As a Cardinals fan we have long been waiting for the time that our team produces an effective offensive line that protects the quarterback AND opens lanes for running back. Something they have had… Well never.
It was interesting then that the Cardinals chose to not take an offensive lineman at all in last year’s draft, and in the drafts post Levi Brown being picks, have not taken an offensive lineman before round 5.
The Cardinals in fact took only one offensive lineman that turned out to earn himself playing time since drafting big Levi, and that was the disappointing Brandon Keith.
It may not be fair to call Keith a disappointment; he was a 7th round pick in 2008 and didn’t see action in his first two seasons before breaking into the starting lineup in 2010.
When in the starting unit, Keith was ineffective, and often injured, and that has lead to the Cardinals deciding not to bring him back.
The others, well unfortunately I wrote ALONG time ago that I thought that fifth round selection Hermann Johnson and seventh round selection Trevor Canfield could become players in this league… Call it youth and nativity.
We all know about the four tackles and guard that will go in the first round of the NFL draft that may be available when the Cardinals make a selection at 13: David DeCastro, Riley Reiff, Cordy Glenn, Jonathan Martin and Mike Adams, but what happens if the Cardinals can’t or choose not to draft an offensive lineman in the first round, or better yet, and what I am sure most Cardinals fans are hoping for, they decide to address the offensive line situation multiple times who are some of the players that we as fans should be rooting for them to pick… Or at least know who they are come draft day.
Let’s get rolling on prospects starting with the 2012 NFL draft offensive line prospects later rounds:
Brandon Brooks, G Miami of Ohio
· Outstanding size throughout entire frame with a powerful base.
· Great drive blocker who can manhandle and engulf defenders.
· Smart, versatile lineman who looks to be able to swing from both guard spots and right tackle.
· Average athleticism and lateral quickness
Brooks is a very intriguing prospect for the Cardinals. He has the power skills the Cardinals look for in a blocker, and looks good in pass pro. He can get himself over extended and needs to watch his weight, but he has the good to be an NFL starter at 3 positions.
Mitchell Schwartz, T California
· Great size and length for either side.
· Phenomenal in the run game, understands angles and explodes into and rides out blocks, using his hips well to sink in and wall off defenders.
· Average athleticism, raw in pass blocking still, needs to work on drop and technique.
· Looks like a right tackle or guard and not a left tackle
Schwartz is a bit of a conundrum for Cardinals fans. Do we want another dominant run blocker who needs work and leaves something to be desired in pass blocking?
He is teachable, but his footwork in the pass game is just… worrisome.
Zebrie Sanders, OT Florida State
· Huge frame with room to grow that also has massive reach of almost 35in arms.
· Excellent, natural athlete with good bend, flexibility and quickness.
· Good pass protection technique.
· Has to get stronger at the point of attack and finishing plays.
· Questions on his desire.
Sanders is a natural athlete, that can come in and play the right side until he gets strong enough to move over to the left side. He has a chance to be an above average left tackle in this league, maybe even cracking the top 12, but there are question marks that can’t be overlooked including his strength, but more importantly his desire is more than a worry.
Are the Cardinals willing to take a gamble on a guy that runs so hot and cold? I am not really a fan of Sanders for the Cardinals, I am not sure the Cardinals want to take on someone that may or may not have the desire to be a star in the league.
(Previously Written) James Brown, OT Troy: Big, rangy offensive tackle, which has a good long and lean frame that can gain some weight once he gets drafted. Has the look, and reach of a NFL left tackle.
Strong at the point of attack despite the lean frame, and possesses elite level athleticism that if can be harnessed, could lead to him being a starting left tackle in the league.
He is raw in his technique, and can fall off blocks because of poor footwork and fundamentals. Is a high level developmental pick, in the sense that if he comes in and works hard could be a steal in the 4th round, but if he never taps into that potential he will be a good swing man at 2-3 positions along that offensive line in a backup role.
There will be a place in this game for him; it will be up to him, and maybe Russ Grimm to get the best out of him.
Brandon Washington, G University of Miami
· Naturally built and strong throughout his body.
· Thick lower half that is well defined.
· Super athletic, not just for his frame, but for any offensive lineman.
· Great bend, quickness and set in kick step and getting depth in pass protection.
· Explosive at pulling that shifts his weight well and dominates defenders.
· Needs to play with a lower, more aggressive pad level.
· Footwork is raw, and relies on his athleticism way to much instead of technique.
Will get over drafted because of how many tools he has in the toolbox (bad pun I am sorry). Has the ability to come in, learn and back up for a while and then take over and become a dominant type guard.
Can he turn the potential into starter gold? Is he someone the Cardinals can mature, something they haven’t been able to do under this regime.
Jeff Allen, T Illinois
· Great feet and smooth in pass protection.
· Locks on to defenders and doesn’t let them go.
· Gets to his blocks, makes them and gets to the next guy on the next level.
· Short arms for his height and soft body type.
· Tends to let the defender get to him before trying to lock them in.
With his build he can’t play either tackle position, but his feet, solid athleticism and good feet he can play inside at the guard position in the NFL and succeed, but may never be an overpowering run blocker in the league, so not sure he would fit in the Cardinals power run game scheme.
Brandon Mosely, OT Auburn
· Big, former TE who has good feet and athletic ability.
· Long arms, big hands that uses both well for being newer to the position.
· Possesses good range in his drop step, but can over extend in trying to get to his defender.
· Has to get stronger in his upper body, but more importantly in his trunk and base.
Mosely is a very intriguing prospect because of how raw he is at the position, and that is something that you can take advantage of if you have the ability to be patient.
He is going to get better with time, but is that something the Cardinals have? Can the Cardinals wait to develop a potential left tackle?
Tony Bergstrom, OT Utah
· Flexible and quick in his drop.
· Good initial punch at the point of attack.
· Laterally quick enough to play at the next level.
· Really short arms, with not much reach that will cause him to have to move inside to guard.
· Weak at the point of attack.
Bergstrom has a couple of things going against him in that he was more of a finesse blocker in college at Utah and isn’t physically built to play on the outside at the next level.
He won’t fit in the Cardinals offensive ideals, as he is more suitable as a zone scheme blocker and would probably not work for the Cardinals.
Nate Potter, OT Boise St
· Solidly built with long arms and a frame to add mass to.
· Good looking pass protection blocker.
· Shows good body control and balance in and out of his stance.
· Needs to see the inside of a weight room.
· History of shoulder issues.
He is an intriguing prospect for a team like the Texans and Redskins, but won’t fit with the Cardinals. He lacks the base strength, needs time to get stronger, and works better in space as opposed to attacking his defender and punishing him.
(Previously Written) Senio Kelemete, OG Washington
Young in his development as an offensive lineman, but has all the attributes you want in a guard.
Great build, good strength in his lower half and does a great job getting to blocks in the running game.
Needs to clean up his footwork and make sure he gets a body on his man every time.
His strength and huge upside didn’t move to the offensive line until 2009, makes him an offensive line coaches dream. His movement in space, and ability to get to the second level could really be a fit in the Redskins running game.
Can he play with the Cardinals? I am not sure a developmental guard prospect in the fourth round is something that the Cardinals can afford to draft at this time, but that doesn’t mean down the line he couldn’t be a good fit, I just don’t see it happening.
Matt McCants, OT UAB
· Prototypical left tackle size and frame with room to add weight.
· Uses his frame to keep defenders at bay and push them past the QB.
· Good, fluid movement out of his stance and quickness.
· Exhibits good coil and snap in and out of his stance.
· Needs to add weight and get stronger at the point of attack.
· Played against lower level competition.
I am hopeful this is a player the Cardinals draft in the fourth round this year. He is a big bodied kid who needs a year or two to develop, but once there, could be an elite level left tackle. He has all the necessary tools, and has shown the desire to work hard and get better, the question is, and can he get strong enough to ever make it.
It will take him some time, but I think if the Cardinals add McCants we could see him competing for a starting spot this season at right tackle.
Others you may hear about but I wouldn’t look at:
Andrew Datko, OT Florida St. (Rd 5)
· Injury Concerns
· Not a very strong player.
· Too much finesse in his game.
Matt Reynolds, OT BYU (Rd 5-6)
· Older prospect who doesn’t have much growth potential left
· Not athletic enough to play left tackle
· More of a catcher than an attacker who can get overwhelmed by bigger or more athletic defenders.
Levy Adcock, OT Oklahoma St (Rd 5-7)
· Stiff in his movement and doesn’t look overly athletic.
· Not able to shift and move directions.
· Needs polish in pass pro.
Those are some of the top offensive line prospects Cardinals fans need to familiarize themselves with.
If you have any other prospect questions feel free to let me know.