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Best Offenfive Linemen 


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Remember the age-old question "Where's the beef?" The answer is in the 2002 NFL Draft. This year's class will give some teams a chance to pick the kind of cornerstone offensive lineman that can keep a ground game afloat for years. Heading up this year's class are Texas RT Mike Williams and Miami LT Bryant McKinnie. 

TACKLES

MARC COLOMBO, BOSTON COLLEGE

Height: 6-8
Weight: 295
Birthdate: Oct. 8, 1978
ANALYSIS
This Boston native and die-hard Boston fanatic is part of a football family that includes cousin Steven Marciano, a former BC player. His skills are equally impressive as he captained an offensive line that enabled running back William Green to gain 1,559 yards in 2001, averaging nearly six yards per carry. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Colombo has the look of a starting left tackle in the NFL. Light on his feet, with an understanding of the nuances of the position, Colombo does a great job keeping defensive ends at bay in pass-blocking situations. Keep in mind, he opened the year at right tackle before shifting to the left side in the season's third game."
Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN
"Strong, tough, aggressive and he can pass-protect."
Mike Detillier, M&D Draft Report
MOMENTUM
Colombo will bring a lot to an NFL team. As a versatile athlete growing up, Colombo excelled in baseball and basketball, so he can be counted on to be a disciplined team player. In addition, a tackle his size should get plenty of attention before the draft. 

LEVI JONES, ARIZONA STATE

Height: 6-5
Weight: 320
Birthdate: Aug. 24, 1979
ANALYSIS
Jones is a former walk-on who originally came to ASU on an academic scholarship. Jones teamed with fellow Sun Devil and 2002 NFL draft prospect Scott Peters. As a 2001 Football News second-team All-American, Jones has not only shown the skills to play, but has been recognized for them. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Jones is an exceptional pass blocker and super in running situations. He's very athletic with good size, speed and power. Some see him playing guard in the NFL, but most think he has the potential to be an excellent tackle." 
HoustonProFootball.com
"Has ideal size and plays with strength. Has the tools to play left tackle. Can move and get to linebackers. Is a former defensive lineman and guard who still is learning his position. Needs to be more consistent." 
Dan Pompei, The Sporting News
MOMENTUM
Jones may not be a top 10 pick, but there's little doubt that he will have a strong NFL career. 

BRYANT McKINNIE, MIAMI (FL)

Height: 6-7
Weight: 325
Birthdate: Sept. 23, 1979
ANALYSIS
McKinnie has emerged over the past two seasons to be one of the best offensive linemen in college football. His tremendous size and skill helped him win the Outland Trophy for best lineman in the country. A consensus first-team All-American, McKinnie was a huge part of the Hurricanes' National Championship season, keying an offense that averaged 5.3 yards per rushing attempt. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "(McKinnie) combines superior size and athleticism with a defensive mentality; has shown he can get the job done against topnotch pass rushers."
Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN
"Bryant McKinnie is like one huge mystery. He reaches out, grabs the defensive lineman and they're done. But you don't realize exactly how he does it."
Former UM teammate Sherko Haji-Rasouli
MOMENTUM
Many general managers believe offensive tackles like McKinnie are well worth the draft pick. If McKinnie were to stay healthy throughout his career, he should end up becoming the type of franchise player Orlando Pace or Jonathan Ogden have become to their teams. 

MIKE PEARSON, FLORIDA

Height: 6-7
Weight: 292
Birthdate: Aug. 22, 1980
ANALYSIS
In Gator country, they don't come any bigger than Mike Pearson. At 6-foot-7, Pearson is taller than his former teammate, current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Kenyatta Walker, and he is just as heralded. As a part of the Gators, Pearson helped the team run all the way to the Orange Bowl in 2001. The Gators averaged 4.2 yards per carry in 2001, thanks to an offensive line anchored by Pearson. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Pearson is a solid offensive player. He has played several positions on the line in his career and this points out his versatility and talent. He is solid in pass protection and does an excellent job of sliding out and picking up speed rushers. He is strong at the point, plays with good technique, and has a solid understanding of the game." 
Football Corner
"A phenomenal talent at offensive tackle that would easily be the No. 1 player at his position most years. Excellent size and overall athleticism, and is a fine blocker in both the passing and running game. The fact that Pearson, as a sophomore, kept 2001 first-round choice Kenyatta Walker playing right tackle in an offense built around the pass as much as the Gators' is simply a testament to this kid's ability." 
Rob "Boomer" Rang
MOMENTUM
If Pearson can follow in the footsteps of other UF tackles, including Walker, he can be a solid addition in the NFL. Very rarely is someone both underaged and experienced, but Pearson is both of those, and he will definitely raise some eyebrows in April. 

MIKE WILLIAMS, TEXAS

Height: 6-6
Weight: 365
Birthdate: Jan. 11, 1980
ANALYSIS
Williams enters the draft as a shoo-in to be an NFL impact player. Several coaches and GMs saw his incredible displays of power during the 2001 season, as he helped the Longhorns go 11-2. Williams anchored an offensive line that helped churn out 4.1 yards per rush in 2001. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Mike Williams is a guy who has real good size. He's an excellent athlete, an excellent pass-blocker, and he can run-block. He gives you the total package." 
Houston Texans GM Charley Casserly
"Unbelievable specimen. Uses his freakish size and strength and dominates oncoming defenders. Great lateral movement to take defensive ends off track. Excels in pass protection. Dominant at run blocking."
Chris Steuber, Firstdowninc.com
MOMENTUM
After playing in several big games throughout his career, there's no question Williams is ready for the NFL. He follows in the footsteps of former teammate and former No. 2 overall draft pick Leonard Davis of Arizona. 

GUARDS

TONIU FONOTI, NEBRASKA

Height: 6-3
Weight: 330
Birthdate: Nov. 26, 1981
ANALYSIS
A native of Hauula, Hawaii, Fonoti was the heart and soul of the Cornhuskers' offensive line. A first-team All-American and Outland Trophy finalist, Fonoti brought opposing defenses to their knees, enabling backfield players like Eric Crouch to run wild on opposing defenses. Fonoti also became the fifth 'Husker to record more than 300 pancake blocks in a career.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Fonoti is a rare impact interior lineman. His size and skill make him an instant starter. Fonoti has the mass that many NFL front office officials drool over, and by just referring to that size could make him a late first round selection. He will most likely be the first offensive guard selected in the entire draft."
Chris Steuber, Firstdowninc.com
"A powerful pancake blocker with unbelievable strength. Fonoti has an ability to manhandle people as a run blocker, and the size and feet to be a tackle." 
Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN
MOMENTUM
His amazing mass and strength makes him a top candidate for any guard position in the NFL. The only question is if he has enough experience against solid defensive linemen, and if he can hang in a pro-style pass-blocking scheme.

ANDRE GURODE, COLORADO

Height: 6-3
Weight: 315
Birthdate: March 6, 1978
ANALYSIS
Colorado's starting right guard is one of the nation's best linemen. Was a key component in bowling over the Cornhuskers in Colorado's 62-36 victory over Nebraska in 2001. Colorado had 380 rushing yards in that contest.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "In my opinion, there is not a better lineman in (the Big XII conference) than Andre Gurode."
Colorado offensive line coach Steve Marshall
"A wide body who can play guard or center. ... He is sold all the way around. People are impressed with his frame, and he has very long arms to go with his wide base."
Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN
MOMENTUM
Another Big 12 lineman entering the draft. Like other Big 12 linemen, Gurode has not lined up against stout competition. Unlike some of his counterparts, Gurode has played in several big games. The Buffs played Fresno State, Nebraska and Oregon in 2001 en route to a strong 10-3 season. 

KENDALL SIMMONS, AUBURN

Height: 6-2
Weight: 310
Birthdate: March 11, 1979
ANALYSIS
After starting his collegiate career as a guard, Simmons developed into a solid left tackle for Auburn. Despite ankle surgery before his junior year, Simmons was a staple on the Tigers' offensive line for years. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Kendall Simmons is one of the best in the country and must stay healthy for the line to be effective."
CollegeFootballNews.com
"Kendall Simmons is one of the best linemen I've been around. He had both ankles operated on after the first season we were here. That's devastating to an offensive lineman, but he's overcome that. I recruited him when we were at Ole Miss, but he came to Auburn. He's much stronger now, and ready to go."
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville
MOMENTUM
Simmons has been battle-tested, not only by playing in the SEC against defenders like Alex Brown of Florida and Kalimba Edwards of South Carolina, but also went head-to-head with Julius Peppers of North Carolina. If a team is looking for an experienced, trustworthy lineman, Simmons is a top candidate. 

FRED WEARY, TENNESSEE

Height: 6-4
Weight: 301
Birthdate: Sept. 30, 1977
ANALYSIS
Weary started all 12 games for the Vols in 2001. He combines excellent size, strength and skill to dominate his opponents. As a team captain, Weary was the leader of an offensive line that helped Travis Stephens set the Volunteers' single-season rushing record. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Is versatile and can play center in a pinch. Can move well for a big guy. Is athletic. Will get out and hit the moving target and is the type of guard who excels at pulling and trapping. He is skilled in pass protection as his man almost never gets to the quarterback. He can slide well. Shows adequate change-of-direction skills and the ability to mirror double moves. He uses really good leverage and he comes off the snap low and hard."
TSN
"(Weary) has a ton of talent. He is big and thick with a well-developed upper and lower body."
Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN
MOMENTUM
Despite having surgery in 2000, Weary's play at guard was strong in 2001. His experience blocking for running backs Jamal Lewis, Travis Henry and Travis Stephens speaks volumes about Weary's consistent, hard-nosed play. 

CENTERS

LeCHARLES BENTLEY, OHIO STATE
 
Height: 6-1
Weight: 290
Birthdate: Nov. 7, 1979
ANALYSIS
An All-America and Outland Trophy candidate, Bentley was a major factor for the Buckeyes in 2001. In fact, Bentley took home the Dave Rimington Trophy, given to college football's top center. Bentley spent three years as the starter for the team on the offensive line, playing guard and tackle as well as center. Showed what he's made of in 2000 when he played through a painful back injury. The team gained 2,157 yards in 2001 with Bentley leading the O-Line. 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Bentley can play center, guard or tackle at a high level, which is quite an accomplishment considering many thought he'd be too small to really excel in the rough-and-tumble Big 10. Bentley also has a wonderful work ethic. He's made ahead-of-schedule returns from two injuries the past two years, and coaches credit his dedication in the weight room and at the trainer's table to his early comebacks."
HoustonProFootball.com
"An excellent player with great feet. While he has a strong lower body, the powerhouse defensive tackles who weigh 320 pounds could give him some trouble. He may require a little bit of help."
Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN
MOMENTUM
If he's anything like fellow Ohio State alumnus Orlando Pace, he'll be a cornerstone in the NFL. His huge size compares to the general prototype of an NFL center, so he should fit right in. Playing in the Big Ten has also given Bentley the experience of playing in big games. 

MELVIN FOWLER, MARYLAND

Height: 6-3
Weight: 295
Birthdate: March 31, 1979
ANALYSIS
How's this for good: Fowler has started every college game he's played in. Initially a defensive lineman, Fowler made the switch to center in 1998. Fowler is an explosive player who attacks the line of scrimmage and an "Iron Terp" -- meaning that he ranked in the top three on the team in every strength discipline (strength index, bench, squat, clean, vertical jump and 40 time). 
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
 "Is a consistent player who is fundamentally sound. Isn't exceptionally strong or athletic, but makes up for it with good technique. Finds a way to get guys blocked."
Dan Pompei, The Sporting News
"Is an athletic center with good footwork. Has good quickness, and moves well laterally. Can reach and block linebackers. Does an above-average job of blocking in the open field. Is good at recognizing and pickup stunts and blitzes. Plays with adequate power, and stays on his feet. Shows good instincts, and does a nice job with line audibles. Shows good awareness, is technically sound and is a hard worker. Has outstanding intangibles, and is coachable."
TSN
MOMENTUM
Fowler matches up size-wise almost exactly to Dolphins center Tim Ruddy. Fowler describes himself as "relentless," which is a fantastic quality to have as a center in the NFL. 
 
OTHER TACKLES
NAME COLLEGE HEIGHT WEIGHT
Matt Anderle Minnesota 6-6 315
Thomas Barnett Kansas St. 6-4 295
Reggie Coleman Tennessee 6-4 315
Michael Collins Wake Forest 6-5 315
Konrad Dean Akron 6-3 297
Giovanni DeLoatch Syracuse 6-5 307
Joaquin Gonzalez Miami (FL) 6-4 290
Jeff Hatch Penn 6-7 300
Artis Hicks Memphis 6-4 315
Matt Hill Boise St. 6-5 295
Gary Hobbs Jacksonville St. (Ala.) 6-6 315
Marcel Howard Iowa St. 6-5 313
Greg Jerman Baylor 6-5 295
Doug Kaufusi Utah 6-6 308
Kevin Kemp Northeastern St. (Okla.) 6-4 360
Matt Knutson North Dakota 6-6 325
Chester Pitts San Diego St. 6-4 310
Victor Rogers Colorado 6-6 330
Julian Ross Rutgers 6-3 290
Kevin Shaffer Tulsa 6-5 290
Joseph Slaten S. Methodist 6-6 311
Akil Smith Clemson 6-4 290
Langston Walker California 6-7 340
Tyson Walter Ohio St. 6-4 300
Dave Volk Nebraska 6-4 300
Kurt Vollers Notre Dame 6-6 310

   
OTHER GUARDS
NAME COLLEGE HEIGHT WEIGHT
Kevin Barry Arizona 6-3 325
Martin Bibla Miami (FL) 6-3 290
Alonzo Cunningham Iowa 6-4 310
Howard Duncan Oklahoma 6-3 291
Steve Edwards Central Florida 6-4 345
Jonathan Goodwin Michigan 6-3 295
Eric Heitman Stanford 6-3 295
Jermese Jones Virginia 6-5 335
Antwan Kirk-Hughes Texas 6-3 310
Kyle Kosier Arizona St. 6-4 290
Jay Kulaga Illinois 6-5 306
Broderick Lancaster Colorado St. 6-3 315
Terrence Metcalf Mississippi 6-3 315
Qasim Mitchell N.C. A&T 6-5 353
Shannon Money Arkansas 6-3 310
Sean O'Connor Syracuse 6-3 295
Melvin Paige South Carolina 6-4 310
Dwayne Pierce Louisiana St. 6-1 330
Mike Pucillo Auburn 6-3 315
Frank Romero Oklahoma 6-3 290
Wayne Smith Applachian St. 6-1 300
Ed Ta'Amu Utah 6-1 320
Joel Tautuaa San Jose St. 6-3 365
Teag Whiting Brigham Young 6-2 296
Richard Williams Gardner-Webb 6-3 345

 
OTHER CENTERS
NAME COLLEGE HEIGHT WEIGHT
P.J. Alexander Syracuse 6-4 295
Jason Ball New Hampshire 6-2 310
Kyle Benn Washington 6-2 300
Luke Butkus Illinois 6-3 285
Andy Eby Kansas St. 6-3 275
Chris Gibson Oregon St. 6-3 282
Benedict Ibisi Tennessee St. 6-0 288
Larrell Johnson South Carolina 6-1 300
Brad Knell West Virginia 6-4 290
Brandon Ludwig Cal 6-3 290
Curt McGill Georgia 6-3 280
Seth McKinney Texas A&M 6-3 295
Craig Osika Indiana 6-3 285
Scott Peters Arizona St. 6-2 300
Zach Quaccia Stanford 6-4 316
Kenny Sandlin Arkansas 6-2 318
Jason Scukanec BYU 6-2 286
Terence Wagner Cal St.-Sacramento 6-2 285
Jared Woodson Virginia 6-5 290
Zac Zedalis Florida 6-2 290

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