As many of you know one of the biggest need for the Pittsburgh Steelers is at the guard position. Whether it is because both Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky are Restricted Free Agents or because Chris Kemoeatu has arthritic knees and a deteriorating mind, the Steelers will need to address the guard position in the draft. However I am sure most of the average fans only see the names of these players and don't know why they are rated as they are. Having played on the offensive line and specifically the guard position I love watching good guard play. I have watched a lot of video on each guy I am talking about. ( except one who literally has like two videos since he plays at Nowhere State) The following is my analysis of the the guards, how I rate them and why. (With links to video of them playing) I will also include the consensus on where the "experts" believe they will be drafted. This is the updated version after the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game additions. There were some guys that caught my eye and I went back and watch even more tape on them. Others may have changed my mind so I re-watched tape on them. This will include updated measurements for those that went to a bowl game. I'd also like to state I dropped Peter Konz from this list as the more tape I watched I think he will be a much better center than guard and should be drafted as such. In this update I added more prospects, and more analysis of each guy.
#1 David DeCastro, OG Stanford-
I am sure this is no surprise to anyone who has been reading any draft analysis on this site or others. DeCastro is by far the best guard prospect in this years draft, but how many of you know why. When watching DeCastro two thing stand out immediately the first is his intial quickness off the line. DeCastro is rarely beaten off the line, he fire into his opponent fast while still staying low to keep leverage. Once he gets his hands on his opponent his opponent rarely stands a chance. The second is his motor. DeCastro never quicks on a play and love to finish his blocks. He always seems to be looking for someone to block whether it is the begining of the play or the end. This is the type of player you want on your team. What are other things DeCastro does well? He has very quick feet and violent hand. He can use his hand to keep opposing D-linemen off his body and restore leverage. He has great understand of how to block a guy always putting himself in between the defender and the hole. DeCastro pulls extremely well getting around the corner astonishingly fast and keeping his head up to see the defender. The only problem DeCastro has is against some of the larger stronger DT. He is 6'5" 312lbs so is lighter than expect and because of that may not be able to drive the 350lbs tackle off the ball as effectively. However because he get off the ball so fast and bescause he understands how to block he can still prevent the player from being a factor in the play. During the off season if he put on roughly 10lbs he is going to be dominant in any scheme. He will easily be a top 15 pick.
Here is a link to a breakdown of David DeCastro's play. He is #52 the RG for Standford. http://youtu.be/_8I56-rnbZ8
#2 Kevin Zeilter OG, Wisconsin-
Zeilter is a guy who I really like as a guard prospect but don't know if he will be physically good enough. He is blue collar, hard working guy. At the Senior Bowl he measured just under 6'3 7/10" with average arms at 32 1/2" but good hand size with 10 1/8" hands. He succeeded in my opinion at the Senior Bowl so I went back and watch more film of him.Two thing stood out right away when I saw Zeilter play. The first was his his ability to stay low at the point of attack. He can drive block very well for someone who is slightly undersized. He has very good technique with hands and is ideal in short yardage situation where he excels with his knowledge of the "tools" at his disposal. The second was his ability to pull. He pulls much like Chirs Kemoeatu meaning he isn't the fastest at getting around the edge and will put his head down but he more often then not will blow up the defender and create a whole. Zeilter mirrors very well in pass blocking and play with a good center of gravity. He has a pasion for the game and a great work effort. On the field he has a great motor and won't quit on a play till the whistle blows. Zeilter is slow off the ball in pass protection at times which makes him struggle in protection and he doesn't have the frame to compensate like Glenn or Brooks does. Zeilter struggles against the extremes. Against the quicker players he struggles to get his hands on them and forgets his footwork partially because he is slower off the line. He will get driven off the ball from bigger defenders with longer arms as well but does a nice job in turning them away from the play. Zeilter need to bulk up and increase his strength to consistently win in the NFL. He will struggle one-on-one with guys like Haloti Ngata but, in a zone scheme where he can tandem with the center and then peel off he can be successful. I don't know if Zeilter physically is what the Steelers want but mentally he is the type of blue collar guy the Steelers need. Zeilter is a middle second round prospect by many but his stock is idling in some circles while other prospects rise. Seems more like a Falcons, or Houston O-linemen to me, much more of a technician than physically dominant but has that blue collar motor. The more film I watch the more I am begining to believe though that he can be a very effective guard in the next level.
Here is a link to Zeilter's play. He is #70 the RG. http://youtu.be/phahBI8uxKw
#3 Brandon Washington, OT Miami (FL)-
Brandon Washington has played both guard and tackle for the Miami Hurricanes. When I did his evaluation the first time I missed some major errors and in my opinion whiffed on the analysis. After watch much more film I think I can now accurately rate him. Washington is 6'4" 320lbs. He has a strong lower body and good upper body. Washington is an excellent athlete. He has the quickness to get out on the screen and pull. However his vision and awareness of who to pick up when pulling is lacking greatly. Washington is very good in drive blocking which is impressive since he will pop out of his stance almost immediately. His initial hand placement is poor but his initial quickness is very good. Once engaged though that is when he will win his battles. He does a nice job of extending his arms through contact and keeping his feet moving. He need to get tighter with his punches instead of over extending. Washington does a very good job at keeping his balance as well. He need to work on his footwork badly as well. He has quick feet but he will not use them. When he does use them he will over extend, or stay to narrow. What I really like about Washington though is that he has a nasty mean streak in him. He plays like he wants to punish the guy in front of him and is not afraid to finish blocks. When he doesn't have a guy he will go down field a find someone to hit. Great motor in him which is a positive in my book. Washington is a lengthy player, who is a good athlete and a strong lower body. His problem is all technique based, but if he can get his pads down and keep his feet moving he will excel in the run game. If he can sit in low in his stance and keep his feet moving in contact he has the ability to be good in the passing game. Washington need to stick to guard and learn to play in tandem with the center as a unit. Washington is considered a high to middle second round pick.
#4 Cordy Glenn, OT/OG Georgia-
Glenn was originally ranked at number four on my list, but after the Senior Bowl I went and watch numerous amounts of film on him, including the years he played at guard, his first year at LT, last year at LT and the Senior Bowl at both positions. He still is number four. Glenn is a monstrous prospect measuring in at the Senior Bowl at 6'5,1/2" 346lbs with 35 1/4" arms and 10" hands. For those of you that don't know average size for an NFL linemen is 33", good size is in the 34" range and great is 35" or more. For hand size 10" is good, 9 1/2 " is average 11" or more is great. Cordy Glenn has played both guard and tackle. I will start with his positives first. Glenn has quick feet for a guard, and powerful hands. He displays good mirror ability in the passing game and his massive frame makes it difficult to lose battles. Glenn is surprisingly athletic and when he played guard was able to pull very well. His power is going to be his greatest attribute. However Glenn has a lot of negatives that would make me hesitant to take him. Glenn is a waist bender rather then a a knee bender. He will play high and pop up out of his stance as soon as the ball is snapped. This will hurt him in the leverage battle. He was repeatily abused and driven back by Alemeda Ta'amu like he was 30lbs lighter. On top of his high play Glenn also is inconsistent and slow out of the line. I say inconsistent because most of the times he is late off the ball but when he pull he has a great quickness. he is athletic enough to get out in front of the RB and maintain the block down field. When making the block on the pull he does put his head down and will lose the defender because of it. That inconsistency leads me to believe their are concentration issues on the snap. Cordy Glenn also can get tired and play fundamentally lazy. He will get lazy on his hand placement which is usually very good, and he will get lazy on his footwork. The footwork laziness will cause him to lean into his opponent. It is also an issue in his run blocking where he stops his feet. Glenn also is not a prospect who wants to finish his block, he would rather just wall of the opponent. I do not like that. Glenn's passing blocking out fo a three point stance is horrible and he loses the leverage battle instantly and will lean instead of move his feet. My final analysis is that Cordy Glenn can be an incredibly elite guard in the NFL, however the only person who can decide that is Glenn himself or huge bust. He needs to play motivated and hungry with a desire to punish his opponent. He has all the physical tools but because these mental and motor issue I would not want him without assurance that he will play hard every down. Glenn right now is a late first to early second round pick. I still think he plays better at tackle and can be a good RT in the league.
#5 Brandon Brooks, OG Miami (Ohio)-
This is the classic small school guy whose stock rose because of his East-West Shrine Game performance. Weighing in at 6'4 1/2" 353lbs with 33" arms and 10" hands. This guy doesn't even look like a 350lbs player he is very well built and has a good explosion because of it. His best attribute when watching him on tape was his drive blocking. He can stay low get his long, powerful arms on his opponent and push then clear out of the way. In the passing game when he gets his hands on his opponent, he can wash them out of the play. He does a nice job of peeling off double teams and finding a man in the second to hit. Brooks has a surprising quick initial years. He plays with a wide base and good balance in the run game. He is a mauler in the run game and rarely pushed off of the line. His biggest problem was he is an outside grabber. He needs to do a better job of fighting to get on the inside, the strike the opponents chest plate and drive him out of the way. In his junior year tape he also popped straight up at the snap. He can let his feet get heavy and move them slow at times which is a concern in the passing game. He uses his hand violently and heavily. When watching him on tape he doesn't always want to finish having an on and off mean streak. Physically he is overwhelming but he does need to work on the mental aspect of the game. When engaged Brooks needs to keep his feet moving consistently. Conditioning maybe and issue as well. I believe if Brooks work on the his pad level and mental aspect of the game he can be a good guard and a monster on the goal line. Brooks can definitely be a starter in the NFL after a year if not sooner. He may not fit the Steelers scheme because he isn't going to be the ideal pulling guard but he going to be a starter. If I had to compare him to player now I would say either Kraig Urbik or Ramon Foster though he is stronger and has quicker hands then Foster. As mentioned before he dominated at the East-West Shrine game and is right now considered a late third early fourth round prospect. If he can show he can move at the Combine he could be elevated to a middle third or even late second depending on how well he moves.
#6 Amini Silatolu, OT Midwestern State-
This is a 6'3" 324lbs Division II prospect out of Midwestern State University. Silatolu appears to have good arm length if I had to estimate probably 34". Though I could find very little on him, the first thing that jumped out was his get off and quick feet. Silatolu plays LT for his team and is rarely challenged off the ball. He has very quick feet but not quick enough to stay at tackle for the next level. He understands how to use his hand well and plays with a mean streak. Silatolu loves to finish his blocks. He will play high in the passing game and can get off balance because of it however when he does sink his hip it looks good. he is a dominant run blocker but will lung at times throwing himself off balance. Has good quickness and can get out in front of screens and has pulled for his teams power plays. Has some good explosion on contact. Silatolu has a great motor and good character. He has a wide body, powerful frame and quick feet. If Silatolu can learn to use his hand more consistently and fix his technique flaws of playing high and lunging he can be great. I have been high on this prospect since mid season and his stock is rising. He was invited to the Senior Bowl but had to pull out because of a lingering hamstring problem. Scout may question the talent of his competition but I think once he show how well he moves he will be considered a late second round pick. Right now he is considered a late second to early third and could be a guy the Steelers look at fits there mold while still able to pass block. I can not put him above Brooks having not seen him play against higher level competition. He is a better physical prospect then him however with quicker feet, good athleticism and a NFL body.
#7 Kelechi Osemele, OT Iowa State-
Osemele is a player many have rated as the third pure guard prospect. Not me. Kelechi Osemele weighted in at the Senior Bowl at 6'5" 333lbs with 35 1/4" arms and 10 3/8" hands When I watch Osemele I see another lazy player, who won't play to the whistle. I'll start with the positives first. Osemele plays with an aggressiveness when he wants to. He uses his hand decently to redirect his opponent at times. He is a knee bender and moves fluidly. He plays with a solid base that helps him at the point of attack. The negatives are far greater though. He has slow feet and poor technique. He doesn't use he hands consistently well and relies too much on his thick body and strength to make blocks. He needs to develop a quicker punch to his game. Osemele will over extend himself and get off balance at times and doesn't anchor well despite his ideal frame. It has been speculated that his work ethic is very poor and he lacks a passion for the game. He has a strong upper body and a good ability for a guard in pass blocking. When watching the Senior Bowl I was amazed that he mastered the Trai Essex "butt block" technique and used it a couple of times. This speaks to his inability to stay balanced. Osemele will get lazy and then start to bend at the waist. He looks off balanced when pulling.Osemele can be very quick off the snap but because of motor issues will be inconsistent in this area. Like Glenn I wouldn't touch this guy. He has the body type and experts have him going in the mid to late second round. He has all the ideal physical aspects but none of the intangibles to improve his poor technique. I would much rather take a Brooks or Silatolu and develop them then Osemele. Some team will like his height, weight and arm length so he will get drafted in the second round higher then he should. he has had character issues and dealt with an ankle injury all last year which doesn't help much.
This is Osemele against Texas he is the LT #72 in white.
#8 Senio Kelemete, OT Washington-
Senio Kelemete, is an interesting prospect. He is a former DT that switched to guard in 2009 and OT in 2010. He weighed in at 6'3 1/2" 300lbs with 32 3/4" arms and 9 5/8" hands. Kelemete is a good athlete and moves very well. He plays with a solid base and has good lower body strength. He is good in the running game and good in the passing game. Kelemete has very quick hands and quick feet. He is also very quick off the line. Kelemete is also very raw. His footwork is lacking and because of it he can get off balanced when engaged, he will pay high at times as well. He can easily get to the second level when asked to. At times he will miss his block simply because he can not locate them. Kelemete has a good work ethic and motor and is strong. He has a good pop form the hips which is hard to teach and is a plus in the run game. Overall if he puts on another 15-20lbs Kelemete can be a good guard. Because he has only played it for a year and on the offensive line for three it will take him time but from experience he has all the things you look at to be a solid guard. He won't start in his first year but maybe his second depending on how well he learns. My guess would be that he learns fast considering he switched to OG and started that year then switch to LT and starter there for 2 years having never player on the O-line in college.
#9 Tony Bergstrom, OT Utah-
Tony Bergstrom is a guy who is interesting. He is a failed tackle prospect but moved to guard for the Senior Bowl he looked good. He weighed in at 6'6" 325lbs with below average 31 3/8" arms and 9" hands. Bergstrom plays with a good quickness in short areas. He also has good feet for a guard. He can use his hand but is inconsistent and will need to improve especially with his shorter arms.He has a strong lower body and knows to keep his legs moving. He will pop straight up after the snap which he will need to correct to compensate for his lack of arm length. He will lung and put his head down at times int the running game. Bergstrom has that nastiness you want in an O-linemen though. Bergstrom is not afraid to finish his blocks in the running game. He is a hard working won't quit kid on the field. Because of his work ethic and good strength I would be tempted to take a flier on Bergstrom as a guard. He looked a lot better and more comfortable at the position in the Senior Bowl and was solid. he is seen as a fourth round prospect.
Here is Bergstrom playing at Heinz Field against Pitt. He is the RT #70.
#10 Philip Blake, C Baylor-
Philip Blake is another older prospect at Baylor by mean of the Great White North. He will be 27 years old next season which will turn scouts away. He weighed in at the Senior Bowl at 6' 2 1/3" 312lbs with 31 7/8" arms and 9 3/4" hands. He plays with a very good base in the passing game. He stance is wide and he sinks his hips well. He can use his hand well and hold his own against all types of DT decently. In the running game however he doesn't keep his feet moving and straightens his legs. He doesn't display a pop needed to be effective but he is savy enough to turn his body to the hole to create a play. he has some natural power and has good awareness. He can pull but that is not going to be something you want to game plan around. Blake can be a very solid back up at both guard and center and maybe able to fight into the lineup. With his age and length deficiencies Blake is seen as a 4th or 5th round prospect.
Here is Blake in the entire Alamo Bowl against Washington fairly good DTs. He is the center in green.
There you go. This is an in depth look at the guards of 2012. The Steelers will need an upgrade at one if not both of these positions. Luckly for them there is a lot of talent in the middle round of the draft for this position. Potential in this group is huge. There are in my opinion 3 prospect who can be elite, (DeCastro, Glenn and Silatolu) 3 that can be very good (Zeilter, Washington, Osemele) 2 that can be good in (Brooks and Kelemete) and 2 that can be good backups and maybe get in the line up (Bergstrom and Blake). That is just their potential, if they live up to it is a big question on the other hand. Hopefully this post helps you learn about a potential new Steeler in the long run. I put in some more studying and as a result increased this post by nearly 2000 words. The Combine is almost here and there are some interesting scenarios in this group. The first would be guys like Glenn, and Brook going and moving extremely well for men their size. The second would be guys like Zeilter and Kelemete gaining weight and still moving as well as they do. Other than that the NFL Combine doesn't tell you much about the offensive line.