2014 NFL Draft Prospects: Guards And Centers
By Matt LaPan
The 2013 NFL Draft saw an unprecedented two guards go in the first 10 picks: North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper and Alabama's Chance Warmack. This success could be a part of a changing trend that sees more interior linemen being needed, or it could have just been a couple of extremely good guards.
The 2014 draft likely will not enjoy such top-of-the-draft success, but there are a lot of very good interior linemen in the mix. Here is Football.com's first look at the interior lineman prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft.
1. Cyril Richardson , Baylor, G/T
6-foot-5, 335 pounds
Richardson is one of the biggest players in all of college football. He is a dominating run blocker and a very good pass blocker. Richardson was a second-team All American last season in his first season at guard, finishing behind only Cooper and Warmack. He has played at an all-conference level at tackle and guard, giving him great positional versatility. Richardson also plays with an edge, sometimes a little too much for some teams' liking. Either way, Richardson is one of the best linemen in the entire draft.
2. Bryan Stork, Florida State, C
Stork has played guard, tackle and center during his time at Florida State and became the leader of a young offensive line in 2012. Stork is a great pass blocker and a very good run blocker with enough size and strength to take on nose guards and enough speed to consistently make blocks at the second level.
3. Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State, G
Jackson is another behemoth of an interior lineman. A very good pass blocker and good run blocker, Jackson anchored the Mississippi State line with his great power. He does have some agility issues and needs to work on his speed to the second level. But if Jackson engages a target, it is not often that opponent escapes his block.
4. Russell Bodine, North Carolina, C
Bodine was overshadowed in 2012 by Cooper, his teammate in Chapel Hill. This season, Bodine will have a chance to show his ability not only as a good blocker at the point of attack but with his agility, which allows him to get to the second level on a consistent basis. Bodine does have a tendency to try for too many cut blocks, often leading to missed blocks. He is also more of a leaner than a bender at the knees, which some opposing defensive tackles take advantage of. However he uses great hand strike and a strong frame to overcome that.
5. Anthony Steen, Alabama, G
Steen was that other guard on Alabama, the one not named Warmack who still dominated opponents. Steen uses his long arms to excel in pass blocking. He is also very athletic and used as a pulling guard quite often, with a good amount of success. Although he is no Warmack, another good season for Steen could see him moving up the draft rankings. He does need to work on his explosion off the line of scrimmage, but that should come with more experience.
6. Brandon Thomas, Clemson, G
Thomas has the raw physical tools it takes to be a very good guard, but the tools have simply not been put together. Thomas is a strong run blocker and good pass blocker. He does not have great knee bend and stands up too straight. He can play guard or tackle. Thomas also faces some off-field issues; he has stayed out of trouble since his freshman season but still has a red flag.
7. Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma, C
Ikard might not be the most powerful blocker but he uses his agility to get to any block on the field. His great footwork allows him to get his hips in good position on reach blocks. He also has good speed, allowing him to get to the second level. Ikard's biggest problem is strength at the point of attack, which can be remedied by adding to his frame, which has room to add muscle.
8. Chris Watt, Notre Dame, G
Watt plays with a great motor, which helps him make up for some deficiencies. A good run blocker, but he sometimes struggles to get to faster linebackers in the run game. At times he finds himself too upright, which allows good interior pass rushers to overpower him. Watt does use his speed and athleticism to make good blocks when pulling or trapping.
9. Ryan Groy, Wisconsin, G
Groy is a mammoth guard but his height does not inhibit him too much. He's a natural knee bender with a solid hand punch. Groy may not be the most athletic player but he's athletic enough to make it to the outside on plays where he has to pull. He needs to use his size more to attack players at the line of scrimmage.
10. Weston Richburg, Colorado State, C
Richburgh is a bit of a sleeper coming from Colorado State. He is a good, athletic center who will need to add some muscle to his frame to be able to take on bigger, better opponents. Still, he does a very good job reach blocking from his center position. Richburg is a good but not great run blocker who lacks the explosion off the line to get the blocks he needs.