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Inside The Trenches #1
By Rob Peckham

Rob presents us with one of will be many articles dealing with his area of expertise - Lineman.

The 2003 schedule have been played, and the number #1 team has been crowned. Twice? Okay, the BCS isn‘t perfect. That however, is a topic for future discussion. The 2004 NFL Draft has passed and the number #1 selection has been made. Twice? Okay, the rules concerning the freedom of employment and who plays where and why, isn’t perfect. That too, is a topic for future consideration.

More important than the 2003 season and the 2004 draft, is the 2004 season and the 2005 draft. Yes, it never ends. Tell your spouse, tell your friends, tell the neighbors. Football is NOT over. Some may tell you that we are in the “off season”. We are not. There is no such thing. Football season never ends. Sure, there are no games being played, but the players are in uniform! The 2004 season will be upon us in no time and we need to be ready. Players are practicing, training, watching tape, and reading their play books. Coaches are trying like crazy to fill holes left open by departing seniors and early entrants into the draft. Stars must be found. Playmakers must emerge. Leaders must step forward.

Who are the future stars? Many are well known, and long publicized players like LSU’s Ben Wilkerson, Michigan’s David Baas, Maryland’s CJ Brooks and Tennessee’s Michael Munoz. All of whom will occupy space at the top of every “experts” top ten positional lists. Many of next
season’s stars are relative unknowns at this time. They have toiled behind upperclassmen for a couple years waiting for their chance to step into the starting unit. And some are actually well known, but under appreciated players who will break onto the scene. Purdue Center Nick
Hardwick South Carolina’s Travelle Wharton, and Virginia Tech. Center Jake Grove are examples of good players who saw their stock rise during the season.

For every one “riser” there are two “sliders“. For every Adrian Jones, there are two Nat Dorseys and Tony Papes. For every Trey Darilek, there are two Shannon Snells and Adrian Clarkes. Players who for one reason or another, allowed their last season in College and last chance to impress the NFL scouts, to slip away from them. Guys like Jones, Darilek, Houston’s Rex Hadnot and North Carolina’s Jeb Terry were not discussed in August. Certainly not at the same level as Auburn’s Monreko Crittendon, USC’s Lenny Vandermade, Miami’s Carlos Joseph, Ohio State’s Shane Olivea, and Kentucky’s Antonio Hall. Sure, there were health issues that came into play, but for the most part, they just plain did not live up to earlier hype. And that is the case every year.

Top ten lists in June and July rarely resemble the actual draft selection order at each position nine months later. Early lists are not carved in stone and should not be taken as such. They do, however, give you and me a list of players to follow during the season. But since many of these
players will disappear by April, only to be replaced by someone we never heard of or were unable to see play, i.e.… East Carolina’s Brian Rimpf, Miami of Ohio‘s Jacob Bell and Sacramento State‘s Marko Cavka, new lists must be compiled.

Call these lists “sleepers”, “under appreciated” or “unknowns” . We love to make lists and assign them names. Lets just call them “some good players who have NFL potential and could and should have a good 2004 season”.

CENTER

Jason Brown, North Carolina - Wilkerson and Oklahoma’s Vince Carter will get all the pre-season press, but Brown is the real deal. A strong and athletic run blocker, Brown is tough as nails, quick and anchors well in pass protection. At 6’ 3” and 325 lbs., he is exactly what the NFL is looking for.

Matt Tarullo, Syracuse - Moving over from Guard should push Tarullo up many draft boards. He’s a 6’ 4” and 320 lbs. run blocker, with the intelligence and instincts needed to make the line calls. He has good lateral movement and can get out in front of runners making second and sometimes a third block.

Others:
Alex Herron, South Florida
Matt Brock, Oregon State
Kyle Schmitt, Maryland


GUARD

Jami Hightower, Texas A&M - No, he’s not an unknown. He is however, also not a NFL Offensive Tackle. Hightower is a perfect NFL Left Guard. A good run and pass blocker, with good quick feet. He has terrific balance. He has Left tackle skills, but 6’ 3” is probably stretching his height a bit.

Logan Mankins, Fresno State - Another player who’s name will appear on some OT lists. Mankins has been a favorite of mine for a couple years now (I hate having favorites). He is a very good pass blocker, with good feet and movement. His slide to the left isn’t very fluid nor particularly quick, and he would likely fit best on the inside.

Steven Gibbs, Arkansas State - A big mauling and powerful run blocker, Gibbs is very quick and agile for a man his size. Like many offensive linemen, he has trouble keeping his weight in check. He could be a devastating blocker if he stayed under 335 pounds. I believe it was our own Richard Foster who a couple years ago, first compared him to Larry Allen. He was right.

Others:
Kanan Sanchez, Oregon State - If he can get on the field.
Dan Buenning, Wisconsin - forgotten man on team with Jonathan Clinkscale.
Kyle Takavitz, Cincinnati
Nick Steitz, Oregon
Matt Ulrich, Northwestern


TACKLE

Peter McMahon, Iowa - While he’s no Robert Gallery (who is?), McMahon is a very good Offensive Tackle. Very athletic and agile, he gets into his blocks very quick and can open holes with the best. Right Tackle is not as deep as Left tackle in the 2005 draft, and McMahon may capitalize on that lack of depth.

Sam Lightbody, Washington State - Calvin Armstrong will get most of the press, but Sam Lightbody is not to be overlooked. With his quick feet, good slide and solid overall blocking technique, he could probably play LT if need. He has improved every season and still has yet to reach his potential.

Daniel Loper, Texas Tech - Perfect size for a NFL Offensive Tackle. At 6’6” 325 lbs, Loper is quick, slides well, locks on and controls his man and can seal off the DE on running plays. He uses his long arms well and forces the defender to take “the long way” to the Quarterback.

Others:
Rian Melander, Minnesota
Brandon Phillips, Arizona
Jon Dunn, Virginia Tech.


A few players who have talent (or use to) or have moved around too much to cultivate any significant positional skills and will have to break out in 2005 or forever hold their peace are:

RG Mo Mitchell, Florida - Offensive line to defensive line, back to offensive line. He’s big, tough and aggressive. Should do well at RG.

RG Jason Respert, Tennessee - He was a big time recruit in 2000. Shoulder and ankle injuries have slowed his progress.

OG Jonathan Colon, Florida - A high rated recruit in 2001. A bad back on off field issues have kept him from reaching his potential.

OG Paul Mociler, UCLA - Top rated recruit in 2001 who has yet to hit his real stride.

OT Khalif Barnes, Washington - Highly rated recruit in 2001. Very inconsistent. Has shown flashes but has never lived up to initial hype.

OT/OG Steve Vieira, UCLA - A bit of an underachiever. He also has had knee problems. A move to OT in 2004 may or may not help.

OT Trai Essex, Northwestern - Former Tight End.

You may not read much about these players during the course of the season nor will you hear their names mentioned much by the talking heads on television, but trust me…. These guys are working their tails off just so that Quarterback or Running Back can stay alive long enough to do another interview. These guys are football players!

Email Rob by Clicking Here


 


















©2004
Sideline Scouting Services

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