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Thursday, April 10, 2003
Updated: April 16, 9:56 AM ET
Utah's Gross top pick among offensive linemen

By John Clayton

Here is how rates the top 10 offensive linemen prospects in the draft:

  • OT Jordan Gross (Utah)
    Vital Statistics: 6-feet-4 1/2, 300 pounds, 5.02 in the 40
    Numbers game: Started three games as a freshman in 1999, was a starter for the final three years of his college career. Was an Outland Trophy finalist. Also has black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
    Upside: His footwork and use of his hands makes him the ideal left tackle and potential Pro Bowl candidate. Good mean streak and willingness to finish blocks. Athletic ability makes him a perfect fit in a passing offense. Good pass-rushers have trouble getting around him because of his excellent footwork.
    More on OL
  • Others: Derrick Dockery, guard, Texas; Jordan Black, tackle, Notre Dame; Tony Pathos, tackle, Illinois; Torrin Tucker, guard, Southern Mississippi; Jeff Roehl, guard, Northwestern; Taylor Whitley, guard, Texas A&M; Dan Koppen, center, Boston College; Wayne Lucier, center, Colorado.

  • Rising: Brett Romberg, center, Miami, has the smarts and experience to be a potential starter in the NFL. He comes from Canada. Center Austin King of Northwestern could take advantage of weaknesses at the guard and tackle positions to slip into the third round.

  • Declining: Brett Williams, tackle, Florida State was a high-school All-American who figured to be a future first-round pick, but he might not go until the bottom of the second round or slip into the third. He's not the overpowering run-blocker everyone expected.

  • Intriguing: Jon Stinchcomb, tackle-guard Georgia. Some believe he's among the 10 best offensive linemen and he might be that. His brother, Matt, was a first-round choice of the Raiders. He's a 500-pound bench-presser with a brilliant mind. He has the body to play guard or tackle. His techniques are excellent.

  • Sleepers: Seth Wand, tackle, Northwest Missouri State is a small college star who offers promise as a left tackle. Wade Smith of Memphis was a tight end as a junior who offers power as a right blocking run tackle. Chad Setterstrom is a Northern Iowa center with a nasty streak.

  • Notable: Wisconsin offers two members of the Johnson family, center Al and cousin Ben, who is a tackle. Even though Al is 15 months older then Ben, they came to the school in 1998. They've been starting on the same line together for three years.
  • Downer: There isn't enough "gross" around his rear. Most top tackles come into the league weighing 320 pounds or more and Gross doesn't have that type of body but that doesn't downgrade his skills. Lacks the power to be a dominating run-blocker.
    The dish: Needing to protect quarterback David Carr, the Texans have to seriously look at him with the third pick. He's the best lineman in this draft and a possible top five pick.

  • OT Kwame Harris (Stanford)
    Vital Statistics: 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, 5.21 in the 40
    Numbers game: Won Morris Trophy as the best blocker in the Pac-10. Started 23 games at right tackle over the past two years. Plays the piano and is an honorable mention academic All-American. Has 35-1/2 inch vertical jump.
    Upside: He's got the long arms that are needed for great pass-blockers. His huge frame probably can add more pounds, which will help make him a better run-blocker. He's got the rare combination of great athletic ability and technique.
    Downer: Maturity. Harris is so intelligent that some teammates have a hard time relating to him. Consistency is another question mark. He's so much better than those he's blocked that sometimes he doesn't give everything on every play.
    The dish: Kwame is on the fringe of the top 10 and fits the needs of teams looking for a right or left tackle.

  • OG Eric Steinbach (Iowa)
    Vital Statistics: 6-foot-6 1/4, 298 pounds, 4.93 in the 40
    Numbers game: Was a high school quarterback who came to Iowa as a tight end. Moved to the offensive line as a guard in 1999 and played four games. Played three years at guard. Scouts were thrilled when he tried playing tackle at the Senior Bowl, and he did well.
    Upside: He's the workout warrior of this draft, wowing teams with a 4.84 40, a 35-1/2 inch vertical jump. Though he might be the best athlete among the guards, he has the height to make a possible conversion to tackle.
    Downer: Injury problems are a concern. Had a dislocated left elbow in 2001. Like Gross, he doesn't have the wide base in his body to be the dominating run blocker early in his career.
    The dish: If teams were sure he could be a tackle, he'd be a top 10 pick. Most teams project him to be a guard, which knocks him into the middle of the first round.

  • C Jeff Faine (Notre Dame)
    Vital Statistics: 6-foot-2 7/8, 303 pounds, 5.44 in the 40
    Numbers game: Started three years as the Irish center after redshirting in 1999. Honor student. Was a finalist for the Rimington Award.
    Upside: One of the best centers to come along in the past few years. Gets off line of scrimmage into blocks quickly. Excellent techniques to match his ability to move his feet well. Can be nasty and is an excellent leader.
    Downer: Might be overpowered by 330-pound defensive tackles because he doesn't have long arms. His run-blocking isn't as strong as his pass blocking.
    The dish: Centers usually don't go in the first round but he's good enough to slide into the bottom of the first.

  • OG Vince Manuwai (Hawaii)
    Vital Statistics: 6-foot-2, 304 pounds, 5.11 in the 40
    Numbers game: Led team with 60 pancake blocks last year and had 53 plays in which he knocked a defender off his cleats. Started for three years, mostly at right guard.
    Upside: He's the perfect guard because he's powerful and has a thick body. Weightlifting has made him very explosive in his run blocks. Playing in a run-and-shoot offense, he has plenty of experience in pass blocking. Another plus is that he can make an easy transition to center.
    Downer: The lack of run-blocking in June Jones' offense makes teams have to project how he will do in a running offense. Is a little shorter than you want for a guard. Not the quickest among the guards in this draft.
    The dish: There is a big drop off at guard after Steinbach and Manuwai, which should enhance his value toward the top of the second round.

  • C Al Johnson (Wisconsin)
    Vital Statistics: 6-foot-3 1/2, 305 pounds, 5.15 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Started every game for three years. Earned second-team All Big Ten. Was a high-school shot put champion. Was a finalist for the Rimington Award.
    Upside: Matches up well against bigger defensive tackles because of his height, long-arms and leverage. He reacts well and comes off the snap quickly. Should be able to start for a team as a rookie.
    Downer: Doesn't have the leg drive to overpower defensive tackles. A 1999 drunken driving conviction also is a little bit of a red flag.
    The dish: This is a great center draft and Johnson is a great center. He's one of four who are good enough to start for NFL teams as a rookie.

  • OT George Foster (Georgia)
    Vital Statistics: 6-foot-5 3/8, 338 pounds, 5.03 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Dislocated right wrist in an early August car accident and may need a operation on the wrist soon. Right ankle had arthroscopic surgery in 2001. His most active year was in 2001 when he started nine games. Didn't play until late this season because of the wrist injury.
    Upside: Strong workout March 11 revived his stock. He's got the wide body that might be able to dominate as a right tackle. Has the good, quick feet to possibly play left tackle. Teams like him for his potential more than his production.
    Downer: The lack of playing time and a tendency to carry too much weight is a concern. He's raw. He's the most interesting gamble among the offensive linemen.
    The dish: The possible wrist surgery may kill his chances of going in the first round, but had he put together good junior and senior years, he might have been the best talent among this year's blockers.

  • OT Wayne Hunter (Hawaii)
    Vital Statistics: 6-foot-5 5/8, 303 pounds, 5.10 in the 40
    Numbers game: Transferred to Hawaii after playing and starting 10 games as a Cal freshman on the defensive line. Made the move from defensive tackle to the Hawaii offensive line last season. Started 13 games at left tackle. Wowed scouts at the combine with 37 bench presses at 225 pounds.
    Upside: Has the body to develop into a good NFL left tackle. Has long arms. Could add more than 20 pounds through lifting. Having played on the defensive line, Hunter developed good feet. It also helped that he blocked in a Run-and-Shoot passing offense.
    Downer: He's only been an offensive lineman for one season. He's still learning the instincts of being a blocker.
    The dish: It's a thin crop of quality tackles in this draft so teams can't wait until the third round to draft a prospect like Hunter.

  • C Bruce Nelson (Iowa)
    Vital Statistics: 6-foot-5 1/4, 301 pounds, 5.21 in the 40
    Numbers game: Walked onto the Iowa campus as a tight end and became one of the school's most versatile blockers. He started at left tackle in 1999, played left tackle and left guard in 2000 and played every game at center for the past two years. Played four sports in high school.
    Upside: Good enough to start as an NFL rookie at center. His technique is excellent and he comes from a good program for blockers. Has quick feet and should work well as a double-team blocker.
    Downer: He's the lightest of the top centers in this center-rich draft. Needs to work on his strength to help with his run-blocking against bigger defensive tackles.
    The dish: He should go in the second round and has the mind and body to be a long-time starter in the NFL.

  • OG Montrae Holland (Florida State)
    Vital Statistics: 6-foot-1 1/2, 333 pounds, 5.29 in the 40
    Numbers game: Started for most of the past three years, but has only one season (2001) in which he started every game. Was first-team ACC.
    Upside: Has the potential to be a dominating guard. He's an explosive run-blocker. His wide base intrigues teams.
    Downer: His knees. Teams are concerned that both knees aren't 100 percent healthy.
    The dish: There is a knock on most of the guards after Steinbach and Manuwai.

    John Clayton is a senior writer for