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Built Like A Mack: Front Five Previews

The wait is over. It’s draft day. You pop the top on a cool one. You page through your Fantasy Sharks player projections and rankings and start to highlight your favorites. You start to smack talk with your competition.

A few more owners crawl in; one who’s built like a Mack truck. The light gets brighter, and I’m not talking about the overhead chandelier light that hangs just inches from the top of your head. I’m talking about those olfactory bulbs that are starting to shine in that shark-like mind of yours. You frantically search your papers, but with every passing shark in the top left hand corner you find yourself more and more frustrated. What are you looking for?

Built Like A Mack:

Front Five Previews

Top 6-Elite

1)

Dallas

Cowboys: With three returning pro bowl starters – Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis & Flozell

Adams – to go along with Marc Columbo at right tackle and Kyle Kosier at left guard, the Cowboys have the best offensive line in all of football. These five helped the Cowboys rank second in the NFL in points per game and third in total yards per game.  They do need to improve their 17th overall rushing ranking, but with the addition of Felix Jones to complement Marion Barber III that shouldn’t be a problem. 

 

2)

San Diego

Chargers: Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The Chargers are stacked up front, and their depth behind is outstanding. Nick Hardwick would be the anchor of the line and is the heart and soul of the offense, but due to a nagging foot injury will not start the season as the starter. Instead, free-agent acquisition Jeremy Newberry will take his place.  Newberry has similar traits as Hardwick, but has mental lapses at time. To the right of Newberry will be Kris Dielman, who has missed just three games in the last three seasons. Dielman isn’t as athletic as some of top guards in the league, but always puts forth maximum effort.  Next to him is third-year pro bowl tackle Marcus McNeil, who hasn’t missed a single game since arriving, and could be one of the best tackles in the AFC. On the other side of Newberry is wily veteran Mike Goff, who is best known for his pull blocking.   Rounding out the front five is third-year player Jeromey Clary who should continue to get better in 2008 as the season wears on. On the bench is underrated backup guard/center Cory Withrow, talented and durable tackle/guard LJ Shelton and beast-like guard Scott Mruczkowski, who sees a lot of playing time in the Chargers jumbo sets. Overall, this line is slightly underrated and could rank as the league’s best going in to the 2009 season.

 

3)

New Orleans

Saints: Very quietly the

New Orleans offensive line dominated opponents in the trenches in 2007, allowing just 16 total sacks, which ultimately allowed Drew Brees to throw for 269.6 yards per game. Yes, they lost center Jeff Faine in the offseason, but his replacement, Jonathan Goodwin, has a little experience and may be just as good from a talent perspective. Right guard Jahri Evans is one of the more underrated players at his position and hasn’t missed a start since arriving in 2006. On the other side, Jamaal Brown has the talent to be a top offensive tackle in the NFL, but has yet to break out of his shell completely. Overall, the core of this line is young and talented, and should be able to maintain the same level of excellence in 2008.

4) 

New England

Patriots: While Tom Brady threw for touchdown after touchdown last season, absorbing all the hoopla himself, his offensive line continued to do their job quietly. Led by Dan Koppen in the middle, the Patriots offensive line may be the most cohesive unit in all of football. Left tackle Matt Light has turned in to a very quick pass blocker who doesn’t allow many defenders past him, while guard Logan Mankins brings an intensity level like no other guard in the NFL. And while questions still remain on the right side of the line, the unit as a whole is still one of the best.

5)

Philadelphia

Eagles: If there is anything that this Eagles regime, led by coach Andy Reid, has done perfectly, it has been developing a solid offensive line. Why is Brian Westbrook so good? Why has Donovan McNabb had so much success even though he’s only had two 1,000 yard receivers to throw to since 1997? You hear them every year during the NFL Draft – the offensive and defensive linemen names that are called out almost every time it’s the Eagles’ turn to pick. It’s Reid’s philosophy and thus far it has worked. In 2008, expect the offensive line to continue to be the staple of the Eagles offense. Yes, Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan are getting older, but when healthy they’re one of best one-two punches at offensive tackle in the NFC. Guard Shawn Andrews could put up another all-pro like season, and center Jamaal Jackson should continue to open up big holes for running back Westbrook and shed that underrated label on his back by season’s end. The depth is young and phenomenal. The five behind the starters could probably start themselves, and still be better than the lowly Kansas City Chiefs offensive line. If McNabb has a great season without a go-to-receiver you can thank me for explaining to you why it was possible. 

6)

Green Bay

Packers:  Much like the Saints offensive line the Packers front five is so good at protecting the quarterback. They may have the best one-two punch at offensive tackle in the NFL as both Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are extremely good in pass protection. Outside of

Clifton and Tauscher, there aren’t any other elite linemen, but three very solid bodies that know how to open up the running lanes and can play multiple positions. Jason Spitz provides versatility in that he can play both guard and center extremely well. Scott Wells and Darryn Colledge are the other two projected starters. They are good blockers when they’re at the top of their game, but they lack consistency. Overall the Packers are one of the deeper teams up front and should have no problem opening holes up for the likes of Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson while making sure Aaron Rodgers stays comfortable in the pocket.

 

 

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