It's John Shurna draft week! The week where John Shurna might get drafted! (And if he doesn't, he'll probably find his way onto a summer league roster.) You know I'm better at writing about el baloncesto than writing about, you know, things that aren't that, so I will cover that. And have some video to boot!
No. 72, Brian Mulroe, OG, Senior
Who he be: In the list of offensive linemen you may or may not be familiar with, Mulroe's name should stand out: he's a two year returning starter at left guard, and this past year and earned an honorable all-conference mention last year. Mulroe has been a solid performer on the offensive line for some time now, so get used to it, I guess.
Big shoes: I have made it a habit to check the profile page on Rivals of the player I'm profiling, to find out stuff, like the fact that Mulroe was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. But more interestingly, he was listed at 6-foot-6, 263 pounds by the Rivals people in high school and is now listed at 6-foot-4, 295. Impressive that Mulroe managed to put on so much muscle weight that his body couldn't maintain its initial height and shrunk him two inches. Sign of a great worker.
NU's offensive line: So, we've gotten through three of the five presumptive offensive linemen for Northwestern thus far. Since I can't think of any funny jokes about Brian's name, here's some actual analysis!
Northwestern loses two starters from last year's offensive line get-up, and by most estimations, they were two of the more critical pieces: Al Netter is currently on the San Francisco 49ers, and Ben Burkett had been starting at right guard after playing several years at center. That leaves Mulroe, Brandon Vitabile, who had a pretty good year at center, and Patrick Ward, who will slide across the line from right tackle to left tackle. The bad news is that Northwestern's offensive line last year was pretty bad: 11th out of 12 in sacks, and last place in yards per carry (probably in part due to all the sacks, but also due to some poor run blocking.) The unit had one amazing series: a no-passing, clock-killing drive that saw NU eat most of the remaining game time off the clock while hammering the ball down the throat of a pretty good Nebraska defense ending in a touchdown, sealing a victory.
The new guys - Neal Deiters and Chuck Porcelli - are both seniors and have been contributors on the line for some time, and are huge, at 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7, respectively. That's good news for NU: the team has virtually nothing in the cabinet at running back, and will need all the help in terms of size it can get up front. However, I'm still worried that those huge bodies on the right side won't be fast enough to protect Kain Colter on the side he's most comfortable running towards. While I see a relatively experienced unit helping out a shaky running back corps - I mean, look at that Nebraska drive making Jacob Schmidt look like a world-beater - I fear Colter won't get the protection he needs to be as effective as he can be.
So that's analysis!
Looking forward: Mulroe will be the most experienced player on the line this year, and hopefully improves on that honorable mention for perhaps a all-conference feature this season. Although I'm genuinely curious how most media pick their all-conference offensive line picks - not because it's tough to tell good offensive line play, but because I doubt most media watch for it. They probably just pick the dude whose QB stays on his feet the most. My point is, Mulroe is good and will start at left guard. Okay?