Prospect Watch: Guards, part 2

Written by Dan Gigler on .

An occasional look at potential 2012 NFL Draft picks for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Previous installments featured Memphis DT Dontari Poe, Washington DT Alameda Ta'amu, Georgia OL Cordy Glenn, Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower, Ohio State OT Mike Adams, Stanford OT Jonathan Martin, Ole Miss OT Bobbie Massie, Iowa State OL Kelechi Osemele and Midwestern State OL Amini Silatolu

Today: Guards Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin and Brandon Brooks of Miami (OH).

Per a post last week, the guard position is pretty close to a hair-on-fire emergency that the Steelers need to address, last week's re-signing of Trai Essex and Doug Legursky notwithstanding.

Here are two more guard prospects for your (and the Steelers) consideration, both of whom are widely projected to be late-first or early-second round picks ... 

Kevin Zeitler, a 6'4, 314-pound guard from Wisconsin, seems like the prototypical Badger offensive lineman from the school that turns out excellent big uglies (although the Steelers' last pick from Madison, Kraig Urbik, was a bust). The National Football Post and CBS/NFLDraftScout has him as the No. 2 guard in he draft, while Mike Mayock has him at no. 5.

kevin-zeitler_2Excerpts from the experts:

CBS: "A perfectionist, Zeitler expects more out of himself than anybody else could in class, the weight room and on the field. His anxious nitpicking is noticed and not always well-accepted by classmates, teachers and teammates. But it is opposing defenders who pay the price when the sum of his hard work pays off on the field. So, as expected, scouting reports show he does just about everything according to the book to his best ability -- and he has plenty of ability. Zeitler added a significant amount of lean mass in his college career and used it well. According NFL Draft Report statistics, he led college football with 142 knockdown blocks and had 33 blocks that resulted in touchdowns, obviously a major reason Wisconsin had a per-game average of 44.62 points and 467 total yards, including 237 on the ground." "Zeitler has been a regular starter when healthy over the past three years on extremely productive offensive lines at Wisconsin. All of his linemates have been considered professional run blockers with the size to match, and he is no different. Zeitler is well coached and technical in his pass set. He has second- or third-round value due because of his experience playing on a productive line and being polished enough to play early."

National Football Post: "Impression: A tough, strong in-line guy who you can run behind and also has some coordination on the move. Not as effective in the pass game, but can mature into an average NFL pass blocker if he learns to get off the ball more consistently. Looks like a gritty type starter early on in his NFL career to me."

SB Nation has Zeitler as the No. 2 guard in the draft:

Pro Football Weekly thinks Zeitler will go in the late first round and would be a good fit in Pittsburgh:

Nice highlight video:

Brandon Brooks, was not invited to the combine but has since flown up draft boards after impressive pro day workout. The 6'5, 343-pound Miami of Ohio product who, according to his college bio, is quite possibly the only football player in the known history of the world that want to be a hospital admin and lists The Economist as his favorite website.

brandonBrooks-300x300The National Football Post and NFL DraftScout ranks Brooks as the no. 4 guard in the draft while Mike Mayock has him as no. 5. Additionally, CBS compares him to the Steelers' Ramon Foster ...

Excerpts from the experts:

Tony Pauline, Sports Illustrated: "Considered the best player not invited to the combine, Brooks proved he belonged among the best after his two pro day workouts. At his first pro day, he produced testing marks that were competitive with all of the top offensive linemen at the combine. He looked dominant during his second workout, where he performed position drills for almost 30 minutes straight. He's likely to be the first non-combine player drafted."

CBS: "Brooks was a four-year starter in college and went from a 290-pound freshman to 353-pounds as a senior, possessing the girth and overall framework that NFL teams seek in an offensive line prospect. He lacks the range and overall movement skills to be anything more than a short-area blocker and his on-field temperament leaves a lot to be desired. Brooks has the size and strength, but is still rough around the edges and is not yet a finished product ... a developmental guard prospect with definite pro upside who will need a strong positional coach in the NFL, but should fit somewhere in the top-125 picks."

National Football Post: "Impression: Is a big, strong kid who has some lateral quickness for his size but needs some technique work. Nevertheless, has some upside and can win consistently in the run game and pass game and looks like an NFL starter in an angle scheme to me." Projects him as a second or third round pick and an eventual starter in the NFL.

Pro Football Weekly draft capsule:

And here is Brooks running down a scout during his pro day workout:

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