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Top Five 2015 NFL Draft Prospects- Guard

Updated on January 29, 2015

These guys will look to open up holes for the franchise's workhorse. Today I rank the top five guards in the upcoming NFL Draft.

1. A.J. Cann, South Carolina

Bio: A.J. Cann has been the anchor of the Gamecocks offensive line since he joined the team. Since joining South Carolina, he has started 38 of 39 at left guard.

Strengths: Possesses square frame so iconic to playing inside. Impressive mix of athleticism and power, with a flexible lower body and generating power through his hips, midsection and hands to latch and grip with excellent technique. Bursts out of his stance and quickly gets into position showing instinctive eyes to know what's happening around him while extending his reach to keep space between himself and his target. Excellent knee bend and good core flexibility and power to absorb bull rushes and often is able to drive opponents off the ball.

Weaknesses: Is suited to a power scheme as he does not possess ideal initial agility or straight line speed for a zone blocking scheme. e struggles to beat secondary defenders to the action. If beaten initially, he does not possess the quickness to recover.

Projected Round: 2

2. Laken Tomlinson, Duke

Bio: Recruited as an offensive and defensive lineman, Laken Tomlinson has been a mainstay of the Duke offensive line for the last four years. He had started 52 consecutive games and was a three time first team ACC player.

Strengths: Ideal NFL body type with thick hips and massive upper body. Rolls hips to generate pop and move bodies at the point of attack using his lower body strength to drive block in the run game. Good set up quickness with aggressive hands off the snap. Uses eyes well to pick up twists and extra rushers displaying a high football IQ. Has conscious effort to keep his knees bent and pad level low. Has proven work ethic.

Weaknesses: Limited mobility and range while struggling with consistency at the second level and not doing much outside of a few feet at the line of scrimmage. Stops feet too often and ends up falling off blocks and on the ground. Struggles to sustain with his limited arm length in space. All of his experience has come at right guard with questionable versatility to line up at other positions on the line.

Projected Round: 2

3. Tre' Jackson, Florida State

Bio: Tre' Jackson was a three year starter for the Seminoles. Together, he and teammate Josue Matias formed one of the top guard tandems in college football.

Strengths: Has the leverage and strength to stand and steer defenders in confined spaces. Stays flat footed and balanced at point of impact in pass pro. Has controlled climb to second level. Power to jolt in his hands. Shows recovery ability when beaten in run game. Aggressive play demeanor. Can take a stand when being bull rushed.

Weaknesses: Weight and conditioning issues. Chubby midsection with excess weight potentially affecting foot quickness. Loses feet sliding to pick up rushers. Will duck head into block on contact. Limited effectiveness in space and inconsistent as a senior. Too reliant upon size over skill and failed to show improvement in 2014. Struggles to get feet into winning position when blocking laterally.

Projected Round: 2

4. Arie Kouandjio, Alabama

Bio: Arie Kouandjio manned the left guard spot for the Crimson Tide for the last two years. In 2013, he and his brother Cyrus manned the left side of the Alabama line. Cyrus is now a tackle for the Buffalo Bills.

Strengths: On target with hand strikes and works to steer his man out of the play in run game. Good in short pull game and will fire himself into linebackers with force. Understands how to work in tandem and finds a way to get defenders blocked. Has long arms and uses his length for redirect. Like his brother, he looks the part of an NFL lineman.

Weaknesses: Poor athleticism in every major area. Stiff throughout his lower body. Poor change of direction when asked to leave his zone and venture beyond line of scrimmage. Is only marginal peeling off block to pick up blitzes and twists. Uses lean over leverage as run blocker. Balance issues make it hard for him to sustain blocks after contact on the move.

Projected Round: 2-3

5. Josue Matias, Florida State

Bio: Josue Matias was a three year starter for the Seminoles. Together, he and teammate Tre' Jackson formed one of the top guard tandems in college football.

Strengths: Long limbed and consistently gets his hands on the defender first. Ideal cut blocker. Plays with wide base and flashes good initial foot quickness and set up after snap. Excellent tempo to second level and locates and engages with consistent success. Understands angles and works feet into position before engaging in lateral run blocking. Keeps feet moving upon contact and shows finisher potential. Relaxed arms with welltimed punch. Recognizes twists and picks them up and is able to keep his weight centered. Has build of a tackle.

Weaknesses: Lacks natural power. Relies on length over hip explosion and leverage in run game. Susceptible to inside moves in pass protection. Bends waist too much and that opens him up to swim moves. Needs more speed in initial punch. Despite athletic build, looks heavy footed when asked to move in space. Lacks quickness to recover in pass protection when beaten.

Projected Round: 3

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