Scouting for Guards

image: © Cynthia Yock

image: © Cynthia Yock

It’s not the headline position or the one which was highlighted in a Sandra Bullock movie but the position of Guard in an Offensive Line is vital for teams in both the passing and run game. Here are three interior prospects who could well be first round picks in 2014.

David Yankey (Stanford, RS Junior)

Agility

Decent speed off the snap and footwork puts him in good positions against rushers and defenders. Consistency with the latter needed- 7/10

Pass Blocking 

Speed: Occasionally caught off balance but does take defenders out of the game with his mauling capabilities. Needs to anchor better on occasion, but strength keeps QB clean- 7/10

Power: Mauler of a player in the run game shines against power. Good off the snap sees him win often- 8/10

Run Blocking

Just dominant, initial contact has a finality to it and has been too good. Equally adept at blocking at the 2nd level. Maintains pad level well in 1 v 1 matchups- 8/10

Strength

Very strong and capable. Strength shines in the run game but also keeps him on top in pass protection. Consistently opens running lanes- 9/10

Move in Space/Pulling

Nimble and light on his feet in both aspects. Can lose sight of rushers and benefits more from a straight LOS scrap in blocking. Agility and strength to the fore when it comes together- 14.5/20

Technique

Sound technically with very occasional lapses a very tiny blot. Impressive in all facets- 8/10

Size

At 6’5 Yankey is a good size for the position and gives him a good base in the run game and creating lanes- 7/10

Concerns

Pass protection isn’t as strong as his ability to be a dominant run blocker. Balance can be questioned against rushers but is a natural guard- 7/10

Verdict

Very good prospect. Seems to be a guard and nothing more after moving back inside after a stint at OT for Stanford. Run blocking comes more naturally for him than a shutdown pass protector. A NFL Guard from day one-75.5/100

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Cyril Richardson (Baylor, RS Senior)

This man is fun to watch, simply put. He has one of the best runners in NCAA behind him (Lache Seastrunk) and at left-guard Richardson is, at times, monstrous.He has quickness unbefitting a man weighing 335lbs and shows that similar quickness off the snap and like North Carolina in 2012, Baylor could see a OG-RB combo go in the Top 40.

Agility

As mentioned above he has impressive quickness off the snap and his footwork is exemplary for a man his size. He is the most agile of the OG’s I watched and it really pops off the screen- 8/10

Pass Blocking 

Speed: His strength can occasionally bail him out but his footwork is something that shines and can be seen often taking rushers out of the play- 8/10

Power: He is strong. What he lacks in archetypal speed is made up by pure strength in his pass blocking. He just manhandles rushers and gives them little chance to make a play- 7/10

Run Blocking

This is where Richardson really just dominates. He is just a mauler in the run game and will be someone interesting alot of teams after playing in the near-unstoppable Baylor offense. His first move off the snap in the run game is forward and handles defenders handily. He has the power to be a success at the next level- 9/10

Strength

It is the run game with Seastrunk running through that Richardson’s strength really pops. At 335lbs he really does just put rushers and defenders out of a play with occasional ease. He needs to be more content on using his strength consistently. In the pass protection he rarely gets off-balance which for a man of his size is a feat of his athleticism. Impressive- 8/10

Move in Space/Pulling

Richardson in space is something of a rarity as he often stands firm on the line of scrimmage, but 2nd level blocking and the ability to be the pulling guard do show up occasionally in front of Seastrunk and his footwork seems to be so effortless- (two facets so out of 20) 15/20

Technique

In the run game it is flawless, his effortless ability to lock onto rushers shines where his ability to stand his ground against power and speed rushers really makes him fun to watch. His technique in all aspects make him a clear 1st round pick in my opinion- 8/10

Size

Cyril Richardson is a big big man showing 335lbs in his 6’5 frame he really could not be drawn up much better for his position- 9/10

Concerns

Not very many to mention. Occasionally awareness of runner lets him down and how adept he would be in a variety of schemes is obviously up for debate. All coachable aspects- 8/10

Verdict

In case you were not aware by now, I am a big big fan of Richardson. He is the archetypal warrior at the position and for me will be the best OG in this draft class and likely the first off the board in May. It would be interesting to see him in a run-heavy team like Seattle with Tom Cable to coach him up in the ZBS. But he will be long gone off the board by then. Could be a similar wait to Jonathan Cooper’s last year, very brief. Watch Baylor when you get the chance and watch the #68 left guard dominate- 80/100

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Gabe Jackson (Mississppi State, RS Senior)

Jackson is a left-guard in College and has the agility and speed off the snap to be a success at the next level. Impressive player with first round talk.

Agility

As mentioned above he has speed off the line in pass protection but also shines at getting to the next level in run blocking with ease. Probably the quickest of the few, maybe more impressively so than Richardson- 8.5/10

Pass Blocking

Power: He is a powerful player and that is just enhanced with the quickness off the snap he has. He is stout and well-balanced in pass protection- 8/10

Speed: Likewise and a common thread with watching Jackson is the speed of which he gets off the ball. He stones rushers with that and his matching strength, impressive- 8/10

Run Blocking

That quickness again brushes people away in the run game. He gets to the second level and opens up lanes consistently for his running back- 8/10

Move in Space/Pulling

He occasionally loses the rusher more often than in other means. His footwork occasionally lets him down when the pulling guard on a run play but downfield blocking his speed off the snap enables him an advantage over defenders- 15/20

Strength

Jackson really shone against the LSU DL earlier in the year in both facets of the game and really enhances his play. Is rarely the loser in a one v one matchup due to his strength- 8/10

Technique

Pretty technically sound with some consistency to work on. His speed is stark off the snap and really stands out. Some of his blocking attempts seemed one-offs more than long-term worries- 7.5/10

Size

Jackson is heavier-set than Cyril Richardson and his flashes of speed are for that reason, that bit more impressive. His speed with the size enhances his skill in run blocking. Well balanced in pass protection- 8/10

Concerns

Limited amount of concerns over Jackson. His technique can let him down and his speed could be counter-attacked at the next level-8/10

Verdict.

A nailed on-like Cyril Richardson- first round pick for me. His speed off the line will see teams fall in love with him and it arguably is 1 and 1a with Jackson and Richardson, with the mauling tendancies of Richardson winning that battle for me- 79/100

Follow me on Twitter @Stu_Court

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