Rating the NFL draft prospects: Offensive linemen
Rating the NFL draft prospects: Offensive linemen
By Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel
April 19, 2013
The Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn assesses the top offensive linemen in the draft next week.
Included is each player's height, weight, 40-yard dash time and projected round.
1. LUKE JOECKEL, Texas A&M (6-6, 307, 5.30, 1) - Third-year junior started all 39 games at LT. "Look," one scout said. "There are times he gets rag-dolled. But you also have a pretty sure bet. What you see is what you get. He will start at left tackle and be real good." The son of a trial lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas, he scored 28 on the Wonderlic intelligence test. "Joeckel comes from a well-to-do family so he doesn't have that hunger that a lot of people have," another scout said. "He's not a flat-out, Walter Jones type, but he's every bit as good as Joe Thomas is. He's not a Hall of Famer, but he's really good." Arm length (34 ¼ inches) and hand size (10 1/8 inches) are good, not great. "He's just like Matt Kalil's double," a third scout said. "He's a great athlete with great technique. The only negative I have is he's not a powerful person. He gets pushed at times. I worry about him on the power."
2. ERIC FISHER, Central Michigan (6-7 ½, 304, 5.07, 1) - Only offers out of Stoney Creek (Mich.) High School were Eastern Michigan and CMU. "Just a late bloomer," said Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl and a former personnel man for the Browns and Ravens. "He wasn't perfect at the Senior Bowl, but he was impressive. He looks like a pro. He's played in a two-point and a three-point (stance); it hasn't been all spread. You see him block down and use his hands. I think he's a little more ready to play today than Joeckel as far as the strength factor." Made 28 of his 34 starts at LT. Put on 60 pounds since arriving in Mount Pleasant, Mich. "First thing that jumped out at me was his ability to bend," Tennessee scout Johnny Meads said. "He's tough and physical enough. He has everything you want." Son of a postal worker in Rochester, Mich. Wonderlic of 23.
3. LANE JOHNSON, Oklahoma (6-6, 310, 4.74, 1) - Quarterback and free safety as a prep in Groveton, Texas, then quarterbacked for a year at a junior college. At Oklahoma, he played TE and DE in 2010 before starting at RT in '11 and LT in '12. "Built like a basketball player," one scout said. "He's got narrow hips, and those are the guys I usually don't like. But he has power. I don't know where he gets it from. I'm just amazed at what the guy is." Led O-linemen in the vertical jump (34) and broad jump (9-10), put up 28 reps on the bench press and had the second fastest 40. "He's one of the best testing tackles in recent history," said another scout. "He said his goal is to become the best tackle in this draft after they draft us." Long arms (35 ¼) and 28 on the Wonderlic. "I think he's a fraud," a third scout said. "He can't run block. I don't think he plays strong. I don't think he moves guys."
4. D.J. FLUKER, Alabama (6-4 ½, 334, 5.31, 1) - Fourth-year junior and three-year starter at RT. "Road-grading right tackle all the way, but somebody could try him at guard," one scout said. "He'll come off the ball and knock you out. Every once in a while he gets in trouble with his (pass) set. If he doesn't get any width and depth, he doesn't have the feet to get wide. I liked (Bryan) Bulaga a lot, but this guy is the same thing except he's stronger and as competitive. Maybe not as smart." Several scouts expressed major reservations about Fluker's study and work habits. "Great kid, but you don't want him doing your taxes," said one. Attended three high schools (spent senior year in Foley, Ala.) after his family was forced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. Effervescent personality. Emotional leader of national champion Crimson Tide. "He's an Aaron Gibson type," a third scout said. "He's got real long arms (36 ¾). At the point, he gets on you. Fluker won't pull. He's similar to (the Vikings' Phil) Loadholt. He'll have some problems with speed rushers. I like his demeanor, but I worry about his quickness."
5. MENELIK WATSON, Florida State (6-5, 314, 5.29, 1-2) - Participated in basketball, soccer and boxing growing up in Manchester, England. Put in two years at a basketball academy in Spain before spending two years at Marist (N.Y.) College, where he averaged 4.7 points in the 2010-'11 season. Played football in '11 in junior college before spending six months in Tallahassee, where he started at RT and then declared a year early. "He's probably the best athlete of the bunch," one scout said. "For a guy his size I've never seen a guy with that much lateral ability, speed and explosive quickness. He is English born in the ghettos outside Manchester." Turned in a disappointing combine performance. Wonderlic of 20. "For a team to take him in the first (round) and say, 'We're going to throw you out there in Day One,' that's really unfair to that kid," another scout said. "He can bend, he's tough and competitive, and has great lower-body girth. But he's a nice lump of clay now." Will turn 25 in December. "He's got some ability but he scares the hell out of me," said a third scout. "He's not as athletic as people think. I don't think he's very tough. He doesn't play hard all the time. You got another bust."
6. TERRON ARMSTEAD, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6-4 ½, 306, 4.71, 2) - Highly successful track athlete in the shot put and three-year starter at LT. "He all-star-gamed and combined his way onto the radar," said Savage. "Little bit of a tweener. When he was inside he wasn't real, real physical in being able to anchor down. Outside, he's fringe height and arm length (34) for a tackle." Blew out the combine in the vertical jump (34 ½), bench press (31 reps) and 40, bringing back memories of Raider bust Bruce Campbell. "It's all based on the workout," one scout said. "Terron Armstead played at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, for God's sakes. You just cannot take that guy high. There's no way." Wonderlic of 27. Played most of his senior year with a damaged shoulder. From Cahokia, Ill. "There's less of a chance of a bust with him than the Watson kid," another scout said. "Athletically, he's as good as anybody at that position. He's in great shape, and he's serious about football. He played well in the East-West and looked good in the Senior Bowl." One team has major reservations about his back.
7. DAVID BAKHTIARI, Colorado (6-4 ½, 301, 5.08, 2-3) - Fourth-year junior out of Burlingame, Calif. "He's long (34-inch arms) and he's tall and he doesn't get much movement," one scout said. "He is flexible. Doesn't know how to use his hands." Started at RT in 2010 and at LT in 2011-'12. "He could be real good at guard," another scout said. "He's got pretty good feet. He's tough. He's competitive. He jumps at things every once in a while but he has the movement to be pretty good." Smart and strong. "You see the good feet and balance," a third scout said. "He'll be a late second if you're a team looking for a finesse offensive lineman. If he can get up to 310, 315, you might like him at guard."
8. RICKY WAGNER, Wisconsin (6-6, 309, 5.17, 3) - Walked on as a TE in 2008, redshirted and moved to tackle. Started at RT in 2010 and at LT the past two years. "I like him as a right tackle," one scout said. "He is one tough guy. Reminds me of (Oakland LT) Jared Veldheer, but he's not athletic enough for left tackle. He's more of a technique-power player than a foot athlete. I like Wisconsin players." Fielded some Division I basketball offers out of West Allis Hale. "Talking to Bob Bostad, he likes him," another scout said, referring to the former UW O-line coach. "Right tackle only. Some people think he can play guard. I don't." Put up just 20 reps on the bench. Arms measured 34. "Didn't do real well in the Senior Bowl," a third scout said. "He'll be a starter. Look at the league. Are you kidding me?"
9. BRENNAN WILLIAMS, North Carolina (6-5 ½, 314, 5.32, 3-4) - Three-year starter at RT. "Probably a good enough athlete to play left tackle," one scout said. "Really good on his feet. He tore up his shoulder at the end of the year, but if his shoulder's back he may go second round. Been around the game his whole life." Father, Brent, played DE for three teams from 1985-'95 and registered 45 ½ sacks. Described by scouts as "quirky," "kind of an oddball" and "real bright but real eccentric." Scored 35 on the Wonderlic. "He's not a football guy, OK?" one scout said. "He's not. I don't think he cares about football, and he uses the injury history as an excuse. This kid is destined for mediocrity." From West Roxbury, Mass.
10. ODAY ABOUSHI, Virginia (6-5 ½, 310, 5.45, 3-4) - Started 32 games at LT, five at RT. "He's got a bad body on him but he's real effective," one scout said. "He will start in the league. Pretty good technician. He kind of gets after it and roughs people up. He was well-liked there. The coaches say he's smart as hell and picks things up really easy." From Brooklyn, N.Y. Just 21 reps on the bench. "Not a big person," another scout said. "Upper body, arms, butt, thighs, calves, hips. He lacks strength and power. He's an athletic, finesse blocker."
OTHERS: Reid Fragel, Ohio State; Xavier Nixon, Florida; Emmett Cleary, Boston College; Jordan Mills, Louisiana Tech; Nick Becton, Virginia Tech; Vinston Painter, Virginia Tech; Rogers Gaines, Tennessee State; Braden Brown, Brigham Young; Chris Faulk, Louisiana State; Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Alabama A&M; Jordan Devey, Memphis; John Wetzel, Boston College; Oscar Johnson, Louisiana Tech; Luke Marquardt, Azusa Pacific.
1. JONATHAN COOPER, North Carolina (6-2, 308, 5.11, 1) - Ability to hit on the move has drawn comparisons to former Viking Randall McDaniel and former 49er Guy McIntrye. "Long arms (33), good power, good strength (35 reps on the bench) and good leverage," one scout said. "Unbelievable puller. Balance and body control. Tough guy. Smart guy (Wonderlic of 34). Great in the locker room. He does it all." Four-year starter at LG. Tried to play center two years ago but didn't snap accurately. "Problem is the guy played at 280, 285," another scout said. "But you watch him move, especially for a zone team, he will be right up their alley." Out of Wilmington, N.C., where he was a prep wrestler. "He has as good intangibles as any lineman in this draft," a third scout said. "Effort, toughness, desire, understanding. That tells me he might be a great center." Disappointing workout at the combine.
2. CHANCE WARMACK, Alabama (6-2, 319, 5.52, 1) - Three-year starter at LG. "He's one of those guys like Will Shields that will just sit in there and play until they retire him," one scout said. "Country boy from Georgia. He's kind of a road grader in the run game and a fire hydrant in the passing game. You're not going to move him off his spot. He's got long arms (34 ¾). He can play in a power scheme obviously, like Alabama has, or he could be a zone guy because he moves well enough. If he gets on you, you're done." Scouts say he has a problem with excessive sweating, at times requires IVs and tends to wear down in the fourth quarter. Graduated in December but scored just 9 on the Wonderlic, and teams appear split on his ability to think on his feet. "He's football smart," another scout said. "But you've got to put somebody (smart) next to him." Ran an awful 40 at the combine. "He can't play more than one position and you have to be careful in games what kind of adjustments you make," a third scout said. "He kind of reminds me of (Seattle's James) Carpenter. For me, a guard has to be perfect to take in the first round because how much difference is there in that guy and a guy you take in the fourth round? I know everybody loves him, but he scares the hell out of me."
3. JUSTIN PUGH, Syracuse (6-4 ½, 304, 5.15, 1-2) - Three-year starter at LT. "He is short-armed (32), and he does play short-armed," one scout said. "Everybody wants to make him a guard because of that. That's fine. Maybe. I like bigger, thicker guys at guard. I'll make him a center. I was thinking about guys like Max Unger or Trey Teague, somebody that made the tackle-to-center switch. You can get away with shorter arms and less mass at center." Graduated with a degree in finance in 3 ½ years. "One of the smartest guys I've (scouted) in 12 years," another scout said. "Like a coach on the field." From Holland, Pa. Played in a pro-style offense. "He came into our room at Indy and told us he was a left tackle, which I'm sure his agent told him to say because they make the most money," a third scout said. "He doesn't have the feet to play out on an island. He is ornery. Good technician. He's high intangibles. He bends well enough. He's a second- or third-round guy that will be a solid player for a long time."
4. KYLE LONG, Oregon (6-6, 312, 4.96, 1-2) - Hall of Famer Howie is his father. Chris, his older brother, is a Rams DE. "If his last name was Smith he wouldn't be getting all this publicity as a first-round pick," one scout said. "He'd be just kind of a middle-of-the-road plugger guy inside. He's getting a little overhyped." Went to Florida State in 2008 as a fire-balling, left-handed pitcher. Didn't attend college in '09 and admitted at the combine to "chemical dependency." Returned to football as a LT at a California junior college in 2011 and then played 11 games for Oregon in '12, starting the final five at LG. "He has been arrested, been in rehab and is supposedly clean, supposedly been two years since he took drugs," another scout said. "He could be a first-rounder athletically, but it's just all the baggage off the field. The only thing that's a saving grace for the guy is everybody knows his dad. And they're going to think, 'OK, he's Howie's son. I can trust him. I know these people.' But can you ever really trust?" Will be 25 in December. Out of Charlottesville, Va. Huge hands (11) but ordinary arm length (33 3/8). Wonderlic of 29. "I think he's a tackle, a really good athlete," a third scout said. "Needs to get stronger. He doesn't have the power that his dad does. He's a better pure athlete."
5. BRIAN WINTERS, Kent State (6-3 ½, 315, 5.28, 2) - Started all four years (34 games at LT, 16 at RT). "He'll be a guard," one scout said. "Little stiff but a strong, tough guy. Not the smartest guy. Guards like him start in the NFL." Arm length (32 ¾) better suited for inside. "He was a dominant player at Kent State," another scout said. "I just liked his temperament. He doesn't have Chance (Warmack's) talent, but this is the kind of guy that plays. I like his strength, power and aggressiveness, and he's a special person." Home is Hudson, Ohio.
6. LARRY WARFORD, Kentucky (6-3, 329, 5.59, 2-3) - Three-year starter at RG. "He's a road grader," one scout said. "Great, big, massive guy. He blocked the big guy (John Jenkins) from Georgia to death. A three-technique is not going to knock him back. His problem is once he gets in space. He doesn't have a lot of lateral quickness." Will become the Wildcats' first O-lineman drafted since G Todd Perry and T Chuck Bradley in 1993. "He does not test well, but he can anchor the pocket," another scout said. "He's got the bulk and the girth to get his hands on people, sit his weight down and control people in the pass rush. Little bit sloppy as a run blocker. Played on a real bad team. He's a potential starter early." From Richmond, Ky. "His feet are so slow," a third scout said. "That bugs me."
7. DALLAS THOMAS, Tennessee (6-5 ½, 306, 5.25, 3) - Started at LT for two years before taking over at LG to accommodate underclassman Antonio Richardson outside. "He's really a footwork kind of guy," one scout said. "His demeanor is more that of a left tackle but then his short arms (33 1/8) kind of come into play. He's a tweener in some regards because he's not really a punch you in the mouth, move people off the ball kind of guy. Great body. Maybe he's a more ideal center if you could ever do that." Several teams are concerned about his mental aptitude. Underwent shoulder surgery in January to repair labrum damage. "He's got natural ability," another scout said. "Movement, feet, all that. It's the learning, and he needs to get a little tougher and more physical." From Baton Rouge, La.
8. HUGH THORNTON, Illinois (6-3, 322, 5.13, 3-4) - When Thornton's name is brought up, almost every scout mentions the 2004 tragedy in Jamaica when his mother and sister were murdered in their home while he slept in another room. "His issues stem from what's inside his soul," one scout said. "He's got a lot of anger in him. I think that still affects him." Outstanding prep wrestler for three years in Idaho before graduating from high school in Oberlin, Ohio. "Can he overcome the emotional issues?" said another scout. "He's got the most horrible family background I've ever heard in my life. That's what people are going to worry about. He's tougher than (expletive)." Started for two years at guard and for 1 ½ years at tackle. Frequently in trouble off the field. "He's had a rough background and some mental issues, but he's a good player," a third scout said. "Tough as hell. Decent enough athlete."
9. DAVID QUESSENBERRY, San Jose State (6-5, 303, 5.08, 3-4) - Walked on, redshirted, backed up at TE and then started at LT for three years. Knows he'll move inside and is practicing at center, too. "He has pretty good feet and is a pretty good technician," one scout said. "He's undersized. He presents good value. He has a chance to get some starting time." Intelligence (27 on the Wonderlic) will help him become a five-position backup. "He had no strength or power in his body," another scout said. "He's got a basketball build with narrow hips and high cut." Out of Carlsbad, Calif.
10. EARL WATFORD, James Madison (6-3 ½, 301, 5.07, 4) - Led guards in the vertical jump (30) and has 34-inch arms. "Like the way he plays - sort of like Cooper," one scout said. "He looks small and plays small, but he's athletic." Three-year starter at guard, but one scout doubted he had the moxie to run a line from center. "The weight is always going to be an issue," another scout said. "He was in the 280s last spring. He was 304 at the East-West Game but he might have had a 10-pound weight taped under his shorts. He's not going to be a big man. He's an athletic, zone-blocking, developmental starter/reserve. But he's got a tremendous amount of physical up side." From Philadelphia.
OTHERS: J.C. Tretter, Cornell; Alvin Bailey, Arkansas; Eric Herman, Ohio; Edmund Kugbila, Valdosta State (Ga.); Stephane Milhim, Massachusetts; Travis Bond, North Carolina; Garrett Gilkey, Chadron State (Neb.); Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas; Lamar Mady, Youngstown State; Chris McDonald, Michigan State.
1. TRAVIS FREDERICK, Wisconsin (6-3 ½, 316, 5.56, 2) - Fourth-year junior with 18 starts at center and 13 at LG. "I'm enthralled with him," one scout said. "He's a first-rounder to me. If people don't like him they're crazy. He's better than (Peter) Konz and (Kevin) Zeitler from last year. He was the best offensive lineman Wisconsin had in 2011. He's a bull. Smart. He's better than (David) DeCastro." Worked out poorly at the combine, including merely 21 reps on the bench. "He's just a bad athlete . . . surprisingly bad," another scout said. "Usually those Wisconsin guys aren't top-flight, but he just doesn't move very well. Great (intelligence), effort, the whole deal." Graduated from Walworth Big Foot High school, from Sharon, Wis. "I'd take him in the third or fourth round," said a third scout, adding that the terrible 40 time had no bearing on his grade. "I didn't think he was a very good athlete. He's a great leader. Tough as nails. But I don't think he can play center and guard at a rate that makes me feel he will become a starter any time soon."
2. BRIAN SCHWENKE, California (6-3, 323, 4.98, 3) - Just another common guard in 2010-'11 before moving to center in '12 and taking off. "He had no combine grade, like a low free agent, when the season started," one scout said. "But he got better and better as the year went on. Really a tough guy. He's got an upside because he hasn't played a lot of center. He wasn't a great shotgun snapper. That was a little bit of a problem." Led centers on the bench press (31 reps) and excelled on the Wonderlic (31), too. "He's an ugly body who plays hard," another scout said. From Oceanside, Calif. "His Senior Bowl week was very impressive," Savage said. "Looked there like a third- or fourth-round center. He plays with quickness. He's got good hands and a good, tough demeanor. Really has a grasp how to play."
3. BARRETT JONES, Alabama (6-4 ½, 308, 5.44, 3-4) - Started at RG in 2009 and '10, LT in '11 and center in '12. "If you ever say anything bad about Barrett Jones, Nick Saban will hunt you down," one scout said. "That is his favorite all-time player. You can't help but like him. He's graduated already with his masters. When they told him he had to go from left tackle to center he didn't say boo. He plays hurt. He will play forever in the NFL if he wants to and when he retires he goes to run for governor of Alabama because he's so popular there. He's just a great athlete." Can't run a lick and coming off Lisfranc ligament surgery in January. "People in that league just take him and march him right back to the quarterback," said another scout. "He's pretty good to the second level . . . but he has no strength or power." Will need the right type of NFL O-line coach because he can be a know-it-all. Scored 35 on the Wonderlic. "He can play all five spots," a third scout said. "I can see that guy playing in the league for a long time and certainly be a functional player." From Germantown, Tenn.
4. JEFF BACA, UCLA (6-3 ½, 299, 5.02, 3-4) - A four-year regular with 19 starts at LT, 13 at LG and 12 at RT. "But he probably is a center," one scout said. "He's more of a finesse-position-steer-you guy." Plenty smart enough (Wonderlic of 34) to run the show inside. "Quick out of his stance," said another scout. "Best in a zone-blocking scheme. Good second-level blocker." From Mission Viejo, Calif. "He's not very strong," a third scout said. "He's not very athletic. Try-hard guy. Can play a couple positions, and those type of guys usually end up hanging around."
5. KHALED HOLMES, Southern California (6-3 ½, 302, 5.35, 4-5) - Started at RG as a sophomore and at center the past two years. "Good technique, bad body," one scout said. "Not overly strong, but good with his hands and his feet and positioning. He wins that way. You don't win as much on our level without some kind of strength, bulk and anchor. He is missing some of that." Long-armed (35) but lacks upper-body pop. From Santa Ana, Calif. "I thought he could run, but he ran, like, 5.4 the other day," another scout said. "I don't think he really cares that much. He's got no pizzazz to him. Sixth round."
OTHERS: Braxston Cave, Notre Dame; Eric Kush, California (Pa.); P.J. Lonergan, Louisiana State; Matt Stankiewitch, Penn State; Joe Madsen, West Virginia; T.J. Johnson, South Carolina; James Ferentz, Iowa.