Offensive line group could make big splash in NFL

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - This year’s NFL rookie offensive linemen are chock full of stories and characters.

Luke Joeckel and Barrett Jones have the neatly trimmed hair, the clean-cut faces, the All-American pedigrees and have paved the way for Heisman Trophy winners.

Eric Fisher wants to show everyone that Central Michigan has prepared him just as well for the NFL as any of the perennial powerhouse programs.

D.J. Fluker makes people laugh off the field and grimace on it, and Kyle Long will spend this weekend trying to convince NFL scouts he can add another chapter to the family’s NFL legacy.

Yes, this draft class has a little bit of everything _ except a consensus No. 1 pick.

“The way I’m looking at it, I want to get there. I am definitely striving to be the No. 1 pick, going through this entire process and playing this season and all that kind of stuff,” Joeckel said. “But my dream is to just play in the NFL. I know, being the No. 1 pick, after that, it doesn’t really matter. You’ve got to go prove yourself in the NFL.”

Most analysts believe the offensive and defensive linemen will make up the vast majority of this year’s first-round picks, but who goes where will likely depend on what teams need or want.

And there are plenty of questions to answer before draft weekend rolls around.

Joeckel is the straight-laced guy who pretty much sticks to the script on and off the field. He measured in at 6-foot-6, 306 pounds, a little lighter than he had hoped and perhaps a little lighter than the scouts would have liked, though he remains the tentative favorite to go No. 1 overall.

Jones, an Alabama grad, enjoys life so much he even poked fun at reporters’ questions Thursday.

He has perhaps one of the rarest resumes in college football history _ three national championship rings and three All-American selections at three different positions, twice on the first team, once on the third.

Yet his biggest hurdle is staying healthy. Jones can’t work out in Indy because he’s only six weeks into a four-month recovery from surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury in his left foot.

While some wonder where this 6-foot-4 1/2, 306-pounder will play in the NFL after excelling at right guard, left tackle and center in college, there are few doubts about his intangibles.

He was tough enough to confront quarterback A.J. McCarron on the sideline during last month’s BCS championship game, has made missionary trips to Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and has shown a propensity for quickly assimilating into the offense.

“I think when you play a lot of different positions, you start learning the offense from a lot of different perspectives and you understand the offense instead of just knowing it,” he said.

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