By Professor Fred Whitted NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — The title above...
BASN’s NFL Draft Remix (Part Two)
By Michael – Louis Ingram, BASN Columnist
NEW YORK (BASN) – Every now and then, I pop in one of my favorite football movies, the original version of “The Longest Yard.”
Now because I’ve seen this flick so many times, I often cut to the chase and the final slow motion sequence where ex-Florida State Seminole tailback Burt Reynolds makes his dash to the end zone.
The scene of Reynolds rolling out in tandem with the pulling guards is one of the most beautiful celluloid images ever in sport; the synchronicity of players moving in concert cognizant of the fact they are all going in the right direction without having to check to see where each other is.
To be a great guard, you have to have “pull”; as in being able to influence your will in the pit, and be a pivotal dancer in the jockstrap ballet performed between the tackles.
In this class, we contend there are 8-10 potential immediate starters.
Our grade: B
The Guards: (All heights, weights and times approximate)
1. MIKE IUPATI, Idaho, Senior; 6-6, 330, 5.20.
(Selected in the 1st round by the 49ers: 17th overall)
Lupati’s freakish upper body strength and speed are two reasons why I see him as the top guard in this Draft.
Lupati uses his powerful legs and long arms to help him excel as a run blocker; but his poor Senior Bowl showing in pass blocking, ability to locating blocks and using his hands shows some obvious development needs.
Lupati has the raw talent to become a dominant guard in the NFL, if he works hard on improving his technique. In spite of traditional hype about whatever glamour position is the Chef’s Special, any and every potentially great lineman goes first; so it would be no surprise to see Lupati chosen in the first round.
Within his skill sets, Lupati has the ability to control defenders and move them in any direction he chooses; but he has to hold his blocks longer in the passing game. While Idaho didn’t exactly have the toughest schedule, it will be interesting to see how Lupati fares against the NFL’s quicker defensive tackles – as well as his reaction on stunt and blitz pickup.
With a pro line coach fine-tuning the nuances for this Samoan smasher, you are likely looking at a 10-year anchor along anyone’s offensive line.
JON ASAMOAH, Illinois, Senior; 6-4, 305.
(Selected in the 3rd round by the Chiefs: 68th overall)
Only Asamoah’s dimensions stop him from accurately assessing his spot among the guards in this draft. He has some of the shortest arms among the linemen in the draft [31"] and scouts were hoping for a heftier combine weigh-in.
However, Asamoah’s stature is not necessarily a disadvantage. His polished technique allows him to get away with using more of his upper body counterbalanced with a good center of gravity, helping him in not being cited for many holding penalties.
A four-year starter for the Fighting Illini, Asamuoh is fundamentally sound and makes up for any perceived lack of size with his speed, pulling ability and nasty on-field demeanor.
Asamoah is also an Academic-All-American and astute in line calls and blitz pickups, and his work ethic makes him a great addition to any locker room.
3. MIKE JOHNSON, Alabama, Senior; 6-5, 317, 5.37.
(Selected in the 3rd round by the Falcons: 98th overall)
Johnson anchored the Crimson Tide offensive line, which opened holes for Heisman winner Mark Ingram, to the tune of 215.9 rushing yards per game and a national championship.
Johnson is a durable and versatile Bo-Hemoth who started 41 consecutive games along the O-line. This All-American is a smart and methodical guard with size and experience. He complements a cerebral approach with a mean, relentless side. Johnson leads by example and never takes a play off, making him a very desirable draft choice.
SERGIO RENDER, Virginia Tech, Senior; 6-3, 313, 5.13.
(Signed by the Buccaneers as a free agent)
Shoulder surgery on Render following the 2008 Orange Bowl has hurt his stock. Render, one of the most gifted linemen in the draft, was forced to skip spring practice in 2009; but he played enough during the season to win Second Team All-ACC honors. He was a leader on the Hokies and displayed the raw ability that has some projecting him as a middle-round steal.
BRANDON CARTER, Texas Tech, Senior; 6-7, 338, 5.36.
(Signed by the Saints as a free agent)
The All-America guard is much more than just wild spiked hair, mascara and intimidating face paint, Carter seems much more than a comparison to the popular 1990s wrestler The Ultimate Warrior, having bested some of The Big 12′s most ferocious linemen.
Carter can get under your skin because he will talk trash while giving you a whuppin’; but at 6-7, he has more of the desired NFL-ready dimensions ideal for a tackle.
Nimble feet, however, allow Carter to slide inside along center, and give folks like No. 1 draft picks Ndamukong Suh fits. Carter was the ringleader of a Red Raiders rushing attack that put up a school-bowl record 31 first downs and 579 total yards against Michigan State in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
In spite of a Combine where Carter wasn’t particularly sharp, he has still been contacted by over 12 NFL teams. If the massive All Big 12 lineman can control his weight and stay disciplined in his conditioning (has already shed 10 pounds), he can start immediately at the next level.
JOHN JERRY, Ole Miss, Senior; 6-5, 329, 5.15.
(Selected in the 3rd round by the Dolphins: 73rd overall)
Another guard who is a drive-blocking demon lacking technique in pass protection, Jerry made All-SEC First Team as a senior, has great size and agility and should follow his older brother Peria Jerry, an Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle, and cousin Jamarca Sanford, a safety with the Minnesota Vikings, as an early -round selection into the NFL.
Jerry, who can also play tackle, improves his draft stock through his versatility. While he may lack great speed or range, Jerry’s instincts, durability and experience (four-year starter) are a clear indication his pluses far outweigh his minuses.
7. VLADIMIR DUCASSE, Massachusetts, Senior; 6-5, 332, 5.21.
(Selected in the 2nd round by the Jets: 61st overall)
Ducasse is more of an all-around athletic phenomenon than a future NFL guard. The Haitian-born Ducasse didn’t even pick up a football until his parents sent him to the U.S. for a better life at age 14.
He played only two years against lower-grade competition at UMass, but Ducasse has superior physical tools and impressive athleticism. While he is still learning the position and playing more off instinct than understanding, the phrase “ignorance is bliss”, won’t work at the next level.
Ducasse could blossom into the steal of the draft. Ducasse is smart, nimble and his stock has risen since his Senior Bowl display; in which he wowed scouts by playing all of the line positions on offense and then switching to defense.
With his modern day size and a throwback attitude, this All-CAA tackle’s future as an NFL guard is set in stone, as Ducasse’s intelligence and versatility will guarantee him a spot on any roster.
MARSHALL NEWHOUSE , TCU, Senior; 6-4, 322, 5.00.
(Selected in the 5th round by the Packers: 169th overall)
Newhouse was a true pit boss for the Horned Frogs, making the All-Mountain West First Team. Can pull and pass block well (showed well at the East-West Shrine Game), and loves to punish at the line of scrimmage.
The Mountain West proved it was no joke last season as it spanked the Five Families schools pretty good, and TCU did get the shaft in the BCS madness. I feel Newhouse has the skill sets to be an impact player if he gets thrown into a rotation immediately. Teams like Seattle and Washington who need good combo guards would fit the bill as a new house for Newhouse.
MITCH PETRUS, Arkansas, Senior; 6-3, 307, 5.25.
(Selected in the 5th round by the Giants: 147th overall)
Petrus was part of an O-line of Baby ‘Backs that served up a lot of sore ribs while clearing the path for Felix Jones and Darren McFadden.
An Associated Press All-America Second Team selection, Petrus has a super-strong upper body and legs (no problem keeping defenders at arms’ length); but no verification whether that translates to enough of a degree of flexibility needed for lateral acceleration. If you live to run like Buffalo, Carolina and Miami do, Petrus could be a nice addition.
1 0. SHELLEY SMITH, Colorado State, Senior; 6-3, 5-11, 300, 5.00.
(Selected in the 6th round by the Texans: 187th overall)
We won’t even go there on the name because I’m sure Mr. Smith has heard it enough times. What I will go on about is Smith’s skill in the pit. He has good footwork and can pull and slide with nice technique. Smith plays with a low center of gravity and has great balance; so much so he consistently frustrated bigger opponents.
Smith played well enough to earn an All-Mountain West honorable mention; and his style is a throwback to linemen like Larry Little and Bob Kuechenberg – guys who didn’t have to batter you to death over 60 minutes because of their technical superiority.