Cody Whitehair leads PFF ranking of the top OG prospects
Mike Renner takes a day-by-day look at the best guard prospects in this year's draft class.
Cody Whitehair leads PFF ranking of the top OG prospects
After going through tackles and centers earlier this week, our focus shifts to guards today. Many of the guys listed played offensive tackle in college. The reason for that is A) colleges tend to put their best lineman at tackle and B) the caliber of athlete and physique required to be an effective tackle in college isn’t quite the same as it is in the pros. Guards are often talked about in regard to their fit for a zone scheme or gap scheme — smaller, more athletic guys suitable for the former and larger, bulldozing guys for the latter.
Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
He could definitely still be a starting tackle in the NFL, but Whitehair’s skill set profiles so well to guard that it makes sense for him to switch. He’s easily the most technically sound guard prospect in this class with patience well beyond his years. Whitehair was our highest-graded tackle in all over college football last year with dominant run blocking in a varied scheme. Any guard-needy team should feel comfortable taking him in the later half of round one.
Joshua Garnett, Stanford
A massive human being, Garnett has been the common component on one of college football’s most crushing double-team duos each of the past two years playing alongside Andrus Peat (2014) and Kyle Murphy (2015). As a run blocker he’s about as good as it gets in this class. What really got me to come around on Garnett though was his performance at the Senior Bowl. Against guys like Sheldon Day and Sheldon Rankins, Garnett graded out positively in the team drills and while he was negative in pass blocking, he didn’t get completely exposed.
Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State
As smooth as can be, Seumalo has flown under the radar a bit playing for a lowly Oregon State team. The Beavers run game was nothing special, but don’t blame it on Seumalo. The right guard was among the cleanest in the nation, with the second best pass blocking efficiency in the class and the ninth best run blocking success rate. What really impressed us though were his three starts at left tackle against California, Washington, and Oregon to finish the season. In those game he didn’t allow a single pressure and compiled a +5.8 overall grade.
Christian Westerman, Arizona State
Westerman is so proficient in pass protection that it’s surprising Arizona State didn’t employ him as a tackle. He went to the Senior Bowl and put on a show against some stiff competition, winning two thirds of his reps in the one-on-one drills. His grading over the team sessions was equally superb and he didn’t allow a single pressure in 26 pass-blocking snaps. The biggest knock on Westerman is that he’s still undersized for a guard, tipping the scales under 300 pounds, and it costs him movement in the run game. If he can put more mass on his frame, Westerman has all the tools to be a high-level guard.
Spencer Drango, Baylor
Drango played left tackle in college and after his Senior Bowl performance, guard is certainly where he’ll play in the pros. Down in Mobile, he graded negatively in one-on-ones at both tackle positions, was the second lowest graded tackle in practice, and in the actual game he was the lowest graded tackle. So we can nip that tackle experiment in the bud. At guard though, Drango should be able to replicate in part at least some of his production he had at Baylor. There he was basically a down blocking machine that was also utilized pulling around the formation often. He has obvious physical limitations, but few can match the strength he has in his upper body.
Darrell Greene, San Diego State
No one graded out as well in the run game as Greene did on a snap for snap basis a year ago and when you watch him play, it’s not what you typically see from a small school guard that grades well. Greene can move like a defensive tackle and when he was asked to pull, he adapted to moving targets extremely well. He played in a varied, pro style scheme at San Diego State and showed the ability to execute every block they asked him to make. There might be a rocky transition with the jump in competition level, but he has all the tools to play in the league.
Landon Turner, North Carolina
Turner’s movement skills are about as bad as it gets for guards that are still legitimate NFL prospects. Watching him try to hit a moving target when he’s pulling can turn comedic quickly. Turner’s strength though is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The Tarheels guard physical annihilated college competition and he wasn’t limited straight-forward drive blocker. Turner has fantastic hands for a big man and rare coordination for a man his size. With a man with his athleticism, you’ll have to accept that he’s never going to be a plus pass protector. In any sort of gap scheme though he could start from day one.
Graham Glasgow, Michigan
Glasgow was a guard his junior year before switching to center as a senior and grading wise guard seems like his fit in the NFL. He fired off low, but simply couldn’t get low enough and stay on balance at 6-6 to outleverage nose tackles. At the Senior Bowl, few were as impressive as Glasgow. He had a handful of the prettiest reach blocks you’ll ever see and his ability to play on the move is intriguing. His balance issues are worrisome though and he follows up those gorgeous blocks with some ugly whiffs too often to take him highly.
Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas
A gap scheme limited player. Tretola has obvious athleticism issues, but doesn’t quite have the length or coordination of Landon Turner to make up for it in pass protection. He’s a pure bruised in the run game who can crush double teams and downblocks alike. It’s a concern if he’ll ever be able to sustain blocks in the NFL though as he already falls off far too many.
Connor McGovern, Missouri
McGovern split time between guard and tackle his junior year before moving full-time to tackle as a senior. He is a devastatingly strong player yet stiff as can be which likely limits him to inside at the next level. While he showed some improvement as a senior he still never developed into the dominant run blocker that he could be.
Ted Karras, Illinois
Karras was one of the more productive Power-5 guards in the country, but the rigidity in his movements is scary projecting to the NFL. For two straight years though he’s been one of the top pass protectors in college football. His pass blocking efficiency was in the top 20 for Power-5 guards each of the past two seasons.
Nila Kasitati, Oklahoma
Kasitati is another player in the mold of Tretola and Turner so the same pass protection concerns are present with him. Kasitati doesn’t quite have the girth and strength of those two and it’s a big reason why he’s this low on the list. His hands in the run game though are already superb. He had the sixth-highest run blocking grade against power-5 competition of anyone in this draft class.
Jarell Broxton, Baylor
A bit of a plodder, Broxton still cleaned up in Baylor’s favorable scheme. His change of direction ability is very suspect on tape, but somehow he kept himself from getting exposed often on the move. He’ll be limited to a gap scheme and his improvement from junior to senior year is encouraging.
Vadal Alexander, LSU
Alexander was a starter at left guard as a junior before starting at right tackle his senior season and didn’t grade particularly well in either. Watch the Alabama game and you’ll get a fairly good feel for Alexander’s weaknesses. Even though he was out at tackle. His feet are a mess and he seemed to finish more plays on the ground than he did standing up. That’s a red flag for an offensive lineman. When he does get his hands and feet working in unison though he can absolutely demolish defensive linemen.
Boston Stiverson, Kansas State
Cody Whitehair’s running mate at left guard. Stiverson is glaringly lacking NFL strength at the moment, but his technique is top notch. He’s the type of guy whose ceiling is obviously limited in the NFL by his physical attributes, but he won’t be a liability and could make a career as a sixth offensive lineman.
Wade Hansen, Virginia Tech
A right tackle in Blacksburg, Hansen is a very intriguing prospect. He’s skinny and shuffles his feet a bit when he runs making him look awkward. But Hansen is already so adept at positioning himself that he rarely lost cleanly in college. His overall grade was 12th among Power-5 tackles in this draft class and there is definitely something to work with here in the later rounds.
Alex Redmond, UCLA
Redmond has all the athleticism you’d want for an NFL guard, but at this point he’s undersized and terribly unrefined. Redmond declared after his junior season and so far nothing from a grading perspective has suggested he’s an NFL player with negative grades the past two seasons. Purely a late round/UDFA developmental guy.