NFL draft positional analysis: Guard

The Vikings don’t need to draft an immediate starter at guard, but they could look for depth there in the later rounds.  We assess the strengths and weaknesses of the top 10 prospects at the position.

VIKINGS GUARDS – Brandon Fusco, Alex Boone, Mike Harris, Joe Berger, T.J. Clemmings.

TEAM NEED – This is an interesting spot, because Boone was the first outside free agent the Vikings signed and it’s unclear whether he will play on the left side and move Fusco back to the right side where he spent his first three seasons. That’s the likely scenario. The team has flexibility with the potential of moving Berger or Clemmings from center and tackle, respectively, to the guard spot and that doesn’t take into account that Harris started all 16 games at right guard last season. Like tackle, there should be plenty of competition whether the Vikings draft a guard or not.

POSITION ANALYSIS – Guard is a difficult position to make an impact upon because not only is there competition among the college guard crop, but there are also college offensive tackles that don’t have the foot quickness to project to tackle in the NFL. As a result, you have two different styles of players competing for the same roster spots. Unfortunately, this is one of the weaker guard classes in recent years. There likely won’t be any guards taken on the first day of the draft and we may only see a couple come off the board in the first two days. 

CREAM OF THE CROP

Cody Whitehair, Kansas State, 6-3¾, 301 – Fifth-year senior…A four-year starter who made starts in 52 of 53 career games…Primarily a left tackle, but started at both tackle spots and nine at left guard…Has very good strength and mauls defenders on every play…Has good footwork and gets to the second level with ease in the run game when asked to make a forward push…Has an explosive hand punch and jolts defenders consistently on the snap…Locks on defenders and rides them off of plays…Doesn’t have much experience at guard, but doesn’t translate as a tackle in the pros…Has short arms and defenders can control him when they get into his body…When a defender gets an advantage on him, he clutches and grabs, which will lead to too many holding penalties at the next level…Ran a 5.02 40 at the Combine with just 16 reps of 225 pounds, a 25½-inch vertical jump and a 9-2 broad jump.
PROJECTION: A solid left tackle in the Big 12, he will have to move inside in the NFL but has the ability to potentially be a dominant interior lineman. He has an outside chance of getting drafted in the first round, but more likely will be a priority player in the second round.

Joshua Garnett, Stanford, 6-4½, 312 – Fourth-year senior…Two-year starter who started the final 31 games of his college career…Durable player who saw action in 55 games in his career…Consensus All-America selection and the winner of the Outland Trophy in 2015…Nice combination of size and strength…Has a huge lower body and moves people in the run game…Is imposing when leading on sweeps and blocking at the second level in the run game against smaller defenders…At his best blocking in short-yardage situations…Gets overaggressive at times and will fall off blocks and take himself out of plays…Doesn’t have good foot technique and will end up lunging…Is limited in his effectiveness on the move and, when backing up in pass protection, will lose technique…Ran a 5.32 40 at the Combine with 30 reps, a 29-inch vertical jump and 8-3 broad jump.
PROJECTION: In the right system, he has all the attributes to be a long-time starter with Pro Bowl potential, but his lack of sustained quickness and lateral movement limitations will drop him into the second round.

NEXT LEVEL

Christian Westerman, Arizona State, 6-3¼, 298 – Fifth-year senior…Spent his first two seasons at Auburn…Two-year starter who started all 25 games he played in his final two seasons…Extremely athletic and fires off the snap…Has good technique and gets into his stance quickly…A student of the game who has a passion to play and gives everything he has on every play…Needs to add 10-20 pounds of bulk strength to take on NFL defenders…Has a stiff lower body and does swivel and adjust well…Will struggle against long-armed defenders who have proven they can get by him with swim moves…Ran a 5.12 40 at the Combine with a position-best 34 reps of 225 pounds, a 25-inch vertical jump and 8-2 broad jump.
PROJECTION: A heady player who leaves it all on the field. He will likely be drafted on Day 2 and could become an immediate starter.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1659756-positional-analysis-centers

Vadal Alexander, LSU, 6-5¼, 326 – Fourth-year senior who started 46 of 50 career games…Played his sophomore and junior seasons at guard and his freshman and senior seasons at right tackle…Is a dominant blocker in closed quarters in both the run and pass game…Very good at picking up stunts and blitzes…A durable player who hasn’t missed a game and was named All-SEC after taking more than 700 snaps last season…Isn’t a great pure athlete and looks awkward leading sweeps and at the second level…Needs to improve his hand placement against bull rushers…His weight and conditioning will likely need to be monitored through his career…Ran a 5.57 40 at the Combine with 25 reps, a 24-inch vertical jump and a 7-11 broad jump.
PROJECTION: A huge player with positional versatility, his feet are too slow to be a proficient right tackle. But with some good teaching he could develop into a dominant guard, which should have him drafted somewhere on Day 2.

Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas, 6-4¼, 314 – Fifth-year senior…A two-year starter for Arkansas who made starts in his final 25 games…Won the 2015 Jacobs Trophy, given to the conference’s top offensive lineman…Extremely strong and has a nasty streak…Plays with good knee bend and wins most one-on-one battles…Has very good anchoring ability and rarely takes backward steps…Has bounced around too much, flunking out at Nevada, playing at Iowa Western Community College and two years with the Razorbacks…Very short arms for a guard (30½ inches) and allows defenders to get into his body…Has had some significant issues with fluctuating weight…Ran a 5.45 40 at the Combine with 22 reps, a 23½-inch vertical jump and a 7-6 broad jump.
PROJECTION: He showed his willingness to compete by dropping 20 pounds from the end of the season to the Senior Bowl and can be dominant, but weight concerns will always follow him, which should be enough to drop him into Day 3 of the draft.

Landon Turner, North Carolina, 6-4, 330 – Fifth-year senior…A three-year starter who made starts in his final 37 games…Prototype dominating size and can neutralize defenders in the run game…Fires strong off the snap and forces players backward in the run game…Use his wide base to his advantage, anchoring well and keeping good technique…Is overweight and will have to get in better condition for the NFL wars…Doesn’t have good lateral agility and looks awkward in space…Doesn’t generate the kind of power he should with his legs…Pulled him hamstring running the 40 at the Combine and ran a 5.58 40 with 30 reps of 225 pounds, an anemic 19-inch vertical jump and a 7-4 broad jump.
PROJECTION: On a run-based team, he has the ability to be dominant, but has had problems keeping his weight down and his lack of agility will take some teams off the list of those interested until well into the final day, but some teams may give him a long look on Day 2. 

BEST OF THE REST

Joe Dahl, Washington State, 6-4¼, 304 – Fifth-year senior who began his career at Montana and missed the 2012 season due to transfer rules…Started all 34 games he played for the Cougars…Is very tough, playing four games with an injured foot that eventually broke…When he uses good hand placement, can be a dominant blocker…Has good balance and solid lateral movement…Is going to have to move inside after playing left tackle in college…Depends too much on his upper-body strength and doesn’t have ideal lower-body strength…Doesn’t explode off the snap and got to this point more on technique than pure power…Ran a 5.18 40 at the Combine with 28 reps of 225 pounds, a 31-inch vertical jump and a 9-1 broad jump.
PROJECTION: A college left tackle that will need to move inside where he has little experience, he will be something of a project on Day 3. But he has enough talent to win a starting job at some point early on in his career.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1658750-positional-analysis-runni...

Spencer Drango, Baylor, 6-5¾, 315 – Fifth-year senior…Started all 48 games of his college career…All-America in 2015, an Outland Award finalist and two-time All-Big 12 selection…Has ideal height and arm length for a pro guard…Is quick off the snap and into position and plays with good leverage, rarely being off-balance or out of position…Has a jolting hand punch…Played in a spread offense that tends to get the ball out in space quickly so he hasn’t had to typically hold blocks long…Had back surgery in 2013, which is always a concern for coaches and medical staffs…Is not very proficient at getting to the second level and lumbers in space…Ran a 5.27 40 at the Combine with 30 reps, a 27-inch vertical jump and a 8-4 broad jump.
PROJECTION: A very good college player, but if he’s going to be a starter he’s going to have to add strength, which typically drops players into the later rounds of the draft.

Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State, 6-4, 303 – Fifth-year senior…Came to OSU as a center. After suffering a broken foot that required two surgeries, he came back in 2015 to start all 12 games – nine at right guard and three at right tackle…Has very good size and both upper and lower body strength with a frame that can add more weight…An overpowering drive blocker in the run game…Has good footwork and shuffles his feet well to move laterally…Does not move well leading sweeps or trying to hit defenders in space at the second level…Doesn’t keep a consistent pad level and can allow defenders into his body too often…His foot will be a concern for many teams…Didn’t lift at the Combine with a left elbow injury, but ran a 5.19 40 with a 26-inch vertical jump and 8-9 broad jump.
PROJECTION: A solid Pac 12 player, but his foot injury will be a big concern because the second procedure meant that it may have never healed fully. That alone should drop him into the later rounds as teams take a cautious approach to drafting him.

Connor McGovern, Missouri, 6-4¼, 306 – Fifth-year senior…Started the final 40 games of his career, including playing 2015 at left tackle…A very strong player who was a weight-room warrior who has bench pressed more than 500 pounds…Plays with good balance and body control…Has good feet for a big man and can get to the second level with ease…Is tightly wound and doesn’t have natural bend, which can get him straightened up too often…Will have to make significant adjustments to translate the up-tempo spread offense he played in college to the pros…Will need to adjust to playing inside after spending the last year-plus at tackle…Ran a 5.11 40 with 33 reps of 225 pounds, a 33-inch vertical jump and a 9-1 broad jump.
PROJECTION: He looks like a chiseled God, but may actually be a little too musclebound because it takes away from his quickness. He’s a late-round prospect with good strength, which should get him drafted with a good chance to make an NFL team. 

OTHERS TO WATCH

Parker Ehinger, Cincinnati, 6-6¼, 310
Chase Farris, Ohio State, 6-4, 306
Ted Karras, Illinois, 6-3¾, 308
Nila Kasitati, Oklahoma, 6-3¼, 317
Denver Kirkland, Arkansas, 6-4½, 335
LaQuan McGowan, Baylor, 6-6, 410
Rees Odhiambo, Boise State, 6-4, 314
John Theus, Georgia, 6-6½, 313
Cole Toner, Harvard, 6-5¼, 306
Jordan Walsh, Iowa, 6-2, 295

 


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