The selection of Tyron Smith in the 2011 NFL Draft was only the beginning of a well thought out plan by the Dallas Cowboys and Jason Garrett. I have come to the conclusion that the transformation of the offensive line is something that will not take place in one season and will look more like a 2 year plan. We all understood that when we moved away from the bigger and slower offensive lineman to the younger and more athletic type, it would take time. The Cowboys offensive line is a work in progress and will really take two draft classes to really come together talent wise.
Phil Costa has been underwhelming in a big way, that's just how I see it. 7th round draft pick Bill Nagy was well on his way to becoming one of the steals of the draft and it's a shame he will miss the rest of the season. 4th round pick David Arkin appears to be in a redshirt type of season and there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone needs to calm down and be patient with this offensive line, the total transformation will not take place in just one season. I feel confident that this line will get better with time and will improve as we get deeper into the season.
The player that needs to be replaced is Kyle Kosier, this is his last season with a star on his helmet folks. Kosier is beginning to deteriorate, he is beginning to look old. Personally I think Kosier has been one of the most underrated offensive lineman in the NFL for a long time and a truly under appreciated Dallas Cowboy during his tenure here. At the end of this season, we all should all applaud him for his great service to the offensive line over the years, then we need to move on.
Center is a position we need to seriously consider drafting regardless of how good Kevin Kowalski may be in the future, I really like that kid but we should look at the two centers I will be mentioning below. Phil Costa is not where it's at, personally I see him as a chump. DCFanatic listened to the Redskins game audio at x100 and heard no sort of noise from the Redskins, mainly the accused Stephen Bowen. In my opinion, Costa was looking for a scapegoat and used Bowen as one. Then there was the incident last week where apparently he said Vince Wilfork was a "speed bump". A few days later Costa said it was his publicist that made the comments and attempted to downplay the situation. How many mediocre centers have publicists? Yeah I am moving on from Phil Costa, the guy is just not what I am looking for in my center.
Sure I am overreacting, I can admit that. But I don't like this guy Phil Costa, he comes across as a arrogant player with no respect. There is the possibility Costa will improve, actually a great chance of him being a decent center in the NFL. Regardless of his talent I do not see Costa as the savior we all thought he was and would prefer to possibly draft one to replace him.
The 2012 NFL Draft will be loaded with talent on both sides of the football. I preferred a defensive draft, which we can still target. Maybe we should invest our first or second pick into the offensive line and then go defense from there on out. This draft will be rich in offensive lineman, especially at the guard and center positions. Let's take a look at some of my favorite prospects for the upcoming draft.
Editors Note: A few of these prospects are underclassmen, but the talent they possess put them in contention for entering the 2012 draft.
Tale of the tape
- Ohio State
- 6'4 305
Michael Brewster may be one of the best centers in college football. Personally I cannot say I have watched too many games of Brewster's recently because Ohio State isn't a team on my radar when I scout players. Far too often do Ohio State players end up as big time failures in the NFL. The only reason I like this guy is because of the success Ohio State does have putting their offensive lineman into the NFL. Back in 2006 they had center Nick Mangold, a player I would have drafted over fellow Buckeye Barbie Carpenter. Mangold is obviously the better prospect, but Brewster is no slouch. Brewster is a great prospect and I actually view him as a better prospect than BTB favorite from last year, Stephen Wisnieski.
Here is what www.nepatriotsdraft.com had to say about Brewster in their brief, but knowledgeable scouting report.
Strengths: Good size, length, and bulk – Makes great line calls with little/no help from QB – Leads on and off the field – Moves well laterally – Excellent in pass protection – Possesses a strong initial punch – Hard working guy.
Weaknesses: Not incredibly athletic, but looks flexible – Has improved his angles, but this might be the only part of his game that needs some work.
If the only negative on his game is to be more athletic, than you are a really good prospect. Scouts Inc didn't grade Brewster out very well, only handing him out a 50 out of 100. Like I said, I haven't watched Brewster that much this year, but the last two years I watched him he was really impressive. He has great size for the position and is ultra intelligent, something Costa doesn't appear to have in my opinion. He grinds on and off the field and is the total RKG.
If the Cowboys clearly go after a center prospect that can start day one, then it would be Brewster. The real positive I like about this guy is where you can get him on draft day possibly. I see him falling into the late first, early second range and that fits us really well. Keep an eye out for Brewster during the Senior Bowl and combine, he is a guy that could really raise his draft stock in those events.
Tale of the tape
- 6'5 315
The best center in college football is Peter Konz, I just see him as a better player than Michael Brewster. That isn't a knock on Brewster at all, it's just that Konz is really good. Wisconsin is a team that I tend to scout and watch a lot because of their offensive lineman and defensive players. Year in and year out, Wisconsin produces some of the best players in the NFL on the offensive line. Now whether that it is a system Wisconsin has or is the ability to recruit good offensive lineman is up for debate, but one clearly has to acknowledge their success on that level.
The best part about Konz's game is that he is athletic and has great size. Watching a guy 6'5 315 clear out to the second level is utterly amazing to me and is truly fun to watch this guy get down field. Konz is one part of the best offensive line in college football, but he stands out every single time I watch Wisconsin play. Konz is a perfect fit for this Cowboys offensive line. He fits the prototype the Cowboys are looking for because he is athletic and can move very well. Konz also has the size and brute strength to buckle down and push straight ahead, something Costa again doesn't appear to have even though he is really "strong".
Here is what www.nepatriotsdraft.com had to say in their scouting report on Konz.
Strengths: Elite size and bulk for a center – Fantastic blocker when on the move, finds his targets quickly – Moves exceptionally well for his size – Very effective in combo blocks – Resets well after initial punch – Excels on the second level, picking off linebackers – Runs the screen play very well.
Weaknesses: Occasionally gets knocked off balance unexpectedly – Rarely is a dominating force one-on-one inside – Dealt with durability issues (ankle) in past – Blood clot in lung during 2009 season might also be a red-flag.
The off balance thing is basically because of his size. You see a lot of centers under 6'4 now because they manage to get better leverage, something Costa uses to his advantage because of his shorter stature. Durability isn't really a concern to me with Konz, offensive lineman get banged up, it's just what it is you know.
There aren't too many flaws to this kids game and he is only a junior. Because of his versatility, Konz could make the adjustment to guard. Now whether the Cowboys or whatever team drafts him, they will have the advantage of having a great center prospect, but also the possibility of moving him to guard where Konz's size and athleticism come into play.
Right now Konz isn't mentioned in many mock drafts because he is a junior, but if he continues his great play at Wisconsin this year he could easily drop his name into the draft hat. This is a first round prospect all the way, there is no way a lineman of his caliber falls to the second round. If the Cowboys a truly accepting a new approach to drafting lineman as a priority, than they should really consider Konz with their first pick in the first round. Jason Garrett obviously has a fetish for Wisconsin offensive lineman like myself and is close with that program. Drafting Konz would make a ton of sense for the Cowboys.
Tale of the tape
- 6'4 318
Perhaps the best offensive lineman in the country nobody talks about is Kevin Zeitler. Again this is another Wisconsin product and I wasn't joking around about my fetish for their lineman. They are seriously becoming offensive lineman university and when you begin to scout offensive lineman for the draft this is where you begin. Zeitler may be a better prospect than another BTB favorite last year, John Moffitt.
Here is what www.mockingthedraft.com had to say about Zeitler.
Kevin Zeitler is a good looking guard prospect and looks better than former teammate John Moffitt (2011 3rd round pick). Zeitler is an above average pass protector and run blocker. He does a good job keeping his pad level low and maintaing leverage throughout the play. His best attribute is his ability to lock on and control the defender. Zeitler's velcro ability makes it tough for defenders to disengage and pursue the football. He does a good job of creating a push in the running game. Zeitler also shows the foot speed necessary to mirror pass rushers.
The concerns surrounding Zeitler are minimual but some do exist. He needs to work very hard at maintaining leverage and inside hand position. Zeitler doesn't appear strong enough to make up for mistakes with his technique. At times, Zeitler will get his arms fully extended which impacts his balance and velcro ability.
Overall, Zeitler is a player that you can win with as a starter on your team. He is able to both protect the passer and open running lanes. Zeitler may not be as exciting as other prospects but he is solid and should be selected no later than the 3rd round.
Mocking The Draft isn't exactly my favorite draft site because they are spotty at best sometimes when it comes to player evaluation. This is one of the few circumstances where MTD got it right. Zeitler isn't a sexy prospect, he won't overwhelm you physically, but his technique is top notch. Zeitler is a guy who I think will improve as he gets older because he relies on technique more than physical ability and I love smart players. When you get a smart lineman, you can teach him techniques that are going to improve his play.
He isn't the best athlete in the world but that doesn't mean he is a big ugly. The guy can still get out into the second level and level defenders, he is still a physical lineman. If he gets his hands on you, it's truly a wrap for the defensive lineman or linebacker. Zeitler is an instant plug and play player, I love those type of guys because there is little development to take place.
Where Zeitler will fall in the draft is truly a bargain. He is a mid round prospect who could peak at the beginning of the third round. This is the type of player that the Cowboys could fall in love with because of his instincts and intelligence. If the Cowboys can land Zeitler in the third round, they will have a great bargain on their hands.
Tale of the tape
- 6'5 312
The first thought that pops into my head when I think about David DeCastro is blue collar. He is just all business and loves the game of football. DeCastro may be the best guard in the nation and protects Andrew Luck with authority. DeCastro is pulled often and has no problem getting into the second level. He is clearly one of the most balanced offensive lineman because of his ability to run block with authority and at the same time be a beast in pass protection.
If you go back and watch every big run Stanford has had in the past few years you will see this guy leading the way. DeCastro is very athletic and mobile, but at 312 pounds has the frame to add more muscle and weight. Personally this is the guy the Cowboys should really look at if he enters the draft this year because he fits our new profile perfectly. I see no real flaws in his game, which is amazing for a junior. The odds of DeCastro entering the draft are pretty good when you break it down. He may be the best guard in the country, that is a given. Andrew Luck will be leaving Stanford after an amazing career there. Fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Martin will be entering the draft as one of the best tackle prospects, so it will be a great time for DeCastro to leave because his stock will be through the roof.
I recommend you start watching Stanford games because DeCastro will stick out. He will be one of the most heralded lineman prospects in the draft and is a lock for the first round. The thing is, guards aren't usually drafted overly high and this gives us an opportunity to go out and get the best one available. If we get DeCastro, we can instantly plug him in. He is an amazing athlete with good intelligence for the position. I expect him only to get better with time as he learns more technique, but he is already NFL material as a junior. We all know drafting offensive lineman isn't a sexy pick, but DeCastro is a flat out stud.
Kelechi Osemele is an intriguing prospect but I decided not to include him on this list. He is too much in the mold of what we looked for in our previous big ugly types. Osemele will be a big time name in this years draft and is extremely talented, but I prefer the more athletic type offensive lineman now.
Another lineman that I like is Pittsburgh's Lucas Nix. He was left off the list due to a injury he just suffered and we will have to see how that plays out before we include him on the list.
This will be a great class for offensive lineman. It will also be a extremely deep class for defensive prospects and we truly need to focus on that side of the football. It should be interesting to see how the Cowboys handle the draft next year. At least this time we get to enjoy free agency before the draft and that gives much more opportunity to plug holes than we had this year. Keep an eye on these prospects, they will be big time players in the NFL. Please feel free to discuss and name your top offensive lineman prospects below in the comments. Keep in mind we do need to get a young swing tackle, so if you have any ideas please feel free to discuss below.