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04-20-06, 11:12 AM
Max Jean-Gilles :Powerful run blocker honed skills as Georgia senior
April 17, 2006
By Larry Mayer

The following is the ninth in a series of features on the top college players who could be available when the Bears pick at No. 26 in the first round of the April 29-30 NFL Draft:

LAKE FOREST, Ill. - Tempted to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft a year ago, massive guard Max Jean-Gilles wisely returned to Georgia for more seasoning.

"I've stepped my game up tremendously," he told the Athens-Banner Herald. "I feel I'm more nimble on my feet. I'm more fundamentally sound with my techniques. I'm more of a leader."

The additional year of experience should serve Jean-Gilles well when he enters the NFL this season. Strong and powerful, the 6-4, 355-pounder is a quintessential road-grader capable of engulfing smaller defensive linemen at the line of scrimmage.

Growing up in Miami the son of Haitian immigrants, Jean-Gilles possesses extraordinary strength and power and will appeal primarily to NFL teams that emphasize the power running game.

"He's so big and strong that if he gets his hands on a guy, it's over with," said Georgia center Russ Tanner. "He opens up some big holes for us. Down by the goal-line or in short yardage, we're probably going to go behind him."

Jean-Gilles opted to accept a scholarship from Georgia rather than remain home to attend Miami because he felt he had a better chance to play with the Bulldogs.

After appearing in every game as a backup tackle as a freshman in 2002, he started all 14 games at left tackle as a sophomore in 2003. Switched to guard to improve the interior line, Jean-Gilles started all 12 games as a junior in 2004 and all 13 games as a senior last year.

"He's really the only guy that we've got inside that can handle some of the single blocks against some of the better people we play," Georgia coach Mark Richt said last season. "In some ways, you take him for granted because you just expect him to be that rock up front."

"Max has played hard," added Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway, "been a very good leader for us, and you really couldn't ask for anything more out of him."

In terms of negatives, Jean-Gilles has had trouble with weight fluctuation, cramping and dehydration. He also lacks athleticism and wears down late in games.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Jean-Gilles as the top guard in the draft and predicts that the Packers will select the former Georgia star with the third pick in the third round (67th overall).

According to Pro Football Weekly's 2006 Draft Preview, Jean Gilles is a "massive road-grader who can wear down defenses with power. A solid second-round talent who could upgrade a team immediately if he plays up to his ability."