Combine Preview: Offensive Tackles

There is quite a bit of offensive tackle depth attending the NFL Combine. Here are some players the Jaguars will be watching.

1. Jake Long, Michigan

Long is the best offensive tackle available this April and is a sure top-five selection. He’s a durable, versatile lineman who can line up at left or right tackle. He will be drafted as a left tackle and anchor an offensive line for many years to come. Scouts will monitor Long’s lateral movement and explosion off the line in Indianapolis.

Boise State OT Ryan Clady continues to follow the play without his helmet.
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2. *Ryan Clady, Boise State

Clady is the second best tackle in the nation next to Long. He has a world of potential and is still developing his game. Entering the NFL after his junior season, Clady faces a major learning curve. But he’s a mature individual and should handle the transition well. His aggressiveness is questionable, and he has to be quicker off the line in running situations and initiate contact. Scouts want to see a mean streak out of Clady at the Combine.

3. Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh

Otah is a massive tackle who has a huge upside. He has freakish strength and is surprisingly mobile for a man of his size. He uses his hands well and delivers a vicious punch. He has to continue developing his lateral mobility and will have to lose some weight. But he has good athleticism, and that’s what will stand out to everyone in attendance.

4. Chris Williams, Vanderbilt

Williams really improved his draft stock in Mobile. He moved extremely well and displayed excellent technique. He played inside and outside but appeared uncomfortable when he played at guard. He even showed a mean streak when he got into a scuffle with Texas A&M DT Red Bryant. That aggression wouldn’t be applauded in a game, but it scored points with team personnel and scouts because it showed his passion. Williams will continue to shine at the Combine.

5. Sam Baker, USC

Baker is a savvy veteran who knows how to play the game, but doesn’t possess great athleticism. He’s dealt with some injuries during his career at USC, and that will be a concern as he moves forward. He played well at the Senior Bowl, but didn’t stand out during practices or in the game. He will have to show better mobility and strength at the Combine.

6. Gosder Cherilus, Boston College

In his first three seasons at Boston College, Cherilus started every game at right tackle. He switched to left tackle this past season and was good, but didn’t have the same success as he did on the right side. However, Cherilus played well in Mobile and shined against some of the top DEs in the country. Cherilus will have to continue to show that he can play on the left side at the Combine, because if he projects as a right tackle that will hurt his draft stock.

7. Carl Nicks, Nebraska

Nicks is an enormous tackle who has tremendous strength. He really impressed scouts in Mobile with his instincts and leg drive. He can completely knock defenders out of a play and he finishes hard. Nicks has to improve his quickness. He looked slow and winded on occasion at the Senior Bowl, and teams will address that with him during interviews in Indianapolis.

8. *Anthony Collins, Kansas

Collins is one of the nations more polished tackles. He had an outstanding season for Kansas and helped the Jayhawks to an incredible 12 – 1 record, which included an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. Collins has good technique and moves well laterally, and he is an intriguing prospect heading into the Combine.

9. Oniel Cousins, UTEP

Cousins is a versatile lineman who didn’t play particularly well at the Senior Bowl. He got overpowered inside when he went up against the likes of Sedrick Ellis and Trevor Laws. And when he played outside, his short arms didn’t help him against fast DEs. But he’s very nimble on his feet and moves well laterally. He will have to improve his strength and show scouts that he can handle bigger, faster defenders.

10. Heath Benedict, Newberry

Benedict surprised a lot of scouts in Mobile with his nasty style of play. He has great strength and is quick off the line. He can play inside and outside and has the ability to dominate. He has to improve his footwork, and that will be monitored at the Combine.

11. Barry Richardson, Clemson

12. Duane Brown, Virginia Tech

13. Tony Hills, Texas

14. Kirk Barton, Ohio State

15. John Greco, Toledo

16. Michael McGlynn, Pittsburgh

17. King Dunlap, Auburn

18. Breno Giacomini, Louisville

19. Brandon Keith, Northern Iowa

20. Tyler Polumbus, Colorado

21. Corey Clark, Texas A&M

22. *Franklin Dunbar, Middle Tennessee

23. Geoffrey Schwartz, Oregon

24. Demetrius Bell, Northwestern State

25. James Blair, Western Michigan

26. David Hale, Weber State

27. William Robinson, San Diego State


* Underclassmen

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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