Growing up with four other siblings, hand-me downs and competition for everything were commonplace. Each day was an exercise in fast feet, quick reflexes, and the occasional chop block. You learn too, that if you want to stand out from those around you, it takes dedication.
Comparatively speaking, I had it easy. In a family of 16 children, one can imagine Eugene Monroe has had a lot of practice protecting what was valuable. Now all we need to do is trade out the remote control for a quarterback, add about 250 pounds and we get quite possibly the best offensive lineman in the class of 2009.
Born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, Monroe got his chance to stand out while playing football at Plainfield High School. While there, Monroe made the all-state team twice, did not allow a single sack in his last 25 games, and was widely regarded as the best offensive lineman of any high school in the country.
With accolades and accomplishments such as that, a spot on the line of any of the top football schools in the country was assured. Rather than accept a free ride at a perennial favorite, however, Monroe chose to dive back into the middle and work his way to the top. The University of Virginia, while certainly not one of the bottom tier football programs, has nonetheless been a team generally traveling under the 10 in the country. Of course this seems like an unlikely choice to make, but according to his agent Sanat Shah, when asked about why he chose the Cavaliers, Monroe responded:
“I wanted to be a part of something that’s much more meaningful than being one of many.”
Well, choosing to join Virginia certainly appears to have been the right move. Despite having a somewhat mediocre first season in 2005, he played in every game and his promise was certainly recognized by the coaching staff. From the next season on he was a regular first-stringer, exchanging starts with Zak Stair, as well as receiving his first letter.
The 2007 season was when Monroe really began to turn heads. Starting again at left tackle, Monroe played in every game – save two due to an injury – and despite the presence of Brenden Albert (a first round draft pick that year), Monroe kept his position, continuing to improve his skills throughout the season. 2007 ended with Monroe having not allowed a single sack.
Monroe’s steady climb reached its zenith this past season. As a senior, Monroe started every game, dominating defenses around the country with his strength and speed. He was awarded the 2008 Jacobs Trophy as the best blocker in the ACC.
Along with Alabama’s Andre Smith, Baylor’s Jason Smith, and Mississippi’s Michael Oher, Monroe is widely regarded as one of the best linemen prospects in the 2009 NFL Draft. The main reasons Monroe has worked his way to the top of the list are his fast feet, even switching into a tight end on some plays, long arms, and overall mentality. Monroe doesn’t stop blocking until the whistle has finished blowing.
As is the case with all prospects, Monroe does have a few weaknesses: he is a bit heavy in the mid-section and needs to work on being more mindful of late rushers during a broken play. Scouts have also been concerned that the sprained knee he suffered in 2007, which kept him off the starting line-up for two games, may be a reoccurring issue.
In terms of draft day, Monroe has been a bit of a wild card. While it’s pretty much certain that he’ll be selected in the top 10, there are quite a few teams that could use a blocker as skilled as Monroe. A lot of speculation has been made in regards to the Seahawks and Bengals, but the truth is that nearly every team could use him. Whatever the case, Monroe is very high on any mock draft you might come across.
There’s no way to know for certain where Eugene Monroe is going, but he’s going to be a key player in whatever line he finds himself on. Then it’s just going to be a simple matter of making sure no one gets through it. As Monroe has shown throughout his career, the dedication required to stand out when surrounded by some of the largest athletes in the world is something that he has in spades.
Latest on Monroe
In the latest edition of his mock draft, NFL.com senior analyst, Pat Kirwan has listed Monroe as the top overall pick. Matthew Stafford’s poor performance during the scouting combine may be the reason for this, as well as previous comments from the Lions hinting at a plan to rebuild from the inside rather than simply obtain a star quarterback. Jason Smith would be another highly likely choice for the first pick; it’ll just be a matter of preference for the Lions when choosing between two such high caliber athletes.
Eugene Monroe Biography- University of Virginia Cavaliers Official Athletic Site
Official UVA listing of player statistics and personal information.
News and Commentary
Eugene Monroe Scouting Report
FFtoolbox.com gives their take on Monroe’s strengths and weaknesses.
Plainfield’s Eugene Monroe trying to stand out at NFL Scouting
Article focusing on Monroe and his relationship with friend/agent Sunat Shah.
Virginia’s Eugene Monroe named Jacobs Blocking Trophy Recipient
ACC’s official website detailing Monroe’s award.
on his ability to succeed in the NFL:
“Over my career at Virginia I’ve proven I can block anybody,” said Monroe, who gave up only two sacks this past season. “I have the determination to improve my game and the ambition to succeed and I never stop. I continue to set goals. When one step is completed, I set another goal. I make sure I do everything in my power to achieve that. If I can’t, I’ll reset everything and I’ll go back to the drawing board and just continue to grind.”
Posted on: NJ.com
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