Brian Winters   OG       Kent State         Many teams project Winter’s as a right tackle prospect. If he fails on the edge, though, move him inside to either OG position, where he will be a natural. I love this player’s competitive nature, temperament, toughness and his willingness to finish defenders off on every play. Inline blocker with quickness out of stance; flat back and rolls hips with UOH (use of hands) to double arm punch and pancake defenders. Short arms are not a negative for this blocker. Good combo blocking to advance to second level, locating target with chop production. Very good inline production when down blocking; seal, drive and foot quickness and balance to hook EMLOS (end man on line of scrimmage). Good athletic movement on pulling and locating target with production in space. Pass blocker with good feet to kick slide, but his anchor tends to slightly rise upright in movement as he works to regain leverage. Boasts good feet to mirror and redirect vs. edge player. Has nice two-step bounce to defeat bull rush, but will need technique development on step balance and hand replacement. Will duck head to attack defender and falls off blocks; however, he works to recover. Flashed nastiness with head slap, club and cork screw of defender. I hope the left shoulder history of dislocation is not an issue for this young man. Upside is huge for this player. Softli – Second-round talent/second-round pick

 

BRIAN WINTERS

Offensive Tackle/Guard

Kent State University Golden Flashes

#66

6:04.1-320

Hudson, Ohio

Hudson High School

 

OVERVIEW

An offensive lineman generally “flies under the radar” on the football field, as fans usually only notice them when a false start or holding penalty is called, or their quarterback is flattened by a pass rush. Playing for a struggling unit with a long history in offensive futility certainly does not help get that lineman noticed when postseason awards or the national media starts handing out accolades.

 

In a recent study of schools that compete in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision ranks, Kent State ranked as one of the worst offensive teams in the history of college football prior to the 2012 season. There’s no debate about that. Prior to Winters arrival on campus as a freshman in 2009, the Golden Flashes scored 13,897 points over the span of 91 years and 849 games, an average of 16.4 points per game. The program has scored more than 300 points in a season only five times in its history: 1954, 1997, 2003, 2004 and 2008.

 

If you were willing to do the math, you could combine the Golden Flashes’ two highest-scoring seasons – 335 points in 2004 and 337 points in 1997 – and still fall short of Houston’s 591-point outburst from Winters’ freshman season at KSU in 2009. Until the lineman first began suiting up for the Golden Flashes that season, the team had the lowest career winning percentage of any program with roots dating back to the last century, as Kent State is also the only such program with a career winning percentage below 40 percent.

 

Still, when professional scouts came to the Kent State campus to watch football tapes, Winters was the “leading actor” they all come to see perform. To date, the versatile offensive tackle has yet to disappoint. Those same scouts are predicting that it is Winters who will eventually be regarded as the best offensive lineman that the Golden Flashes have ever produced.

 

Since offensive tackle Al Kilgore became the first Kent State offensive lineman to be drafted by an NFL team in 1954 (16th round by the Chicago Cardinals), only seven other KSU blockers have heard their names called on draft day. In 1998, center Bob Hallen (second round by Atlanta) was the school’s first offensive lineman drafted since Howard Tennebar was chosen in the 13th round of the 1968 draft by the Baltimore Colts. No other Kent State blocker has been taken since Hallen.

 

To date, just twelve Kent State offensive linemen have ever played professional football. Dan Goodspeed (San Francisco in 2001; Jets from 2001-02; Tampa Bay from 2002-04, Washington in 2004), Luke Owens (Baltimore in 1957; St. Louis from 1960-65) and Steve Zahursky (Jacksonville in 1999; Clevelend from 1999-2002) are the only Kent State blockers to join Hallen (Atlanta from 1998-2001; San Diego from 2002-03; New England in 2004; back to San Diego from 2004-05; Cleveland in 2006) in playing at least two seasons in the National Football League.

 

Kent State has seen just 39 of their gridiron performers to be drafted by the NFL and none were selected in the first round (highest selections were four taken in round two, with Hallen the most recent in 1998 and Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert was the most recognized player in school history, as he was grabbed by Pittsburgh in the second round of the 1974 draft).

 

Winters’ “numbers” on the football field have professional scouts keeping a keen eye on the offensive tackle entering his senior season. The NFL Draft Report lists the lineman as the second-best offensive player in the Mid-American Conference behind Central Michigan All-American left tackle Eric Fisher. Extensive research done on the Golden Flash blocker supports that assessment made by that scouting information service.

 

In the school-record fifty games that Winters started during his college career, Kent State managed to record only 67 scores via their ground attack. Winters has registered 40 touchdown-resulting blocks for those ball carriers (59.70% of the rushing scores).

 

Kent State’s aerial game found the end zone only 55 times during that 50-game span. Winters recorded fifteen touchdown-resulting blocks protecting the pocket. Of KSU’s total of 122 scoring drives, Winters was credited with touchdown-resulting blocks on 45.08% of the Golden Flashes’ visits to the end zone (55 total).

 

The senior season determined how much the National Football League regards this vastly underrated talent, especially after a shift on the offensive line late in the 2011 season saw Kent State prosper in Winters’ final campaign, established a school season-record with eleven victories. With his junior season winding down, the coaching staff decided to move right offensive guard Josh Kline to the left side, lining up next to Winters.

 

That tandem had success earlier in their careers in several games that they started on the right side. Reunited to protect the pocket’s blindside, Kent State went gone on to win five of their last seven games with Winters and Kline working in unison. The Golden Flashes had produced rushing outputs of minus nine yards, 72 yards, 83 yards, one yard and 75 yards in five contests before the Winters-Kline duo was formed in 2011. In 21 games together, that left side tandem helped KSU amass at least 200 yards rushing nine times, as that ground attack produced at least three touchdowns over the left side of the line in seven of those contests.

 

A model of consistency, Winters has received winning grades for blocking consistency in 44-of-50 starting assignments. He received an exceptional mark (90% or better) in nineteen of those contests. He recorded 374 knockdown blocks during that span, an average of 7.48 per game. While the blocker combines intelligence and power in his game, it is his sudden quickness off the snap that has seen him record 34 blocks down field, as he attacks second-level defenders with a vengeance.

 

Still, Winters seems unfazed by the considerable amount of attention that professional scouts are paying, in regards to his future in the game. Asked his thoughts about the possibility of playing in the NFL, the tackle calmly replied, “The offensive line coach will come in and tell me that people are there at practice to watch me, but I can’t worry about that. I’ve got to get my work in. I remember as a freshman … people would come to watch other players and I couldn’t wait until it was my turn. Now, I just try to have a good practice and focus on the task at hand. The future will take care of itself.”

 

Prior to his arrival on the Kent State campus, Winters was an All-Ohio, All-State and All-Northeast Ohio Conference selection during his senior season for the Hudson High School Explorers. As a 240-pound two-way lineman, he helped his team win their final three games to finish with a 6-4 record during his junior campaign. He returned to the gridiron as a 310-pound senior in 2008, garnering national attention from both Rivals.com and Scout.com (received a two-star prospect rating) while manning the right offensive tackle position.

 

In addition to earning three letters in football, Winters competed in wrestling three times, receiving All-North Ohio Conference honors in that sport during his freshman and sophomore seasons.

 

Upon the conclusion of his senior year, Winters started at right offensive tackle while garnering second-team all-tournament honors as a part of the winning United States team at the inaugural IFAF Junior World Championship. After helping the U.S. Under-19 National Team win a gold medal in Canton, Ohio, Winters turned down a scholarship offer from Syracuse and decided to stay “locally” when he signed a national letter of intent on Christmas Day, 2008, to attend Kent State, where he would go on to start every game for the Golden Flashes.

 

Winters started all twelve games at right offensive tackle as a true freshman in 2009. The offense ranked 96th in the nation, averaging just 327.67 yards per game, but the first-year starter produced 98 knockdowns and nine touchdown-resulting blocks, grading 84.25% for blocking consistency for a unit that posted only 25 touchdown drives. He also recorded a key tackle that prevented a touchdown after a Golden Flash pass was intercepted vs. Akron.

 

As a sophomore, Winters shifted to the demanding left offensive tackle position for the first eight games before finishing out the schedule at right tackle. He captured All-Mid American Conference recognition and graded 86.42% for blocking consistency, as he was credited with 109 knockdowns and fourteen touchdown-resulting blocks (eleven came on running plays, as KSU scored only fifteen times on the ground). The lone blemish was seeing Winters charged with eight penalties, as he adjusted to playing on the left side of the front wall.

 

Winters again received All-MAC accolades as a junior, in addition to being selected to the All-Ohio squad in 2011. He was hampered early in the season by a left shoulder fluid build-up and a dislocation, an injury that he first suffered during his high school wrestling days. Still, he collected 93 knockdowns with twelve touchdown-resulting blocks, including eight for a running attack that found the end zone just eleven times. His blocking consistency grade of 87.09% led all blockers in the conference.

 

After the season, Winters underwent surgery to repair his left shoulder issues and was forced to “ride the stationary bike” rather than compete in 2012 spring drills. In an interview with the Beacon Journal, the left offensive tackle talked about his injury, “It happened in high school when I was wrestling my sophomore year at states,” he said. “Over the years, its just kept getting progressively worse. Then it popped [out of place] during the third game of [last] season and filled up with fluid.”

 

“When they popped it back in, it was really sore. I was never at 100 percent after that. I was probably more like 70 percent, nowhere near where I could have been. So with my senior year coming up this year, I needed to get it fixed. I have to admit, it’s been real hard sitting around just watching everyone,” he said. “But Coach [Darrell Hazell] just told me to focus on helping coach the younger guys and help get them to where they need to be. For myself, they just want me to learn mentally and keep my head in the book.”

 

By the time 2012 fall camp opened, Winters was ready to resume his duties on the front wall. Showing scouts in attendance that the shoulder is no longer an issue, he went out and put on a blocking clinic in his final season, as he graded at least 90% for blocking consistency in seven of those Golden Flash contests. He had 74 knockdowns to his credit while delivering twenty touchdown-resulting blocks and nine more blocks down field.

 

 

The 2012 All-Mid American Conference first-team choice served notice on his opponents with that senior campaign performance. He also made every NFL team take notice that the Golden Flashes’ drought of producing offensive linemen for the National Football League is certain to come to an end. To that end, he was rewarded for his play when Winters was invited to compete with the country’s elite performers at the 2013 Senior Bowl.

 

CAREER NOTES

In 50 games, Winters started sixteen times at right offensive tackle and 34 times at left tackle…Recorded 355 knockdowns/key blocks, as he produced 50 touchdown-resulting blocks and 30 downfield blocks, registering an 87.12% grade for blocking consistency, as that total included 39 winning grades…Produced grades of 90% or better in seventeen of those contests, topping the old Mid-American Conference record of twelve 90% efforts by Todd Peat of Northern Illinois (1983-86)…Also recorded a solo tackle and recovered one fumble.

 

2012 SEASON

Winters was named All-American third-team by The NFL Draft Report, adding first-team All-Mid-American Conference honors from the league’s coaches and media…The senior left offensive tackle was a preseason member of the Lombardi Award (nation’s best line-man) Watch List…Selected one of three captains by the coaching staff and teammates, Winters missed spring drills while recovering from left shoulder surgery, but was fully recovered by the season opener…His blocking consistency grade of 87.45% is the highest for any offensive lineman in a season that has worn a Kent State uniform…Winters reached the 90% grade level in seven of his fourteen games for the Golden Flashes, in addition to reaching that level ten times in his last twenty contests…Credited with 74 knockdowns/key blocks and a total of twenty touchdown-resulting blocks (sixteen for the running game and four for the passing attack)…Kent State finished second in the Mac and 18th in the nation in rushing (225.79 ypg), also ranking second in the league and 35th in the nation in scoring (38.29 ppg)…The front wall ranked 41st among the 120 major colleges in sacks allowed, yielding an average of 1.50 per game (21 for losses of 148 yards), but their left offensive tackle gave up just two of those fourteen sacks, yielding just one pressure when he slipped in an attempt to make a block in the Eastern Michigan clash…The season began in explosive fashion, literally, as fireworks entertained the fans of the Blue & Gold following the game, as the 1972 Mid-American Conference championship team was honored at halftime for an inspiring title run that took place 40 years ago and the current cast of Golden Flashes showed why the 2012 season holds much promise. Winters, fully recovered from off-season left shoulder surgery was playing as if on a “search and destroy” mission, coming up with touchdown-resulting blocks on all three scoring runs by the Golden Flash ball carriers in a 41-21 victory over Towson…Behind Winters’ eleven knockdowns and two touchdown-resulting blocks, tailbacks Dri Archer and Trayion Durham proved just how devastating their combination of speed and power can be in Mid-American Conference play as Kent State opened its league schedule with a 23-7 road win over Buffalo…Winters produced eleven knockdowns for the second-straight week vs. Ball State, registering a trio of touchdown-resulting blocks for the second time during his senior season…The left tackle continued his dominance in the trenches vs. Eastern Michigan, recording multiple touchdown-resulting blocks for the fifth consecutive 2012 contest, adding eight other key blocks to help KSU pull out a 41-14 victory, the third time that the Golden Flashes scored at least forty points in a game this season.

 

2011 SEASON

Winters earned All-American honorable mention and All-Mid American Conference first-team honors, as he was the lone bright spot on a porous offensive line that ranked tied for 83rd in the nation for average quarterback sacks allowed per game (2.5 avg; 30 for minus 215 yards)…Added All-MAC second-team accolades from the league’s coaches and media, in addition to being named to Phil Steele’s All-MAC third-team…Was also a second-team All-Ohio choice by OhioCollegeFootball.com…The Golden Flash coaching staff were able to make some late-season adjustments to the line that made a big difference and led to a 4-1 finish, as they shifted guard Josh Kline from the right side to join Winters on the left side of the front wall for their final five contests…Winters led the conference’s offensive linemen with an 86.33% grade for blocking consistency, producing twelve touchdown-resulting blocks, 93 knockdowns/key blocks and nine downfield blocks…Was penalized four times, as the left tackle saw his opponent record just 2.5 quarterback sacks on 348 pass plays…In his final five games, teaming with Kline, Winters recorded grades of 90% or better in three of those contests, reaching that exceptional mark a total of four times during his junior season (vs. South Alabama, Bowling Green, Central Michigan and Akron)…Missed part of the third game on the schedule vs. Kansas State due to a left shoulder injury that would require surgery after the season…Of his twelve touchdown-resulting blocks, eight game for a ground game that found the end zone just eleven times in 2011…Sixteen of the team’s seventeen longest plays for the season came in the team’s final five contests behind their revamped left side of the offensive line…During those five games, the Golden Flashes did not allow a sack in three of those contests (team averaged 3.57 sacks allowed per game through their first seven contests, but lowered that average to just 1.0 sack in the last five clashes).

 

2010 SEASON

Winters started all season, lining up at the demanding left offensive tackle for the first eight games before finishing the season at right tackle…Earned All-MAC third-team honors from the league’s media and coaches…The Golden Flashes ranked 102nd among the 119 major colleges in total offense (314.33 ypg) and 100th in rushing (113.58 ypg), but the new left tackle registered a career-high 109 knockdowns/key blocks that included seven second-level blocks…His fourteen touchdown-resulting blocks not only led the conference’s linemen, but eleven came on running plays, as the KSU ground attack reached the end zone just fifteen times…Adjusting to his shift back to right tackle for the team’s final four games, Winters was penalized eight times, but six of them came after he was moved…The sophomore allowed only 2.5 sacks (team gave up 22) on 390 pass plays…Recovered a fumble vs. Akron…Finished with a blocking consistency grade of 86.42%, reaching 90% or better in each of the Murray State, Miami (Oh.), Toledo, Bowling Green, Army and Ohio University contests…His six exceptional grades were the most by a KSU blocker in a season since Bob Hallen reached the 90% level four times in 1997.

 

2009 SEASON

Winters became the first true freshman to start for the Flashes since 2007, as he moved into the starting lineup at right offensive tackle…Joined center Chris Anzevino in being the only Golden Flash offensive linemen to remain at their respective positions (injuries forced KSU to use six different offensive line first units in their first ten games)…Despite all of the changes going on along the front wall almost weekly, Winters was a model of consistency, leading the team with 98 knockdowns and an 84.25% grade for blocking consistency…He graded 90% or better in each of the Miami (Oh.) and Bowling Green clashes, producing nine touchdown-resulting blocks for a unit that ranked 96th in the nation in total offense (327.67 ypg) and 98th in rushing (114.58 ypg)…The freshman also recorded a tackle when he brought down an Akron defender who had intercepted a Kent State pass attempt.

 

INJURY REPORT

2011 Season…Left the Kansas State game (9/17) when he dislocated his left shoulder. He would later miss 2012 spring drills while recovering from off-season surgery to repair the shoulder problem. That injury first occurred during his sophomore wrestling days in high school (at the state finals).

2012 Post-Season…Winters suffered a pectoral injury after lifting 225 pounds nine times in the bench press drill during the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine and could not participate in any of the other agility tests.

 

AGILITY TESTS

5.17 in the 40-yard dash…1.79 10-yard dash…2.99 20-yard dash…4.59 20-yard shuttle…

7.58 three-cone drill…28-inch vertical jump…8’6” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 34 times…580-pound squat…32–inch arm length…9 ½-inch hands…78 1/8-inch wingspan.

 

HIGH SCHOOL

Winters attended Hudson (Oh.) High School, playing on both the offensive and defensive lines for Explorers head coach Tom Narducci…Earned All-Ohio, All-State and All-North-east Ohio Conference honors during his senior season…As a 240-pound two-way lineman, he helped his team win their final three games to finish with a 6-4 record during his junior campaign, receiving All-Northeast Ohio accolades…Returned to the gridiron as a 310-pound senior in 2008, garnering national attention from both Rivals.com and Scout.com (received a two-star prospect rating) while manning the right offensive tackle position…In addition to earning three letters in football, Winters competed in wrestling three times, receiving All-North Ohio Conference honors in that sport during his freshman and sophomore seasons…Upon the conclusion of his senior year, Winters started at right offensive tackle while garnering second-team all-tournament honors as a part of the gold medal-winning United States Under-19 National Team team at the inaugural IFAF Junior World Championship.

 

PERSONAL

Winters is a Criminal Justice major, with a minor in Business…Son of Stefani and Bill Winters…Born 7/10/91…Resides in Hudson, Ohio.

Data provided by Dave-Te Thomas, Publisher of the NFL Draft Reports for TonySoftli.com & Tony Softli Draft Board; Distributed by Scouting Services, Inc. © Copyright 2012/13 – All Rights Reserved; Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Scouting Services Inc. is strictly prohibited.