Offensive Guard might be the most unheralded position on the entire football field. Occasionally people will talk about “Franchise Tackles” but never do you hear the term “Franchise Guard”. The reason for that is for a long time a guard could be drafted in the 6th round and made into passable NFL starters. That trend is starting to drop off though as we saw a record number of interior offensive lineman drafted in the first two rounds last year. In fact, I thought last years interior line class was the best one I had seen in a long while. With that said this class has a chance to compete for that title after a whole year of seasoning. Guards may not be sexy but let’s take a look at my preseason top 5 anyway.
- Dalton Risner/ Kansas State
The first thing that I love about Dalton Risner is that he can play every single position on the offensive line. I’ve seen him line up at center, guard, and tackle all in the same game. With all of that said his best position is by far guard. He lacks the athletic ability to be a consistent tackle at the next level but in a pinch, he could do it. At guard, Risner holds his own in the passing game with a strong base and good footwork. In the run game, he creates decent space and is able to get off the ball quickly. My only other concern with Risner is that he gets shed on the second level by linebackers a little too often for my liking. Overall Risner provides elite versatility and might be the only one of these prospects who can go in the first round.
- Martez Ivey/ Florida
Ivey has played almost most of his snaps at the left tackle position for the Florida offense. Like Dalton Risner, I can’t see him playing the tackle position because of a lack of athletic ability. Ivey really jumped out on tape with his high motor. There was a play where Felipe Franks ( Florida QB) was scrabbling about 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage and out of nowhere, Martez Ivey comes flying in and takes out a defender in pursuit. It is rare to see a guy come back into the play when it’s that far from the line of scrimmage. Other than that he held his own in the passing game against most types of rushers. He struggled a bit with some speed rushers but that weakness should be taken away when he moves to Guard.
- Mike Dieter/ Wisconsin
Wisconsin has the best offensive line in all of college football and it is not even close. We talked about David Edwards last time and now we get to move on to Mike Dieter. Dieter is really mean in the run game. When Wisconsin runs through his cap you can see him plow people over with what looks ease. Something I have really noticed when watching Dieter is that the whole offensive line works as one unit. Dieter is great at picking up blocks and excels in double teams which will serve him well in the NFL. My concern for him is that he looks really slow in space when asked to pull onto the second level. Deiter more than the other guys have an opportunity to get his name out there because Wisconsin should be very relevant.
- Hjalte Froholdt/ Arkansas
Froholdt is a guy who some might have way higher on their lists but I have some major concerns. One of those is that he looks really slow out of his stance. He too often is the last guy to hit his opposing defender and that scares me. Once Froholdt gets out of his stance though it is easy to see his talent. Froholdt holds his own in the passing game with his size and hand placement. In the run game, he creates some pretty good space for running backs to run through. He like Mike Dieter is really good at picking up blocks when he is left unblocked in the passing game. One last thing that worries me with Froholdt is that he gets pushed back by the bull rush sometimes creating to much interior pressure.
- Nate Herbig/ Stanford
Herbig has the right size to be an NFL guard and looks the part on most plays. I’ll start with the bad first though. The trait that bothers me the most about Herbig is that he looks so awful when he asked to pull. He gets lost into space too often or he just is not fast enough to seal the hole. He makes this list though because he excels in one on one blocking situations. He rarely gets beat straight up for a sack or shed in the run game. I like him coming from the Stanford Offense because they run a lot of pro concepts in their playbook.