," he said. "I'm not where I want to be yet. I want to lose a little weight, get more tuned up, then I'll be ready to go."

With a strong showing at the Combine, Love could work his way into the first round of the NFL Draft. However, a second-round landing appears more likely.



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Michael Lombardo is a member of Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His work has been published by NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.


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