Steelers Offensive Guard Prospects – Early Rounds


By Christopher DiMarino

There is now enough public information about the draft prospects to begin taking deeper dives into what the current results mean. Offensive Guard is a huge need for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2012 draft. The Offensive Line needs young talent and more depth. The cap is also an issue. With Kemoeatu released, many veterans may not be back including (Max Starks and Jonathan Scott). With the new rookie player salaries, drafting intelligently can provide the team with the young talent to succeed and save precious cap over the next tough years.

Understanding what the combine results mean:

This article is a follow up to my 2 previous posts. To see each players’ information, use this link. To see their combine results use this link. I focused on 5 of the measurables from the combine: 40 yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump and cone drill. Each of these results shed some light on what the player can do on the field. I consider combine results compulsory; skill, instincts and intelligence also factor in to the physical ability a player displays. But a players’ potential is commonly linked to his combine results, because coaches believe they can teach technique.

The 40 yard dash, in my opinion, is the least important test for Guards. This displays how fast they can get downfield and block linebackers in run blocking. It also helps to have speed while pulling for screen plays and combating certain stunts while pass blocking. Aside from that, Guards are not asked to use pure speed in many situations.

The cone drill is the much more important running stat. This tells us how agile a player is, how much body control they have, and how solid their footwork is. That is a guard’s bread and butter. Pulling on run plays requires agility and good footwork. Any Steeler fan knows how often their power running game relies on the Guard pulling.

The vertical and broad jumps give us an idea how players use their legs. There is technique involved with in transferring the strength from your legs to a rusher, but the jumps can tell us the physical strength that can be transferred. I’ve always viewed the vertical jump as a pass block type strength. It shows the pure explosive ability of stationary leg extension. It also shows the strength to keep balance when someone is pushing you back or you’re trying to recover from being flat footed. The broad jump can help with run blocking as that leg extension is channeled while running in the forward direction.

The bench press is the drill most people look at to determine a players’ strength. It demonstrates the players arm’s straight outward power to push. Though this is prevalent in run blocking, I still believe the legs are the key component. When the Guard locks in with a defender, this is where the upper body strength comes in. The bench can tell us how effective a player will be at attempting to push the defender out of the hole and aiming their bodies. In pass blocking a guard needs this push to stymie the stunts and arm movements the Defensive players will use as well as maintaining position when bull rushed.

Analyzing who will likely go in what round:

Each reader out there can take what I’ve said and apply it to the combine results. With Guards, it is straight forward; all of the combine measureables are important. Averaging the results can help us indicate which players have immense physical ability. The next step would be to look at where guys were projected and see if they might jump or slide based on their combine performance.

Round 1: David DeCastro was the only Guard believed to be a guaranteed 1st rounder. Cordy Glenn was a guy who some could see going in the 1st as well. DeCastro had an average combine. He impressed with his cone drill time, and disappointed with his 40 time. His bench and vert were solid. I believe someone will still snatch him up in the first round, and he will likely go in the middle of the round. Glenn had a little bit of a rougher combine. He showed speed in the 40 and strength in the bench, but failed to impress at the broad and vert jump and cone drill. I can’t see him dropping too far, but he has probably become an early second round prospect now.

Round 2: Brandon Washington, Kelechi Osmele and Kevin Zeitler were all projected to be 2nd round picks. Washington failed to stand out. Osemele and Zeitler both turned in impressive performances. I can see Washington dropping to a late 2nd early 3rd round spot. I think Osemele will go late 2nd because he is a strong athlete but raw. Zeitler may jump all the way up to an early 2nd round pick with his strong experience and combine performance.

Round 3: Amini Silatolu and Senio Kelementewere the lower round guys I considered. Silatolu had great jumps, but was slow at the 40 and cone. Kelemente was very average at best. It’s possible that Silatolu might jump up in the conversation with a Brandon Washington which may land him late 2nd or early 3rd. Kelemente however failed to do anything to start moving his name around. I can’t see him getting drafted before the 4th.

Looking at projection changes POST combine:

The projections pre combine were taken from CBSsports.com. I made the post combine projections based on their performance.

  Pre Combine Post Combine  
Name Proj Rank Proj Round
Change
My Round Projection School
David DeCastro 9 1 Mid 1st Stanford
Cordy Glenn 23 1-2 v Early 2nd Georgia
Brandon Washington 40 2 v Late 2nd Miami (Fla.)
Kelechi Osemele 44 2 Late 2nd Iowa State
Kevin Zeitler 56 2 ^ Early 2nd Wisconsin
Amini Silatolu 70 2-3 ^ Late 2nd Midwestern State
Senio Kelemete 78 2-3 v 4th Washington

Who the Steelers might take special interest in:

Glenn and Washington have both played Guard and Tackle, adding to their value. Osemele may get passed on because he is relatively inexperienced. He has the talent to be elite, but is considered a project for now. I think the Steelers would be more interested in someone who can contribute immediately. Zeitler and DeCastro offer the appeal of Guards who have a good resume of experience. This could translate to a player’s ability to contribute right away. Silatolu played tackle in college as well, but went to a small school and will require time to adjust to the speed of the pros. Finally Kelemete has played Tackle and Guard on offense and even Defensive Tackle. However this is not college and his technique is lacking because of his short exposure period at guard.

Who still demands serious consideration from the Steelers:

I believe that DeCastro will be a Steeler if he drops to 24. This may be due to Poe’s strong combine, but if Poe is gone, DeCastro provides the assurance of a guy who can step in and impact immediately. With unseasoned running backs and a new Offesnive Coordinator, it will be direly important to shore up the offensive line immediately. If the first round pick is spent elsewhere (or traded), I think the Steelers would certainly spend the second round pick on a Guard. I think their top choice would be Zeitler for his experience. However the ability to move to tackle that Glenn and Washington have could get them drafted by the Steelers if Zeitler is gone (likely).

Silatolu is a wild card because he could be the drafted by the Steelers in the 2nd if the other prospects are gone, or if he impresses enough at his pro day. However, if he drops to the 4th round I can see the Steelers adding him for depth because he can play tackle. And I think Kelemete’s only chance is if he is still available in the 6th round.

Responding to comments

  • Ed52 has clearly been watching the Steelers longer than I have and I really respect his opinions. Your comment is absolutely true and I even drew on that conclusion myself in this article. I think Todd Haley will come under more fire than he is already due because of his early (albeit speculative) friction with Big Ben. That’s why I think experience will play a part in the Steelers’ choice at guard. The combine confirms that Zeitler and DeCastro have the athleticism to succeed at the next level to accompany their experience which can help them start early.
  • I agree uglybagofwater Sean, Mike Martin does look good and I wrote in my article that he impressed me at the combine. As Dave posted, the Steelers talked to him at the combine which is another good sign. But Thom Kay is correct that he would just over populate an already young set of high round ends. I think they would only draft him a) if he dropped to the 4th round b) if they planned on him bulking or c) if they planned to move Ziggy inside. Being from Windsor (Canada) I always have a soft spot for Michigan boys (Woodley!).
  • Ron, you brought up an excellent point. With all the cuts that are happening and the cap situation, if the Steelers don’t draft a good crop of young talent, than there could be a large amount of undrafted players in camp. I’m beginning to think that the Steelers will trade out of the first round (as you’re guessing), and possibly grab Zeitler with a mid to high 2nd round pick. This will not only give the Steelers more young talent for camp, but also ensure that they don’t leave the top 2 rounds without a NT or OG that they want.
  • PoKey21 don’t be so quick to assume. As much as I would prefer DeCastro and the stability he will likely bring to the offensive line, the point that I was trying to make was that certain positions are given much higher value in drafts. So one would think the Steelers would take DeCastro if both were available, but a player like Poe who has the strength to manage double teams and the speed to get after the QB could be considered a higher value. When you include the fact that Guard is deep in this draft, who knows what would happen. But to end our speculations, lets wait until we win the lottery and the Steelers get a chance to choose between them before we go overboard.

Citations:

http://www.nfl.com/combine

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/2012/OG

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