BBD Writer Carter Eckl
They are the bread and butter of every offense, yet they happen to be the most underrated players in the game of football. The MAC has two of these type of players that we are looking heavily at. They are offensive lineman. Eric Fisher, an offensive tackle out of Central Michigan is the biggest name to come out of the MAC this year. Another prospect is Brian Winters from Kent State, who is listed as a tackle but plays all over the offensive line. Both prospects will be drafted but their fundamentals and talent will decide where these two will go in April.
Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan is hands down the best player to come out of the MAC this year. Fisher is talented enough to have received First Team All-MAC honors. He’s quick, he is a great blocker, and is an all-around handful for defensive players. He comes in at 6-7 and 297 pounds which is an ideal size for a tackle on an offensive line. Not only is he the perfect size, he doesn’t let anyone past him.
Fisher is one of those prospects it’s very hard to find flaws in. He moves his feet exceptionally well and has to be one of the most effective blockers in college football. He is a phenomenal pass blocker and a talented run blocker at the same time. The most noticeable trait Fisher brings to the table is his non-stop competitiveness. He competes to the end of every play and every game. He is constantly looking to finish a block when the opportunity arises. His run blocking skills are superb as he pulls well and quickly gets into positions he needs to be, to create a hole.
The only problems I can seem to find in him are small improvements in his run blocking. He can get caught off guard and is occasionally susceptible to a good swim move. That is a small blemish that can be fixed at the next level. One other minor concern with Fisher is the knee injury that caused him to miss the final two games of the 2011 regular season. Granted this was last year, but knee injuries in football are always of the upmost concern as they are known to end careers.
Fisher had a standout performance at the Senior Bowl which boosted his draft stock significantly. I think Fisher gets his name called by the Arizona Cardinals who have the seventh pick of the draft. If not, expect the Bills to certainly consider his skill set at the eighth pick. However, I see Fisher going inside the first ten picks of the draft. I would be absolutely stunned if he fell outside of the top 20.
Brian Winters out of Kent State is listed at 6-3, 302 pounds, and runs a speedy 5.05-40 yard dash. Winters led the way for the Golden Flashes running attack allowing Dri Archer to grab national headlines with some of his performances. Kent State was 18th in the nation in rushing yards showing how good this offensive line was.
Winters brings a ton of consistency to any offensive line he may join in the NFL. He started all 36 games he played at Kent State and has almost no injury history. He played right tackle in both his sophomore and junior season before being switched to right guard for his senior year. Very similar to Fisher, Winters does a very good job moving his feet and staying light on his toes.
On the other hand, since Kent State relied so much on the ground game he is a much better run blocker than pass blocker. He can struggle on passing plays because he tends to stab at blocks and get caught out of position. His game is well rounded though as he always plays with a disruptive attitude and takes solid angles to set up his blocks. His overall awareness isn’t ideal but it allows him to adjust on the fly and make blocks he wouldn’t have made otherwise.
I see Winters being taken as early as the end of the 3rd round. Expect him to be a solid 4th round pick for any team looking for a talented, consistent, balanced offensive lineman. I think his best fit would be with a team that could use a lineman that can be allowed time to develop. Though the Steelers and Rams won’t be able to give him time in that aspect, I still think he is a good fit with both of those teams.
With the Bills potentially looking at losing Andy Levitre in the off-season due to Free Agency I expect them to act quickly and draft an offensive lineman high. New Bills coach Doug Marrone likes offensive lineman who can move on their feet and both players offer that trait.