Cleary latest Eagle to soar on offensive line
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Arlington Heights native and St. Viator High School graduate Emmett Cleary chose to continue his education and his football career at Boston College in the hopes of becoming the latest in a long line of quality NFL offensive linemen.
The list includes former Bears first-round tackle Marc Colombo, in addition to first-rounders Pete Kendall (Seahawks) Gosder Cherilus (Lions) and Damien Woody (Patriots).
Top 10 offensive linemen
Name, school Ht. Wt. 40
OLT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M 6-6 306 5.29
Athletic and technically sound, should anchor any OL for 10 yrs.
OLT Eric Fisher, Cent. Mich. 6-7.2 306 5.06
Has an edge; more athletic than Joeckel and could be better.
OLT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma 6-6 303 4.72
Ex-QB and phenomenal athlete for OL but needs to get stronger.
OG Chance Warmack, Alabama 6-2 317 5.49
Road-grading run blocker, stout anchor in pass pro.
OG Jonathan Cooper, N.C. 6-2.1 311 5.07
Strong (35 bench reps) and agile with attitude and character.
ORT D.J. Fluker, Alabama 6-4.5 339 5.31
Dominant run blocker with ideal girth, wingspan, temperament.
OLT Terron Armstead, Arkansas Pine Bluff 6-4.6 306 4.71
Rare athlete moved up with unreal Combine 40-time.
OL Kyle Long, Oregon 6-6.1 313 4.94
Ex-pitcher; HOF Howie Long's son was a White Sox draft pick.
OT Menelik Watson, Fla. St. 6-5.1 310 5.29
Played hoops until 2011, raw technique but enticing tools.
OL Justin Pugh, Syracuse 6-4.4 307 5.14
Three-year starter has OLT feet but short arms may force move to OG.
Number after decimal point under "Ht." represents to eighths of an inch.
The Eagles' program has also produced second-round NFL O-linemen like Jeremy Trueblood (Bucs) and Chris Snee (Giants), fifth-rounder Dan Koppen (Patriots) and seventh-rounder Tom Nalen (Broncos).
More recently, Cleary's former BC roommate, Lake Zurich High School graduate Anthony Castonzo, was the Colts' first-round pick a year ago.
"That's one of the things that drove me to BC five years ago," said the 6-foot-7, 316-pound Cleary, an honorable-mention all-state pick in high school. "It's something we hold dear there, and it's something that's important to me far as proving myself, that I'm in that line of guys. (That tradition) is something I hope to uphold."
Cleary started four games as a redshirt freshman and made 10 starts in 2010, playing left guard and right tackle both seasons. As a junior he was the full-time right tackle, with Castonzo at left tackle. Last year, with Castonzo gone, Cleary stepped in at left tackle, but he'll probably move back to the right side in the NFL.
Cleary won't be a first-round pick.
But Pro Football Weekly's 2013 Draft Preview tabs him as a third-to-fourth-round selection. PFW draft expert Nolan Nawrocki describes Cleary as a "Tough and gritty competitor. Extremely intelligent — alert to see the blitz. Takes pride is his craft."
Ironically, Cleary did not project himself going as highly as PFW when he spoke at the Combine. Unlike almost every other prospect, Cleary low-balled himself.
"I'm hearing late round, undrafted," he said. "But I just want to get into camp with somebody."
That won't be a problem. And even after he's finished playing football Cleary should be OK. He already had a biology degree before last season started and had begun work toward his master's in management, one of eight graduate students on last year's roster.
"At BC, they're concerned about you as more than just a football player," Cleary said at the Combine. "So, just as much as developing my body and my (football) skills, they help to develop you as a man, as an intellectual, as a person. I hope that shines through in this process."
Cleary "Does not always look pretty getting the job done," according to Pro Football Weekly, "but consistently finds a way to produce and has the tools to serve as a versatile swing backup and become a functional NFL starter."
• Follow Bob's NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere, and check out his Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com/sports.
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