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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:14 p.m., Monday, April 16, 2007

Satele, Lucas on list of top NFL center prospects

By Carl Kotala
Florida Today

The NFL draft will be held April 28-29. Here's a look at the top prospects at the center position:

1. Ryan Kalil (6-2 1/2, 297), USC: The biggest question surrounding Kalil heading into the draft is whether he'll go late in the first round or early in the second round. He's fundamentally sound, smart and very quick. He's not as heavy as some would like, leading to speculation he could have trouble with some of the mammoth tackles he'll face in the NFL. Still, he has Pro Bowl potential.

2. Samson Satele (6-2 1/2, 302), Hawai'i: There's a lot to like about a naturally strong, feisty center with a 33-inch vertical leap. Once he gets his paws on a defender, he's a hard blocker to shed. He's also hard to knock off his feet and can handle bull rushers. Could struggle against long-armed defenders because he doesn't have a long reach. Hard to believe for a center, but he doesn't have a lot of drive-blocking experience, having worked in a pass-happy offense. Could also play guard.

3. Leroy Harris (6-2 1/2, 303), North Carolina State: A former state wrestling champion, he was a four-year starter who has also played both guard spots. Has had some injury problems throughout his career, doesn't have the best physique and will struggle against quicker defensive linemen. However, he's a hard worker, an aggressive player and has the chance to be an anchor for somebody.

4. Dan Mozes (6-2 1/2, 293), West Virginia: Classic overachiever who plays hard and uses his intelligence and instincts to get the job done. Probably better suited for a zone blocking scheme. He's effective in short areas and has good quickness. His lack of size and overall strength, however, could lead to matchup problems if he's asked to take on the NFL's big defensive tackles. Has trouble keeping defenders from getting to his body. But he's tough, plays hard and has a great work ethic.

5. Enoka Lucas (6-2 1/2, 305), Oregon (Kamehameha): Plays hard all the time and is the kind of vocal leader every offensive line needs. He got plenty of opportunities to face big-time defensive tackles in the Pac-10, but he'll need good coaching at the next level to get him to play under control. When he does, he's got a nice initial punch and gets to the second level. However, he has a tendency to lunge or overextend, and that will be big trouble in the NFL. He's been creeping up draft boards.

6. Doug Datish (6-4, 305), Ohio State: Versatile player who saw action in plenty of big games during his career with the Buckeyes. He has good size, quickness and agility. A hard worker who has played both center and guard. Lacks the explosion to drive defenders off the ball and has a tendency to fall off his blocks. Would work well on a line where he can get help from either side.

7. Drew Mormino (6-3, 300), Central Michigan: Has had trouble maintaining his weight and will have to get that under control in order to survive in the NFL. Plays with good strength and likes to go after defenders. Nice footwork and takes good blocking angles. Can be beaten by quick defensive tackles. Not a great drive blocker and needs to improve his technique when it comes to shooting his hands.

8. Dustin Fry (6-2 1/2, 316), Clemson: No question, he has the strength to play center in the NFL. Problem is, he's not a natural athlete. He's tough, smart and works well in the running game, where he can drive defenders and open holes. That said, he struggles to maintain his blocks in the passing game and can struggle against quick pass-rush moves. Doesn't have great recovery skills after delivering his initial punch.

9. Kyle Young (6-5, 347), Fresno State: With that size, he can engulf smaller defenders and also handle bull rushers. Has shown good football intelligence and is a tough, hard worker who can move a pile and plays with a nasty streak. However, he's not much of an athlete. Would struggle if he was called on to pull and trap in the NFL. Was suspended for the final four games of his senior year because of academic issues.

10. Lyle Sendlein (6-3, 298), Texas: Sets quickly after the snap and works well in short areas. Has shown an awareness to adjust to stunts and blitzes. Probably better suited for a zone-blocking scheme, however, because he's not a great athlete and doesn't show good downfield agility. He can play too high at times and get knocked back. Footwork needs improvement. Could be moved to guard.

Best of the rest: Uche Nwaneri (6-3, 322), Purdue; Scott Stephenson (6-3, 308), Iowa State; Mark Fenton (6-3 1/2, 295), Colorado; Jonathan Palmer (6-4 1/2, 322), Auburn; Mike Elgin (6-3, 293), Iowa.