Blue-Collar Physicality: The Best NFL Prospect Nobody's Heard Of

Jackson SiegmanContributor IMarch 6, 2010

Chris Marinelli is a very large human being.  6'7" and 300 pounds, to be more precise.  So it's no wonder that he loves the physical nature of playing offensive tackle.

"(We) grind at what we do, show up every day," said Marinelli in a pre-season interview.  "It's fun to embody that image."  As the undisputed leader of Stanford's 'Tunnel Workers Union' offensive line that prides itself on toughness and a blue-collar work ethic, Marinelli is a living, breathing representation of the playing style that Cardinal fans have come to know and love.

In fact, the "Tunnel Workers Union' moniker was Marinelli's idea.  His father, Jim, is a long-time member of Tunnel Workers Union Local 88 in Massachusetts, so the concept is nothing new in their family.  "(He was) a hard working guy, that's what (he) hangs his hat on, so he joined the union," Marinelli said.  And when it came time to find a nickname for the offensive line, a logical choice entered the conversation.

Marinelli got his start in Braintree, Massachusetts, a town where "people are crazy, people are bent on sports year-round."  He was a three-sport star at Boston College High School, playing football, basketball, and track and field, fending off brutal weather conditions on the way.  "When we started camp, it was 100-plus, with humidity, and at the end of the season, we spent our Thursday-night practices shoveling off the field so we could play Friday," said Marinelli.  "Out here (in California), all we get is a little bit of rain."  Having earned All-State recognition in both football and track and field, Marinelli was certainly a big fish in the pond, both literally and figuratively.

However, Chris Marinelli is more than a massive individual who likes hitting people; he is a supremely talented right tackle whose accomplishments have gone largely unnoticed by most of the country.  A 2009 second-team All-American and three-year member of the All-Pac-10 team, he has been a driving force behind a dominant ground attack and a surprising passing game.  Last season, Stanford allowed only six sacks (second in the nation), and led the Pac-10 in rushing yards.  The accomplishments of Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart can be largely attributed to the steady and solid play of Marinelli and his linemates.

To be quite frank, Marinelli is the complete package; he is everything a coach could ask for in a right tackle.  Using his good strength and athleticism, outstanding technique, strong leadership skills, hard work ethic, and natural talent, he has earned 41 starts, including 36 out of the last 37 games.  He has exhibited uncanny durability and consistency, and was invited to participate in the East-West Shrine Game this past January.  Marinelli even has the genetics for success, as he is the 4th member of his family to play college football.  Aren't we all a little jealous?

Apparently not everyone is drooling over his abilities on the gridiron.  In spite of Marinelli's vast skill set and many accomplishments, Marinelli's work has not been recognized on the scale it should have.  He was not extended an invitation to last week's NFL Combine, and is a relative unknown outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, even though he spent 4 years dominating solid competition.  Stanford pro day awaits, and there will be significantly fewer front office personnel in attendance.

This can only mean good things for the team that acquires Marinelli, as they will obtain a potential starter with a late-round choice.  That can only mean good things for the bank accounts.  Of course, nobody's draft position is secure (see Brady Quinn), but it can be safely assumed that Marinelli will slide to the sixth or seventh rounds.  With his experience, ability, and presumed low draft position, Marinelli has the potential to be the steal of this year's draft class.