Stop me if you’ve heard this before—Scot McCloughan likes big offensive linemen. Big guys beat little guys in football, especially in the late going when the power running game becomes important. But big offensive linemen are getting harder to come by.
McCloughan saw the issue coming a while ago and talked about it at the 2010 NFL Combine. “The one thing about the offensive line nowadays is the game's changed a lot in college with the spread offense,” he said. “The big power guys, the guys that come off (the line) and drive block and all that - you don't see that any more in college. You see more finesse, more pass protection.”
A look at the NFL draft prospects along the offensive line this year bears this out. The CBS Sports NFL draft site lists 70 offensive tackles as possible draft prospects. Only 17 of the tackles are listed at 320 pounds or more. Of that group, three are evaluated as first-or second-round picks—Brandon Scherff of Iowa (320 lb.), Ereck Flowers of Miami of Florida (324), and Jeremiah Poutasi of Utah (321). Eight of them are rated as eight late third-day picks or free agent pickups.
The quantity of guards weighing 320 or more is higher compared to the tackles but the quality isn’t quite as good. CBS lists 55 guards as prospects and 23 of them are 320 or heavier. In that group, Laken Thompson of Duke (323) and Tré Jackson of Florida State (323) are rated as second-rounders and Jackson’s teammate Josue Matias (325) has a third-round grade. Of the rest, 18 are seventh round or free agent types.
What’s possibly worse for a GM in search of big linemen is that the weights given before the NFL Combine are usually their weights as listed by their college sports information departments. Those can tend to be exaggerated somewhat. We will get the true weights next month in Indianapolis and they number of players who really are over 320 could drop.
In the past McCloughan’s teams have drafted linemen who were on the light side but had the build to bulk up in the NFL. Considering his field of possible offensive line picks will be whittled down even more through film evaluation and background and character checks he may be looking for players who can add on weight.