Analyzing The 2009 Drafts Top Offensive Guard Prospects

Published on April 23, 2009 by     

Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma FootballDuke Robinson, the massive guard from Oklahoma, wisely said he doesn’t pay attention to projections about where he might be drafted this month.

“It doesn’t matter as far as what round I’m taken,” Robinson said. “I don’t take that into consideration. I’ll just be patiently waiting, and when I get to a team, I’ll be focused on what I have to do, like I’ve always been.”

Robinson is widely considered the best player at his position, the type of offensive line anchor who could play in the NFL for more than 10 years and be a force for a run-first team that needs some interior push (Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles). Yet, he’s a guard, a position devalued like the other up-the-gut spots: center, middle/inside linebacker and safety.

No guard is projected to be chosen in the first round this month, although Robinson could sneak in late, possibly to the Steelers with the last pick at No. 32.

Last season, USC’s Chilo Rachal was the first guard drafted, taken 39th overall by the San Francisco 49ers. By the time Rachal was chosen, players at every other non-special-teams position, except one, had been drafted. The only other position besides guard to be neglected: center (see the top five centers).

Top five guards
Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
1.
Oklahoma
6-5
329
1-3
Analysis: Robinson is a dominating run blocker who could be a good fit for a team that needs help in short-yardage situations and wants to fortify its overall interior muscle. His durability — at Oklahoma, he was a three-year starter who saw action in 10 games as a freshman — is a huge plus because NFL teams covet proven commodities. Guards typically aren’t selected in the first round, but Robinson could be a solid fit for the Steelers at No. 32.

NFL landing spot: Pittsburgh, which needs offensive line help. The Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams also have shown interest.

Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
2.
Oregon State
6-3
305
2-3
Analysis: A tackle in college, Levitre’s strengths translate more to guard in the NFL. That versatility is a plus because he could enter the league, if not as a starter, as a swing lineman, which is a coveted role. Levitre has good feet, is very disciplined and might be best suited for an offense that faces a lot of 3-4 fronts, where he could help with the nose tackle, then progress to the second level of the defense.

NFL landing spot: The Steelers, Rams and Miami Dolphins could be interested.

Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
3.
Wisconsin
6-5
328
2-4
Analysis: Urbik is a massive fixture who comes from a college program that runs the ball well because of its offensive line. Urbik has played on the right side for most of his career and is a good pulling/trapping guard. With more and more NFL teams running inside traps, Urbik could be a nice pick in the middle rounds for a club that needs depth. Urbik’s height and occasional poor technique has caused him to lose leverage battles, but that can be fixed.

NFL landing spot: Staying close to home with the Green Bay Packers. The Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Rams, Steelers and 49ers also might be good fits.

Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
4.
LSU
6-7
364
3-6
Analysis: The biggest player in the draft — at more than 15 pounds, he was the heaviest baby ever born in Louisiana — Johnson is not a masher. Instead, he could be better suited for a zone-blocking team, where he could wall off and leverage defenders who might have a hard time getting by him on cutback plays.

NFL landing spot: The AFC and NFC East teams love big linemen, and Johnson would seem like a tailor-made fit for the Dallas Cowboys.

Rank
Player
School
Height
Weight
Projected round
5.
Cincinnati
6-5
307
4-7
Analysis: Defenders don’t want to mess around with Canfield, a nasty player whose temperament sometimes gets him in trouble. He has played both guard spots and is a decent pass protector and leverage-type blocker. His inconsistency at the point of attack failed him in short-yardage situations at times, which makes him more of a better fit for a zone-blocking scheme.

NFL landing spot: The Packers, Falcons, Panthers, San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints are among the teams that would love to have some attitude and flexibility for their run schemes.

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