When asked to draw up his favorite play by scouts at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Auburn offensive lineman, Reese Dismukes, didn’t as much as bat an eyelid.
If that doesn’t sound like a tough, blue-collar, Steeler-esque response I’m not sure what is.
The 2014 Rimington Trophy Award winner, given to the nation’s top center, Dismukes was the linchpin to the vaunted Auburn rushing attack over the last two seasons. In 2013, he helped blast open not only holes, but the record books, for spark plug runner Tre Mason, to the tune of 1,816 yards, breaking Bo Jackson’s single season rushing mark. Oh and did we mention Dismukes helped Mason become a Heisman Trophy finalist?
In 2014, same song different dance, as running back Cameron Artis-Payne again led the SEC with 1,608 yards rushing. By now you probably get the point, so it’s no wonder Dismukes wants to continue doing what he does best at the NFL level, and that’s run the football. However, the NFL is a whole different level, and he’ll likely need to add more weight, as the 6-foot-3 Dismukes was the only offensive linemen at the combine to weigh in at sub-300 pounds, as he weighed 296.
“I leaned up a little bit in training and I’m still putting weight on but you can’t do that overnight,” Dismukes said, according to Crepea. “I’m not really worried about my weight. I played as light as 285 while dealing with ankle and shoulder injuries in 2012 in the SEC. Obviously the NFL is a whole different animal.” He said he played as heavy as 306 in college, and by tweaking his diet, wants to get up to around 310.
Just like another one of the Steelers UDFA’s in B.J. Finney, Dismukes faces an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. However, offensive line depth is needed, and Cody Wallace should have eyes in the back of his head in training camp watching these two on his heels. Just like Finney, Dismukes is a four-year starter with 50 games worth of film for teams to look at. However, leading up to the draft, that could be a bad thing as teams tend to over-analyze and look at every little crack in a prospects’ game.
“His tape isn’t all that guard when you focus in on Auburn’s gap scheme, but when you watch him on the move, he looks much better,” said an NFC offensive line coach, according to NFL.com. “I think zone teams will take a look at him as someone who can eventually become a starter.”
Leading up to the draft, he was viewed anywhere from a second rounder up until a late rounder, but the Steelers gladly shot him a phone call after the draft. He’s gotten high praise from NFL Network draft analyst, Mike Mayock, as a savvy, technician of a center, along the lines of a Jeff Saturday. He’s not the biggest guy, but what he lacks in size or athleticism, he makes up for in brains.
He may be facing a position switch to guard, just like Finney. It seems to me those two are fighting for one spot at the dinner table, so whoever shows their worth will likely, at worst, make the practice squad. Just like Wallace, both would need to exhibit the versatility to play guard, but also take over snapping the football if something happened to All-Pro, Maurkice Pouncey.
“Reese Dismukes is a really, smart tough football player and I’ve learned one thing in the last 10 years it’s that smart, tough interior offensive linemen play in the league for a long time,” Mayock said, according to Crepea. “He may not go until the fourth or fifth round but it doesn’t matter. He’s a smart, tough center, he’ll find his way in the NFL.”
With his affinity for ground-it-out slugfest football, I’m not sure who will be more of a fan favorite to make the team, Dismukes or life-long Steelers fan, Finney.