The Broncos need a swingman who can play all along the O-Line
As we continue with the 2013 Draft prospects that the Denver Broncos interviewed at the Senior Bowl last month, we come to Brian Winters, a Center/Guard out of Kent State. Winters is a 6’4", 310 lb. brawling blocker ranked 109th overall and 5th among Guards nationally. He played Left Tackle for the Golden Flashes in 2012, but may move inside or to right tackle in the NFL. Brian also met with the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans during Senior Bowl week. His pre-Combine 40 Time is 5.09 seconds.
Winters started every game since joining the Kent State Golden Flashes football team in 2009, 50 in total. He was also voted Offensive Team Captain by teammates and coaches. Brian lettered three times in wrestling in high school, a skill that helped him to be named to the All-MAC team three times during his career: 3rd team as a sophomore, 2nd team as a junior and 1st team as a senior.
NFL.COM DRAFT PROFILE
GRADE - 71.1
Winters was an all-state pick in Ohio as a high school senior, and also earned three letters in wrestling. Usually scouts like when offensive linemen have grappling backgrounds, as that sport helps them learn to use their hands to control their opponent. But Winters actually injured his left shoulder during a match his sophomore year, and it became a major problem after popping out of place in the third game of the 2011 season. He played through the pain, however, showing another attribute typically possessed by successful wrestlers -- toughness.
KSU coaches liked what they saw in him as a true freshman, placing him in the starting lineup at right tackle. The rest of the league’s coaches also appreciated his talents early on, voting him third-team all-conference in 2010 as a full-time starter (first eight games at left tackle, last four at right tackle). They pushed him up a notch after his junior year, naming him second-team All-MAC as he again started every game on the blind side. Winters kept that job in 2012 and started all 14 games at left tackle. He finally had something to block for, as Dri Archer broke out as one of the top playmakers in the country. Archer was lighting in a bottle, but Winters set the tone with his thunderous hits.
STRENGTHS: Finishing plays is not an issue, steps out to attack his man quickly after the snap, latches on like he’s beginning a wrestling match, and then keeps his legs moving to sustain. Throws smaller ends to the ground if they let up as the whistle blows. Plays with a wide base and the natural flexibility to drop his hips in pass protection, yet has the foot quickness to mirror on the outside and maneuver himself into an inside position while engaged. Fires off the ball in short-yardage situations despite his height, and churns his feet moving to move the pile. Effective combo blocker, as well, as he can seal the tackle and then negate a linebacker using his length and quickness. His frame has the room to grow, and his footwork is strong enough to redirect defenders away from his quarterback or running back if he gets in trouble.
WEAKNESSES: Occasionally gets pushed off-balance and thrown aside by stronger opponents, and might be susceptible to veterans ripping down because he likes to latch on up top instead of keeping his head up and arms extended. Stops his feet while punching, allowing ends to get the inside lane or turn the corner.
NFL COMPARISON: Jake Scott
BOTTOM LINE: Winters is a tough finisher at left tackle, garnering plenty of recognition as a long time starter. The former high school wrestler likes to latch on up top, which can cause him leverage problems against better defenders, but he possesses the athleticism to be a late second to early third day pick and a solid NFL starter at guard or tackle in a zone-blocking system.
BEYOND THE COMBINE - November 28, 2012
Winters has good size and bulk, plays with good knee-bend/pad level. Shows good lateral agility and excellent athleticism.Winters maintains a good base in the run-game and in pass pro. Plays with great over-all strength in the upper and lower body. One of the better run-blocking left tackles I’ve seen on film, mauls defenders. Does a good job combo blocking with guard. Plays with a nasty demeanor and chip on his shoulder especially when finishing blocks. Does a good job at getting his hands on defenders which allows him to gain full control of blocks. Displays good over-all footwork. Looks like a natural kick-slider and looks comfortable in pass-protection. Does a good job mirroring and staying in front of defenders. Shows the ability to take away the inside path with a solid inside hand and post-foot.
Needs to work on over-all hand placement targeting. Gets in trouble when he drops his head when punching in pass-pro, makes him susceptible to a quick swim move. At times pass-sets are inconsistent, sometimes over-sets. Winters sometimes falls off of blocks. Needs to improve in space, lunges and misses moving targets.
Brian Winters may be a sleeper to many who have not payed attention to him or Kent State, but the fact of the matter is… Winters has good enough athleticism, skill-set and intangibles to be a draft selection within the first 2 rounds. I’ve heard from many sources that Winters is a weight room guy and an overall hard worker. Winters shows aggression in the run-game and great patience in pass protection, because of this, I project Winters to be a day-1 starter at either Right Tackle or at Guard in the NFL.
Like the majority of prospects hailing from MAC teams, Winters wasn't a nationally celebrated prep prospect. He was, however, offered scholarships by several FBS programs (including Syracuse) before electing to sign with Kent State.
He proved to be an immediate standout with the Golden Flashes, starting all 12 games at right tackle as a true freshman.
Winters slid over to left tackle for eight games as a sophomore (starting the other four at right tackle) and earned third-team all-conference honors. He steadily rose to second-team accolades as a junior and first-team recognition in 2012, earning just the second invitation to the Senior Bowl in school history.
Though 33 of his 49 career starts have come at left tackle, Winters' NFL future may lie at right tackle or perhaps even inside at guard. He has the requisite height to play on the outside, but he has developed into a standout based more on his physicality and toughness rather than elite athleticism.
STRENGTHS: Naturally large man with good overall weight distribution. Shows at least adequate initial quickness off the snap. Takes short, quick power steps in pass protection and shoots his hands out to corral his opponent.
Plays with a wide base and shuffles well laterally to remain squarely in front of the pass-rusher, controlling him with his upper-body strength. Three-year high school letterman in wrestling and it shows in his play. Uses his hands and leverage well to control his opponent, seeming to enjoy the physicality and one-on-one nature of the game. Strength and tenacity are especially evident when run-blocking, as he latches onto his opponent and keeps driving his legs to finish blocks until the whistle is blown.
Excellent durability. Played in all 49 games of his collegiate career. Showed his toughness in playing through a left shoulder dislocation (third game of the season) that left him at what he described as "70 percent." The injury originally occurred during the state wrestling tournament during his sophomore year of high school and ultimately required surgery following the 2011 season.
WEAKNESSES: May not possess the foot speed or flexibility required to remain at left tackle against NFL pass rushers. Has been able to rely on his strength and tenacity at this level but consistently plays with a high pad level, negating his own power and losing out on the leverage battle. Projected by many as a guard but has no experience inside. Shoulder injury requires a close medical evaluation.
COMPARES TO: Adam Snyder, OG, Arizona Cardinals -- Like Snyder, Winters' value lies in his toughness, physicality, durability and potential versatility.--Rob Rang
David Wyatt from Gang Green Nation wrote this piece on Jan 25, 2013
Winters is a very versatile player, he began his career at right tackle in 2009, continued at the position in 2010, then moved to right guard in 2011 and finally to left tackle in 2012. He has however been practicing at guard in the lead up to the Senior Bowl in mobile, Alabama. He's a guard in the NFL for sure, so the fact he has already accepted this and already working to refine his game in this area is definitely a positive.
First of all he is extremely versatile, I'm not saying he'll make a good left tackle or right tackle for that matter at the next level, however he'll be able to do a job there through experience. Very vocal player and was seen as a team leader. No incidents with the law as far as I'm aware. A very physical player who never backs down, finishes his blocks well and plays with a mean streak. Extremely durable and has never missed any extensive time through injury despite starting from 2009 right through his senior year. Plays with a wide base and a good foundation, excellent hands when pass blocking and very strong arms. Good lateral ability to mirror pass rushers, has good awareness for the blitz. Plays with good leverage and sinks his hips well, has a core strength that enables him to counter any power moves. Takes very good angles in run blocking and works to the next level. Gets off the snap quickly and is exceptional at inline blocking. A little bit of a mauler - which makes him more suitable to the guard position. Has good body control and is actually quite quick for a lineman.
Has spent the majority of his time in college at the tackle position and he doesn't have the body type to play that position full time in the NFL so will need to learn the guard position a little more. Played from the 2 point stance in college so will need to shape his game on putting his hand in the dirt. Doesn't always react that well to defensive line shifts in pass protection and will need to do a little better with his awareness on second level blitzs. Sometimes allows his pad level to be elevated by rushers. Will need to see how he does against better level competition in the senior bowl and then in pre-season practices.
Winters has a lot to like about his game. His in-line blocking and physical play style always appeals to me with lineman. Do we need a guard? well with Vlad showing very little and Moore getting up there in age and a free agent, it may be prudent to start developing one. I think his stock will be early 3rd round to the middle of the 4th round. It depends how he interviews and how he looks with his hand in the dirt inside at guard. It's definitely going to be interesting to see how he develops.
Winters had surgery at the end of the 2011 season to repair a left shoulder injury that dated back to his high school wrestling days. He missed most of spring practice in 2012, but came back and didn’t miss a beat.
Can Kent State OT Brian Winters become a first-round NFL Draft ...
A versatile player who can cover all the positions across the line, Brian Winters may just be what the Broncos need to upgrade the depth on the Offensive Line. He is expected to be chosen in the 3rd-4th round in April’s draft.
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