NFL draft: Chicago Tribune: Rating the guards
By Dan Pompei
If it's a guard you want in this draft, the best place to look is in the third and fourth rounds. A number of prospects could be value picks in the middle of the draft.
1. Mike Iupati, Idaho, 6-5, 331: He is a big, powerful man who also is quick and athletic. He is a natural blocker with Pro Bowl traits. He is tough and gets movement in the run game. He probably could play tackle. Iupati helped himself with a fine scouting combine workout. As a pass blocker, he could benefit from a little better technique. He still is a work in progress, but the end result should be outstanding.
2. Jon Asamoah, Illinois, 6-4, 305: Asamoah is a tough, physical blocker who can maul defenders with raw power. The Rich East grad can pull and hunt down defenders. This three-year starter is at his best in tight quarters. Asamoah has some limitations in space. He isn't as nimble or athletic as some, but he gets the most out of his abilities because he is smart and plays hard. Asamoah has the prototype offensive lineman's mentality, and coaches will love him.
3. Zane Beadles, Utah, 6-4, 310: He played tackle in college but probably is suited best for guard in the pros. He is first and foremost a run blocker who has excellent strength, toughness and leg drive. Beadles is effective in pass protection, but he isn't a great athlete and doesn't bend real well. He has top intangibles.
4. Mitch Petrus, Arkansas, 6-3, 310: He was the strongest man at the combine with 45 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, which also tied the all-time combine record. Even though he is a former tight end and fullback, Petrus doesn't have the best movement skills. He is a mauler who can power defenders in the run game but a heavy-legged pass protector who might have problems with quicker pass rushers. He was suspended for the 2008 season because of academics.
5. Mike Johnson, Alabama, 6-5, 312: He is a solid all-around blocker without one trait that stands out. He is tough, hard-nosed and gives his all on every snap. His recognition of fronts and pressures is very good. He has played four positions on the Crimson Tide line so he's very versatile.
6. Shawn Lauvao, Arizona State, 6-3, 315: A left tackle as a senior, Lauvao probably should be a guard in the pros because of his lack of height and hip tightness. He is tough blocker with good upper body strength. He comes off the snap hard and gets into defenders quickly on the run. He is a serviceable pass protector. Lauvao is a hard worker with determination and versatility.
7. Marshall Newhouse, Texas Christian, 6-4, 319: He probably will be converted to guard from left tackle, but his ability to play both positions is a plus. He is a productive three-year starter and nephew of former Cowboy Robert Newhouse. He is a good athlete who can pass block. His strength is pretty good, but his run blocking is just average.
8. Shelley Smith, Colorado State, 6-3, 300: He has a nice combination of athleticism and strength. What's more, Smith is tough and smart. He moves his feet well enough, and he plays hard. Smith is a little undersized for some schemes. He had a nice combine workout.
9. Ramon Harewood, Morehouse, 6-6, 341: He has the frame of a tackle, but he played guard in college and probably is best at guard. He impressed scouts with his workout and has risen up the charts. A native of Barbados, he has played football for only three years.
10. Brandon Carter, Texas Tech, 6-6, 329: A massive blocker, he is very physical and plays with an edge. He worked out well at the combine, but lacks foot quickness. He also can improve his strength. He can be volatile. He was suspended and had his captain status stripped last season reportedly for being belligerent with teammates and coaches after a loss. Where he is drafted could reflect this.
11. Dorian Brooks, James Madison, 6-2, 306: He has the versatility and athleticism to play center or guard. Brooks is a little undersized, but he makes up for it by using good technique. He has not played against top competition.
12. Alex Parsons, Southern Cal, 6-4, 309: He's an effective run blocker with a mauler style. Parsons plays with strength and toughness, and has enough athleticism. He is a former defensive tackle who is flexible enough to play multiple positions on the offensive line.
13. Sergio Render, Virginia Tech, 6-3, 318: A four-year starter, Render has value as a run blocker who gets off the ball in a hurry. If he improves his strength, he could find a role in the NFL. Render's quickness and athleticism are average.
14. Mike Tepper, California, 6-5, 324: This tough, big blocker gets after it. He has experience at tackle but his skill set is more suited to guard. He could be a valuable swing man who plays multiple positions. His foot quickness in pass protection is average.
15. Kurtis Gregory, Missouri, 6-4, 305: He has the athleticism and size to play guard in the NFL. Gregory was an effective college player against top competition. Improved strength would help his cause.
16. Ciron Black, Louisiana State, 6-4, 327: He is a big, heavy-footed prospect who could thrive as a guard in a power scheme. Though some consider him an offensive tackle prospect, he lack of athleticism could be a problem in pass protection there.