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NFL Draft Preview: Guards/Centers

  • Redskins.com previews the NFL Draft position-by-position, with a focus on some of the top rookie prospects available in the April 29-30 NFL Draft. Wednesday: Guards/Centers.*

As with tackle, the Redskins' coaches are comfortable with the trio of Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach and Randy Thomas manning the interior offensive line. The team hopes its starting five, along with tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen, can avoid injury and continue their impressive cohesion into next season.

The Redskins recently signed a pair of veteran guards/centers in Mike Pucillo, formerly of the Browns, and Tyson Walter, formerly of the Cowboys, to serve as backups. Young linemen Ikechuku Ndukwe and Jim Jones will compete for roster spots as well.

Head coach Joe Gibbs has identified offensive line depth as a need this offseason, so it's possible that the Redskins will spend one of seven draft picks on an interior lineman.

Redskins Draft History: During the 1990s, the Redskins had success drafting offensive linemen in the second round. In 1994, Tre Johnson was selected with the 31st overall pick. A year later, Cory Raymer was the 37th overall pick. In 1999, the team selected Jansen, also at No. 37.

Top Prospects

Guards and centers usually get drafted early in the second round, but Jean-Gilles could vault into the first round. At 6-3 and 360 pounds, he is a mammoth blocker and could be an immediate starter. In particular, he should benefit a team with a power rushing attack.

Mangold moved up draft boards after a dominating Senior Bowl week. Regarded as a tough, scrappy center, he is listed at 6-4 and 299 pounds and may need to bulk up in the pros. Given his experience at Ohio State, he could slip into the first round and become an immediate starter in the NFL.

#### Second-Round Prospects

At 6-2 and 304 pounds, Joseph is a dominant run blocker who fit in well with the Sooners' ground-oriented offense. In the pros, he will be asked to do more pass protection, skills he will need to hone before he can make an impact.

O'Callaghan played tackle at Cal, but his lack of mobility could force NFL teams to switch him to guard. The 6-6, 347-pound lineman has battled injuries most of his career, but when healthy he's regarded as a mauling run blocker.

Lutui was among players that the Redskins conducted a personal interview with at the NFL Scouting Combine last February. At 6-5 and anywhere from 340-370 pounds, he is perhaps the heaviest lineman in the draft and has pro-style experience working in USC's high-powered offense. If Lutui can keep his weight under control, scouts say he should develop into a solid NFL starter.

Spencer moved to guard from defensive tackle in his junior year at Pitt, so he could be raw and somewhat of a project at the NFL level. The 6-4, 338-pounder had a strong workout at the Senior Bowl, elevating his draft status.

Eslinger is somewhat light at 6-2 and 285 pounds, but scouts say he makes up for it with sound technique and athleticism. Still, he may need to bulk up to start in the NFL. He was a four-year starter at Minnesota.

Late-Round Possibilities

Degory has been compared to 49ers' Pro Bowl center Jeremy Newberry, so he could be a day one pick. The 6-5, 301-pounder is strong and quick, but his height sometimes keeps him from getting solid leverage.

Will Montgomery (Guard), Virginia Tech

Montgomery attended the Redskins' local college workout on April 7 and caught the eye of scouts. He is a 6-2, 301-pounder who has experience at both guard and tackle--an attribute that Redskins' coaches like.

Rob Sims (Guard), Ohio State
The 6-2, 321-pound Sims played alongside Mangold, forming an impressive interior offensive line for the Buckeyes. He could also be a day one pick because he can play both guard and tackle.

Adam Stenavich (Guard), Michigan
What would a NFL Draft be without a Michigan offensive lineman? Stenavich is a 6-4, 315-pound lineman who played left tackle but is expected to switch to guard in the pros.

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