Draft Review: Alan Faneca

Only four holding calls in 201 career NFL games

GOSSELIN DRAFT ANALYSIS: Alan Faneca spent three seasons at LSU, leaving after his junior year. He started all 35 games of his college career. He earned Associated Press All-America honors in 1997 and was an Outland Trophy finalist. Faneca allowed only one sack in his final season at LSU. He measured 6-4 ½, 322 pounds at the 1998 NFL combine, ran a 5.39 40 and benched 225 pounds just those 20 times. Gosselin rated Faneca the top guard in the 1998 draft and placed him No. 27 on his Top 100 board. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Faneca with the 26th pick of the first round.

Here are comments on Faneca from six talent evaluators leading up to the 1998 NFL draft:

Scout: Scares you. Only did 20 reps … but you watch him play and he’s stoning people. Zone blocking guard. They pull him and he’s a 50-50 blocker in space. Labors to get outside, labors to come back. But if he gets you square, you’re dead. He jolts you. Great hands. Country strong. Watch his workout and you don’t see the 20 reps. You see more.

Offensive line coach: One of the best guards I’ve seen in a long time. A buzzsaw. Great effort and physical every snap. Not a great athlete but he goes, goes, goes. He’ll always hit somebody. A first rounder. Not as good an athlete as (Jeff) Hartings (top guard in the 1996 NFL draft) but packs a more physical punch.

Offensive line coach II: Wide base. Low-to-high player. Dominates at line but not good in space.

Scout II: When he hits people, it’s him that gets jolted too many times. Gets yanked off his feet.

General manager: Heavy-footed, waist-bender. If they aren’t right in front of him, he ain’t hitting them. Hartings is more athletic.

Offensive line coach III: A warrior. Moves the stack. Some people lift the world but play weak. Not this guy. Toughest M-F in this draft.

HALL OF FAME RESUME: It’s hard to believe Faneca has already been passed over five times as a Hall of Fame finalist. He went to nine Pro Bowls in his 13 seasons, was a six-time first-team all-pro and a first-team selection on the NFL’s 2000 all-decade team. He won a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers and has been named to the franchise’s all-time team. The only player with a stronger Hall of Fame resume on the 2021 slate is Peyton Manning. Faneca closed his career playing two seasons with the New York Jets and a season with the Arizona Cardinals. Both the Steelers (2001) and Jets (2009) led the NFL in rushing with Faneca up front. His teams finished in the NFL’s Top 10 in rushing in 10 of his 13 seasons and he drew only four holding calls in 201 career starts. Faneca’s election to the Hall of Fame is way, way overdue.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rick Gosselin spent 20 years as the NFL columnist for the Dallas Morning News, including 20 offseasons studying and researching prospects for the NFL draft. He didn’t watch any tape – he was a writer, not a scout – but he talked to the men who did watch tape. He built a network of NFL general managers, head coaches, personnel directors, scouts and assistant coaches from all 32 teams who would share with him their analyses of players. Gosselin used their insights to build his own draft board, Top 100 board and mock drafts. For 10 consecutive years he had the best Top 100 board in the nation (2001-10), according to the Huddle Report, and three times he produced the best mock draft. Leading up to the announcement of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 Saturday, Gosselin resurrected the college scouting reports there for a look back at what NFL talent evaluators were saying about the top draft prospects coming out of college. 


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