2015 Preseason All-American Projections: Guards

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2015 college football season WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next May in the 2016 NFL Draft.

First-Team Guards:

Vadal Alexander, LSU

A lot of praise was given to LSU left tackle La’el Collins last season, and he was an almost certain future first-round pick before off-the-field issues interfered with his draft stock. While Collins played well for the Tigers, the real engine for their ground game was Alexander. He was the bull at the point of attack that opened running lanes. Collins was solid, but he wasn’t the people-mover who Alexander was. Throughout 2014, Alexander blasted open running lanes for LSU’s stable of tough running backs, including freshman Leonard Fournette.

The 6-foot-6, 320-pound Alexander should produce another good year as a senior. There is talent around him on the LSU offensive line, and Fournette should be an even-better runner as a sophomore. Alexander could easily be the best guard in the nation in 2015 and is the heavy favorite to be a First-Team All-American.

Pat Elfein, Ohio State

The Buckeyes had a tremendous running game in 2014, especially late in the year. Elfein was one of the reasons for that as he was an impressive run-blocker for Ezekiel Elliott. Elfein (6-3, 300) is strong for his size and can pull. There is a ton of talent around him as the Buckeyes have three other starters returning to their line along with mobile quarterbacks and Elliott. Elfein could benefit from that and be a First-Team All-American.

Second-Team Guards:

Landon Turner, North Carolina

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Turner had a quality junior season despite a strained MCL that caused him to miss some games. Turner is an athletic blocker with quickness. He could be better as a senior if he added some more power to his game. Continuing to improve his pass protection and run blocking could make him an All-American.

Alex Redmond, UCLA

The UCLA offensive line had some issues in pass protection in 2014, and while Redmond could stand to improve, some of that was on quarterback Brett Hundley. Overall, Redmond was a solid blocker for the Bruins. He’s started 21 games at guard over the past two seasons and has the upside to improve as an upperclassmen. The 6-foot-5, 297-pound junior could be better if he adds more bulk to his frame to have more power at the point of attack.

Third-Team Guards:

Jordan Rigsbee, California

The Golden Bears have an offense that throws the ball a lot and is led by a triggerman who should put up big numbers in Jared Goff. Rigsbee was a a reliable blocker in 2014 and did a good job of helping to create a clean pocket for Goff. Rigsbee (6-4, 300) could use some more power, but he should produce another good season in front of Goff.

Ethan Pocic, LSU

Pocic started as a sophomore and had a strong season for the Tigers. He was a good run-blocker and fairly consistent in pass protection. Pocic (6-7, 300) played some center for the Tigers, but he’s too tall for that position in the NFL and is a better fit at guard. With Vadal Alexander being an impact blocker at the other guard spot, Pocic and the LSU offensive line should pave the way for a power running game in 2015.

Honorable Mentions: Arizona State’s Christian Westerman, Texas’ Sedrick Flowers, Kansas State’s Cody Whitehair, Stanford’s Joshua Garnett, N.C. State’s Alex Barr and Notre Dame’s Matt Hegarty.

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