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Top Five 2017 NFL Draft Prospects- Guard
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. Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
Bio: As a redshirt freshman, Forrest Lamp won All-Sun Belt conference honors playing guard and left tackle. The past two years, he was a first-team all-conference selection, starting every game at left tackle.
Strengths: Compact build without lacking athleticism. Able to redirect weight back inside. Showed nimble feet when handling spin moves and inside shots from elite competition. Patient. Works feet and hips into position before engaging defenders. Secures block with chopping feet and quality positioning. Bends and looks for low-man leverage with hip thrust under him. Uses short, controlled punch in run game. Clever with hands in pass protection. Throws short, teaser punch with outside hand to entice rushers into prematurely exposing their moves. Effective counter-puncher defending edge and clears his chest and resets hands if defender gets into him first. Rarely bull-rushed. Processes quickly when defense runs games up the middle.
Weaknesses: Average frame and might not be able to add much more bulk to it. Lack of height and arm length will likely keep him from playing either tackle spot. Expedited engagement on interior could prevent counter-punching style with hands. Will have to learn to keep hands in ready position and shoot them with tighter track into the frame. Positional blocker lacking NFL power as a drive-blocking guard. Lack of girth will require consistent pad level and a little wider base.
Projected Round: 1-2
Compares to: Zack Martin
Possible landing spot: Miami Dolphins
2. Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh
Bio: A five star recruit out of high school as a tackle, Pitt saw Dorian Johnson as the perfect left guard for their offense. He started 39 straight games for the Panthers, winning second-team All-ACC honors as a junior as well as first-team all-conference and All-American awards in 2016.
Strengths: Solid athlete when asked to play in space. Plays with leg force as run blocker. Uses choppy, accelerated feet into contact and keeps them moving through contact to secure the block. Operates with quality balance and limited waist-bending. Has the arm length of a tackle. Understands his responsibility on each play. Has an accurate visoin in seeking out second-level targets and connecting on a majority of them. Excels on short pulls with smooth lateral footwork and solid, squared contact. Keeps hands inside and will punch and reset hands when necessary. Sets up with good base and anchor in pass pro.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent coming out of his stance. At times too aggressive when he moves up to second level and will climb beyond his target. Needs to improve patience on his climb to create more consistency with his angles. Needs to let hands go more quickly in run game. Punches and pushes target with authority but doesn't snatch the frame and lock in, allowing active defenders to spin and squirm out of his blocks.
Projected Round: 1-2
Compares to: Jack Mewhort
Possible landing spot: Houston Texans
3. Dan Feeney, Indiana
Bio: Dan Feeney started all 12 games for the Hoosiers at right guard as a true freshman, garnering honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. He continued to garner national attention and even saw playing time at right tackle in 2016.
Strengths: Blue-collar, tough guy with a mugger mentality. Decent arm length for a guard. Above-average in pass protection on interior. Feet are light enough to slide quickly in either direction to protect the edge. Very aware of pass rushing moves. Shoots a strong punch that can jar gap shooters out of the hole and can put a sting into both twisters as he snaps and latches on. Zone-blocking specialist with desired lateral quickness. Takes well-planned angles up to second-level targets on difficult backside cutoffs. Able to get around corner with pace when asked to long pull. Good patience. Finds his targets and strikes them. Rarely commits early to a block. Waits until he's in proper position. Plays with power in his upper body. Will take it to the whistle and looks to finish with some menace. Effective blocker on screen plays.
Weaknesses: Carries weight in upper body but the same can't be said for his lower body. Pops upright after the snap. Poor pad level and a narrow base creates balance issues. Shows a lack of knee bend that makes change of direction in space difficult. Is a bit straight-linish in his approach. Unable to generate consistent push as a run blocker. Needs to improve hip sink for better leverage and to sustain his blocks. Hand speed is decent but punch is a little wide most of the time. Missed all of 2013 with a foot injury and missed four games due to effects from a concussion sustained early in the year.
Projected Round: 2
Compares to: Kevin Zeitler
Possible landing spot: Indianapolis Colts
4. Dion Dawkins, Temple
Bio: As a true freshman, Dion Dawkins saw playing time at both tackle spots. The next two falls, he played well enough to earn second-team All-AAC honors in 2015 and first-team accolades in 2016 as the team's starter at left tackle.
Strengths: Burly upper body and thick calves down below. Has shown enough upper-body strength to muscle his defender around even without great leverage. Shows a natural amount of core strength to battle against bull rushers. Able to get out of stance and into his kickslide with pretty good fluidity and quickness. Uses choppy steps to slide and rarely allows his base to get too narrow in pass protection or in the run game. Plays with balance. Uses aggressive, tight suttle-step into defender and then fires hands and hips to help generate push in run blocking. Has experience in zone-and gap running schemes. Fulltime three-year starter at left tackle.
Weaknesses: Shorter than ideal and may be forced to move inside. Hands are often too wide in pass protection and his punch turns into grabbing. Needs to keep hands quieter and inside pre-punch. Wide punch approach robs him of some of his natural length. Will headbutt into contact in pass protection. Can be a little inconsistent with footwork when attempting to redirect back inside against stunt moves. Has a little stiffness in his hips that limit his bend and could affect his anchor. Gets caught over-committing on twists and will open the door for looping rushers. Needs to work on improving leverage rather than relying on pure power. Plays with inconsistent angles to the linebackers when making backside cut off blocks. Off the field concerns. Found trouble in March 2015 with fellow 2017 draft prospect Haason Reddick for an assault outside a Philadelphia nightclub. Dawkins wasn't suspended for that action but served in a diversionary program.
Projected Round: 2
Compares to: D.J. Fluker
Possible landing spot: Jacksonville Jaguars
5. Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
Bio: An All-Michigan selection as a high school senior, Taylor Moton joined the Broncos in 2012. After redshirting as a freshman, he started every game over the next four years between right tackle and right guard
Strengths: Massive frame with good arm thickness and proportional build in his legs. Plus arm length with big hands. Starting experience at right guard and right tackle. Comes off the ball with great pad level. Makes concerted effort to drop hips and roll under his target at point of contact. Has dominant drive-blocking potential. Steam rolls through down blocks. Coordinates hips and hands for maximum pop through contact as run blocker. Held his own against Ohio State's defensive line in 2015 and smothered Illinois DE Dawuane Smoot in 2016. Plays tend to end for defenders once they latches on. Functional climbing to second-level target. Bull rushers won’t intimidate him very often.
Weaknesses: Will need to play with quicker hands into punch as guard. Looping, wide approach with hands toward target could open his frame to defenders. Footwork needs plenty of refinement. Needs quicker feet. Waist bending in run game needs fixed. Almost afraid to make blocks at angles that need to be squared up. Lateral and move blocks feature inconsistent base width. Issues coming to balance before contact if block isn't right in front of him. Average body control and athleticism. Will be limited to primarily power based schemes. Has issues with oversetting in pass protection. Can be fooled by inside twists.
Projected Round: 3
Compares to: Mitchell Schwartz
Possible landing spot: Baltimore Ravens