Archive for the ‘Offensive Lineman’ Category

O-Lineman TJ Lang Prospect Preview

April 10, 2009

You would think with the additions of Frank Omiyale, Orlando Pace and Kevin Shaffer that the Chicago Bears would not be thinking about getting younger on the offensive line. Given the limited number of draft picks the needs at CB, WR, S, SAM LB, DE, that the Bears would be out of the O-Line draft scouting. That line of thought in not really accurate and to prove it the Bears recently scouted a little known offensive tackle from Eastern Michigan.

TJ Lang is a 6-foot-4 316-pound tackle prospect who moved over to the offensive line from the defensive line. Lang is not one of the top prospects in the draft mind you but he is a prospect that has worked his way up draft boards recently. Lang was not invited to the NFL Combine but he has earned enough respect 22 scouts showed up for his pro day workout. His stock is on the rise and he has ability that measures out well for potential success on the next level.

His positives as a prospect include playing the OT position like a defensive guy. A converted defensive tackle Lang plays with a mean streak and loves to be tough nasty and physical. He is your typical blue collar lineman that initially caught Angelo’s attention at the little known Texas versus the nation All-Star game. Lang also offers a level of versatility in that he could end up playing guard at the next level, his more natural projection is as a guard. Lang is the type of player that works well in limited space as he is not known for being the prototype OT with athleticism and balance.

Some of the aspects that may cause teams to shy away from Lang is his lack of athleticism and some say his lack of ideal size. He may be a bit of a tweener and at times has trouble sustaining his blocks. He has short arms which is why he better projects as a guard.

Some draft boards have him rated as high as a third round prospect but given his lack of an invite to the NFL scouting combine I think it’s likely he’ll fall past the third round as it’s rare that a non-combine invitee is taken as high as the third round. Know this however in the case of TJ Lang he has earned respect and the attention of Jerry Angelo himself.

Given Lang’s invite for a private workout it seems likely that if he has value to some as high as a third round prospect, but he slides into the later due to lack of recognition and exposure he could have some real sleep value in rounds four and five.


Bears bolster OT depth add Kevin Shaffer

March 25, 2009

Showing that the Bears are not completely focused solely on the NFL draft Jerry Angelo continued to do what most Chicago media types figured he wouldn’t do, he added depth to the O-Line. The Bears came to terms with 29-year-old offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer formerly of the Cleveland Browns.

Shaffer is a seven year vet who started 47 of the last 48 games with the Cleveland Browns and is immediately expected to compete for playing time at the RT spot. Shaffer was originally drafted by the Atlanta Falcons before signing a free agent deal with the Browns.

Adding a solid veteran OT who was quoted as saying he wanted to play for the Chicago Bears means that the Bears have more flexibility on draft day. Shaffer signed a three year deal meaning he will be 32-years-old at the end of the deal, giving the Bears the option of drafting a prospect later in the draft who projects as a RT. If the Bears draft a player who needs time to develop at RT Shaffer could potentially man the position for three years.

Three years would be an ideal time frame to develop a prospect that could be drafted on day two of the draft. Adding decently young depth, starting experience only bolsters the notion that Jerry Angelo is in fact committed to improving the O-Line. Frank Omiyale will likely be moved back to LG, Josh Beekman will be forced to compete for the LG spot or be ready to take over for Olin Kreutz as the future at center.

I was satisfied with the starting give potentially being Williams, Beekman, Kreutz, Garza and Omiyale. Jerry Angelo was not so he went out and further helped the O-Line cause. He did so in the fashion he has always been most comfortable with, through free agency. Roberto Garza, Ruben Brown, Fred Miller, John Tait are examples of free agent signings the Bears have made in Angelo’s tenure. All of those happen to be offensive lineman who served the Bears well during their back to back playoff and Super Bowl runs.

Shaffer had a rough tenure in Cleveland originally manning the LT position before being moved to RT after the drafting of Joe Thomas. Shaffer took the move to RT well before struggling a bit in 2008. A fresh start should benefit Shaffer, and his contract likely is a very cost efficient deal that benefits the Bears.

The key for the Bears going forward is building youth along the O-Line, youth that can be developed instead of forced into a starting role. Letting that youth develop over a course of two maybe three years and then from the be ready to be solid starters for seven to ten years after their drafted.

Herman Johnson scouting report

March 22, 2009

So I did a little thinking in the way that Jerry Angelo might do some thinking. With Frank Omiyale moving over to RT and the Bears being in need of a left guard now by proxy of the move, who would I target? What better prospect to scout on his pro-day than LSU behemoth Herman Johnson. At 6-foot-7 356-pounds Johnson is a mountain of a man. With that type mountain lined up next to Chris Williams for the next decade the Bears wouldn’t have a lot of problems running left on teams.

Johnson in the same breath would work well for and work against the Bears running scheme. Johnson would be able to help in the running game immediately because he is going to get out and lean on people and lean on them heavy for quite a while. If he keeps his weight down and conditioning up (which he is starting to do) he could develop into a solid prospect.

It’s important to note that not every GREAT O-Lineman comes in the first round. They come from various rounds and their work ethics define what type of player they develop into. Johnson’s weakness is he isn’t very fluid or mobile and may not work out in the Bears’ zone-blocking scheme which requires your lineman to be pretty nimble and to be able a hit a moving target. So while he grades well as a guy that might win a one on one battle against one of the Williams boys form the Vikings, he might struggle against a quick three technique type of DT. Overall he grades out as a mid round level prospect that could be had in the second day.

NFL Network puts the Bears on the clock

March 21, 2009

The NFL Network’s Path to the Draft show is essentially a prospect and team preview show that happens every day for half an hour. It’s better than any of the crap on ESPN because it encompasses real analysts who have played the game and gasp a real former GM. So when you’re getting opinion on these players from these guys at least they’ve been there done that or have made a living off of doing it. Instead of the Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay pissing match you get real in-sight and analysis on the players. Plus it’s not a five minute segment that they do on ESPN’s sports center where you have to watch the douche bag commentators on there who are trying to be as witty and funny as Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann were. Never can beat the original.

So with that in mind they’re addressing the Chicago Bears’ first round team need at O-Line, WR and apparently QB. Until the Bears have a hall of famer under center well the majority opinion is that the Bears will need to draft a QB. There’s a quick mention of the Bears’ last four first round draft picks, Tommie Harris at 14, Cedric Benson at 4, Greg Olsen at 31 and Chris Williams at 14. Benson being the biggest bust of the bunch Angelo made up for it immediately before cutting him by drafting Matt Forte last year.

The analyst brought in to talk about the Bears is Dan Pompei. There’s a major advantage the Bears have in already holding mini-camp, they know how well some of the players have stayed in shape in the off-season. Additionally they know whether or not the players on the roster are serious about football and how it is a year round job. Pompei immediately dives into the Bears’ need at OT. Pompei’s opinion is far different than mine, he seems to have completely bought into the argument that Frank Omiyale was brought in to strictly compete at left guard. That’s pretty funny because Omiyale has never played guard in his career and earned his money based on his ability to play OT for the Carolina Panthers. The media has fallen for the smoke screen that Jerry Angelo put out there regarding Omiyale. Angelo puffed up the smoke screen because he wanted to not publicly apply pressure to John St. Clair that they had already found his replacement. They did find his replacement because after one day at guard, Omiyale moved over to RT immediately upon St. Clair signing.

Omiyale would have likely supplanted a starter and it wouldn’t have been Josh Beekman because Beekman didn’t play as bad as St. Clair did last season. Plus you can be safe in the starting five being what it would have been last year had Chris Williams not been injured. Williams will be an upgrade over St. Clair and Omiyale might be an upgrade over Tait, because Tait aged so fast.

Pompei next has to answer to the column in which he wrote about “If Jay Cutler is available the Bears should pursue him. To which Pompei has to essentially back track on that column with more support towards Kyle Orton than he originally intended to give when he wrote the column. They wax poetic about the Jay Cutler trade, to which the question immediately shifts to, do the Bears take a QB at 18 or a OT. Ummm…the consensus is the Bears need a WR or an OT at 18. Kyle Orton is fine as a QB, his production slipped due to injury. He played five games he likely shouldn’t have because his production in those five games where he was injured was better than what Rex Grossman would have been healthy. That says a lot about Grossman that a hobbled Kyle Orton is better than you.

Pompei not the subject matter expert you would expect here. He says Angelo likes to draft lineman and is pretty good at drafting lineman. Yeah perhaps D-Lineman but certainly not O-Lineman. Angelo has only drafted two OTs in the first round in drafts that he was allegedly a part of in his career (including Tampa Bay and Chicago). One OT had a decent career and is currently a free agent, the other had injury problems forcing the Bears to release him, but now he’s a multi-year starter in Dallas. Angelo’s evaluating strength is on defense rather than offense, let’s be clear on that immediately.

So who would Dan Pompei take at 18 if an OT was available? Eben Britton from Arizona. Pompei’s opinion is that he could man that RT spot immediately because he’s big and strong and help in the run game. Uh Britton was rarely asked to run block the last two years at Arizona. They ran most of their offense out of the Texas Tech passing spread offense. So there wasn’t a lot of creativity with their run plays at the UofA. To say Britton can stick his hand in the dirt and be a run blocker is a bit ignorant when the guy comes out of a pass first pass heavy offense. The same questions arise when people talk about Jason Smith at Baylor because he played in the spread too.

So apparently in this segment Dan Pompei has no clue to which he speaks he talks in generalities and football cliches about players of which he has no clue about what they are like or what system they come from. This is not to say Britton wouldn’t be a good pick at 18, it’s just saying his strengths lie elsewhere beside run blocking. To add to my point the high-lights they show of Britton show him run blocking, albeit out of two point stance. He stands in his two point stance essentially giving the DE the idea that he’s going to pass block, the DE shoots up the field and Britton simply walls him off like it’s a draw play. Britton already has the inside advantage because the play is going to the opposite side of where the defender is attacking, advantage to the blocker.

Sticking your hand in the dirt and firing off the line when it’s a HB-Iso or zone blocking running play is much more important to the Bears than being able to fool the defender by making them think you’re going to pass when in fact it’s a run call. Neither the host of the segment or Pompei has a clue about this little common sense difference between OTs who come from a spread offense and OTs who come from a pro-style offense.

Pompei’s next line of thought as to who the Bears might select at WR if they go that route at 18 is Kenny Britt from Rutgers. He might be a bit of a reach at 18 but I could definitely see him in the second round. Britt is as Pompei says the perfect compliment to Devin Hester, he’s big fast and catches the ball well. If the Bears don’t trade down, but can trade up into the earlier part of the second round to take a WR like Britt after they draft an OT at 18 that’s a good strategy as well.

The next question is why the Bears were not more active in free agency and Pompei is a better subject matter expert on this than most of the Bears related talk we’ve heard to this point. Pompei has spoken to Angelo at length and he essentially stated that this is the worst free agent class he’s ever seen. Why were the Bears not more active, when the GM feels like it’s the worst free agency class ever, there’s your answer. Rightly or wrongly Bears fans Angelo is the GM and is getting paid for his judgment and based on that football knowledge and judgment the Bears didn’t go on a spending spree to add average to marginal level talent. They did add players that are marginal or average, but they did so in a cost effective manner.
History will prove Angelo right or wrong on this call so we’ll see how things go.

So to wrap up the segment of the Bears on the clock with Dan Pompei as the subject matter expert the Bears may look at Eben Britton or Kenny Britt at 18. WR and OT are the most important aspects to this franchise, heading into the draft. Although if I’m making the call it’s a player like Hakeem Nicks at 18 and maybe a Phil Loadholt in the second round.

Mini-Camp Position Breakdown: O-Line

March 16, 2009

Going into the 2008 season there was a lot of questions surrounding the offensive line after the Bears let go of proven and aging veterans Ruben Brown and Fred Miller. In their place stepped in rookies Chris Williams and Josh Beekman. To be fair Beekman was not in his first year in the league, it was only his first year receiving game experience. Williams was injured about 20 minutes into training camp and barely played the rest of the season. Earning snaps in live game action but nothing more than that. From there the Bears posted a better rushing attack than in 2007 and mediocre pass protection at best. Yet some how with average production and protection at best the line earned somewhat rave reviews after the 2008 season.

Puzzling as it may be the 2009 Chicago Bears find themselves in an eerily similar situation heading into mini-camp this week. The offensive line is a question mark with aging veterans and an unproven second year player at the LT spot. John St. Clair’s unresolved free agency situation also hasn’t provided much comfort to the Midway Monster faithful.

Center: Olin Kreutz is a 12-year veteran who is winding down his NFL career. Kreutz is the glue the anchor and all the other fancy adjectives you can throw out there to describe the best lineman on the team who makes everyone around him better. Kreutz has never been a mauler of a center and by almost all scouting accounts is to small for the position at only 6-foot-2 292-pounds. Funny thing is he has been one of the most effective players in the league at his position over the last 12-years. Kreutz has been to six Pro-Bowls in his career earning all the respect necessary from his peers by achieving such an honor.

Kreutz is perhaps known as a fighter both literally and figuratively and he doesn’t back down from anyone. He’ll be the crusty old veteran out there on the field and while he may not be the player he once was he still plays well enough at a consistent level that he could easily be here a few more years at the right price.

RG Roberto Garza may be the most underappreciated lineman on the team given his tenure on the team as a starter. While Garza isn’t a player on an elite level he has been consistent most of his career. Sure with Pat and Kevin Williams in the conference you’d like to see someone who could better hold his ground against those two, but Garza does well enough.

He has struggled more lately and could be seeing some competition from recently acquired free agent Frank Omiyale. Omiyale is being paid starter level money so the speculation is that he’ll be there to push Garza. Garza doesn’t need much pushing but the additional sure fire competition never hurt any team. Omiyale however has yet to play a down at guard and we’ll see how fast he picks up the blocking scheme the Bears run. Developing chemistry will be the key for Omiyale. My guess though is Garza’s job is safe and Omiyale might better push John St Clair at RT though the front office has stated otherwise.

RT Well John Tait retired and John St Clair is unsigned currently visiting the Cleveland Browns so the Bears just may start out with Frank Omiyale at RT for the sake of mini-camp. That would be the smart thing to do is get the younger probably better Omiyale used to playing with the first team. Doing so would also send the message that the Bears do in fact have a contingency plan in place should St. Clair decide to walk.

From my perspective the Bears should most certainly stand pat with their contract offer. St. Clair is not a starter level player. He is a career back up who gets a lot more respect than he deserves for his time as a starter. He is easily the worst OT on the roster and if he decides to walk the Bears would be better off for it. It would easily put the Bears at a point where they would have to draft St. Clair’s replacement amongst their top three picks in the draft. Moving Omiyale over to start or having a solid rookie there to start at RT would make me feel better than having St. Clair back.

I hear the arguments for him being back and if he comes back at the price the front-office wants him back at then fine. But there shouldn’t be ANY movement towards giving St. Clair more money if he gets a better offer from the Browns. The Bears will be able to move on from him, without question. Plus Angelo will look like a genius for letting him go in the long run because building up talented youth will be far more important than caving in to any demand St. Clair would try to make.

LG Josh Beekman came in with not a lot of expectations for 2008. Most everyone figured he would be awful so they had already resigned themselves to the fact that he wouldn’t play at a high level. Thing is those people and myself were wrong and Beekman played well for a second year pro just getting his feet wet. The good news is Beekman will only get better, and he will benefit from playing next to Kreutz for any length of time. Beekman is the heir apparent for now at center but getting him game experience is paramount to his continued development and success. There likely won’t be a lot learned at mini-camp other than developing chemistry with Chris Williams on the left side.

LT Chris Williams is already labeled a bust by some strong opinionated Bears fans for not being a Pro-Bowl starter his rookie year. The demands put on by some in the Chicagoland area both fan and media alike can be at times outrageous. Absolutely it was disappointing that a rookie drafted so highly as Williams didn’t come in and start. But the disdain and worry about Williams didn’t start with his back, it started much earlier when articles popped up about his arms being to short. A simple google search brings up articles on just the topic.

The odd thing is with all the reporting down on Willliams and his arm length no one picked up on the back problems that propped up later on in training camp. Williams states the Bears knew about it, Angelo states the Bears didn’t and the media has a field day with it . Ironically this wasn’t talked about during Williams time at the scouting combine and the media failed to pick up on it then.

So apparently Williams will be an abject failure because a) his arms are to short b) his bad back c) He was drafted by the Chicago Bears and Jerry Angelo. All of which seem preposterous on a whole new level. One thing is for sure it will be great to the Bears earning a return on their investment either way. It’s time to move beyond the short arms, beyond the back problems and focus on what Williams can do from here on out. If he performs as well as Josh Beekman did after sitting out his entire rookie season the Bears will be just fine.

Mini-camp will do a lot to clear the air surrounding both Williams and Omiyale. Chemistry development takes root at this point and that is what is most important for the Bears right now. If the starting five were in fact to be Williams, Beekman, Kreutz, Garza and Omiyale I would be quite confident in that line up being as productive or more consistent than the O-Line of 2008. Mini-camp just may be the start of where this level of play is established.

Alabama OT Andre Smith bombs at Pro-Day

March 12, 2009

So I’m really beginning to question if Andre Smith is the byproduct of Alabama’s successful season more than he is a product of his own play and ability. Smith had his pro-day workout yesterday and completely flopped in the process, sending up even more red flags in the lack of athleticism department as he already has in the character department.

These things we know for sure,

a) He has severe motivation and laziness problems,

b) He decided to put himself ahead of the team heading into the biggest Bowl the Alabama football team has been to in nearly a decade by having illegal contact with an agent.

c)He wasn’t all that in shape at his pro-day

d) His erratic behavior at the combine with honesty about why he wasn’t going to work out and then just up and leaving and not showing up for the combine for the second round of questioning etc also posed a problem.

So what precisely is Andre Smith and just how much of his hype is a product of playing for the University of Alabama and Nick Saban as much as the hype of the kids who come out of USC who don’t pan out to be much of a player in the NFL?

If Smith played at Ball State, UConn or Troy would he be receiving the same level of confidence from scouts that he does by coming out of Alabama? I mean the argument appears to go as such, Smith was one of the best players on one of the best team’s in all of college football so that automatically means he’s going to be a great player to select in the draft.

What’s the most intriguing to me is how Smith has gone from possible top overall pick to possibly being available to draft for the Bears at 18. Followed by questions of what to do if Smith falls there to the Bears at 18. My response is simple and quick, pass on him just like the 17 teams in front of him have passed on him.

Smith did nothing at his Pro-Day to improve his standing, granted we should not completely put to much stock in what he did in T-shirt and underwear, but his questionable work ethic really stymies any glow he has.

Smith’s 40-yard dash time was in the 5.3 range, his broad jump vertical and 19 reps on the bench press weren’t anywhere near being in the top-10 of performers at the combine, and he looked just average in his position drills. Suddenly there’s a little bit more tape watching being done on this kid, suddenly teams are taking better stock of his actual performance on the field and slowly he’s starting to fall.

To top it all off Smith’s size doesn’t really evoke images of a dominating presence anchoring the left side of an O-Line for years to come either. Smith is 6-foot-4 325-pounds, too heavy for his height, especially when you see pics of him and there appears to be a bit of an inner tube around his waist.

My opinion is that the Bears shouldn’t even bother with a kid who doesn’t have dominating size, gifted athleticism, a glowing work ethic or character, or phenomenal strength. When you put it all together, you get an average prospect who plays on one of the most storied programs in the country.

NFL draft prospects: 2nd day OTs

March 10, 2009

Since there is a high likelihood that the top OT prospects in this draft will all be gone before the Bears draft at 18, there is a need to examine who is there to be had after the first rounds. There is a nice group of players who played LT in college who might be better suited for RT in the NFL. They may also be the type of player that needs a couple years of grooming before they’re run out there as starters. John St. Clair resigning would give the Bears the opportunity to groom a mid round prospect to eventually replace him since he is 32.

With this in mind we take a look at some of those prospects who show promise but may not be the type of player you see taken on the first day.

Jamon Meredith 6-foot-5 304-pounds from South Carolina. Meredith was one of the better prospects I noticed at the NFL combine. He was one of the top performers in the 40-yard dash, the bench press and the broad jump. He also performed well in drills showing solid footwork, quickness and technique. Meredith also offers the same level of versatility that the Bears’ scouts crave having played all four line positions but center in college.

It was obvious Meredith came to compete and make himself some money at the combine. He likely did just that and will grab the attention of the Bears’ scouts at his pro-day on March 25th. The Bears have already taken notice of other OT prospects at their pro days, expect Meredith to stand out as well.

William Beatty 6-foot-6 291-pounds from UConn is an intriguing prospect. He’s rated higher than a second day draft pick so he might not be around that late. However his weight seems to be an issue, opposite of what you would usually expect from an O-lineman in that he can’t keep weight on. It likely won’t be a problem for him in the NFL once he gets on the NFL training program and diet.

If the Bears goes WR in round one, Beatty could be had in the middle of round two. He has all the good things you look for but the concern is does he carry enough weight to play RT? For the Bears overlooking this concern may be pretty easy if he needs to be groomed behind St. Clair for a couple years. Beatty’s pro-day also comes on the 25th of March.

Phil LoadholdtOn the flip side of the size and weight concerns is this prospect from Oklahoma. Loadholdt goes 6-foot-8 338-pounds and is working to shed some weight. What I saw at the combine was a player that was determined to lose weight and show up in shape. Loadholdt looked like he was working to control his weight and it helped in his combine performance.

That being said Loadholdt is a lot more big than he is athletic or agile or quick. He didn’t show a lot of flexibility or quickness and look pretty stiff going through the drills. I won’t say the combine necessarily hurt his stock, but it did reaffirm a lot of the concerns scouts had prior to the combine. If the Bears draft him he essentially is a RT only type of prospect who doesn’t offer the desired level of versatility the front office likes. Beyond that it was reported that Loadholdt was one of a few of the prospects the Bears’ staff interviewed at the combine.

Robert Brewster from Ball State is another kid that is intriguing to the Bears. He’s 6-foot-4 325-pounds which would hold up well in the NFL manning the RT side. Brewster had a solid combine performance and scouts out well according to almost all of his evaluations. He’s not the perfect prospect but his value is solid for a second day type pick. The Patriots feel strong enough that Brewster is going to be working out at the Patriots’ team facility in the upcoming days.

Other prospects of interest: Fenuki Tupou, Troy Kopog, Gerald Cadogan, Jason Watkins, Xavier Fulton

Updated: The Bears checked out Phil Loadholdt in person today at Oklahoma’s pro-day in Norman. The Sun Times has this report on it and it represents more proof in how interested in Loadholdt the Bears are.

Jason Smith Pro Day review

March 4, 2009

When you perform as well as Jason Smith did at the NFL combine in the workouts portion of the scouting there is really no need to perform on a pro-day. That’s exactly what Smith did choosing only to do interviews and some position drills for NFL scouts.

Smith was one of the top performers at the NFL combine in all the workout aspects. He is rumored to be potential Top-5 pick in the upcoming draft in the minds of some. He is definitely the type of player that would fit in well with the Bears and he makes NFL scouts drool. He is a complete player talent wise and intelligence and character wise.

The Bears are said to be highly interested in Smith and why not given that offensive tackles on his levels are at a premium. Even though the Bears recently drafted an OT from last year’s draft losing John Tait to retirement and possibly John St. Clair to free agency would leave a hole on the right side.

Smith impressed former Chicago Bear and Baylor Bear and current 49ers coach Mike Singletary greatly when the two met at the Baylor homecoming last fall.

The quote from Singletary goes a long way in describing what type of character Smith has the type of work ethic he puts forth and the type of player he likely will be in the NFL. He’s one of those kids that earns instant respect for everything he does on and off the field.

Now in fairness Charlie Casserly (former Texans GM) on the NFL network spoke about some of the struggles that Smith had at the combine. The one drill is called the push and pull that shows his anchor ability against a bull rusher. Casserly said that his lower body strength looked weak and that Smith struggled in the drill. It is a given that every NFL prospect is not a perfect product. In Casserly’s mind Smith is not at Top-10 level pick and that Eugene Monroe is not a Top-10 level pick either. Andre Smith in Casserly’s mind has the most ability.

Of all the talking heads on the networks these days at least Casserly has experience in this field of scouting as a former GM.

Whether or not the Bears move up to take Smith or whether or not a lot of GMs feel the same way as Casserly does remains to be seen. But given all of the positive aspects of Smith’s game if he is there at 18 it would seem to be a no-brainer to take him.

NFL Combine Updates O-Lineman Part II

February 22, 2009

As we move forward we move into the O-Lineman drills portion. I focused way to much time on the 40-yard dash aspect of things. But hey I’m new and eager to be doing this so I just got warmed up and kept right on going. I’m running a little bit behind, but I’ll do my best to make up for it. No excuses, just life gets in the way.

The first person to make you go oooo during the O-Lineman drills Jamon Meredith an OT from South Carolina who sinks his hips well, get his hands into the bag and shows a good drive. He keeps his hips underneath getting good leverage in his drive. Meredith is rated in the top-10 overall of OT prospects. Making himself a viable first day option for the Bears. At 6-5 301-pounds he is well buit height and weight ratio wise.

Once you get into the drills and skills portions things begin to even out from the workout warriors. Murtha already shows why he is further down the list draft wise than a Jason Smith. Smith shows a tight wrap around the OTs butt and fires up into the second level. From there they transition into coaches video of Jason Smith showing his great pass blocking ability but how he struggles a bit in the run blocking. It’s pretty easy to see why he struggles as a run blocker because he’s in a two-point stance. Hands on his hips rather than one hand in the dirt it’s easier for him to get his head out in front of his body and he’s an easy push to the ground. Playing to head heavy in run blocking. This is however easily correctable and given Smith’s nasty streak and finishing ability he can be developed into a good run blocker.

Next they transition into the kick slide drill where they kick out and get locked onto a wide moving rusher. This is to show footwork and balance going to your outside shoulder, and showing how well you keep up with speed rushers.

Jason Smith in the kick slide drill gets beat coming out of a three point stance into pass protection. His first couple steps are choppy and then all of a sudden he panics and crosses his feet over in attempt to catch up to the rusher. Crossing his feet leaves him vulnerable to a club move back to the inside and a free path to the QB. So far Smith has struggled getting out of a three point stance. At Baylor they ran a spread offense so most of the time he was in a two point stance. The advantage is always to the O-Lineman when in a two point stance. Being in a three-point stance to help sell play-action pass will be important.

Another OT who could possibly targeted in the third to fourth round range is Fenuki Tupou. The 6-6 330-pounder just made a quick impression on me in the drills. His kick slide was solid, his balance was good moving to the outside, and then when he got in range, his punch was superb. He kept his arms up and in tight and the first chance he got in range of the rusher, he punched him and locked out. Another kid to keep an eye on as a possible RT.

A late rounder in guard prospect category, Maurice Miller looked serviceable in his technique. He kept his hands high instead of dangling them down by his waist and thighs and kept his feet together and balanced.

One of the worst players I saw in this drill to this point was Herman Johnson from LSU. Johnson was way off balance from the start and it flowed through all the way to the end where almost fell flat on his face. Johnson is MASSIVE near elephant sized measuring 6-7 383. A highly rated guard prospect there would be no versatility from Johnson, he would stay inside on the interior and never be asked to move in space.

As expected with Phil Loadholdt who even lines up in a two points stance in pass protection, he easily shows he can’t move his feet. Scouts have said on numerous sites around the web that he can’t move his feet and even from a two-point stance he proves as he gets beaten off the edge pretty easily. Loadholdt is a good RT prospect possibly, but his inability to move his feet well worries me.

Meredith again impressive the second time in this blog I have mentioned him in a positive light. He gets out there and gets his feet working well and keeps himself square on the rusher. He never loses balance and never has to cross his feet over into a sprint. He looks in control the entire time he’s moving in this drill.

Yup perhaps the most impressive of all is Eugen Monroe from Virginia. When he does his kick slide drill he is completely in control the entire time. It’s hard to argue with him as being projected at the top overall OT. I can load up on the cliches right here right now, Monroe looked like poetry in motion in pass protection there. He stays square balanced in control, head up, hands in high and tight. He does everything you look for technique wise and his balance and feet never falter. He is never in danger of getting beat on this rush to the outside, he simply stays square and finishes easily. Mirrored that rusher effortlessly. In all fairness though he is coming out of a two point stance rather than a three point like the drill calls for.

Michael Oher is up next amongst the top prospects. Oher too is coming out of a two-point stance in this drill. He too stays where he needs to be keeping his feet moving and under him, keeps his body square and is never in danger of losing his balance. Oher is who I hope most likely slides to the Bears at 18. He is talked about as the fourth best OT in this draft although with Andre Smith’s problems and continued issues someone might take Oher off the board ahead of Smith whereas they may have gone Smith.

Jason Smith redeems himself the second time around better keeping his feet balanced and his body in control. He does however keep his hands a bit to low for my liking. He needs to improve his technique. He may be Mike Mayock’s number one overall OT in the draft, but to me he has to work on his technique some. He needs some refinement.

That’s the end of the kick slide drill coverage and now we move into the hip flip and twist drill. The lineman start in a back pedal have to flip open their hips in the direction the coach wants them to.

Phil Loadholdt is starting to drop down my draft board a bit. I know he’s a popular big kid form Oklahoma and he may simply be riding the fact that he is an Oklahoma player. He is stiff and not very athletic. I give him major props for better working on his fitness and dropping weight. However you can’t change slow feet and no hip movement.

Based on combine workouts I might be tempted to move Meredith ahead of Loadholdt. I’d like to study Meredith further as he has shown some definite talent and ability in the drills today.