All of these guys are projected in the mid to late rounds.
By Steve Muench
Louisville's Breno Giacomini
NFL teams are leery of drafting players who lack ideal starting experience because they don't have a big enough body of work to develop a complete and accurate evaluation. That's not good news for Giacomini since he split time between tackle and tight end during his first three seasons at Louisville and started only six games his senior season. Maturity also comes into play when looking at this type of player because scouts have to figure out whether he has the mental makeup to succeed at the NFL level. Again, this does not bode well for Giacomini, who was photographed making an obscene gesture toward the crowd before last year's game against Kentucky. On the flip side, there are few tackles in this year's class with as much potential. At 6-foot-7, the 303-pound Giacomini is tall enough to add 15 pounds to 20 pounds to his frame without sacrificing quickness or agility, and he has the foot speed one would expect from a former tight end. He's progressed at tackle and has the work ethic to continue to get better with added experience. The bottom line is he has the size, athletic ability and quickness to develop into starting at right tackle in the NFL if he can continue to refine his technique and add some weight to his frame. That should be just enough to make him a late-fifth-round or early-sixth-round pick. Detroit is an interesting possibility for Giacomini because the Lions are in position to provide a great learning environment for a developmental tackle. George Foster, whom the Lions traded for just last year, hasn't panned out thus far, and Jonathan Scott is a marginal starter at best, so Detroit needs a tackle. If the Lions were to draft Giacomini, he could spend a year or two adding weight, improving his technique and getting comfortable with the scheme as well as his teammates before pushing for a starting job. More importantly, new offensive coordinator Jim Colletto is also the offensive line coach, and one of his goals is to simplify the offense. Having to spend less time learning the playbook means having more time to work on technique and execution, so this is perfect for Giacomini. Minnesota, on the other hand, isn't a great fit. Giacomini could develop into an effective run-blocker but might never be a dominant drive-blocker because it's tough for a player with his height to get under a defender's pads. With RB Adrian Peterson clearly the headliner in the Vikings' offense, Minnesota would be wise to add a tackle who excels at driving defenders off the ball, even if that means taking a tackle who is a little more one-dimensional than Giacomini could eventually become.
Texas A&M's Corey Clark
Much like Giacomini, there's a lot to like about Clark's blend of size and initial burst. The 315-pounder can get into position quickly when drive blocking and has the range to get around the corner when pulling. It also helps his stock that he has the lateral mobility to slide with defenders in pass protection and the football smarts to pick up the blitz. That said, Clark is an excellent example of a lineman who plays smaller than his size. He lacks the upper-body strength to consistently deliver a violent initial punch and hasn't shown the lower-body strength or nasty temperament to drive NFL ends off the ball. There are also concerns about Clark's ability to anchor against the bull rush. He doesn't sink his hips enough to hold his ground consistently and his problems locking his arms out make it easier for defenders to get under his pads. Making matters worse, Clark's footwork is inconsistent, and he doesn't look as quick or agile when his technique is off. Clark would do well to end up in Green Bay, and there's a chance it could happen. While the Packers did well to get Tony Moll in the fifth round of the 2006 draft, he is a former tight end who fits better on the left side and appears to be the heir apparent to 31-year old Chad Clifton at that spot. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Tauscher is approaching the downside of his career, so Green Bay would be wise to add some depth behind him. It's also worth noting that Tauscher's experience as a late-round pick would make him a great mentor to Clark, who projects as a sixth-round pick.
One team that would not be a great fit for Clark is Jacksonville, which needs to add depth and possibly find a replacement for Tony Pashos on the right side. Pashos is an adequate but not great starter, and the Jaguars surely could bring Clark along slowly, but Clark isn't a strong enough run-blocker to excel in a scheme that's predicated on a power running game.
Oregon's Geoff Schwartz
Schwartz is a mountain of a man and makes the most of his 6-6, 332-pound frame. He is a fierce drive-blocker who can engulf undersized defenders and has enough lower body strength to move defenders off the ball when he's able to get into sound position. Problem is, Schwartz's poor footwork and inconsistent hand placement made it hard for him to consistently get into position at the collegiate level. Those weaknesses will only become more glaring at the NFL level, where the pace of the game picks up substantially. It's also worth pointing out that even though he has excellent size, he hasn't shown great upper-body strength at the point of contact and doesn't jar defenders with a powerful initial punch. San Diego needs a right tackle capable of competing for a starting job this year, but Schwartz might not be ready to contribute until his second or third season, and drafting him won't fill the Chargers' most pressing needs. Further complicating matters, San Diego isn't in a position to draft one of the top tackles this year, and there isn't an elite tackle available in free agency. As a result, don't be surprised to see San Diego sign a mid-level free agent like L.J. Shelton, who would be capable of holding down the job for a year. If that's the case, the Chargers still could take a tackle capable of developing into a starter in the later rounds, and Schwartz's size and lower-body strength could make him a great fit for the scheme. Indianapolis, on the other hand, could add some depth at tackle but would be a tough place for Schwartz to launch his NFL career. He simply hasn't shown the foot speed or agility to get the job done in that scheme. In addition, Schwartz isn't as strong as his size would suggest, and that's an indication that he is carrying some bad weight. That's a red flag for the Colts because heavier offensive linemen can wear down in a high-paced offense such as the one run by the Colts.
Northern Iowa's Brandon Keith
Keith clearly was talented enough coming out of high school to play for a Division I program. Why else would Oklahoma welcome him back in 2005 after he had left the Sooners before the start of his freshman season in 2003? Chances are the Sooners, like many scouts, recognized that the 343-pound Keith has the size and upper-body strength (31 bench press reps at the combine) to emerge as a dominant drive-blocker. He's also surprisingly nimble for a player his size and is versatile enough to slide inside to guard if needed. So why does he project as a sixth-round pick rather than a third- or fourth-rounder? His history of jumping from college to college is the biggest reason. Keith attended a new school both times he left Oklahoma, so he has played for three different programs since 2003. Moving around so much makes it harder for a player to focus on improving his technique because he's consistently adjusting to new schemes, coaches and teammates, and it's shown on the field for Keith. His footwork is sloppy at times, and he doesn't take sound angles to his downfield blocks, making it harder for him to get into position. And it doesn't help that his decision to leave the Sooners for a second time after the 2005 season raised questions about his work ethic and mental toughness. With veteran Jon Jansen now 32 years old and coming off his second season-ending injury in four years, Washington needs to start preparing for the future and does not have an heir apparent on the roster. Taking Keith would allow him to play behind Jansen and Chris Samuels, both seasoned veterans capable of helping bring Keith along. In addition, the Redskins could add some depth and infuse some youth at guard as well. If Keith doesn't work out at tackle this year, Washington can move him to guard, where he could end up being a better fit. New England is another possibility but it wouldn't be as strong a fit. Though the Patriots have an excellent offensive line coach in Dante Scarnecchia, he and the organization have a low tolerance for players who don't give a maximum effort at all times. With all the questions surrounding Keith's work ethic, the relationship between him and the team could quickly sour if he gets off to a slow start.
"Everybody underestimates the kick in the groin." - Bas Rutten