clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2017 NFL draft rankings: Top 10 guards/centers

New, comments
NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Alabama
Lamp blocking Tim Williams
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

With the trade rumors surrounding Branden Albert (NFL.com), the Miami Dolphins could find themselves in the position to make a move for an interior lineman in the NFL draft.

Unfortunately, it will require a pick in the first two rounds to get a dependable, day-one starter.

Is that something Miami is willing to do?

I combined guard and center in this list, since the lineman class is so thin.

Honorable Mentions: Greg Pyke, UGA; Sean Harlow, Oregon State.

10. Kyle Fuller (C), Baylor: Fuller has excellent size for the position, but has a long way to go until he sees the field in the NFL.

At 6 feet 5 inches, 306 pounds he has the physique that coaches look for in a center. He has good strength in his hands, and adequate movement in his hips, but his technique is a major concern. Despite being powerful, he’s very stiff and slow – an overall mediocre athlete. He lacks balance and movement in pass protection, especially in combination blocks. Fuller keeps a nice base in his pass protection, but shows poor technique in redirecting pass rushers. He can’t be asked to do too much at this stage in his career, as he takes many poor angles on any outside run plays. Fuller’s physical traits are expected to translate well in the NFL, but there’s not much to like about him after that. He’ll need serious coaching at the next level.

9. Tyler Orlosky (C), West Virginia: Orlosky won’t be an all-star, but he has the potential to be a decent starter for an NFL team.

He’s a guy who plays under control and isn’t afraid to get physical inside. He shows nice balance when fighting through contact, and shows great strength and quickness in his hands when punching. I was impressed with his ability to redirect pass rushers, since he doesn’t have great length or athleticism. He kept up in pass protection against crafty pass rushers, despite lacking great lateral movement. He showed a lot of inconsistency with his footwork and hand placement when taking on contact at the second level. These inconsistencies lead to other inconsistencies, such as driving through defenders in run blocking. He must learn to consistently finish his opponent, not just latch on and participate in a pushing match until the whistle blows. His biggest improvement he must make is in pass protection. He is slow with his movement and anticipation – especially during blitzes.

He’ll be a late round pick who needs refinement before being trusted as a contributor to an offensive line.

8. Damien Mama (G), USC: Mama is a powerful guard who needs improvement on his pass protection.

His huge frame (325 pounds) is used effectively with nice bend in his back, shoulders and knees, but must improve his narrow base. He’s got strong hands with an impactful punch, matching the strength of bull-rushers. He showed active feet in pass protection and was rarely caught flat-footed. Mama isn’t a guy who is known for athleticism, but he has adequate lateral quickness and ability to block in space. His biggest weakness is his inconsistency. Too many times he would take on the wrong assignment on blitzes and pull-blocks. He showed poor redirect and recovery techniques, and struggled with angled blocks. Despite having room for improvement on pass protection, he flashed potential as a good run blocker.

I personally wouldn’t select him before the fifth round, but a team could fall in love with his size and decide to select him earlier. He will likely not be a starter in his first year in the NFL.

7. Nico Siragusa (G), San Diego State: Siragusa is a power-running guard with a wide girth of 330 pounds.

A well-liked teammate who is willing to battle for four quarters. He has a strong core and great bend in his hips that allow him to use his full power. He is a physical guy who works best as a drive-blocker, looking to go through his opponent. He won’t flourish in a system that requires a lot of athleticism and intricate running styles. Put him on a team who wants to ground and pound for four quarters, and you’ll get the most out of him. He’s a decent pull-blocker who has the ability to redirect defenders with his strength. He’ll win a lot of battles with bull rushers due to his core strength and strong arms. He lacks explosion out of stance and is off-balance with quicker pass rushers. The timing in his punches are off, and struggles to mirror advanced pass rushers. His run blocking is excellent, but his pass protection remains a concern.

Expect him to be drafted early in the third round unless he’s reached for.

6. Ethan Pocic (C), LSU: Pocic is a hard-working blocker who isn’t the most skilled, but will not be out-hustled.

He’s lacks strength in his upper body, but he has above average athleticism to make up for it.

He does a nice job of locking his hands onto his opponent’s chest and keeping them there for the rest of the play. He does well with keeping his body balanced when latching onto bigger bull rushers. He needs to improve his pad level and securing the edge in pass protection. He excels in picking up blocks, and has good lateral movement to handle advanced running plays. Pocic maintains a good base, and reaches second-level assignments while taking good angles. He does exceptionally well with blocking in space, and uses pull-blocks efficiently. He struggled to consistently zone block, especially against physical bull rushers. There were times where he struggled to mirror bull rushers using a bend-not-break mentality, causing traffic in the pocket. Pocic is a smart guy who can be a leader on an offensive line.

He’s likely to be selected in the second round.

5. Taylor Moton (G), Western Michigan: At 6 feet 5 inches tall, 330 pounds Moton is another massive guard entering the draft.

He has big, strong hands combined with good arm length to keep defenders honest. He comes off the snap with good timing and pad level, with experience at both tackle and guard. His hips remain a bit stiff, but it’s not a major concern and can be coached. He gets knocked off balance against quicker linebackers, and he’ll need to improve his anticipation of blitz pickups. He was exceptional in drive-blocking, and used his lower half strength to take defenders out of the play from the moment the ball was snapped. Moton uses his hands very well as a run blocker, creating initial pop to drive the defender back and create holes for the running back. If Moton latches on to a defender, forget it – they’ll be taken out of the play. It’s very rare that Moton meets a bull-rushing defender that he can’t match. He was especially impressive against Ohio State in 2015, competing at an extremely high level. Despite his impressive play, there is room for improvement in his game. His footwork drags and needs to be more active – he got caught off balance when he faced pass rushers who were athletic. He needs correction in his lateral-movement blocks and his base. Too often he was caught taking unorthodox angles to blocks there were out of his radius. Like many other lineman in the draft, he needs to improve his pass protection. His average athleticism and lack of lateral quickness will be a concern against defenders coming from outside angles.

Since the lineman class is thin, expect Moton to be reached for in the second round. He wouldn’t be the ideal choice for the Dolphins, but he is an upgrade for them at the guard position. He’d be a valuable third-round pick of he’s there.

4. Dan Feeney (G), Indiana: Feeney is a tough, physical guard who is a zone-blocking specialist.

He’s one of the more polished pass blockers in the draft. He isn’t considered great in pass protection, but he’s above average and experienced. He shows nice footwork when setting the edge in pass protection, and has good awareness of blitzes. He needs to improve his pad level and narrow base in order to improve balance issues. He takes good angles against second-level targets, especially on cut-blocks and pull-blocks. Feeney is a mature blocker, remaining patient until he’s in position to engage in a block. He needs to improve the bend in his knees to allow himself better leverage and longer sustainable blocks, and to improve consistency in his push off the snap to keep defenders honest. Despite lacking exceptional strength, he’s an intelligent leader who could serve as an above-average guard in his career.

Good Feeney:

Bad Feeney:

Expect Feeney to be a second-round pick. Since he’s more of a zone-blocking guard, I don’t think he’s a great fit for the Dolphins.

3. Dorian Johnson (G), Pittsburgh: Johnson is the first lineman on this list that is ready to be a day-one starter.

Johnson has ideal height (6 feet 5 inches), length, frame (315 pounds), strength and consistency you look for in a guard. He’s an above-average athlete who shows strong lower half power when run blocking. Using his tenacity, he drives defenders backward in space, especially on stretch-run plays. He needs to improve the transition coming out of his stance. He occasionally came off the snap slightly slow or fast, throwing his timing off. He shows a consistent base and sunken hips on pass protection, allowing him to compete with bigger pass rushers. Johnson excels in hitting second-level targets with force and effectively using pull-blocks with great lateral footwork. Johnson occasionally is over aggressive with the angles he takes in run blocking, and needs to improve locking in against pass rushers. Despite his strong punches, defenders use their hands and footwork to squirm away from Johnson due to his over aggressiveness.

His game is polished without and huge needs, but he will need to tweak a few things. He fits well in any running scheme due to his combination of power and athleticism. He would be a great fit for the Dolphins in the second round.

2. Pat Elflein (C), Ohio State: Elflein is a guy who immediately makes your offensive line better.

He’s a guy who will be a leader on offense with his ferocity and nastiness. He’s got a strong upper and lower body (300 pounds), and an even stronger brain by altering his assignments based on the flow of the play. His hip stiffness caused his pad level to occasionally raise too high. Elfein is polished and patient in pull-blocking by squaring up and attacking his assignment in a controlled way rather than lunging. Expect him to explode through defenders until the whistle blows, showing excellent hand placement and strength. Elfein was incredibly impressive at projecting moves before defensive tackles made them. Whether it was a bull-rush, twist or swim move, Elfein had a knack for reading the defender’s move before he made it. He showed an excellent punch in pass protection, knocking defenders off balance following the snap. He has decent height (6 feet 3 inches) to play both center and guard when needed, and he has experience at both positions to back it up. Despite being a decent athlete, his footwork is heavy and slow. He struggled with switching off his assignment and picking up delayed A-gap blitzers. He’ll have to set the edge quicker with more athletic pass rushers. His lack of lateral quickness was exposed against Taco Charlton versus Michigan on a switch assignment. While he can play both center and guard, his success will be way higher center.

His technique isn’t perfect, but it’s ahead of many lineman in this draft. He’s a day-one starter with a high ceiling, who will likely be picked in the second round.

1. Forrest Lamp (G), Western Kentucky: Lamp has the potential to be big-time lineman in the NFL.

He’s a four-year starter at left tackle who most notably shined against Alabama this past season.

Many scouts are making him a guard due to his lack of length, which I agree with. As one of the most athletic lineman in the draft, he has the diversity to play any position on the line, something the Dolphins would love to have. He shows great pad level combined with sunken hips and terrific footwork. He has a good base that needs to be a tad wider, but overall isn’t a glaring problem. Lamp uses strong, compact punches in the run game, and remains in control of the assignment he is blocking. He isn’t flawless as a pass protector, but he’s very good with room to grow. He has the athleticism and strength to match many defenders, but he will need to bulk up to possess the necessary strength as an NFL guard. He does a nice job of mirroring pass rushers and countering spin moves, and is rarely bull-rushed. He needs to improve his hand placement into a tighter window of the defender in the NFL, punching out strictly in the chest area. If he could further improve his frame (6 feet 4 inches, 305 pounds) and add mass, he has the chance to be a big-time guard in the NFL.

He is projected to go in the early second round, but you could see him sneak into the first round.