Who the hell will they draft 2008: Bowling Green Center Kory Lichtensteiger

Will this man be the future recipient of Peyton Manning's hand under his ass?
If I were to tell you that Bill Polian was going to get Lichtensteiger, I'm willing to bet your first response would be Never heard of it. But whatever. I'm happy with a case of Budweiser. I'll admit that of all the play areas in football, I am most ignorant of offensive line play. It is so much more than getting big fatties and telling them to overpower the opposing d-line. Offensive lineman these days must have the smarts of a QB, the feet of a WR, and the instincts of a RB. This is especially true for the Colts offensive line, where discipline, intelligence, and versatility are valued more than raw power or strength.

Make no mistake about it: Howard Mudd is the best o-line coach in football. If you cannot learn to block from him, start selling insurance. Mudd likes players who can play multiple line positions; guys like Jeff Saturday, who is a Pro Bowl center who can also play guard. With the departure of Jake Scott (who played guard and tackle), the Colts will likely let Dylan Gandy compete for the starting guard spot, and draft a player who they will groom into a eventual replacement for Jeff Saturday. Jeff is great, but he's also a little long in the tooth. Sooner or later, you have to start considering his replacement. Might as well start now.

Kory Lichtensteiger is one who has the potential to grow in the Colts offense mainly because he seems to have all the traits Howard Mudd looks for in a lineman:

Super smart with excellent awareness...An outstanding technician...Intense with a great motor...Strong...Plays with terrific leverage...Positions his hands well...A hard worker and leader...Quick and moves his feet well...Nice balance...Versatile.
Lichtensteiger's versatility comes from playing both guard and center in college at Bowling Green, where he is taking on a legendary status. Like Saturday, he has short arms and is a bit small, but as I have always said size is not a big factor when determining the overall worth of a player. Lichtensteiger is roughly the same size as Jeff Saturday (6'2, 298 pounds) and last I checked Jeff Saturday was the best center in pro football.

Technique and intelligence are two traits Lichtensteiger seems to have, and if drafted he would fit in well with Mudd and the other lineman. Tony Ugoh was drafted last year in part because he is such a sound technician when it comes to playing LT. And potentially playing center in this offense means Lichtensteiger would have to call all the o-line audibles, and get them in sync with the audibles Peyton Manning calls. Basically, it means the center is like another QB. Lichtensteiger's intelligence will serve him well in the pros. He was one of three Bowling Green Eagles to receive an Academic All-Conference award, and while book smarts do not always translate into football smarts, it looks like Lichtensteiger has both.

NFL Draft Scout states that Lichtensteiger received a 87.78% blocking grade (whatever that means). In 2007, Lichtensteiger's team averaged just over 300 yards passing a game as the switched from a run-happy offense to an offense that likes to put the ball in the air. He was charged with just 1 of the 25 total sacks allowed for the season, and produced 16 key blocks that lead directly to offensive TDs, and 6 blocks that lead to big plays down the field. He started all 12 games his senior year, and displayed both durability and toughness.

Most mock drafts say Kory Lichtensteiger will end up getting picked late in the draft. The Colts LOVE picking offensive linemen late in drafts. Look for them to take a shot at Lichtensteiger.

Update [2008-3-14 15:18:7 by BigBlueShoe]: More info on Lichtensteiger from New Era Scouting. This info confirms, at least for me, that the Colts will work hard to draft this guy:

Football Intelligence: A four-year starter who is one of the most intelligent linemen in the nation. Calls all of the line shifts and formations. Is known as a player who applies his film work onto the field.
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