DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 30: Dri Archer #1 of Kent State celebrates his first-quarter touchdown with Brian Winters #66, Phil Huff #75 and Casey Pierce #88 during the Mid-American Conference Championship game against Northern Illinois at Ford Field on November 30, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Kent State’s Brian Winters played all along the offensive line in college. He started 12 games at right tackle in his freshman season and 33 of his 49 career starts came at left tackle.
The first thing scouts need to do is figure out which position(s) Winters will play. He’s 6-4, 320 pounds with 32 ¾-inch arms. That arm length might be a bit short to man one of the offensive tackle positions, although it’s far from impossible. If Winters plays offensive tackle in the NFL, it will almost assuredly be on the right side.
Winter has a tough, nasty style of play as opposed to using finesse. He’s not highly athletic—as evidenced by his 5.25 40-yard dash. I don’t put too much stock in a 40 time for linemen, but it shows a general level of explosiveness and athleticism. For Winters, it confirms what you see on tape; he’s more of a “mauler” than someone who will excel on the edge or in space. For that reason, I think he’s best suited at guard with the ability to move to right tackle if needed.
Winters does a really nice job of setting in his pass drop. He uses really outstanding technique in pass protection, rarely getting off-balance and making the most of his athleticism. He was a wrestler in high school and that’s the way he plays football—with great balance and hand usage.
NFL Comparison: Bryan Bulaga
Bulaga was another player who many scouts saw as a guard in the NFL due to his short arms, but he has played well at tackle for the Packers. Winters’ most natural fit is probable inside, but he plays very similarly to Bulaga, meaning right tackle isn’t out of the question.
I really like Winters because of his versatility, and I think he’ll make a smooth transition to guard. His ability to play right tackle is going to help his draft stock, especially if some teams think he can remain there in the NFL. He’ll probably be a third-round draft pick, although I think he’s a second-round talent.
Fit In Dallas
I’m not sure how much interest the Cowboys have in Winters, but I think he should be on their radar. With guard/tackle versatility, Winters would give the Cowboys some flexibility with their personnel decisions. The only thing that could keep Winters out of Dallas is that he’s a power linemen, and I think the ‘Boys are starting to look for more athletic players for their transition to a zone-blocking scheme.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.