Turel's Big 10 Position Rankings: OT

In an upcoming issue of GoBlueWolverine the magazine, Josh Turel ranks the top players at each position in the Big Ten conference. These preseason forecasts are subject to change, but here is his outlook in things heading into the 2006 season. In this segment, Turel breaks down the offensive tackles. Wisconsin's Joe Thomas leads the way.

Offensive Tackles
1-Joe Thomas, Senior, Wisconsin
2-Levi Brown, Senior, Penn State
3-Kirk Barton, Senior, Ohio State
4-Jake Long, Junior, Michigan
5-Marshal Yanda, Senior, Iowa
6-Mike Otto, Senior, Purdue
7-Akim Millington, Junior, Illinois
8-Alex Boone, Sophomore, Ohio State
9-Dylan Thiry, Northwestern
10-Rueben Riley, Senior, Michigan

Also Watch For
Dace Richardson, Sophomore, Iowa
Justin Frye, Senior, Indiana
Sean Sester, Sophomore, Purdue
Mike Gyetvai, Junior, Michigan State
Austin Matthews, Junior, Northwestern
Steve Shidell, Junior, Minnesota
Joe Ainslie, Senior, Minnesota

Wisconsin’s Joe Thomas is the obviously headliner here. Thomas is a player I have talked about quite sometime and scouts have been saying he is first round NFL Draft material since his sophomore year. Thomas isn’t an elite run blocker yet, but he continues to get stronger in that area. He's already a very good pass blocker which means Badger quarterback John Stocco won’t have to worry about his blind side with Thomas at left tackle. Thomas injured his knee last year in the Capital One Bowl but he is back to normal and is primed for a big 2006.

Penn State’s Levi Brown doesn’t get many headlines but he is a very good talent. Like Thomas, Brown shows the qualities of a first round type lineman and he is the rock of a re-building Nittany Lion offensive trench.

Ohio State’s Kirk Barton missed several games last year due to injury but finished the year strong. Barton isn’t elite in any one category but he is a very solid player overall.

Michigan's Jake Long is slotted at number four at this point in time but I expect him to move up at least a spot or two during the year. He still needs to improve his pass blocking skills but is already a fierce run blocker when not clowed by injury. A slimmed down, healthy Long is primed for 2006 and is eager to erase a injury plagued, mediocre 2005 season.

Iowa’s Marshal Yanda flew under the radar last year, but he is a player I really like. Yanda fit’s the profile of a typical Iowa lineman, rough and ready. Yanda is a bit undersized for the position but someone forgot to tell him that. He would make All Conference if the tackle talent wasn’t so deep this year.

Purdue’s Mike Otto isn’t far behind the pack at all and I expect him to move up even further during the year. He hasn’t filled out his potential as a run blocker but he is a nimble athlete who will be an NFL prospect.

One player to certainly keep an eye on is Illinois lineman Akim Millington. Millington is a transfer from Oklahoma who was a projected starter for the Sooners before leaving. Expect big things in Millington’s first year as starter.

Ohio State’s Alex Boone started several games at tackle last season and showed why he was one of the best offensive line prospects in the country coming out of high school. Boone will start at left tackle this season and if his pass protection skills hold up, he could be a good one there.

Northwestern’s Dylan Thiry is a fine, developing tackle. Thiry has quickly become one of the better pass blocking tackles in the league. Michigan’s Rueben Riley would rank higher at his natural position of guard, but he is still a decent tackle. He needs to work on his pass protection skills but he offers run blocking ability that the Wolverines lack from their other tackles.

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