Alabama's D.J. Fluker is more known for his run-blocking ability than pass protection but would merit serious consideration if he's available when the Packers make their first pick of the NFL draft. / File/Getty Images
Top prospect: Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel might be the first pick of the draft.
Overall draft: Strong at the top with three tackles and two guards possibly going in the first 15 picks.
Packers outlook: General manager Ted Thompson is looking for more competition at left tackle and better quality of depth across the line.
Rising star: Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Terron Armstead probably will be a second-round pick after his outstanding performance at the scouting combine moved him up draft boards.
Falling star: It’s not like Alabama center Barrett Jones is dropping out of sight, but the 2011 Outland Trophy winner’s strength and athleticism haven’t held up to scrutiny, and he appears to be a likely third-round pick rather than a late first-rounder.
Sleeper: Luke Marquardt didn’t play football in high school, then took up the game at the Division II level at Asuza-Pacific and missed his senior season because of a broken foot. But he has great size (6-83/8, 317) and might have the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL as a late-round pick.
In two of the last three drafts, Ted Thompson has selected a tackle late in the first round.
Unfortunately for the Green Bay Packers and their general manager, both of those players, Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod, are coming off serious injures from last season — Bulaga a hip fracture that ended his 2012 season on Nov. 9, and Sherrod a broken leg that has sidelined him since late 2011.
With the Packers’ issues on the offensive line — coach Mike McCarthy this offseason has said the line from center to left tackle has to be better in 2013 — the Packers figure to add a lineman or two over draft weekend, at a minimum for more competition at left tackle for Marshall Newhouse, an improving but still up-and-down performer last season.
Thompson likes using high picks on both lines, because athletic big players are so hard to find, so that and the injuries to Bulaga and Sherrod leave open the possibility the GM would use his first-round pick on an offensive lineman for the third time in four years. But if Alabama’s road-grading right tackle D.J. Fluker is off the board by No. 26 overall, which appears likely, then the question of taking a lineman might come down to whether Thompson would take Florida State’s Melenik Watson, a raw former Division I basketball player who grew up in England.
“I just don’t see Ted taking a project at that spot,” a longtime NFL scout said. “The talent level is very good, but (Watson) is a ways away. It ain’t like you’re pluggin’ in Bulaga and (saying), ‘Go play.’ (Watson) is going to take some time to play.”
The Packers still think Newhouse could be the long-term answer at left tackle but aren’t convinced. The fourth-year pro has gradually improved as the starter the last two seasons, though last year he still struggled against the more talented rushers. McCarthy hasn’t given any indication whether he’s strongly considering moving Bulaga from right tackle to left tackle, the position Bulaga played for most of his college career.
The Packers have been reluctant to move Bulaga because they think he can be one of the better right tackles in the game if he stays settled there. Bulaga also is coming off a major injury, which could make the position change more difficult. But left tackle is the most important position on the offensive line, so at some point McCarthy and Thompson might decide Bulaga is the best option, with perhaps Bulaga’s injury replacement last season, Don Barclay, taking over at right tackle.
Sherrod’s injury adds to the uncertainty. His injury — he broke both bones in his lower right leg — was especially severe, and the Packers still don’t know whether he can return to a starter’s level of play at either tackle.
But whether that opens the door to drafting Watson or another lineman at No. 26 overall is another matter. Watson is an interesting prospect because he’s unusually talented, but he’s also unusually raw. He grew up in England playing primarily basketball, played on scholarship at Marist for two seasons, then abruptly ended his basketball career to pursue football even though he’d never played the game.
He has a great physique for football — at the scouting combine he was 6-feet-51/8 and 310 pounds — and learned the game from scratch at Saddleback Junior College in Southern California in ’11. After the one season, he transferred to Florida State last year and immediately became the starter at right tackle.
Now, he could be the seventh offensive lineman off the draft board, behind Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan tackle Eric Fischer, Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson, Alabama guard Chance Warmack, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper and Fluker. Fluker is the only one of the group who has any chance to be available at No. 26, but those odds appear long.
That could leave Watson as the only other late first-round prospect, though with how differently teams see players, some might consider several other linemen as possible late first-rounders. Among them are Oregon tackle-guard Kyle Long, Syracuse guard Justin Pugh and maybe Arkansas-Pine Bluff tackle Terron Armstead.
Watson most likely will go next, though, and he appears to have the athleticism to play either tackle even if he’s a year away from being a starter in the NFL.
“Very raw,” another scout said. “He’s played football for two years. He’s a good-looking kid. (Florida State’s) offensive line coach said he’s five years away from being what he’s going to be. He could be an All-Pro. He has the feet, he has the work habits, he has the attitude. It’s all new to him. Every day he got better.”
If Fluker by chance makes it to No. 26, the Packers would have to seriously consider taking him, though it’s not a given they would. He’s a huge man (6-45/8, 339) but isn’t athletic enough to play left tackle. He will instantly improve an NFL team’s run blocking, but the most pass-oriented teams in the league, which includes the Packers, might be leery of taking him with that high of a pick.
“That would be a hard one for the Packers,” a third scout said. “They’ve got Aaron (Rodgers) out there. (Fluker) is the best run blocker in the draft, but he’s not a polished guy in protection. Can he get better? Yeah, he probably could.”
Top tackle prospects
1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M, 6-6, 306, Round 1
Junior entry was a three-year starter at left tackle and could be the first player selected. “He’s got tremendous upside,” one scout said. “He has an ability to stay upright and an ability in space, he doesn’t labor to get out to a wide rush end. Once he works on his angles and some of his issues – people say he got beat up and under, but a lot of it, you don’t know where that quarterback (i.e., Johnny Manziel) is setting up half the time. If I think he’s going to be at seven yards and he’s at nine, it hurts my angle. It’s similar to anybody that has a mobile quarterback, you don’t know where he is at any time so you’re going to put your lineman in a bind. I like him No. 1 (overall).” Tested well but not great (27 bench reps, 5.30-second 40, 8-10 broad jump). Has the long arms (341/4 inches) and big hands (101/8 inches) teams look for in left tackles. “Just think Jumbo Elliot when you talk about that kid,” said a second scout, comparing Joeckel to the New York Giants’ starting left tackle from 1989 to 1999. “Big, mean, tough. Seems to have his head on straight.”
2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan, 6-71/4, 306, Round 1
Three-year starter played left tackle, right tackle and guard as a sophomore, then strictly left tackle the last two seasons. Could be a top-five pick. “His level of competition was not that of Joeckel’s, but when he played in the Senior Bowl he helped himself,” a scout said. “That was a good indicator, because you’re playing in a pro style (there). He has good upside, he’s a tough kid. He’s going to have some issues in (pass) protection, he doesn’t use his arm length very good and he drops his head a little bit, so he’s going to have a little harder time against elite rushers on the left side.” Has long arms (341/2 inches) and big hands (101/2 inches). Ran well (5.05-second 40), had a decent vertical (281/2 inches) and did 27 bench reps. “When I watch him come off the ball I’m not sure he’s got the lower-body bend to play in the NFL for many years and be a difference maker on the offensive line,” a second scout said. “He sits kind of high in his stance and I’m worried about his ability to bend and anchor. You don’t have to be able to do the splits, but you have to bend and anchor. As you get older and all those muscles get tighter, your hip muscles and your core muscles, your pad level keeps climbing on you and you lose effectiveness.”
3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma, 6-6, 303, Round 1
Played quarterback as a freshman at a junior college, then moved to tight end when he got to Oklahoma. Switched to defensive end in ’10, then started at right tackle in ’11 and left tackle in ’12. Could be a top-10 pick because of his potential. “Very athletic,” a scout said. “Retained some of that footwork and athleticism (from quarterback), and he has some toughness. His upside is as good as anybody’s. He’s so athletic as a left tackle.” Blew away scouts at the combine with a 4.72-second 40, which was second-fastest among the offensive linemen and is faster than some 240-pound linebackers. Had the second-best vertical (34 inches) and best broad jump (9-10) of the linemen, and did 28 bench reps. “I think Lane has more upside (than Fisher),” a second scout said. “He played the position only two years. If you looked at his junior film you hated him. If you looked at Fisher’s junior film you were like, ‘OK, this guy’s going to be pretty good.’ Lane went over to the left side, had his second year under his belt as an offensive lineman, so you have to project. He’s a better athlete and he has something about him, he has a little bit of a (mean streak) about him. He said at the combine he wanted to do one more on the bench than Joeckel and Fisher, and he did. So he competes. He knew it was going to be a big-time who’s going to be first who’s going to be second who’s going to be third in the tackle pool, so he wanted to make sure he was going to be in the conversation. If you go on college film, on his junior film he’s a second-third rounder. On his senior film you say he’s in the bottom of the first. On his combine workout he went to a top-10 pick.”
4. D.J. Fluker, Alabama, 6-41/8, 339, Round 1
Redshirt junior started three seasons at right tackle. Probably a top-25 pick. “He’s the best run blocker in the draft,” a scout said, “but he’s going to have major issues in (pass) protection because in space he’s a big man and he doesn’t get out there pretty like the rest of those guys.” Exceptionally long arms (363/4 inches). Ran the 40 in 5.31 seconds, had a 271/2-inch vertical and did 21 bench reps, a low number that’s probably a function of his long arms. Similar to Minnesota right tackle Phil Loadholt, a second-round pick in ’09, but Fluker probably is the better run blocker. “Right tackle or a guard,” a second scout said. “Big, massive human being. Very average athlete, but a big football player. The size and power show up, but athletically he’s a little stiff and muscled up. Has the long arms you want, he’ll be able to lock people out (in pass protection), but there’s not going to be a lot of punch or pop. You’ll look to run behind him and maybe give him some help (early in his career) in pass protection. I’d love him in the second round, because there is some miss with him.”
5. Melenik Watson, Florida State, 6-51/8, 310, Rounds 1-2
Junior entry grew up in Manchester, England, playing mostly basketball and averaged 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds for Marist as a redshirt freshman in 2009-10. Dropped basketball, briefly took up boxing then decided to try football. Spent one year at Saddleback Junior College in California, where they had to teach him how to put on the equipment and get in a stance. Last year transferred to Florida State and was the starting right tackle, though he has left tackle ability. “I think he’s pretty good for a guy who’s just picking it up,” a scout said. “He’s pretty intelligent, a detailed guy. I’m not sure if he’s in the caliber of those other guys. In a perfect world you say bottom of the second, third – he’d be a great pick in the third, great value. You tell me he’s a first rounder, I think that’s a little rich for where he is in experience and age. He’s going to be up there because you don’t find tackles that can do the stuff athletically that he does. If there’s a run on tackles and they don’t want to get shut out, he’s going to get picked higher than he should.” Has the long arms (34 inches) and big hands (103/8 inches) to play left tackle. Ran the 40 in 5.29 seconds, had a 241/2-inch vertical (271/2 inches at his Pro Day) and did 19 bench reps.Will be 25 years old in December. “You hear he really wants to make money for his mother, his mother is an important part of his life and this is his ticket,” a second scout said. “So my thing is, after he gets his contract, how long is he going to go before he quits football? He’s old, his next pro contract he’s going to be 30, 31 years old. (Do) you take a guy like Fluker at 20, 21 years old, teach him the trade, or do you take this guy that’s going to be (25) his rookie year, teach him the trade? Where’s the value?”
6. Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6-43/4, 306, Rounds 1-2
Went to an FCS rather than BCS school because he wanted to throw shot in track. Started for 31/2 seasons, then blew away scouts at the combine with the best 40 (4.71 seconds) and vertical (341/2 inches) among the offensive linemen. “I like him better than Watson,” a scout said. “You can say all you want about Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but this is a really good foot athlete. I think you can coach him up to the type of player you want. What’s the learning curve? Physically he looks outstanding, mobility looks outstanding, athletically he’s outstanding. Strength is pretty good, played left tackle. He’ll be like a big wad of clay, you can kind of mold him into what you want. He has all the ability to be pretty good.” Arm length is good (34 inches), hand size not as much (91/4 inches). Finished last season and played in the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl with a sprained shoulder. “I didn’t know how smart he was,” a second scout said. “He knew his stuff. He was excellent. The biggest thing with him, can he make that move (from FCS to the NFL)? He did OK in the East-West game, he didn’t do as well in the Senior Bowl because he was a late add on, didn’t get a chance to learn the plays. If you’re going to draft him, you say, do you have time to wait maybe one or two years for him? or do you need to draft a guy at that position in the second round to help your team now?”
7. Kyle Long, Oregon, 6-61/8, 314, Rounds 1-2
Son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long went to Florida State as a pitcher in baseball but bombed out in school and was arrested for DUI in January ’09, admitted to a substance-abuse problem and went to rehab. Also was a football all-America in high school, decided to return to the game at Saddleback Junior College. Played defensive end in ’10, then switched to offensive line in ’11, where he played on the same line as Melenik Watson. Transferred to Oregon last year, played in a rotation for most of the season and then started the final four games at left guard because of an injury to a teammate. The NCAA denied his petition for another year of eligibility. “(Baseball) didn’t work out and he had the other issues, but he’s a talented guy,” a scout said. “He’s a very intense guy. He plays offense with a defensive mentality. The good thing about him, if you look at all that read option (stuff at Oregon) and the two point stance – it’s all dancing, they’re all dancing with the stars, they’re all sliding and gliding – and at the Senior Bowl he put his hand on the ground and played football like you play in the NFL, and you saw a physical, finishing guy who got after people. Was very aggressive.” Ran the third-best 40 (4.94 seconds) among lineman at the combine. Some scouts think he’s a left guard, but many see a tackle. “He’s in a left-handed stance, he’s a lefty, it’s going to be a natural thing for him (to play left tackle) where he doesn’t have to make a foot switch,” a second scout said. “I don’t think you want to expose him right away out there, you want to build his confidence, get to learn the system. But I think you can eventually move him out. I think he could play left guard or right tackle (at first).”
8. Oday Aboushi, Virginia, 6-53/8, 308, Rounds 2-3
Three-year starter played right tackle early in his career then left tackle for the rest. Is a Muslim and observes Ramadan, which lasts for a month in July and August and prohibits eating or drinking from sunup to sundown. “The kid is a solid kid, he’s as serious as a heart attack,” one scout said. “The (Ramadan) thing, some people will have a hard time because he fasts during training camp, and that’s going to be an issue. I hear he might cheat a little bit and take protein. That would be an issue in the middle of two-a-days losing 20 pounds because you’re fasting.” Not a great athlete (5.45-second 40, 231/2-inch vertical) but tough. “He mauled guys,” a second scout said. “But if you look at the whole package, he’s got a lot of ability but he’s inconsistent. Early in the season he was terrible, he stunk. From what I heard they were going to bench him but had no one to put in there. Then he really dominated. He was hot and cold, that’s the way he played.”
9. David Bakhtiari, Colorado, 6-41/8, 299, Rounds 3-4
Redshirt junior entry, started at right tackle in ’10 and then left tackle the last two years. “A little undersized but good balance, good feet,” a scout said. “The athletic part is there. You’re hoping he can put on 10 or 15 pounds and maintain the athleticism and footwork.” Tested well for speed (5.09 seconds in the 40) and strength (28 bench reps) at the combine, though his vertical (251/2 inches) was mediocre. Arms are more than long enough (34 inches) for left tackle, but some scouts see a guard. “He doesn’t play with a whole lot of power even though the strength numbers are actually pretty good,” a second scout said. “He tends to play over the top of his feet. He has a little trouble with movement even though he seems to be a pretty good foot athlete. There are times he doesn’t move as well as he needs to.”
10. Brennan Williams, North Carolina, 6-55/8, 318, Rounds 3-4
Started at right tackle his final two seasons at North Carolina but missed the final four games last year because of a torn labrum in a shoulder. His father, Brent, played eight seasons in the NFL as a defensive end. “He’s a fairly smart kid, dad played for the Patriots so he’s got some football background,” a scout said. “He could play left tackle athletically although he’s never done it, but as far as his length and foot speed, yes. He had some issues during the season, game’s on the line they’re playing Wake Forest and he’s not in the game. Where is he? They take him out. The coach said he was limping a little and (said) ‘I didn’t want to put him in a situation where he’d hurt himself or hurt me.’ I just don’t know how tough the guy is. He’s a guy that because of his size you’d like to develop to see if he could get tougher, but he’s probably a Day 3 guy.” Didn’t work out at the combine because of the shoulder injury, then at his pro day ran about 5.3 seconds and had a 281/2-inch vertical. Has long arms (34 inches) and big hands (101/2 inches). “He looks the part,” a second scout said. “Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane. (Some teams said they) liked playing against him because they didn’t think he’d fight you, didn’t think he was a competitor, and when things got tough he rolled over. He’s one of those guys that tests off the charts, has impressive numbers, but you evaluate what he’s done, I’d be leery.”
Top guard prospects
1. Chance Warmack, Alabama, 6-2, 317, Round 1
Three-year starter at left guard is a possible top-15 pick. Scouts are divided on whether he or North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper is the better guard prospect. “(Warmack) is a talented guy,” a scout said. “I think he’s tough. He will come in and if you put him next to a smart (center) and he can (just) play, he’s going to be special.” Has tackle-like arm length (343/4 inches). Didn’t run well (5.49 seconds in the 40) at the combine and didn’t bench for scouts all offseason because of a finger injury. Strength is not an issue. “He has good long arms,” a second scout said. “He’s only 6-2, that’s the only knock, but he’s got 34-, 35-inch arms. He can knock a three-technique off the ball, and he started as many games (40) as anybody has started at AlabamaHe’s durable, tough. He doesn’t play down to his competition, and in the big games he doesn’t blink. He has a sweating issue. He’s constantly taking IVs whether it’s cool outside or hot outside, IVs at practice, sweat pills, all that kind of thing.”
2. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina, 6-21/8, 311 Round 1
Started four years at left guard after redshirting as a freshman. “Athletically, on the move, yes (he’s better than Warmack),” a scout said. “Physically at the point of attack, no. Cooper as a pass protector might have an edge. He doesn’t have as long of arms, and he’s only 6-21/4, so he’s only a little bigger. But he’s pretty good.” Tested well all-around at the combine: 5.07-second 40, 35 bench reps, 27-inch vertical. Arms are 33 inches long. “He’s strong, he’s a horse,” another scout said. “He was their best lineman the last three years, not even closeHe has snapped the ball, they used him at center some in the pregame in the shotgun. I love the kid. He’s a hard-nosed guy, he likes football, has a great attitude. I think the kid’s a great player.”
3. Justin Pugh, Syracuse, 6-41/2, 307 Rounds 1-2
Redshirt junior entry started three years at left tackle but projected to guard in the NFL. “He’s a very good technician,” a scout said. “Smart kid, understands angles. He has to do things right because he’s got the shortest arms of all those tackles. I think he’s a guard. The thing I worry about him at guard or tackle is his length. If you get on him right away and get on the back of his pads, he’s going to have a hard time separating because he doesn’t have a lot of lockout.” Arms are only 32 inches long. Ran the 40 in 5.14 seconds, had a 28½-inch vertical and did 22 bench reps. “I like Pugh a lot, (but) I think he gets overextended at times, I don’t think he’s the strongest guy,” a second scout said. “He’s probably better suited playing a scheme where there’s zone blocking and he can get out (to the linebackers). He can get on the edge (at tackle), but he over-sets and then people beat him back inside. The biggest problem with him (at guard) will be playing against power. If somebody gets underneath him, they can take him back to the quarterback. He’ll have a little trouble anchoring down on people. Probably a better fit for a zone team. He can get out on the screen, get out on the sweep, he can play in space and be OK.”
4. Larry Warford, Kentucky, 6-3, 332, Rounds 2-3
Three-year starter at right guard. “Love him,” a scout said. “Moves well for a 330-pounder, more of a power-gap kind of guy as opposed to a zone blocking thing. But he’s a big, nasty guy that plays inside. Every time he blocks even the good ones, (Missouri defensive tackle) Sheldon Richardson and guys like (Florida defensive tackle Sharrif) Floyd, he’s been very productiveIt depends on your scheme. If you want a big bodied guy that can get some push and is athletic enough, this a good guy to have.” Has decent arm length (333/8 inches) and did 28 bench reps. Didn’t run (5.58-second 40) or jump (221/2 inches) well at 330-plus pounds, probably should play in the 320s. “He’s got some weight issues,” another scout said, “but he’s the knock you off the ball, road grader kind. Big wide body, big (butt), big legs. But he’s also fluctuated in weight, he’s got an issue there.”
5. Brian Winters, Kent State, 6-35/8, 320, Rounds 2-3
Four-year starter played right tackle as a freshman, then left tackle for all but a few games thereafter. Projects to guard in the NFL. “Out in space he has issues,” a scout said. “I watched his 2011 film against Alabama, when he played against the big boys he didn’t blink. He was aggressive, tough, finishes the way you teach. His issue is pass protectionHe drops his head, he has bad hands, he has some correctable stuff. He’s going to get his (butt) whipped early in his career until he straightens out his technique flaws. But he’s one of those guys that ain’t pretty but gets the job done.” Strained his left pectoral muscle while benching at the combine. Ran the 40 in a reported 5.18 seconds and had a 27-inch vertical at his Pro Day but still couldn’t bench because of the injury. “When you’re only dressing seven offensive linemen every week, a guy like that can play guard, tackle,” a second scout said. “He always was on his feet, you never saw him on the ground. He got hurt at the combine doing the bench press, he’s probably a 30-rep guy. He plays with some power, gets some push.”
Top center prospects
1. Travis Frederick, Wisconsin, 6-35/8, 312, Round 2
Redshirt junior entry attended Big Foot High School in Walworth in southern Wisconsin. When healthy in his three years was a starter at center and guard. Had a broken ankle that forced him to miss most of his freshman season. Last season started at center after Peter Konz went to Atlanta as a second-round draft pick. “Frederick’s got more (butt) to him (than Alabama’s Barrett Jones),” a scout said, “Frederick’s a little more power in the run game. He’s efficient. I think he’s better than Konz. He’s more powerful. He doesn’t have the beat-up body that Konz has.” Ran poorly (5.58 seconds in the 40), had a solid 28½-inch vertical and did 21 bench reps. “As a guard you could survive with him, but you’d probably want better,” another scout said. “As a center he’s smart, he steers the traffic, he knows how to play physicalHe’s probably a little more of a grinder, but the other guy (i.e., Jones) has played on two national championship teams and he’s played left tackle on a national championship team, and I don’t think Frederick can play left tackle. The other guy is probably a better athlete than Frederick, but Frederick has some qualities.”
2. Barrett Jones, Alabama, 6-41/2, 306, Round 3
Highly decorated player has great position versatility. Started at right guard in ’10, won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best offensive lineman at left tackle in ’11, then won the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center last season. “Played left tackle as a junior, he didn’t look like a guy just playing a position, he actually looked not bad against some of the premier guys,” a scout said. “This guy is going to play a lot of years because he’s smart as (crap).” Sustained a Lisfranc (mid-foot) injury in the Southeastern Conference championship game last season but played in the national championship game before having surgery. Hasn’t worked out for teams while recovering from surgery. Has long arms (34 inches) but some strength and athletic limitations. “According to the doctors I’ve talked to, they said some people can’t even walk on a Lisfranc, and this guy played the entire football game,” a second scout said. “He’s not the physical, strong grinder. He’s going to struggle with the big nose guards. But he’s going to play because he’s smart.”
3. Brian Schwenke, California, 6-3, 314, Round 3
Three-year starter moved from guard to center last year. “When it comes to being mobile,” a scout said, “when it’s, ‘We’ve got to get that three technique blocked, we’ve got to hook him,’ he’s right there. I really like him. He can cut a defense in half because he gets to the second (i.e., linebacker) level so quick. Had 31 (bench) reps, he can play strong enough, and he’s such a good foot athlete. Against some of the Pac-12’s better defensive linemen he’s doing a pretty solid job. Making shotgun snaps, no problems. Not intimidated by anybody playing over his nose. Such a good athlete playing on his feet, pretty impressive to watch.” Ran the 40 in 4.99 seconds and had a 26½-inch vertical. “He plays little,” a second scout said. “He’s quick as (crap). He’d be good in the Houston zone scheme. He has some issues against bigger guys, bigger guys rag (doll) him a little bit. He’s a tough kid, a smart kid, but he’s more suited for the zone schemes.”
4. Khaled Holmes, USC 6-3¼, 302, Rounds 3/4
Started at right guard in ’10, then center the last two years. “I probably don’t like him as much as a lot of other people in the league,” a scout said. “He’s really an up-and-down guy. You watch him against Star (Lotulelei) on Utah, Star throws him around. You look at him against two-gap nose guards he has a hard time because he plays high, he gets thrown around. In space with an even defense, up to the second level of the linebacker, that’s where he shines.” Has long arms (35 inches). Showed some athleticism with a 29½-inch vertical, ran a mediocre 40 (a reported 5.29 at his Pro Day). “He’s a pretty good pass blocker,” a second scout said, “not a bender, more of a get in front of you and lock you out kind of guy. He’s going to play in the league, but if you’re playing against (Baltimore’s Haloti) Ngata or the guy in Green Bay (i.e., B.J. Raji), they put a nose guard on you it’s going to be a long day.”
5. Eric Kush, California (Penn.), 6-37/8, 304, Rounds 4/5
Played left tackle as a junior and center as a senior at the Division II school. A late riser who wasn’t invited to the combine but tested well at his Pro Day with a 5.04-second 40, 30-inch vertical jump and 25 bench reps. “He played in the East-West (Shrine) Game and ain’t bad,” a scout said. “He’s getting some play. You don’t want him blocking the Ted Washingtons of the world, (against New England’s) Vince Wilfork he’s going to struggle. Real quick, good with his hands, and he really gets to the linebacker level well.”
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