NFL Draft: Reiff & Zeitler Go in First Round, While Big Ten Players Reload Lines
Andrew Luck may not feel lucky, and RG3 may have to scramble more than anticipated, if their offensive lines don't protect them. So where are NFL teams going to find plenty of good linemen? Apparently, they are coming from the Big Ten in this year's draft.
On the offensive side of the football, you have Iowa tackle Riley Reiff, guard Kevin Zeitler from Wisconsin, Mike Adams of Ohio State and Badger center Peter Konz. Tackles Jerel Worthy of Michigan State and Penn State's Devon Still are drawing a lot of interest among the available defensive linemen.
Let's take a trip down NFL draft lane and see if we can determine where the top six linemen from the Big Ten are headed.
Arizona Cardinals Need Riley Reiff at Offensive Tackle
Riley Reiff will be concentrating on protecting Cardinal quarterback Kevin Kolb after the former Iowa offensive tackle is selected with the No. 13 pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
The only way the highly valued Hawkeye could fall further down in the draft is if David DeCastro of Stanford is not selected with one of the first 12 picks.
Reiff is considered a ready-for-prime-time player due to his quick feet and ability to withstand bull rushes from defensive linemen. He is 6'3" and weighs between 310-320 pounds.
He is a reliable pass blocker and an effective run blocker who is willing to go downfield and make a second and third block on a play.
Could Wisconsin Guard Kevin Zeitler End Up as a Pittsburgh Steeler?
David DeCastro of Stanford is the No. 1 offensive guard in the draft, but Kevin Zeitler is No. 2 and would be a great addition to the Steelers' offensive line.
Pittsburgh needs a tough, gritty lineman to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and they will use the No. 24 pick in the first round to select Zeitler because he fits the profile.
Zeitler is a 6'4", 315-pounder that specialized in clearing running lanes for Badger running backs Montee Ball and James White. He also provided excellent protection for quarterback Russell Wilson, who led Wisconsin to the Big Ten title in 2011.
He is a hard-working football player who moved up a lot of draft charts in the closing days and weeks before tomorrow's draft.
With the First Pick in the Second Round the Rams Select Jerel Worthy
Jerel Worthy is a perfect fit for the St. Louis Rams. They need immediate help at the defensive tackle spot to clog up the running lanes, and Worthy seemed to enjoy standing up offensive linemen and squashing running backs while playing college football for Michigan State.
He is considered the second best defensive tackle in the draft according to some analysts, but he didn't perform particularly well in the NFL Combine. It would be surprising if the NFL got through the first 50 picks and Worthy wasn't selected by a team that needs a strong run stopper.
Mike Adams and the Detroit Lions Seem Like a Good Match in Second Round
It is a bit scary to see so many NFL draft analysts expecting the Detroit Lions (my hometown team) to pick Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams as their second round selection. It's logical, especially if the Lions get the quality cornerback they need with their first pick of the day.
The cynical will declare that Adams is a perfect fit for the Lions after his positive drug test at the NFL Combine. However, he's too big and mobile to ignore when your team needs a strong run blocker.
Adams is imposing at 6'7" and is pretty quick for a guy who weighs between 320 and 330 pounds. His wide base and long wingspan could help form a great wall of protection for Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Devon Still to New England in the Second Round Makes Sense
Penn State's Devon Still can play defensive tackle or end, which is the type of versatility that will benefit the New England Patriots.
He is the type of player who prefers brute force over finesse and enjoys collapsing the pocket around opposing quarterbacks. Though Still weighs in the low 300's, offensive linemen find it difficult to drive him out of play.
As the Patriots' second round draft choice, Still could provide the pass rushing presence that New England needs on the defensive line.
Who Will Draft Talented Center Peter Konz?
When do you draft a center?
Wisconsin's Peter Konz has plenty of talent, though some draft analysts dropped him behind teammate Kevin Zeitler. He's just in an awkward spot.
There was a rumor floating around earlier this month that the Patriots would take him with their second first round pick (No. 31 overall). The situation changed when a report out of Foxboro indicated New England plans on trading the pick.
Konz is versatile enough to play center or guard. It just comes down to deciding when is he the best player on the draft board. It would not surprise me if Konz was a third round draft choice.