BBD Assistant Editor: Joe Marino
Although it has only one prospect with a first-round grade, this year’s draft class of guards has plenty of players with the potential to become productive NFL starters. The value for guards always comes in middle rounds, and there is a great deal of talent to be had in that range from this class.
The most exciting guard prospect in this year’s draft is UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo, who excels in all areas. He executes down blocks, drive blocks and combo blocks at a high level while engaging defenders quickly and winning with power and quickness. Su’a-Filo blocks well in space and is a shut-down pass blocker with a strong anchor. He offers additional versatility, having played and performed well as a tackle during his college career.
First Round Grades
1. Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA: Su’a-Filo is a technically sound blocker who offers versatility and has a balanced skill set. He can create significant movement in the run game and is a superb pass blocker. He is a plug-and-play prospect.
2. Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State: Jackson is a massive guard who can be an absolute mauler in the run game. He needs to work on his footwork, so as not to get beaten with finesse by quicker defensive tackles, but he could be an impact blocker early in his career.
3. Brandon Thomas, Clemson: Despite tearing his ACL during a team workout, Thomas is an excellent guard prospect. He has great balance and is a solid athelete who is a skilled and balanced blocker.
4. David Yankey, Stanford: Yankey is technically sound and can dominate as a run blocker. Although he played some offensive tackle at Stanford, he doesn’t have the foot speed to project to that position in the NFL.
5. Billy Turner, North Dakota State: Turner is a game-changer as a run blocker. He is extremely aggressive and physical in the run game and punishes his opponents. In doing so, he plays with great leverage and technique. Turner needs significant technique work as a pass blocker.
6. Trai Turner, LSU: Turner overwhelms opponents with his ability to drive block. He has a strong anchor and is a very tenacious blocker.
7. Dakota Dozier, Furman: Dozier shows solid natural pass-blocking ability and is a fluid athlete. He can generate push as a run blocker and make blocks at the second level.
8. Cyril Richardson, Baylor: Richardson is a mauler who can generate significant movement as a run blocker. He has limited lateral movement skills, which hurt him as a pass blocker, but Richardson could excel in a power scheme.
9. Chris Watt, Notre Dame: Watt is a tough and competitive blocker who plays with a nasty demeanor. He has good bend and balance and projects as a potential starting guard who could be had in the middle rounds.
10. Zach Fulton, Tennessee: Fulton is a standout run blocker who sustains and finishes blocks very well. He has heavy feet, which give him trouble as a pass blocker, but Fulton is another prospect who projects nicely to a power scheme.
11. Anthony Steen, Alabama: Steen was a steady performer as a three-year starter at Alabama. He is a well-balanced blocker who has starting potential in the NFL.
12. Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama: Kouandjio has all the physical ability to become an excellent NFL offensive lineman. He is incredibly powerful and has an ideal frame for a guard. His game is very raw, but it comes with high upside.
13. Brandon Linder, Miami: Linder is a versatile player who has good length and run blocking skills. With improved lateral foot speed, Linder has the potential to be a starter in the NFL.
14. John Urschel, Penn State: Urschel is a technically sound blocker who wins with intelligence and foot speed. He engages defenders quickly and plays with good leverage. If Urschel can develop more functional strength, he has a bright NFL future.
15. Tyler Shatley, Clemson: Shatley is a sleeper in this class who I like more than most because he can run block at a high level and is a solid athlete. With more refinement in his overall technique, Shatley has starting potential in the NFL.
16. Jon Halapio, Florida: Halapio is an extremely physical blocker who looks to bury people and plays with an aggressive demeanor. He has bend and balance issues as a pass blocker, but has been a productive blocker against great SEC competition.
17. Sam Longo, Cincinnati: Longo is a flashy player and a sleeper in this year’s draft class. He has tremendous strength and athleticism but hasn’t had consistent playing time. He has raw potential that makes him an intriguing prospect later in the draft.
18. Ryan Groy, Wisconsin: Groy is best as a run blocker who can drive block, down block and combo block to linebackers successfully. He has the functional strength to continue doing those things at the next level. Groy is a waist bender, which gets him in all kinds of trouble, but he has potential in a power scheme.
19. Blake Treadwell, Michigan State: Treadwell has an aggressive playing style and was a productive three-year offensive lineman after switching from the defensive line at Michigan State. He has major technique issues but would be an intriguing developmental pick at the end of the draft.
20. Spencer Long, Nebraska: Long went from walk-on to team captain during his Cornhusker career. He is a physical blocker with intriguing physical tools. Consistency when blocking in space has been an issue, but Long can win in tight spaces. He projects as a backup with starting upside.
21. Andrew Norwell, Ohio State: Norwell is a big, physical run blocker who creates movement despite technique issues. He offers versatility and was a productive three-year starter in the Big Ten.
22. Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State: Edwards has an exceptional frame and length, but hasn’t always performed to the level that his physical ability suggests he could. With the the right coaching to maximize his potential, Edwards could be a steal later in the draft.
23. Chris Burnette, Georgia: Burnette struggles laterally but is a good drive blocker and a functional pass blocker. While he doesn’t stand out in any area, he has been a balanced and steady performer and has upside to be a quality reserve.
24. Trey Hopkins, Texas: Hopkins is a balanced blocker who can generate push and anchors well. With more development to his technique, he could prove to be a steal as a late-round selection.
Top Undrafted Free Agents
25. Donald Hawkins, Texas
26. Matt Feiler, Bloomsburg
27. Ronald Patrick, South Carolina
28. Marcus Hall, Ohio State
29. Ryan Clarke, Bloomsburg
30. Conor Boffeli, Iowa
31. Antwan Lowery, Rutgers
32. Kevin Danser, Stanford
Tags: Andrew Norwell, Anthony Steen, Antwan Lowery, Billy Turner, Blake Treadwell, Brandon Linder, Brandon Thomas, Chris Burnette, Chris Watt, Conor Boffeli, Cyril Richardson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Dakota Dozier, David Yankey, Donald Hawkins, Gabe Jackson, John Urschel, Jon Halapio, Kadeem Edwards, Kevin Danser, Marcus Hall, Matt Feiler, Ronald Patrick, Ryan Clarke, Ryan Groy, Sam Longo, Spencer Long, Trai Turner, Trey Hopkins, Tyler Shatley, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Zach Fulton