Scouting the Draft: Offensive Tackles

This isn't a star-studded class of offensive tackles but there's plenty of talent and versatility to improve the Packers' depth.

In Part 9 of our Green Bay Packers draft preview, we examine the offensive tackles.

PACKERS AREA OF NEED (1 TO 10)

Four: The Packers are set with left tackle David Bakhtiari under contract through the 2016 season and right tackle Bryan Bulaga retained in free agency. Don Barclay, who started for Bulaga in 2013 and would have been the utilityman last year, missed the season with a torn ACL but provides excellent depth. The jury is out on J.C. Tretter’s ability to play on the perimeter. He did OK in replacing an injured Bulaga and Buffalo but gave up a killer sack-strip that doomed the Packers’ last-gasp comeback chances.

IT’S WORTH NOTING

Of the 18 offensive linemen drafted by general manager Ted Thompson, 11 played left tackle in college. Since the Packers don’t need an immediate starter, it seems like a decent bet that Thompson would use a mid- to late-round pick on a college left tackle with the versatility to play inside.

It’s a good thing the Packers have Bakhtiari entrenched at left tackle. As one scout said, “There’s no good left tackle” in this draft. What there is is a lot of depth.

One more thing to keep in mind: Under Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy, the heaviest lineman selected was 321-pound Derek Sherrod.

THOMPSON’S SUCCESS RATE

When you can get your left tackle in the fourth round, you’re doing good. In fact, Thompson is doing very good — which stands in contrast to the start of his tenure.

ROUND 1

Brandon Scherff, Iowa (6-5, 319): Scherff was a consensus All-American, the Rimington-Pace award-winner as the Big Ten’s best offensive lineman and the Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s top lineman (offense or defense). He allowed one sack and provided the key block on 16 touchdowns. He started all 26 games at left tackle in 2013 and 2014. He also started at left tackle in 2012, before his season ended with a broken leg and dislocated ankle. He started at left guard as a redshirt freshman. With 33 3/8-inch arms, the concern is he doesn’t have the length to play left tackle in the NFL.

“I think it's a question of a very similar conversation we had with Zack Martin last year,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said of Dallas’ first-round pick, who wound up in the Pro Bowl and beat out Green Bay’s Josh Sitton for All-Pro honors. “You could start at left tackle, probably be a good left tackle. You could start at right tackle, be a very good right tackle. As it turned out, he was an All-Pro in Year 1 at right guard. When I look at Brandon Scherff, I see a similar example. I see a bigger kid with longer arms. That lends you to believe that he could play outside more easily. Again, I believe he can play outside. However, I think his best position, because of his power, his toughness, his football sense, is inside. I think he's an all pro guard. But that doesn't mean he can't play tackle in the NFL.”

La’El Collins, LSU (6-4, 305): Collins started at left guard as a sophomore before moving out to left tackle as a junior and senior. He was all-SEC as a junior. As a senior, he won the league’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the best offensive lineman. He registered 109 knockdowns with 16 touchdown-resulting blocks while allowing three sacks.

“As a tackle, Collins is a very good player, just not the best in college, but look at the way he demonstrates ease-of-movement flowing as a trap blocker,” reads a portion of his scouting report, which was provided to Packer Report by the NFL’s head scout, Dave-Te’ Thomas. “Research showed that he had 23 downfield blocks in 2013 and 14 more as a senior. The average for offensive linemen taken in the first three rounds of the 2014 draft was 8.22.”

Jake Fisher, Oregon (6-6, 306): If the Packers hadn’t re-signed Bulaga, Fisher might have been their first-round pick. Fisher started at right tackle as a sophomore and junior before bouncing over to left tackle as a senior. He yielded 5.5 sacks and was penalized eight times (four for holding) but recorded 18 touchdown-producing blocks.

“The first thing you notice on film is Fisher’s ability to explode off the snap. He has good quickness getting into the second level. He also displays a strong base, along with the suddenness to get his hands into the defender. He is light on his feet for a player of his size, showing quick reactions to combat any defensive movement.”

Ereck Flowers, Miami (6-6, 329): Flowers started as a sophomore and junior at left tackle but probably will go back to right tackle, where he earned playing time as a true freshman. In 2014, he delivered 10 touchdown blocks. Scouts feel that the junior is developing into the finest blocker the school has produced since Bryant McKinnie in 2001. Still, he was guilty of a staggering nine penalties — mostly for false starts. At the Combine, he led the linemen with 37 reps on the bench — all the more impressive with his 34 1/2-inch arms.

“He is an aggressive blocker with above-average strength and still developing more power. He is flexible and plays flat-footed, showing no problems redirecting. He demonstrates above average agility in his kick slide, doing a nice job of sinking his hips, dropping his weight and bending his knees while generating enough strength to anchor. His suddenness off the ball allows him to create and hold open the rush lanes.”

Andrus Peat, Stanford (6-7, 313): Peat was a two-year starter at left tackle who in 2014 won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12’s top lineman and earned some All-American accolades. He delivered 12 touchdown-resulting blocks but yielded four sacks, leading one scout to think his best spot might be at right tackle. His father, Todd, played six seasons in the NFL and made a total of 36 starts for the Cardinals and Raiders.

“His frame is still filling out, but he has massive thigh and calf thickness, long arms, very active hands with a bone-jarring punch. For a big player, he is light on his feet, doing a nice job of mirroring edge rushers, but he does get a bit impatient in his pass set, tending to lunge rather than let the bull rusher come to him when trying to counter inside moves.”

T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh (6-5, 309): Clemmings might have been a consideration for the Packers, too, had Bulaga departed. He was first-team all-ACC and earned some second-team All-American honors during an excellent senior season at right tackle. He also started at right tackle as a junior after making the move from defensive tackle, where he started a half-dozen games as a sophomore. Remarkably in two seasons on offense, he allowed just 2.5 sacks and delivered 30 touchdown-resulting blocks. He’s a tremendous athlete with long arms (35 1/8 inches), so he’s got a shot at left tackle. However, he was flagged eight times — seven for false stats.

“Even with just two seasons as a starter under his belt, Clemmings displays very good overall awareness, showing a clear understanding of his assignments. He does a better-than-average job of picking up blitzes and stunts. He seems sluggish at times establishing his pass pro set and is at his best in shorter sets when he can lock on to defenders and ride them wide. He is technically sound in the run game and can be very efficient when working in limited space.”

D.J. Humphries, Florida (6-5, 307): Humphries started at left tackle in 2013 and 2014. He’s an early entrant (20 career starts) who ignored the league’s recommendation that he go back to school. He’s got 33 5/8-inch arms. He allowed only two sacks — to Missouri’s Shane Ray — and sprang 13 of the Gators’ 21 rushing touchdowns.

“Humphries is a well-proportioned left tackle with strong arms and hands. He has above-average lower-body strength, as well, and flashes a mean streak. He has functional initial quickness when moving forward, playing with adequate leverage while staying balanced. However, he is not an elite athlete for the position — the more space he's in the less effective his play becomes.”


CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SCOUTING REPORTS from the NFL’s head scout, Dave-Te’ Thomas.


ROUNDS 2-3

Donovan Smith, Penn State (6-6, 338): Smith started at left tackle all three seasons. Smith registered 51 knockdowns and 10 touchdown-resulting blocks, but yielded 6.5 sacks and eight additional tackles for losses. He’s long (34 3/8-inch arms) and strong (26 reps) but might fall outside Green Bay’s size parameters.

“Smith has the valid balance and agility needed to consistently play on his feet. He shows some explosion coming off the snap and is fluid with his lateral slide. While he plays on his feet, he labors when having to move in space. He looks a little stiff redirecting to his right (better flowing left) and is best working at the line of scrimmage, making him a possible better fit as a guard.”

Daryl Williams, Oklahoma (6-5, 327): Williams might have been a second-round option had Bulaga not re-signed. He was a three-year starter at right tackle, earning all-Big 12 accolades each season. He was a first-team choice as a senior, when he was an honorable mention for Conference Lineman of the Year. During his final two seasons, he allowed zero sacks and had the key block on 27 touchdown runs. He’s long (35-inch arms) and strong (27 reps).

“Much like former Sooners offensive tackle Lane Johnson, Williams has very good quickness for a player his size. He shows good agility coming out of his stance and the low pad level with good hip snap to change direction fluidly when redirecting in pass protection. He just does a solid job of sticking and staying with his man, as he works hard to finish once engaged.”

Tyler Sambrailo, Colorado State (6-6, 311): After playing four positions as a sophomore, Sambrailo developed into a two-year all-conference left tackle. His feet come from a decorated youth career as a downhill and freestyle skier. However, he’s got 33-inch arms — one reason he allowed 4.5 sacks in 11 games as a senior — and might be destined for right tackle.

“He has a tall frame that makes him look leaner than he actually is, but possesses good overall muscle definition, long arms and large hands. He plays with a good base, moving his feet well to stay off the ground and get out in front on traps and pulls. He is a mauler who uses his size to take over block.”

Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (6-5, 306): Ogbuehi looked like an early-round pick but tore his ACL in the Liberty Bowl. He is the latest star at Left Tackle U. Ogbuehi was named a first-team All-American, joining Luke Joeckel (2012) and Jake Matthews (2013). Ogbuehi started at guard in 2012, right tackle in 2013 and left tackle in 2014. His arms are almost 36 inches long. So why did he allow 3.5 sacks and eight tackles for losses as a senior?

“Hopefully, when Ogbuehi is healthy and reaches the pro ranks, he can reignite the fire he showed in 2013. That year, he showed excellent balance and change-of-direction flexibility, along with outstanding acceleration when working into the second level. Generally, he plays on his feet well, thanks to superb balance and shows the body control to play and adjust in space and pick up blocks on the move down field.”


CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SCOUTING REPORTS from the NFL’s head scout, Dave-Te’ Thomas.


ROUNDS 4-7

Tyrus Thompson, Oklahoma (6-5, 324): Thompson started at left tackle for his final two seasons. As a senior, he allowed one sack and delivered the key block on 17 touchdowns. He’s long (34 7/8-inch arms) and strong (29 reps).

“Thompson has the large frame, long arms and solid foot speed that scouts look for in a zone blocking scheme. He comes off the snap with good initial explosion, but needs to display it with better consistency. Pass protection is one of his better assets, as he is a natural knee bender who gets out front quickly on outside sweeps and screens. He shows very good balance in his kick slide and gets into the second level quickly.”

Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin (6-7, 321): Havenstein started 42 games in his career, including the final 41 at right tackle. As a senior, he was first-team all-Big Ten with 12 touchdown-resulting blocks and 88 knockdowns. Havenstein is blessed with a massive frame, but lacked the “motor” to get that big body moving, as only eight other players at the Scouting Combine testing ran worse than his 5.46-second clocking in the 40-yard dash. Among the linemen, he had the worst 20-yard shuttle, three-cone drill and bench press (16 reps).

“Havenstein is a liability moving in the second level due to very poor sustained speed, but he demonstrates valid footwork in the short area, as he can redirect and take proper angles in his pass set, making him a better fit as an interior blocker (guard) than playing outside (tackle). He shows good awareness in picking up threats and moves his feet well in space.”

Austin Shepherd, Alabama (6-4, 315): Shepherd was a two-year starter at right tackle who allowed two sacks as a junior and none as a senior while tallying a combined 22 touchdown-producing blocks. He was second-team all-SEC as a senior.

“Shepherd has a wide, thick frame and surprisingly good foot quickness for a player his size, but has better lateral range and suddenness out of his stance when he plays at a lighter weight (best at 325 pounds). He is mentally tough, but not overly aggressive and shows good field awareness (only penalized once the last two years).”

Sean Hickey, Syracuse (6-5, 309): Hickey was a three-year starter, including the final two seasons at left tackle. As a senior, he allowed three sacks and produced the key block on 10 of the Orange’s 12 touchdown runs. He missed 2010 (surgery to both shoulders) and 2011 (knee) but finished his career with 39 consecutive starts. He has great strength (35 reps) but his lack of length (32 3/4-inch arms) might send him to guard.

“Hickey has good foot quickness and flexibility, doing a nice job of moving in the open. He is very effective adjusting on linebackers in the second level and has above-average change-of-direction agility. Hickey has the feet and awareness to play right tackle, but in the NFL, his short arms are a significant concern and he has to realize that his best fit in NFL is likely inside at guard.”

Chaz Green, Florida (6-5, 314): Green missed 2013 with a torn labrum. In 2014, he started 10 games at right tackle and two at left tackle. He also started at right tackle in 2011 and 2012. With Green in the lineup, the Gators were 21-11; without him, they were 8-10. As a senior, he delivered nine touchdown-producing blocks and yielded one sack.

“Green can prevent edge rushers from turning the corner, thanks to his ability to quickly set. He has a very effective kick step and demonstrates good hand placement and solid usage of his long arms. He slides his feet well and can counter when defensive ends try to redirect inside after starting outside.”

Darryl Baldwin, Ohio State (6-6, 305): Baldwin started his OSU career at defensive tackle before moving to offensive tackle as a sophomore. He started at right tackle as a senior and piled up 92 knockdown blocks and 11 touchdown-producing blocks. He wasn’t invited to the Combine but had a great pro day with a 4.96 in the 40 and 30 reps on the bench.

“The thing you notice on film is his ability to consistently take good blocking angles to neutralize and cut off the linebackers. He has done a very good job of improving his hand usage, as he shows power and determination to lock on and steer on runs.”

Andrew Donnal, Iowa (6-6, 313): The right-side backup joined the starting lineup as a senior. He delivered eight touchdown-producing blocks to join Baldwin as an honorable mention on the all-Big Ten team.

“While his versatility is going to be beneficial as he adjusts to NFL life, his inability to seal off the edge makes him a better guard prospect at this time. He has just adequate strength for the level of competition he faced, but will need to improve his overall body structure in order to compete for a job at the next level.”

Laurence Gibson, Virginia Tech (6-6, 305): Gibson started six games at right tackle in 2013 and every game at left tackle as a senior. He recorded six touchdown-producing blocks but yielded 4.5 sacks. He’s among the longest and most-athletic linemen in this draft with 35 1/8-inch arms, a 5.04 in the 40 and a 33.5-inch vertical at the Combine.

“Football is important to him, but at times, he appears too passive in his play, lacking aggression you would like to see in one-on-one confrontations. He is methodical in his approach to the game, but might need some hard coaching to unearth his impressive athletic talent.”

Terry Poole, San Diego State (6-5, 307): The junior-college transfer started at right tackle as a junior and at left tackle as a senior. He was an all-Mountain West first-teamer as a senior and a two-time all-academic selection — good stuff considering he was ineligible as a high school senior. As a senior, he produced 12 touchdown blocks and didn’t allow a sack. He ran a 5.09 at the Combine. He might be destined for guard because of his so-so kick-slide and lack of length (33 1/4-inch arms).

“Poole has good mobility to stay with his man, and last season, you saw a temperament change, as he showed more determination to finish and play with more aggression. He gets into his blocks quickly, thanks to above-average knee bend and his natural foot quickness.”

Corey Robinson, South Carolina (6-7, 324): Robinson spent his redshirt season on the defensive line before switching sides. He started 35 games at left tackle over his final three seasons. As a 344-pound senior, he piled up 105 knockdowns and 15 touchdown-producing blocks and earned all-SEC second team. He skipped the all-star games to focus on his weight. He’s incredibly long (35 5/8-inch arms) and strong (28 reps).

“Even at his size, he is a gifted athlete who consistently plays on his feet. He shows above average quickness and balance for his position and is very well coordinated, demonstrating quick lateral movement. All he needs to is to flash more strength behind his punch.”

Jamon Brown, Louisville (6-4, 323): Brown started at right tackle as a sophomore and left tackle as a junior but was told tip shape up or ship out of the lineup due to weight issues. He complied and was second-team all-conference with 13 touchdown-producing blocks and just two sacks allowed.

“Even though he’s been charged with just two sacks in each of his three seasons as a starter, he might be a better fit on the right side, as he has had a hard time handling edge rushers when having to slide to his left. He has the short-area speed and angle concept to get into the second level on screens or running plays, but he does get lazy driving his feet, allowing defenders a chance to slip off his blocks.”

SIX WILD CARDS

Takoby Cofield, Duke (6-4, 310): Cofield was third-team all-ACC as a senior and a three-year starter at left tackle. He’s a decent athlete (5.19) with long arms (34 inches). As is the case with Poole, his kick-slide might have him sliding to guard or right tackle.

Jacob Rodgers, Eastern Washington (6-6, 315): As a sophomore at Washington State, he started 12 games at four positions. He transferred to Eastern Washington for his final two seasons, where he started at right tackle. He didn’t allow any sacks while blocking for the highest-scoring offense in FCS.

“Because of his transfer and 2013 knee injury that cost him playing time, he’s still a raw product, but his athletic ability, quickness and frame indicate that he could develop into a special player, if he receives patient coaching.”

Kendall Lamm, Appalachian State (6-5, 302): Lamm was a four-year starter at left tackle. As a senior, he earned first-team all-Sun Belt Conference while allowing only two sacks. He’s not a great athlete and some range limitations might send him to guard.

Eric Lefeld, Cincinnati (6-6, 298): Lefeld started seven games at right tackle as a freshman before settling in at left tackle for his final three seasons — earning all-conference first-team honors each of those three seasons. Somehow, that wasn’t good enough for an invite to the Combine. He delivered 15 touchdown-producing blocks and allowed a half-sack as a senior. Alarmingly, he put up only 12 reps on the bench at pro day.

“What remains a concern is Lefeld’s short arms and obvious lack of brute strength which is exposed when he works in-line and when challenged by the bull rush. He has a smooth burst off the line and shows good knee bend. The thing you notice on film is his body control and hip snap on the move.”

Doniel Gambrell, Notre Dame College (6-5, 305): Gambrell opened his career at Eastern Michigan in 2010 but dropped out to take care of his wife and family. He landed at Division II Notre Dame College and was a two-time all-conference first-team pick. He dominated with 123 knockdowns and 13 touchdown-resulting blocks and one sack allowed.

“Working in-line, he is very difficult to get around for interior pass rushers, a reason for a possible move to guard at the next level. Gambrell is a raw talent coming from the small school level, where he has gotten away with poor technique. He needs to improve his angles and footwork as a run blocker and must improve his leverage consistency and hand placement in pass protection. He also must improve his awareness when it comes to picking up the stunt and blitz.”

Brett Boyko, UNLV (6-7, 301): If Boyko doesn’t hear his name called during the final rounds on May 2, he can always look forward to the CFL Draft on May 12, since the native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is considered the No. 1 prospect. Boyko was second-team all-Mountain West Conference as a senior, when he split time between left tackle and left guard, and a second-team choice as a junior, when he played only left tackle. He allowed one sack in each of those seasons, according to the Rebels’ coaches.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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