2011 NFL Draft: Offensive Guard and Center Rankings for April

Keet BaileyCorrespondent IIDecember 22, 2010

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 28:  Marcus Cannon #61, Kyle Dooley #72 and Alonzo Adams #81 of the TCU Horned Frogs raise the Mountain West Regular Season Championship trophy at Amon G. Carter Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


Guards in the NFL are the hogs in the interior line who generally get a great push in the run game. They generally need to be strong and able to hold the point of attack well off of the snap. They need to make sure they don’t over extend their arms and that they stay in tight with the defender.

In the run game, they need to be able to finish the block and move to the second level quickly, the second level being the linebackers. Often they are required to pull in counters, traps and sweeps, so agility is a plus. Guards really need to stay low and keep their hands inside in the passing game.

NFL Soup previews our offensive guard rankings for the 2011 NFL Draft.

1) Benjamin Ijalana Villanova 6’4" 320

Ijalana is arguably the best interior line prospect in this draft. He’s severely underrated do to playing in the FCS, but he is best known for his ability in the passing game. He has good strength in the run game and finishes blocks quickly to get to the next level. He’s a fantastic overall guard with great leverage and balance, beating up on even the biggest and strongest defensive tackles in the game.

Projection: First round

2) Marcus Cannon TCU 6’6" 350

Cannon is an offensive tackle right now, but his best play could come at guard in the NFL. He is athletic enough to play both guard and tackle positions and has quick feet to guard against even the quickest defenders. He rarely gives up sacks and is a big reason for Andy Dalton’s success. He’s one of the most NFL-ready offensive lineman in the draft. Cannon excels in the passing game, and could bolster the run game for many teams.

Projection: First round

3) Rodney Hudson Florida State 6’2" 287

Hudson is a great talent and has helped bolster what could be the best left side of an offensive line in college football with Andrew Datko. Despite his lack of weight, which is a big of a concern, he’s got good strength and does well standing up defensive tackles using his leverage to his advantage. Hudson is also solid in pass protection, as few defenders have gotten through him to register a sack. He needs to bulk up a bit and maintain his athleticism.

Projection: First round

4) Mike Pouncey Florida 6’5" 320

Pouncey is playing center in his senior campaign and is struggling with the transition. Although his blocking hasn’t been terrible, he’s had problems in popping up right after the snap and it’s led to fumbles for Florida. He’ll switch back to guard in the NFL and be a force in the run game. He gets great leverage and stands up defenders well, keeping them from pushing him back.

Projection: Second round

5) John Moffitt Wisconsin 6’5" 325

Moffitt is a big-time mauler who punishes opposing defensive tackles. He gets low and keeps his hands inside getting a big-time push, paving the way for the talented backs of Wisconsin. His footwork could use some work in the pass, as he tends to stand straight up in pass protection. Moffitt’s agility allows him to move well laterally on pulls. With the talent in front of him, a first-round projection is doubtful as he’s best off at the end of the second round.

Projection: Second round

6) Orlando Franklin Miami (Fl.) 6’7" 315

Franklin played guard in 2008 and 2009, and played it very well. Had he left for the 2010 NFL Draft, he could have been the second or third guard off the board. Unfortunately, he got moved to left tackle and has been exposed, particularly in the passing game. He’s not very athletic and needs to become more agile if he wants to even think about playing left tackle. Franklin could still be a very good guard in the NFL, but will need to improve his footwork.

Projection: Third round

7) Justin Boren Ohio State 6’3" 318

There’s a lot of upside in this top notch guard who’s experienced two Big Ten schools in their prime. Boren started off at Michigan and transferred to Ohio State in 2008 despite being successful as a Wolverine. Boren gets a great burst off the snap, quickly punching the opposing defender and finishing the block to move on to the second level. In the passing game he’s above average, as he needs to position his hands better, sometimes getting caught with his arms on the outside of the defender. There is a large amount of upside here.

Projection: Third round

8) Cordy Glenn Georgia* 6’5" 330

Glenn is a versatile lineman having played both guard positions, and a little bit of left tackle in 2009. He’s a bit raw, but he gets a good push in the run game, and has the athleticism to excel in pass protection. He needs work with hand placement, and could stand to improve on his footwork, but the upside is huge. He will most likely spend another year in school as he could be a late first round pick in 2012.

Projection: Third round

9) Lucas Nix Pittsburgh* 6’6" 305

Nix has made a bigger impact at right guard for Pitt in the middle of the 2010 season. Despite playing right tackle in both 2008 and 2009, he’s become a more effective run blocker after being moved inside. His pass protection has also improved, as he struggled with edge rushers at right tackle. Nix isn’t the quickest lineman, which is why he’s succeeded a bit more inside. He has excellent balance, and stands up defenders.

Projection: Fourth round

10) Stephen Good Oklahoma* 6’6" 300

Good has been nothing short of fantastic for the Sooners. He’s got good strength, and is great at the point of attack in the run game. Good also is a solid pass protector as he very rarely lets his man get through for a sack. He has excellent recovery skills and could become a top guard in the 2012 class. If Good does come out and perform well at the combine, his ceiling is a second round for 2010, but he’s still a bit raw overall.

Projection: Fifth round

11) Steve Schilling Michigan 6’5" 309

Projection: Fifth round

12) Ryan Miller Colorado* 6’8" 315

Projection: Fifth round

13) Kelechi Osemele Iowa State* 6’5" 305

Projection: Sixth round

14) John Bender Nevada 6’8" 325

Projection: Seventh round

15) Andrew Jackson Fresno State 6’6" 295

Projection: Seventh round

16) Joel Figueroa Miami (Fl.) 6’6" 323

17) Zach Hurd UConn 6’7" 325

18) Zack Heberer USC 6’5" 300

19) Ken Plue Purdue* 6’7" 342

20) Bryant Browning Ohio State 6’4" 313

21) Butch Lewis USC 6’5" 295

22) Carl Johnson Florida 6’5" 350

23) Chris Jacobson Pittsburgh* 6’3" 290

24) Anthony Morgan Oklahoma State 6’3" 310

25) Caleb Schlaudeaff Utah 6’4" 302

26) Will Rackley Lehigh 6’4" 305

27) David Arkin Missouri State 6’5" 305

28) Thomas Claiborne Boston College 6’3" 322

29) Jason Kelce Cincinnati 6’4" 285

30) Rod Huntley UTEP 6’3" 320

31) Alan Pelc North Carolina 6’6" 305

32) James Wilson Florida* 6’3" 313


Centers in the NFL are often underappreciated, despite the fact that they are the signal callers of the offensive line. They need to be very smart and aware of their surroundings, calling out blitzes and seeing player trends to call out potential stunts on the defensive line.

They play a lot like guards, low and are able to hold the point of attack. There’s nothing worse than a center that is slow to react off of his own snap, and gets bull rushed. Like guards, you want to see the center finish his primary block quickly so that he can move to the second level on run plays. In the passing game, the center wants to keep the lineman’s hands down, and mirror him, never allowing him to come freely on the inside, as that’s the quickest route to the backfield.

NFL Soup presents its center rankings for the 2011 NFL Draft.

1) Stefen Wisniewski Penn State 6’3" 305

You may recognize the last name as he’s from a fantastic football pedigree. Wisniewski has the ability to play guard or center at the next level. He’s not an overly strong player, but he is very smart, and does a great job of being the lower man at the point of attack. He should have no problem bulking up with a bit of room to grow, but he could become a top notch center or guard at the next level.

Projection: Second round

2) Kris O’Dowd USC 6’5" 298

O’Dowd has been a starter for over three seasons in USC’s offensive line. He’s got great leader ship ability and shows off his talents in pass protection the most. He’s another extremely intelligent center although we feel that he is most likely maxed out in terms of overall ability. He’s great at getting to the next level as well. He will struggle with bigger defensive tackles and nose tackles at the next level as he’s not as strong as we’d like him to be, but he could be an effective center in a zone blocking scheme.

Projection: Third round

3) Jake Kirkpatrick TCU 6’3" 305

Kirkpatrick is the leader of a TCU offensive line that has excelled offensively for the last few seasons. He’s very good at holding the point of attack, and uses his physical ability to his advantage to control his defender. His footwork in the passing game needs a bit of work, and he tends to stop churning his feet when going up against a stronger defensive tackle. Kirkpatrick still gets good leverage and stays under the defender.

Projection: Third round

4) Chase Beeler Stanford 6’3" 290

Beeler transferred from Oklahoma in 2008 and started every game in Toby Gerhart’s Heisman trophy campaign in the 2009 season. Beeler is an excellent run blocker with above-average strength. He has been a great asset for Andrew Luck whom has relied on Beeler to make the correct reads and calling out blitzes. Beeler still has room to bulk up a bit.

Projection: Fourth round

5) Michael Brewster Ohio State* 6’4" 300

Brewster is one of the more mobile centers in the draft. He stays low at the point of attack and keeps his defender close to his body in the run game. Brewster’s agility allows him to stay in front of his defender and recover if needed. He has good size and is the most reliable offensive lineman on the Ohio State line.

Projection: Fourth round

6) Ryan Bartholomew Syracuse 6’1" 301

Projection: Fifth round

7) Ryan McMahon Florida State 6’5" 284

Projection: Sixth round

8) Zane Taylor Utah 6’2" 309

Projection: Seventh round

9) Alex Linnenkohl Oregon State 6’2" 304

Projection: Seventh round

10) Will Vlachos Alabama* 6’1" 290

11) Kevin Kowalski Toledo 6’4" 299

12) Dan Wenger Notre Dame 6’4" 298

13) Ben Jones Georgia* 6’3" 301

14) Colin Baxter Arizona 6’4" 295

15) Brandon Fusco Slippery Rock 6’4" 300

16) Colin Miller Central Michigan 6’3" 300

17) David Molk Michigan* 6’2" 290

18) Beau Warren Virginia Tech 6’3" 287

19) Ryan Tolar Washington 6’5" 296

20) Tim Barnes Missouri 6’4" 300

Do you Tweet? Follow me @NFLSoupKeet

Be sure to keep up to date with NFLSoup for all of your 2011 NFL Draft coverage.