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The NFL draft moves to prime time for the first time in 2010. The first round will be in PRIMETIME, and takes place on Thursday April 22nd at 7:30 p.m. ET. The NFL Draft second and third rounds are on Friday April 23 at 6 p.m. ET. Rounds Four thru Seven will be held on Saturday April 24th at 10 a.m. ET.
2010 Interior Lineman – Guard/Center Rankings
MIKE IUPATI – Idaho
Iupati is a mountain of a man, and likely the first interior offensive lineman off the board. He is 6”5, 330 lbs and plays with a vehement streak of nastiness. He will consistently win battles in close proximity, finishes his blocks and doesn’t take plays off. His athleticism isn’t out of this world, but he can still pull effectively and his trump card is run blocking. Iupati has been projected by many as a second-rounder, but he might be selected at the end of the first round by the Dallas Cowboys; Iupati and his road-grading tendencies are a Cowboys calling card. Dallas also has some good offensive lineman that aren’t getting any younger.
MAURKICE POUNCEY – Florida
Maurkice and his twin brother Mike have been a formidable road-grading duo for the Gators’ offensive line the past few seasons. This season’s center class was fairly uninspiring until Pouncey, a junior, decided to declare early. The biggest concern – if Pouncey were groomed to be the successor of, say, Colts center Jeff Saturday – is that Pouncey must learn to handle the traditional snap. Despite coming from a Florida program renowned for its finesse and gimmicks, Pouncey is strong and tough and should thrive at the next level. Do not be surprised to see Indianapolis snap up Pouncey late in the first round; particularly because Indy’s o-line is somewhat weak and Saturday is a grizzled vet. Colts GM Bill Polian also loves drafting offense high and finding bargain-bin defenders later in the draft.
J.D. WALTON – Baylor
Waco’s Walton will likely be the first center off the board, as early as the second round. Like Iupati, Walton’s greatest strength is run blocking. He packs a lot of strength in a 6”3, 300 lb frame. He has very strong hands that are adept at latching on and creating momentum. Walton also served as a leader on a crappy Baylor football team and was a three-year starter. The downside is that Walton isn’t an impressive athlete, but he reminds some of the Giants’ Shaun O’Hara – a scrappy technician who gets the job done. It helped that Walton didn’t embarrass himself at the Combine; his three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, in particular, were respectable.
JON ASAMOAH – Illinois
This senior guard increased his stock with a strong final season for the Illini. At 6”5, 320 lbs, Asamoah possesses all the requisite size needed. He started building his resume a couple seasons ago whilst carving holes out for current Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall. Illinois took a strong run game all the way to the Rose Bowl that season with Asamoah earning Honorable Mention all-Big Ten honors. Asamoah is also a surprisingly good pass blocker; he’s overlooked because he played on such a crap team this year. As scouts watch him work through his drills, they will warm up to Asamoah en masse.
JOHN JERRY – Ole Miss
Even before watching on-field maulings, the Rebels’ Jerry has the size and pros in his bloodline to be an NFL lock. Going at 6”5, 350 lbs, if a defender can’t get around Jerry, they’re going to be wiped out. Also, John’s brother Peria was a first-rounder for Atlanta last year and the Jerry's also have two cousins who played in the NFL – Dwayne Rudd and Eddie Strong. Jerry has been all-conference SEC the past couple seasons and though he played at RT for Ole Miss, he projects as a guard in the pros. One major downside to Jerry is his inability to deal with speed, which is why he looks better working in a phone booth at one of the interior line positions. His strengths match up really well with a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Honorable Mention: MITCH PETRUS, Arkansas – This Razorbacks guard wowed everyone at the Combine with a ridiculous 45 reps on the bench. This young man is a beast.
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