Wexells' Value Board: 2005 NFL Draft OL's

You may remember Jammal Brown as the Oklahoma Sooner who played well in the national championship game.<br><br> Even when he didn't, he made a point to play through the whistle. Brown was the feisty lineman on your TV screen, you may remember.

"Always," said Brown upon his visit to the South Side this week. "Coaches love guys who play through the whistle."

Brown was the right tackle at Oklahoma. The Steelers would love to have him, but will not have that chance at pick No. 30.

Brown is a fraction under 6 feet 6 and weighs 316 pounds. He ran a 5.06 40 at the combine. Scouts believe he could also play left tackle and certainly guard in a pinch.

Either Brown or Alex Barron of Florida State will be the first tackle selected. The third should be Khalif Barnes of Washington. He also could play guard and that's what the Steelers are looking for: a lineman who can play both guard and tackle.

The Steelers' greatest need right now is depth on the offensive line after strong-side starters Oliver Ross and Keydrick Vincent left via free agency.

Their spots will be taken by Kendall Simmons at right guard and Max Starks, last year's third-round pick, at right tackle.

Simmons' rehabilitated knee (ACL) shouldn't be a problem. He fought doctors to play last year after he went down in the preseason. By the end of the season, he laughed off questions about potential problems in 2005.

The Steelers' problem lies behind those players. Chukky Okobi is a solid back-up center. He can pitch in at guard, too. But second-year man Jim Jones, who hasn't played in the NFL, is the main back-up at guard. Journeyman Barrett Brooks is the team's only legitimate reserve tackle.

The Steelers are so shallow up front, they could draft a lineman in the first round with the sole intention of using him as a back-up. It would also allow the rookie time to learn the pro game.



VALUE BOARD

First Round - Khalif Barnes (6-5¾, 305, 4.93) of Washington looked like a high first rounder at the Senior Bowl and followed it up with a smooth performance at the combine. An inconsistent senior season, which ended after four games with a broken wrist, hurt his stock. However, with 42 career starts, Barnes has experience, size and foot quickness. The Steelers are interested.


Second Round - Marcus Johnson (6-6½, 321, 5.6, 21 reps) replaced Keydrick Vincent (6-5, 325) at right guard as a freshman at Ole Miss in 2001 and remained there until his senior season, when Johnson started three games at right tackle. He started all 48 games of his college career. To envision Johnson, picture a quicker Vincent. At the combine, scouts looked at Johnson at right tackle and weren't impressed. However, the Steelers like his size, athletic ability and experience and would love to see him at the bottom of the second round. However, he's not expected to make it. Adam Terry (6-8, 330, 5.31) of Syracuse would then become a possibility.


Third Round - Logan Mankins (6-4 1/8, 307, 4.99) of Fresno State and Evan Mathis (6-5¼, 304, 4.91, 35 reps) of Alabama are both guard-tackles. Mathis can also play center. Both players are physical, durable, smart and experienced and would fit the need.


Fourth Round - Justin Geisinger (6-3¾, 322, 5.37, 31 reps) of Vanderbilt is a left tackle who played guard, and played it well, at the East-West Shrine game. Very strong player.


Late rounds - Will Svitek (6-7, 305, 4.95 campus, 33 reps) of Stanford is a defensive end who projects to offensive tackle. As a child, he and his family fled communist Czechoslovakia. His father was a member of the Czech national track team. Other considerations are Trai Essex (6-4½, 324, 5.28) of Northwestern and Todd Herremans (6-6, 324, 5.13 campus) of Saginaw Valley State. Both visited the Steelers this week.



LOCAL PROSPECT

Rob Petitti (6-5 7/8, 347) of Pitt weighed into the combine at 347, down 14 pounds from his weight at the Senior Bowl. He couldn't participate at either function, and a toe injury slowed him at his pro day, where he ran a 5.5 40. Petitti is a left tackle with natural skills and good feet and he can play guard, but scouts questioned his work ethic after his weight ballooned. A Pitt official said Petitti's weight is "in the 330s" now, and he's been interviewed by the Steelers. He'd be a steal in the sixth round.


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