When Joe Wickline is coaching your OL, project is no longer a four letter word. Make no mistake - all three of these players are the P word. None are ready for the college game. But please take solace in a new world where OL development is managed on the practice field and in the weight room and the program doesn't count on true freshmen OL to address the developmental sins of years past. If that means we have to take some lumps in the short term, so be it.
Their ability to contribute down the road will rest as much on their dedication and willingness to be coached and developed as their baseline athletic ability. Outside of a handful of physical freaks, that's how it is for most college level OL - whether high school two stars or four.
Cuney is a fiery, football smart, undersized player with a good base, mobility and the athletic ability to work in space against smaller athletes. His athleticism makes him a dominant player at the high school level, but he'll have to learn flawless technique and develop more punch at the point of attack facing athletes at the next level who are bigger and more athletic than he is. He's on the smaller side with an average frame, so there's some question whether Cuney can carry the "good" 290+ that he'll need to contend with college level interior players. For that reason, he'll only be able to play center or guard at the next level. The fear for Cuney is that he'll plateau to his best football quickly, but his baseline athletic ability may make him an effective college center prospect.
New Orleans, LA
Alex Anderson plays with a nasty disposition. He doesn't just settle for getting his block - he wants to end the play with his defender driven into the ground and his body avalanched on top. We like that. He plays from a two point stance and has a tendency to stand up and step, so he'll have to learn better pad levels in the college running game. In pass protection, Anderson's feet are OK and he's a little wooden - this isn't your future left tackle. In both the passing and running game, Anderson's initial punch is lacking - he gets his work done with mass, balance, determination and strength. That's worrying when he faces bigger, faster athletes with great first step explosion.
On the promising side, for a big man, Anderson has a very strong ability to lock on a defender, keep his feet and balance, and make whatever directional decision the defender chooses the wrong one. He'd be a hell of a sumo wrestler. That's what you see on so many of his best pass protection snaps - the moment the defender overcommits, Anderson turns the defender's momentum against itself and drives them down into the dirt. Similarly, in the running game, he consistently does his best work late in the play. By contrast, most big high school OL get a good initial push, but lack the athleticism and tenacity to maintain contact and finish the block.
Anderson's aggression and ability to occupy a defender translate very well to the next level. The key to his development will rest on his ability to refine his overall skill sets, learn to create a punch from a low pad level, and maintain focus on football and books.
Houston Cy Creek
Conventional rankings wisdom has Rodriguez as 2014's least heralded OL recruit and one of the lowest rated members of the class overall. I don't see that. I think his ceiling is as good as you'll find if he wants it. I'm excited about #77. The late blooming former Colorado commit has a gigantic frame, long arms and an active motor. He has surprising agility and his deficiencies as a pass blocker are more about inconsistent physical development and skill deficits than a lack of athletic ability or doomed feet. Rodriguez is surprisingly athletic on the move. The tools are there for him to be a high level college tackle if he's willing to put in the hard work and long hours. His upside really depends on the fact that he love football - not always a guarantee in suburban big men who have been pressured all of their lives to play simply because they're big and want to please peers or family. Once the scholarship is accomplished they find their out with academics, a medical, or simple contentment riding the bus and eating meals.
Rodriguez's most glaring weakness - a lack of upper body strength and general physical maturity - is also the easiest fix of any major OL deficiency imaginable. The solution is as simple as a redshirt, time in the weight room and learning to leverage his wingspan into an advantage instead of a liability. The physical gifts are there. Let's see what the mental holds.