Eric Galko, Optimum Scouting
In a modern-day NFL where teams build their offenses from quarterbacks to left tackles to everything else, getting a "franchise left tackle" has become both a must do and a tall task for many NFL teams. Left tackles need to be handle all types of rushers on a consistent basis and generally with little help.
While this class doesn't feature another "lock" at left tackle after Matt Kalil, a few could potentially get there with time or at the very least make capable right tackles in the NFL. Here are the "next five" tackles after USC's Matt Kalil.
1. Jonathan Martin, Stanford
Subject to heavy criticism since his poor showing at the bench press at his Pro Day, Jonathan Martin didn't fall much at all on my board. He has very impressive feet and lateral movement as a tackle, and his athleticism both left to right as well as down the field gives him the tools to fit just about every system outside of a power run scheme. He doesn't use his hands consistently well, needs to position body well on interior kick slide, and could stay lower and wider on in-line pass protection, but all of his problems seem coachable to me, and he could be a swing tackle (right tackle now, left tackle ceiling) worthy of a Top 15 pick.
2. Cordy Glenn, Georgia
A mammoth tackle prospect at around 6'5, 345, Glenn possess the size, strength, and balance combination to not only get by at offensive tackle, but potentially be too overwhelming to get past if he's at left tackle. Stays surprisingly balanced and with good lateral technique for his size, Glenn isn't just a run blocking mammoth but one that has demonstrated the ability to handle all types of rushers using his power, shear size, and hand placement. He is limited athletically and likely won't ever be that "elite" left tackle for most schemes, but he easily could play left or right tackle now for many teams and could become one of the better right tackles in the league if he can stay healthy.
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While strength is worrisome for all linemen, shorter arms is a definite concern for a tackle prospect, especially one with aspirations on playing the left side. Being somewhat limited in arm length like Reiff is, to play the left side, he'll need to develop elite hand placement and keep his base wide and sturdy to allow him to hold power rushers that could potentially get inside pad leverage. However, he does possess mauling strength, can take rushers out of plays with his strength and technique now, and could be a great right tackle fit now, filling a left tackle spot only in need situations down the road.
4. Mike Adams, Ohio State
I am no fan of Mike Adams as a Top 20 pick, but in a weak offensive tackle class and with the skills he possess to be a possible developmental left tackle, he's worthy of a first round pick. Different than Martin who needs more technique work and his concerns are coachable, Adams seems to play far too finesse and reactionary as a tackle prospect, not a good mix for a guy who's expected to be left on islands at left tackle. He plays soft, doesn't drive as well as you'd like with his hands, and doesn't have the mean streak to dominate rushers despite his developed hand and footwork technique. He does have athleticism to develop as a downfield blocker, and though he flashes left tackle ability, he may be best to try to adjust his game to play a right tackle in the NFL.
5. Mitchell Schwartz, California
What Mitchell Schwartz lacks in developed use of his athletic ability and limitations laterally, he makes up for in a consistent strong, sturdy, and wide base, ideal for an NFL right tackle. He possess the NFL needed bend, hand placement and power at the point of attack, but may always struggle with quicker rushers who can go inside and likely shouldn't be left on an island consistently in the NFL, especially against 3-4 schemes. He may be best in a tight end-less, in space blocking scheme at guard (like the Patriots), but could ideally fit (and has experience) at right tackle and both guard spots.
Others to Watch: Matt McCants (UAB), Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State), Zebrie Sanders (Florida State) , Bobby Massie (Ole Miss), Andrew Datko (Florida State)
Eric Galko is a contributing NFL scout for Patriots Insider at Scout.com.
Eric Galko is the Owner, Director of Scouting of Optimum Scouting and lead editor for OptimumScouting.com. He has been scouting college football for eight years, and for pro teams and other sports professionals for the last four years. Eric is also a member of the FWAA.
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