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The Move from Tackle to Guard: How Others Dealt with the Mid-Career Switch




The recent news about Willie Colon switch from right tackle to left guard has the majority of Steeler Nation excited about the prospects of the Steelers 2012 interior line. I am one of those who believe that Colon will fair better at LG and be very good. I however wanted to look back at the history of players who made the switch to see what the odds are that Colon would be better. I would like to point out this is just a few of the players that have made the switch not all of them.

Ryan Diem, 2011 Team: Indianapolis Colts

Diem was a horrible right offensive tackle that was switched to the right offensive guard position last year. No surprise he was just as bad. There may have been a slight, hardly noticeable improvement but it was barely noticeable. Diem was a really bad player and was not better at RG.

Vernon Carey, 2011 Team: Miami Dolphins

Vernon Carey was a poor pass blocking right tackle who was switch to the offensive guard last season. While he didn't play at an All-World level he played fairly good at offensive guard and easily better than he did at at tackle.

Adam Snyder, 2011 Team: San Francisco 49ers

Snyder was a Rt for the 49ers in 2009 and struggled with pass protection, especially against the speed rush. In 2010 he filled in at RG due to injury and played very well. He was a mauler in the run game and rarely struggle with the slower speed of the opposing DT. He again wasn't All-Pro level but he was indeed better at the guard position and struggled with leverage due to size.

Leonard Davis, 2011 Team: Detroit Lions

Leonard Davis was a slow footed pass protector with the Cardinals at RT. He was also a mauler in the running game. In 2007 he was not resigned by the Cardinals and instead sign with the Cowboys as their RG. After the switch he made the All-Pro team in 2007, and three straight Pro Bowls from 2007-2009. One of the reason Davis was so successful was because of his physically dominating size at 6'6 353lbs.

Marshal Yanda, 2011 Team: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens moved Yanda to RT in the middle of the 2010 season and he played very well. Losing Jaried Gaither it was almost a guarantee that they kept Yanda at RT. Instead they signed Bryant McKinnie at moved the Blindside Michael Oher to RT moving Yanda back to his RG position where he played at an All-Pro level. Yanda was constantly moved from RT to RG but clearly played better at the RG position. At 28 years old, 6'3" 315lbs he is the closest comparative physically to Willie Colon who is 29 years old and also listed at 6'3" 315 lbs.

Conclusion:

Players make the switch from OT to OG when coming from collegiate level to the professional level constantly. However what is also more common then people realize is a switch at position in the middle of their professional career.

Of the five players I looked at four of them improved their play by making the switch from RT to OG position in the midst of their professional career. Of the five, three of them had never played offensive guard in the NFL. Some of the common denominators of the player who successfully made the switch were struggling against the speed rushers at the tackle position while also being a great run blocker. Both are traits Colon possesses. He also possesses a natural guard body of a guard. It is unfair to expect a All-Pro season like Leonard Davis had but I think Colon physically matches up like Marshall Yanda so with experience I expect him to play similar to Yanda's play in 2011. However it is going to take practice to become familiar with his new role.

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