NFL Draft analyst Rob Rang offers his evaluation of the top guard prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft class.
Cody Ford, Oklahoma, 6-4, 329, 5.21
Strengths: Boasts a rare combination of size, strength and athleticism, including terrific initial quickness that belies his average 40-yard dash time. Versatile blocker with experience at guard (seven starts at left guard), as well as right tackle (14). Fires off the snap, generating movement due to his power and leverage. Keeps his feet driving through contact and looks to intimidate, knocking opponents to the turf when he senses them off-balance. Easy lateral agility to mirror rushers and possesses the length (34-inch arms) to operate outside, if needed. Just 25 career starts with plenty of technical flaws still left to correct, suggesting that he’s scratching the surface of his potential.
Weaknesses: Only has seven career starts at guard. Operated in a spread scheme against questionable Big 12 competition, raising concerns for some as to how quickly he can acclimate back inside to the closer, more physical quarters. Quick to the second level but inexperience shows when there, occasionally lunging at linebackers. Doesn’t always play to his length, allowing opponents to dictate the action.
Chris Lindstrom, Boston College, 6-4, 308, 4.91
Strengths: Possesses the agility of a tackle with the rugged, physical nature of an interior lineman and extensive starting experience in both roles (36 at RG, 11 at RT). Terrific initial quickness and overall speed for an interior lineman. Fires off the snap to quickly climb to the second level. Alert eyes and easy body control to adjust to moving targets once there, showing pride in his ability to stalk and silence opponents. Excellent length for the position (34 inches) to fend off athletic defenders. Good knee bend and core strength to absorb bull rushers.
Weaknesses: Viewed by some as a bit of a ’tweener with a length and athleticism combination perhaps best suited to tackle. Top-heavy with somewhat of a beach body (big upper, small lower) that isn’t particularly conducive to winning the leverage battle. Physical but not overpowering, preferring to wall off opponents rather than generating consistent movement to win short yardage battles.
Connor McGovern, Penn State, 6-5, 308, 5.10 (est.)
Strengths: Certainly looks the part of an NFL interior lineman with rare size including broad shoulders, long arms (34 1/8 inches) and a thick, powerful lower half which helps him knock defenders off the ball to create running lanes. Three-year starter with 21 starts at right guard and 14 at center (including 12/1 in 2018). Won’t win many foot races but shows good lateral agility and balance through contact to mirror in pass protection.
Weaknesses: At his best blocking in close quarters where his size and strength can simply overwhelm opponents. Gets too far over his skis when blocking on the move, leaving himself off balance when climbing to the second level or adjusting to moving targets. Protected by athletic skill-position players in a spread scheme which didn’t ask him to hold blocks for very long.
Dru Samia, Oklahoma, 6-5, 305, 5.29
Strengths: Physically imposing with combative playing style likely to earn approval from OL coaches (and fans). Four-year starting right guard with some experience at tackle with just enough length (33 inches) and agility to slide outside in a pinch. Quicker than his average 40-yard dash time suggests, zipping to the second level and zagging to latch onto defenders once there. Looks to intimidate, driving opponents into the turf when he can.
Weaknesses: Not as functionally powerful as his frame suggests, too often resorting to ‘rassling with sporadic hand placement and footwork that can leave him off balance. Inconsistent pad level can leave him surrendering ground to bull rushers. A bit of a hot-head who needs to keep his emotions in check.
Michael Deiter, Wisconsin, 6-5, 309, 5.23
Strengths: As battle-tested and versatile as it gets with 54 career starts spanning all over the line of scrimmage (24 at LG, 16 at C and 14 at LT). Naturally large man with good overall weight distribution, fair length (33 1/8-inch arms) and at least average initial quickness and agility to mirror among interior offensive linemen. Technically-sound with good knee bend, width of his feet and active hands. Pro-ready out of the box with proven toughness, durability and consistency.
Weaknesses: More of a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none-type. Lacks top-notch quickness off the snap and relies more on positioning than pure power to create rushing lanes. Can get himself in trouble with his pad level. Average athleticism shown in timed tests at the Combine and when he’s asked to block on the move.
- Phil Haynes, Wake Forest, 6-4, 322, 5.20
- Iosua Opeta, Weber State, 6-4, 301, 5.02
- B.J. Autry, Jacksonville State, 6-5, 365, 5.25