Interior blockers could surprisingly dot first round

Posted April 24, 2012 @ 3:23 p.m.
Posted By Nolan Nawrocki

This is the sixth of a 12-part series that offers up scouting reports on PFW’s top five-ranked players at their respective positions in the 2012 NFL draft. Full scouting reports and the latest buzz on nearly 500 draft prospects, including results from roughly 200 pro days, can be found in PFW’s Draft Database.

Stanford’s David DeCastro and Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler look like they were born to play the guard position and should step into starting lineups readily in the pros, with DeCastro standing out as the gem of this year’s class. Georgia’s Cordy Glenn and Midwestern State’s Amini Silatolu lined up at left tackle but are best-suited for the inside in the pros and have clear starter-quality traits, although both carry more risk. All four stand a chance to be selected in the first round. The top center in this year’s draft is Wisconsin junior Peter Konz, although he can face a challenge from the intense, feisty, undersized strongman David Molk of Michigan. Georgia’s Ben Jones may not look the part but has been a functional SEC performer and can be thrust into a starting lineup readily, even if atheltic limitations may always trouble him. As many as five interior offensive linemen can warrant early looks in what is a solid interior crop, deeper at guard than center.

1. OG David DeCastro, Stanford (Jr.)
Ht: 6-4 7⁄8, Wt: 316, Sp: 5.42, Arm: 32 3⁄4, Hand: 10

Notes: The Washington prep also threw the shot put and won the state’s 3A championship with a throw of 59 feet 3 inches. Redshirted in 2008. Started all 39 games at right guard from 2009-11 and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s best interior lineman, in ’11.

Bottom line: Big, physical, nasty, strong technician with the  distinction as the best pulling guard in this year’s draft class. Is a proven, perennial Pro Bowl-caliber plug-and-play starter with no glaring deficiencies in his game. One of the best all-around O-line prospects to emerge from the draft since Seattle Seahawks 2001 17th-overall pick Steve Hutchinson. A very safe selection with a can’t miss factor and intense demeanor that will comfort NFL decision makers.

NFL projection: Top-20 pick.

2. OG-OT Cordy Glenn, Georgia
Ht: 6-5 3⁄4, Wt: 345, Sp: 5.09, Arm: 35 3⁄4, Hand: 10 1⁄8

Notes: Glenn played left tackle as a Georgia prep. Started 10-of-13 games as a true freshman in 2008 — seven at left guard and three at right guard. Started all 13 games in ’09 — the final eight at left guard, four at left tackle and one at right guard. Started all 13 games at left guard in ’10. Moved to left tackle in the spring of ’11 and adapted to a new offensive line coach. Made all 14 starts at OLT spot in the fall.

Bottom line: Initially struggled adapting to the OLT position during the first half of senior season but acclimated late in the year when he returned to better playing shape and showed very well in the Senior Bowl. Has the agility and arm length to survive on the left side in the pros if he lowers his weight to 330 pounds but, at worst, has proven he can be a Pro Bowl-caliber guard and has the power to play on the right side. Versatility is a big plus that could drive up his draft stock. Is both quick and powerful and can mash in the run game and seal the edges. Ability to plug into any type of scheme, inside or outside, will enhance his value but will be best sticking with one position. Hip stiffness and weight fluctuations remain concerns. Can be controlled with good coaching.

NFL projection: First-round pick.

3. OG Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State (Texas)
Ht: 6-3 5⁄8, Wt: 311, Sp: 5.39, Arm: 33, Hand: 10 1⁄8

Notes: Last name is pronounced “sill-uh-TOE-lou.” Started for two seasons on the offensive line at San Joaquin Delta College (Calif.) in 2007 and ’08. Signed with Nevada for ’09 season but didn’t qualify academically and sat out the year. Returned to football in ’10, after enrolling at Midwestern State, and was named co-Lineman of the Year after starting nine games at left tackle. Missed three games with a knee injury. Started 10 games at left tackle in ’11. Anchored the line for an offense that produced a Division II-best 531.9 yards per game. Team captain.

Bottom line: Tough, physical, nasty small-college left tackle who projects to guard in the pros. Stands out on the field and dominates lesser competition but did not play in any all-star games to prove himself and has some off-field issues and intelligence concerns that could push down his draft status. Grades out like a first-round talent and should be able to step into a starting lineup readily on the inside and develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber performer with simple assignments. Scouts have compared him to New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl OG Jahri Evans, but he is much more athletic pulling and playing in space and displays a tomahawk chop that will endear him to old-school evaluators. Can win with power or quickness and fit any type of blocking scheme.

NFL projection: Top-50 pick.

4. OG Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
Ht: 6-3 7⁄8, Wt: 314, Sp: 5.37, Arm: 32 3⁄4, Hand: 10 1⁄4

Notes: Missed a portion of 2008 fall camp (left ankle) before appearing in three games as a true freshman in ’08. Started all 13 games at right guard in ’09. Played in all 13 games in ’10, starting the final nine at the ORG spot once the high ankle sprain he suffered in preseason camp had healed. Sprained his left ankle during ’11 fall camp. Made all 14 starts at right guard in ’11.

Bottom line: Big, smart, steady, physical run blocker with the girth, strength and efficiency to plug-and-play in multiple schemes. Is a very safe pick and could give decision makers comfort knowing exactly what they are getting.

NFL projection: Top-50 pick.

5. C Peter Konz, Wisconsin (Jr.)
Ht: 6-5, Wt: 314, Sp: 5.20e, Arm: 33, Hand: 9 1⁄4

Notes: Last name is pronounced “kahnz.” Also lettered twice in both basketball and track and field. Redshirted in 2008. Saw action in 10 games in ’09, starting nine contests in a row before blood clots were discovered in his lungs and he missed the last two games. Was still on blood-thinning medication during ’10 spring practice and was not allowed to participate. Started 11 games at center in the fall, missing two full games and parts of two other contests with a sprained ankle. In ’11, he started the first 10 games of the season at center before dislocating his left ankle against Minnesota. Missed the last three regular-season games before starting the Rose Bowl against Oregon. Medically excluded from the Combine with left ankle injury.

Bottom line: An excellent-sized, big-bodied pivot, Konz plays a finesse game and could stand to improve his strength levels and learn how to better use his hands. However, he possesses the sheer mass to match up against power and could contribute readily in the pros.

NFL projection: Late-first-round pick.

Click here to see scouting reports on developmental O-linemen to watch.