After looking at Seattle's team needs, the top prospects by position and putting out his first Mock Draft, .NET's Ryan Rigmaiden now goes in-depth in his player evaluations. First up will be the guards, a position of desperate need for the Seahawks. Today he looks at the best guard prospect available in the Draft -- Auburn OG Ben Grubbs.
Most fans don’t jump for joy when their franchise selects an offensive lineman with their first pick, but for Seahawks fans last year was proof-positive of how important the offensive line is. NFL teams are stockpiling defensive lineman and are rotating them into games to keep everyone fresh. Add to that the complexity of defenses, the ability to disguise coverages and the fact that defensive fronts are constantly adjusting that puts a premium on elite offensive lineman to counter the problem.
After losing All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson last year, I, along with most Seahawks fans, felt quite comfortable that even though the offensive line would miss a player as good as Hutch, we’d be ok with an average player. After all, whoever it was going to be would be lining up next to the best offensive lineman in football – LT Walter Jones.
So much for that philosophy.
Oft-injured veteran Floyd Womack started the season and the results were awful. Combine that with other injuries to the offense, the offensive line got little push up front and what once was a powerful offense stumbled out of the blocks. Coaches wisely rotated promising rookie Rob Sims into the lineup and after some rookie growing pains, Sims settled in and should start next season.
But now the right side is in question.
RG Chris Gray will be 37 years old next season and is an unrestricted free agent. Gray has never been confused with an elite player, but his experience and instincts still make him Seattle’s best option to start, should he come back for his 15th season. Making problems worse is the fact that there isn’t one player on the roster behind Sims or Gray, leaving a glaring hole on the offensive line.
Seattle would be wise to find a veteran guard through free agency and also select one during the Draft, solidifying the position in the event of an injury in 2007. For the next few days we’ll be previewing the guard position and we’ll start today with the best one on the board – Auburn G Ben Grubbs.
1. Ben Grubbs, G Auburn 6-3, 305 (5.2)
NFL Comparison - Andre Gurode, Dallas
Has average size, but is a very athletic player who came to Auburn as a defensive lineman. Has good feet. Excels at pulling and has the speed to get to the corner. Tremendous lead blocker when he’s out in front. Has a solid body of work in the SEC, but will be drafted higher because he’s such a good athlete. Needs to get tougher and play with more fire. Doesn’t always finish off would-be tacklers.
Run Blocking -
Has nice ability to pull and trap, but really excels at getting to the corner as a lead blocker. Can get to the second level to take on linebackers or safeties in the box and rarely misses, even after cracking down on defensive lineman. Gets solid push on the pile, but needs to get stronger at the next level.
Pass Protection -
Good technique and has a decent base to hold up against bull rushers. Has the feet necessary to slide outside against quicker pass rushers and holds his ground. Needs some work with hand placement, but has the ability to become a very solid pass protector.
Roster Impact for Seattle -
Grubbs’ instincts, athleticism and ability give him starting potential as a rookie. He could play either the left or right side and could even play center in a pinch. If Grubbs works on finishing his block expect him to be among the best guards in the NFL within three years.
Draft Projection -
Grubbs should be among the first interior lineman drafted in April. Some teams
may have an interest in some of the tackle/guard hybrids, but Grubbs is a pure guard that should come off the board in Round 2.
Final Analysis -
Grubbs is a very solid prospect whose athleticism jumps out at you on film. He’s been productive in a very tough conference, holds his own in pass protection and can really be a factor pulling in the running game. Teams emphasizing athletic, quick interior lineman (Washington, Denver, Green Bay) will put a premium on his skills and he should start sooner, rather than later.
As usual, any questions or comments can be sent to email@example.com. Thanks for taking the time to write in.