After sustaining ligament damage in his knee, Max Tuerk needs to impress NFL teams in as many ways as he can to salvage his draft stock.
Coming into this season, Max Tuerk was one of the best offensive line prospects in the country. Tuerk did have a good partial season, but unfortunately, the ligament damage he suffered to his knee last season will effect his draft stock tremendously. Some teams could have their minds immediately made up if the doctors tell them something they don’t like, so a good physical, especially with the individual team doctors, is crucial.
In addition, he is marginally undersized for his position. Weighing in just below 300 pounds at the combine, his size could be a liability against elite nose tackles should he be playing center. For comparison, the last All Pro center taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, Travis Frederick, is listed at 315 pounds and All-Pro nose tackle, Ndamukong Suh, is listed at 320 pounds. These will be big considerations for general managers when considering picking Tuerk and deciding whether he should play center or guard.
What is intriguing about Tuerk, and what scouts will likely value him for, is his athleticism. He can be a pulling lead blocker which is rather uncommon for a center. In this play from the 2014 Holiday Bowl, you can see how he is able to maneuver himself to be the lead blocker.
Typically this is the type of blocking you see guards doing, prompting many to consider him more of a prospect for that position going into the draft. Depending on how he is evaluated and the situation of the team he goes to, he may end up playing a similar role to the one he played at USC, much like how fellow Trojan, and All Pro center Ryan Kalil plays currently with the Carolina Panthers.
Tuerk and Kalil actually have similar physiques, so the comparison may be favorable depending on the evaluator. For more information about what makes this style of playing center so unique, check out this article from last offseason.
The interview processes will be paramount for Tuerk. If he can impress teams with his football IQ, he can probably land somewhere between the third and fourth rounds. In the NFL, the center is a crucial part in making sure the offensive line all have the correct blocking assignments, so proving his mental acumen could make all of the difference.
There are a multitude of teams that need help on the offensive line, so it is hard to predict what team would pick him. Many of the ones desperately in need, like Seattle, will likely try to address the issue earlier in the draft than they feel Tuerk is worth, so I would look for a team with a need that is less immediate like the Denver Broncos. They let Evan Mathis leave in free agency, so drafting a potential replacement at guard would make sense.
More from Reign of Troy
- Five USC football recruiting stories to watch for on Early Signing Day for 2021
- USC football’s playoff hopes sorely hurt by latest College Football Playoff ranking
- 3 biggest takeaways from USC football’s win over UCLA
- USC football to play Oregon in Pac-12 Championship Game with Washington out
- USC football’s postgame locker room after beating UCLA was absolutely lit (Video)
The Washington Redskins would also make sense, as they have made an emphasis on building their team through the trenches. The fifth overall selection from last year’s draft, Brandon Scherff, started at guard, but they would eventually like to move him out to a tackle spot, which would make room for another good lineman for the interior, like Tuerk.
Similarly, the Chicago Bears moved their star guard Kyle Long to right tackle and the New Orleans Saints recently released their four-time All-Pro guard Jahri Evans, so both teams could be in play for him.
Initial Prediction: Max Tuerk will be drafted in Round 4 by the Denver Broncos.