NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Well, we made it. This marks the final chapter of the Big Board series. After this, I will be putting together my vertical big board with all these players ranked so you can get an idea of how I personally stack all these players from different positions against each other. This has been a fun project for me and hopefully you have learned a little about some of these guys. I plan on doing a 1st round mock and a full 7 round mock for the Patriots before Thursday as well, so you are not quite rid of me yet. In this article, we focus on the interior offensive lineman. Guard will be the main focus as the Patriots have a clear opening there that could be filled early in the draft.
Current Roster: Guard-Ryan Wendell, Josh Kline, Jordan Devey, Chris Barker, Cameron Flemming (T)
Position Need: High
You look at that current roster list and you quickly realize that the Patriots need to add some talent at the guard position. In fact, the more I look at that group, the more I think they could do a double dip at interior lineman. Stork is solid at center and if for some reason he was to miss any time, Wendell can fill in adequately. If that happens though, the thought of Kline or Devey playing significant minutes is really scary. There is good talent throughout this draft at guard and center, so the Patriots should be able to bring in someone to compete for a starting job.
Draftable Options, Guard:
A.J. Cann, South Carolina (6’3″, 316 Lbs.) 1st/2nd round
Cann is a very reliable guard who moves well and stays balanced in his pass protection. He has a wide body with good hand use and mirroring skills. He can overextend in his run blocking and while he moves well in short spaces, he can start to lumber and lose balance when moving to the second level. Cann is probably limited to playing left guard in the NFL, so there is no real position flexibility. He plays with a nasty streak and loves to finish off blocks. He has a ton of experience against really good competition and should come in and start day 1.
Laken Tomlinson, Duke (6’3″, 323 Lbs.) 2nd round
Tomlinson is another wide bodied mauler with surprising quickness. He sets up quickly and uses his hands very well. Tomlinson is more of a phone booth type guy where he can use his strength and girth to keep his QB clean. He is less athletic and effective when trying to block at the 2nd level. He has a tendency to get off balance and over extend on blocks. Like Cann, he has a ton of experience and should be NFL ready day 1.
Tre Jackson, Florida State (6’4″, 330 Lbs.) 2nd/3rd round
Jackson is huge. He has a big frame and carries his weight well, but will need to keep in check to stay conditioned and effective throughout the game. Jackson is very strong and is nearly impossible to move backwards. He is a bit heavy footed but does a good job mirroring his man except for the fastest of rushers. He is a mauler in the run game and will consistently get opponents on the ground and punish them.
Ali Marpet, Hobart (6’4″, 307 Lbs.) 3rd round
Marpet is the feel good story of the draft. He is very athletic for the position with excellent movement skills and balance to be an effective blocker at multiple levels. From a physical and athletic standpoint, Marpet seems like a perfect prospect for the Patriots. He more than held his own at the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and looks to prove that he belongs. He is an advanced technician for anyone coming out of college, let alone a guy from a Division III college. Marpet has shorter arms than is preferred and needs to add bulk and strength to handle NFL defensive lineman. He will be making a monumental jump in competition and his exposure to that level is very limited. The team that takes him is doing so purely on his potential and trajectory and it may take him time to develop into an NFL ready player.
Arie Kouandjio, Alabama (6’5″, 310 Lbs.) 4th round
Kouandijo is another player with a good build and long arms for the position. He bends well for a guy his size and he uses his long arms to his advantage. He needs some help with his footwork and it sometimes looks like his upper and lower body are out of sync. He has had multiple knee injuries and that is a concern. Kouandijo has a brother in the NFL so he should have an idea of what to expect when he gets to the NFL. He is better as a run blocker than pass blocker, and he is probably limited to playing just left guard in the NFL.
Mitch Morse, Missouri (6’5″, 305 Lbs.) 4th/5th round
Morse played tackle in college,but will move inside in the NFL. He has shorter than ideal arms, but is very athletic and has good movement skills. He could play some center as well, giving him a lot of position flexibility. Morse is a smart player with good balance who can be effective as a second level blocker. Morse needs to get bigger and stronger to handle NFL caliber defensive lineman. Morse is a blue collar guy who plays the game smart and puts in the work to improve. He is a very intriguing option that will improve once he gets into an NFL strength and conditioning program.
Jamon Brown, Louisville (6’4″, 323 Lbs.) 5th round
Brown is an absolute monster. He has a wide base that makes it nearly impossible for defenders to get around. He moves surprisingly well in space and can be effective getting to the second level. He should excel moving inside where his lack of laterally agility won’t get over exposed. He tends to bend at the waist to much which creates balance issues. He is a big guy that will have to have his weight monitored. Brown would benefit from losing some weight to give him a little more balance and increased athleticism and conditioning.
Sean Hickey, Syracuse (6’5″, 309 Lbs.) 6th round
Hickey looks the part of previous Patriots guards. He plays with good balance and footwork. Hickey is a good athlete who moves well in space and stays under control. He does have shorter arms and needs to add strength to his frame, but has the room to do so. Hickey is known for his hard work on and off the field and should be a good locker room guy. He played both tackle positions in college, but never any guard, so it will be a new position for him to learn.
Austin Shepherd, Alabama (6’4″, 315 Lbs.) 7th round
Shepherd is a technician with no real physical traits that stand out, but he got the job done consistently in college. He is not a plus athlete, but he has good footwork and he uses his hands well to consistently hold his ground. He is a smart player who takes good angles on blocks and is aware of what is going on around him. Shepherd needs to add strength so he can maintain blocks longer and can get beat by quicker rushers because he tends to play stiff. Shepherd might not be a starter, but could be a quality backup at multiple position in the NFL.
Mark Glowinski, West Virginia (6’4″, 307 Lbs.)
Jon Feliciano, Miami (6’4″, 323 Lbs.)
Bobby Hart, Florida State (6’5″, 329 Lbs.)
Draftable Options: Centers
Cameron Erving, Florida State (6’5″, 313 Lbs.) 1st/2nd round
Erving is a player I have struggled with. I see the upside and he played much better once he moved inside. To me, he plays high which allows defenders to get into his chest and push him back. He is very athletic and can get up to the next level. Erving plays with the type of demeanor I look for from my offensive lineman. He has serious footwork issues that need to be corrected. He consistently takes ten steps when he could do it in 3. This leaves him off balance and he loses all his athletic advantages. He will be learning a third new position, but on the other hand, he is one of the most if not the most versatile lineman in this draft. I can see the appeal because of his upside. I don’t love him as a first round pick, but understand it. I would be much happier with a small trade down if he indeed is a target for the Patriots.
Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech (6’2″, 310 Lbs.) 4th/5th round
Mason is guy with a great combination of athleticism and power. He comes from a primarily run offense, so his pass protection skill set is a bit of an unknown. He is very fluid in his movements and is a run blocking is very impressive. He is shorter than ideal with short arms, but I think he could still be an option at guard as well. He was asked to do a ton of cut blocking in college and he will need some technique work to play in a more conventional offense. He plays with a mean streak and has a lot of starting experience at both guard positions. Mason is underrated because of the scheme that his team played in college, but he has the movement skills and temperament to help a team in the NFL.
Max Garcia, Florida (6’4″, 309 Lbs.) 6th round
Garcia has good size for the position and could even play guard in the NFL. He will not wow you with his overall athleticism, but he has a good lower base to anchor. Garcia has good arm length and active hands and he uses them well. He is a strong leader and hard worker. Garcia is tough, smart player that gets the job done despite his athletic limitations.
Greg Mancz, Toledo (6’4″, 301 Lbs.) 7th round
Mancz is another player with a lot of experience at a lot of different positions. He moves really well and has the speed and athleticism to get downfield and block at the second level. Mancz is a smart player that keeps his head on a swivel to see what is going on around him. He is a tactician that plays with good leverage and technique. He lacks strength to be consistently effective at the next level, but has the frame and the dedication to do so. Mancz is a very versatile player that could develop into a special player down the road.
as always, you can follow me on twitter @midwestpatsfan