Gone are the days of Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen and Howie Long, when "slender,” 270-pound defensive linemen roamed the gridiron. Now a new breed of linemen is wreaking havoc on the grassy battlefield. "People are used to picturing defensive linemen as short and stocky,” Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive stalwart Marcus Stroud contends, "players like myself, Richard Seymour and Shaun Rogers; we're all big, tall defensive linemen who can move well and dominate at the line of scrimmage—and we're breaking that mold. In fact, I would consider myself a prototypical NFL lineman.”

You can't blame the 6'6”, 315-pound mammoth for being a bit full of himself. Drafted by the Jags out of the University of Georgia in the first round of the 2001 Draft, Stroud has steadily become one of the premier defensive tackles in the NFL, amassing 175 tackles and 16.5 sacks while never missing a game in his career. The 28-year-old's track record, which also includes three Pro Bowl appearances, is even more impressive when you consider that Stroud claims to dislike working out. "Though it is necessary if you want to be successful,” he stresses, "I work out three times a week in preseason, and then the workload gets a little lighter during the season because of all the hitting that's being done. The hard work is in the preseason—it gives us the chance to be ready when the season starts.”

Continue reading this story in the October ‘06 issue of KING (#36)