POSITION OVERVIEW: Typically, guard isn't a position that is highly coveted, as NFL teams use the draft to get the top college offensive tackles and typically hope to make things work in the middle rounds with guards and centers. Or, they will convert an offensive tackle that can't play the position at the next level and convert them to guards.
This year is a different story. Three players have a chance to go in the first round and several guards will get snapped up in the first four rounds as teams look to bolster their offensive lines with young talent. It's no secret that guards who are qualified are in the same spot for eight to 10 years and almost every Super Bowl winner has experienced excellent guard play. This year may be a chance for a half-dozen or more teams to stock the guard position for the next decade by picking one player. The Vikings have a need at guard but will likely wait until the third or fourth round to make a move at the position.
THE TOP OF THE HEAP
Toniu Fonati, Nebraska, 6-4, 340 — Third-year junior who opted to come out a year early to take advantage of being the first guard selected...Can't even drink yet — he won't turn 21 until November...Started every game the last two years, including three as a sophomore playing with a broken hand...Two-time All-Big 12 and an All-American last year and set a school record with 25 pancake blocks — knocking a defender flat on his back with a block...Was a Rimington and Outland Award finalist...Huge body with big legs and lower body strength...Has been compared to All-Pro Larry Allen of the Cowboys...Didn't get a lot of pass-blocking experience because of Nebraska's offense. PROJECTION: Likely gone in the middle of the first round.
Andre Gurode, Colorado, 6-4, 318 — A high school All-America who is a fifth-year senior...Played center as a redshirt freshman but tore the MCL in his right knee that season...Played center for the next year-and-a-half before moving to guard midway through his junior year...Two-time All-Big 12 and All-America last year...Very long arms that consume defensive tackles...Very strong legs that can push defenders back in the run game...An excellent pulling guard on misdirections and sweeps...Plays a little sluggish at times and has never used his strength to its fullest potential. PROJECTION: The versatility to be an NFL guard or center will land him late in the first round.
Kendall Simmons, Auburn, 6-3, 312 — Fifth-year senior...Redshirted his junior year with injuries that carried over from his sophomore season...Following the 1999 season, had surgery on both of his ankles...Moved from guard to tackle as a junior, where he played every game the last two years and won the Jacobs Award in 2001 as the SEC's top offensive lineman...Can be an overpowering blocker who can handle the bull rush with relative ease...Impressed scouts by neutralizing Julius Peppers in a meeting last season...Seen as a little short for an offensive tackle and more teams project him at guard in the NFL...Compared to former Auburn tackle Victor Riley and most down south think he's better. PROJECTION: His ability to play tackle in a pinch is a plus, but his future is at guard and he could land late in the first or early in the second round.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Fred Weary, Tennessee, 6-4, 306 — High school wrestling champion in Alabama...Fifth-year senior who came to Vols as a defensive tackle...Had foot surgery after his redshirt freshman season...After moving to guard in 1999, he went to center in 2000 but saw his season end after just a couple games with a broken ankle that required more surgery...Moved back to guard last year and was a first team All-SEC...Can play multiple positions and was a popular player with teammates and coaches...Excellent pulling and trapping guard...Solid pass protector...Hasn't spent more than two years healthy and has missed a lot of time for a player moving on to the NFL level. PROJECTION: A solid player with good intangibles on his side, his injury history may drop him to the late end of the second round or even into the third.
Terrance Metcalf, Mississippi, 6-4, 320 — Fifth-year senior who was a freshman All-American before an ankle injury required surgery and cut his sophomore year short, forcing him to redshirt...Moved to left tackle as a junior and became a two-time All-SEC pick...Has more maturity than a lot of college players, since he is well grounded by being married with two children...Was a dominant one-on-one player that enabled coaches to single cover pass-rushing DEs...Didn't allow a single sack as a senior...Is a versatile player that, while projected at guard, some believe he has the talent and skills to be a right tackle or perhaps even a left tackle in the NFL...Has tremendous upper body strength, but doesn't have the size dimensions most teams look at for a left tackle...Injuries are still a concern to some teams. PROJECTION: Being able to play guard or tackle is a plus and could easily land him late in the second round or early in the third.
Qasim Mitchell, North Carolina A&T, 6-5, 345 — A three-year starter who has been compared to the Vikings' Dave Dixon...Has good movement for a man his size...Excellent strength and eats up smaller defenders...Isn't as skilled in pass protection and doesn't have the best lateral movement...Has some problems keeping his weight down, which has fluctuated anywhere from 335 to 365 over the last year...Inconsistency is his major problem. PROJECTION: Likely the last guard taken on the first day of the draft.
Eric Heitmann, Stanford, 6-4, 300 — Fourth-year senior who was a three-year starter and two-time All-Pac 10 selection...Had surgery after his junior year to repair an ailing shoulder, but didn't show too many ill effects last season...Despite having surgery, he didn't miss any games in his career because of injuries...Student of the game who has improved by learning the mechanics of the game...Excellent work ethic...Doesn't have natural strength for his size...Will get pushed around if he doesn't add some bulk. PROJECTION: A guy who could make a difference, but, like other players from Stanford, comes with the tag of being a little soft, which could drop him into the second day of the draft.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Richard Williams, Gardner-Webb, 6-3, 340
Martin Bibla, Miami, 6-3, 300
Ed Ta'Amu, Utah, 6-3, 327
Frank Romero, Oklahoma, 6-4, 296
Steve Edwards, Central Florida, 6-5, 305
Antwan Kirk-Hughes, Texas, 6-3, 317
Jonathon Goodwin, Michigan, 6-3, 308
Shannon Money, Arkansas, 6-3, 300
Jermese Jones, Virginia, 6-5, 337
VU Draft Profiles: Guard
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