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The octuple-P draft system: Offensive Line and TEs

March 1, 2009

After handling what most people call the ‘skill positions’ in the two opening editions of the PPPPPPPP, it’s time for the big guys up front who make it all tick. As recent divisional winners know, good offensive line play (see Tennessee, Miami and Baltimore) results in success more often that not. Any team worth its salt plays well in the trenches, and this year there’s a glut of good offensive linemen (mainly tackles) who’ll go high. In addition, there’s an above-average TE class to help in the blocking and receiving games.

OT class strength: A

Remember the 2008 draft when a boatload of tackles went in round one? Well, expect more of the same. Teams seemed to have cottoned on to the Play Action Post draft strategy, so we’ll see lots of offensive tackles off the board on day one of the draft this year.

Up until his unbelievably stupid Combine departure, Alabama’s Andre Smith was the top tackle on most boards. However, since he decided to take a half-day, his namesake Jason Smith (Baylor) appears to have taken his crown and sceptre and, well, laughed all the way to the bank. Most people’s pick to go #2 to the Rams, Smith played in a relatively unsuccessful (read: sucky) college program which ran the dreaded spread offense. Despite playing in a 2-point stance most of his college career, Smith is regarded as a highly athletic prospect with good hustle and has been tagged as one of the ’10-year starter’ tackles mentioned every other day. Now, personally speaking I think he could well be a bust because playing in the spread at college is leagues away from every-down football in the pro ranks. Add this to the fact he went to Baylor as a tight-end, and this idea is further supported. He’ll either be a phenomenal learner who merits his pick or the next Robert Gallery, so his octuple-P rating lands somewhere between the two.

Smith’s octuple-P rating: Jon Jansen

Aside from the Smiths, there’s a load of other tackles who’ll go in round one, with Eugene Monroe (Virginia), Michael Oher (Ole Miss), Eben Britton (Arizona) and William Beatty (UConn). Expect there to be a whole heap of tackles gone on day one.

Interior OL class strength: D

While there are a lot of quality tackles this year, the inner O-line is a mite thinner, with maybe one player likely to go in the first round. At guard, Oregon State’s Andy Levitre figures to go first while at center there’s a tussle between California’s Alex Mack and Oregon’s Max Unger to claim the top spot. These three guys figure to go in round two, with guards like Kraig Urbik (Wisconsin) and centers like Eric Wood (Louisville) likely to follow soon after. It’s a fairly thin year for the interior offensive ine, and with no real standout single player, there’s no star to evaluate with the PPPPPPPP, so it’s safe to say that if you want an offensive lineman in ’09, check the free-agent market.

TE class strength: C

Just as in 2008, the tight end class isn’t spectacular. But, unlike last year’s crop, there is a star in the ’09 tight end group in the form of Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew. His presence alone almost pushes this group into the ‘B’ category, but there isn’t a lot of depth behind him, and no-one but Pettigrew will go in the first round.

Brandon Pettigrew: Highlight reel fodder.

Brandon Pettigrew: Highlight reel fodder.

Pettigrew is a prototype TE at 6’6 and 260lbs, and he brings a great combination of hands and blocking to the table after spending his first 2 years blocking pretty much all day long. He’s got good speed, a lot of athleticism and though his numbers or physicality won’t blow some away like Kellen Winslow II or Vernon Davis have done in recent years, he’s still a top-15 pick with more NFL readiness than any tight end in last year’s class. He’s got the size and speed to be the ‘matchup nightmare’ all offenses crave, and his hands will mean he’s a great safety net for a QB. Whether split out or in-line, the OKState product has got a complete game, and will cause quite a few defensive headaches in his career.

Pettigrew’s octuple-P rating: Dallas Clark

Tune in soon where we’ll wrap up this year’s octuple-P with the defensive line, linebackers and safeties, as well as a hell of a lot more prognostication.

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