Jim Wexell of SteelCityInsider.net provides a must-read, detailed breakdown of all the key prospects for the upcoming NFL draft to watch in the nine bowl games held today and Saturday.
But my primary concern has long been and remains the Steelers’ offensive line, which is a poor unit right now with a dismal-looking future unless Pittsburgh can add a couple of potential long-term starters in this draft to last year’s super first-round pick, center Maurkice Pouncey. However, many of the top offensive line prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft will be in action over the next 48 hours including:
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Chris Hariston, Clemson, OT, 6-6, 320: Probably a 2nd-3rd-round pick who reminds me a lot of Max Starks coming out of college. He is a bit stiff and has suffered through multiple injuries but does have starting potential at both tackle spots. Rated as the No. 80 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
Orlando Franklin, Miami, OG, 6-6, 320: Plays tackle for the U but projects as a guard at the next level. The Steelers, however, do not need another fat, slow, lazy and powerful offensive lineman, which describes Franklin. He does have great quickness, though, and is rated as the No. 49 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
Clint Boling, Georgia, OG, 6-4, 305: Boling plays RT for the Bulldogs, but has actually started at four positions as a collegian and offers Justin Strzelczyk-type versatility. But is he good enough to start anywhere on the Steelers’ line in 2011? Probably not and the Steelers already have enough swing, versatile reserves. Rated as the No. 69 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
Cordy Glenn, Georgia, OG, 6-6, 320: Glenn is considering entering the NFL after starting all three of his seasons at Georgia. However, he had mono early in the 2010 season and did not play well until later in the year. Rated as the top junior OG prospect by Mel Kiper but not listed under the ESPN prospects rankings despite rumblings out of Athens that Glenn is leaning toward turning pro.
Rodney Hudson, Florida State, OG/C, 6-2, 280: Due to his lack of bulk, some teams project the quick and experienced Hudson at center. He is probably the best offensive lineman in college football and would be an ideal, old-school, Steeler-style, pulling left guard, although he is too small to play right guard. However, if Chris Kemoeatu was smart enough to learn how to play the other guard spot, he would have already moved over to right guard, which is by far a more natural position for him. Rated as the No. 44 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
Mike Pouncey, Florida, OG/C, 6-5, 310: The Steelers struck gold with one Pouncey twin in the 2010 NFL Draft and could well double-down with the same philosophy in 2011. Mike Pouncey moved to center this fall, but would likely be the starting RG from day one for the Steelers. Rated as the No. 19 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
Stefan Wisniewski, Penn State, C/OG, 6-2, 290: Starts at RG for Joe Paterno’s squad, but like his uncle, Steve, Stefan will likely end up a center in the NFL. Probably not on the Steelers’ radar. Rated as the No. 103 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
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James Carpenter, Alabama, OG/OT, 6-5, 290: Carpenter plays LT for the Crimson Tide, but the question is if he is quick enough to play RT in the NFL or will he have to play guard. If the answer is yes to the former, he goes back to being a 2nd-3rd-round prospect. Otherwise, he falls to the mid rounds. Rated as the No. 131 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
Derrek Sherrod, Miss. State, OT, 6-5, 300: The Steelers would have a hard time passing up this athletic and versatile tackle if he was still on the board at the end of the first round. Yeah, he’s a risk but Pittsburgh is desperate for an OT and will not get a good one late. Rated as the No. 34 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
Stephen Schilling, Michigan, OG, 6-4, 300: Began his career at tackle but started at guard over the last two years. Climbing up draft boards after doing a great job run-blocking this year for a one-dimensional offense. Rated as the No. 83 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
Marcus Cannon, TCU, OG, 6-5, 360: A mountain of a man who plays LT for TCU but projects as a guard in the NFL. I am not as high on Cannon as others, but he can sway me by faring well against the Big Ten champions from Wisconsin. Rated as the No. 77 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin, OT, 6-7, 320: Previously viewed exclusively as a RT prospect who might struggle against fast rushers, Carimi has elevated his stock greatly with a strong 2010 campaign. Let’s see how he does against TCU’s top-ranked defense. Rated as the No. 16 overall prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft by ESPN.
John Moffitt, Wisconsin, OG, 6-4, 320: Moffit combined with Carimi to former the best leftside in college football this year, but the Steelers may be hesitant to take another slow Wisconsin offensive guard after cutting 2009 3rd-round pick Kraig Urbik after just one season. Moffitt is rated as the No. 10 OG prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft but not among its top 150 prospects overall.