Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports

Scouting Combine Research Series: Offensive Tackles (Part 2)

Who was a 235-pound walk-on linebacker? Who opted to become a welder? Whose father was an ambassador to Austria? Those answers and more as we get to know the top offensive tackles.

Here are the 22 offensive tackles who have been invited to the Scouting Combine. Players are listed in alphabetical order. Heights and weights come from CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com. All players are seniors unless noted.

Roderick Johnson, Florida State (6-6, 308): Junior. Johnson moved into the starting lineup down the stretch as a true freshman in 2014, helping pave the way for the Seminoles’ run to the Rose Bowl. He was dominant his final two seasons, winning the coveted Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the ACC’s top lineman in each of those seasons. Johnson was a second-team All-America as a sophomore and a first-team All-American as a junior.

The Missouri native, a five-star recruit, chose Florida State because of veteran O-line coach Rick Trickett. "I knew coming in that he was going to yell and do all the cussing," Johnson said before the Rose Bowl. "But that's coaching. That's how you take Coach. But I knew that if you come here, Coach Trickett is one of the best coaches. And he will prepare you to be one of the best in the country.”

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Johnson knows all about hard work. As a kid, he went door-to-door shoveling driveways. “I did that all through high school, even when I was a senior, to pick up some extra cash. I had my regular seasonal customers, so I gave them a call when I came through with a shovel.”

Javarius Leamon, South Carolina State (6-7, 328): Leamon was headed to Clemson but didn’t qualify academically. Playing at the FCS level rather than going the junior-college route, Leamon was second-team all-MEAC as a senior after being a first-team selection as a junior.

Conor McDermott, UCLA (6-8, 305): Call up McDermottt’s bio at UCLABruins.com, and you get him playing outside linebacker. McDermott wound up starting the final two-and-a-half seasons at left tackle. He was second-team all-conference as a junior and senior. "I'm not even sure he was 235 pounds when he came to UCLA, maybe if he had something in his pockets, but I can tell you now that he's one of the best offensive tackles in the country," UCLA coach Jim Mora said. "He's worked for everything he's gotten and still has his best football out in front of him.”

At Ensworth High School in Nashville, McDermott was Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball as a senior. He was persuaded to play football by former Packers quarterback Ingle Martin, an assistant at Ensworth. To play on the line at UCLA, it required putting away a lot of calories. “He eats six, seven times a day and has always been like that,” his mom said. “I went through gallons and gallons of milk with my boys. They would have a jug of their own and sometimes it never made it to the glass.”

McDermott’s dad played basketball at South Dakota State. His brother was a long snapper for the Bruins and holds that job with the Vikings.

Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin (6-5, 314): Junior. To say Ramczyk is just another standout off the Badgers’ offensive line assembly line wouldn’t be entirely accurate. First, he signed to play with Winona (Minn.) State, a Division II program, but felt burned out on the sport. So, he attended Madison Area Technical College and then hometown Mid-State Technical College in Stevens Point for a semester apiece. Welding, not football, was Ramczyk’s career path.

"Initially, I was like, 'You know, maybe football is not for me,'. It's not what I want to do. But just being out of the game made me realize how much I really do love it and wanted to be back.” He enrolled at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, a Division III powerhouse, and won first-team all-conference as a sophomore. Ramczyk considered moving up to Division I. At the same time, the Badgers hired Paul Chryst as coach. When Ramczyk was an all-state high school player, Chryst was the head coach at Pittsburgh and tried to get Ramczyk to play for the Panthers. “I don't know if you can find too many guys that have gone to four other schools before they end up here.”

Ramczyk redshirted in 2015 but his play didn’t go unnoticed. Talking to scouts at the Scouting Combine last year, Wisconsin’s star defender, Joe Schobert, was asked about the best offensive lineman he faced. He said it was Ramczyk, who, of course, nobody knew about. “He could easily dunk a ball, for sure,” guard Jon Dietzen said. “The kid can do stuff I’ve never seen guys who weigh 300 pounds be able to do. His vert (vertical) and everything is just ridiculous, so he’s explosive. He’s got really good feet. So whether you try to give him a fake or something like that, it’s not going to work.” In 2016, his one and only year of Division I football, Ramczyk was named a first-team All-American.

Cam Robinson, Alabama (6-6, 310): Junior. Robinson was a three-year starter who earned Freshman All-America honors in 2014 and first-team all-SEC as a sophomore and junior. During his final season, he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman on either side of the ball and the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the league’s top lineman, and was a unanimous All-American.

Robinson left early after being given a first-round grade by the NFL’s draft advisory panel. He called getting the news “surreal.” He shut down all comers throughout a 44-starts career.

Robinson was arrested in May but charges were dropped. Said the district attorney: “I want to emphasize once again that the main reason I'm doing this is that I refuse to ruin the lives of two young men (Robinson and teammate Laurence “Hootie” Jones) who have spent their adolescence and teenage years, working and sweating, while we were all in the air conditioning.”

His sister, Charity, played basketball at McNeese State.

Justin Senior, Mississippi State (6-5, 322): Senior started 39 games in his career, with 38 of those coming at right tackle. Senior was named second-team all-SEC and, as a senior, won the Kent Hull Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the state of Mississippi.

A three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Senior graduated in Summer 2015 with a degree in sociology. Senior added a degree in political science — excellent timing, considering the U.S. presidential election. “I like studying people,” Senior said. “Political science and sociology it’s all about the study of people. Politics is just the study of people and how they react and how laws are made because of the way people think.”

Senior was raised in Montreal. His parents are from Jamaica. He grew up playing soccer, water polo and basketball. He was spotted at a football camp by coaches from Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. At age 16, he moved to the United States.

David Sharpe, Florida (6-5, 357): Junior. Sharpe started 26 games at left tackle during his final two seasons. He did not earn any all-SEC honors.

Sharpe had a future in football and basketball while a high schooler in Jacksonville. He made the right decision, based on being a projected early-round pick. “It was the smartest thing,” he said. “I found a love for both sports, but I really love football and it was definitely the better route to go at the time. (As time passed) I started to love football more and more and felt that I could go much further in football.”

Dan Skipper, Arkansas (6-9, 317): Skipper was named first-team all-SEC and earned some All-American accolades during his senior season. Skipper started for most of his four seasons, including eight games as a guard as a freshman, at left tackle as a sophomore and right tackle as a junior. The towering Skipper blocked a school-record three field goals as a freshman.

Skipper’s mom didn’t want her son playing football. Then he started tackling everybody in sight — including his brother, who had five years and about 100 pounds on him. “From a young age I picked up if you don’t play hard, you’re going to get smacked down,” Skipper said. A self-proclaimed “hot head,” coach Bret Bielema laid down the law after the 2014 season: “You’ve got great ingredients, but your cookies are coming out burnt and messed up. You have to look at yourself, your life and what your issue is.” A third change in numbers gave Skipper a “fresh start.”

Skipper is a constant on the SEC Academic Honor Roll, with the biology major carrying a 3.9 GPA.

Sam Tevi, Utah (6-5, 312): Tevi played on the defensive line as a true freshman before moving to the offense. He started at left tackle as a junior and right tackle as a senior.

The position switch is nothing new for Tevi. He started as a kid playing safety. The he grew into a linebacker. In sixth grade, he was a running back. He also played receiver and kicker. In junior high, he was a quarterback. “I was a pocket passer. I couldn't really run.” He played defensive end in high school and defensive tackle during his first season with the Utes. At that point, Utah’s defensive line coach — who had ample depth — broached the move to offense with Tevi. Tevi wasn’t thrilled but had a team-first attitude. "It kind of broke my heart, because defense is what I grew up playing. I finally got over it, and I said 'Eff it. I'm just going to go ahead and buy in and try to do everything I can.’”

Tevi grew up in Euless, Texas, with two brothers and five sisters.

Jerry Ugokwe, William & Mary (6-7, 318): A walk-on, Ugokwe started seven games at left tackle as a true freshman before settling in at right tackle for his final three years. After earning third-team all-conference as a junior, Ugokwe was a first-team pick and a third-team FCS All-American as a senior.

Ugokwe has proven to be a quick study. He didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. The decision seemed like a no-brainer considering he was 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds at the time. “I kind of developed a lot over the last couple of years. It was a new game to me,” said Ugokwe, an economics major who is of Nigerian descent. “It was hard for me at first to pick up on a lot of things, things like footwork and even just knowing what to do, knowing who to block and stuff.”

While Ugokwe was born in Dallas and grew up in Bowie, Md., his father, Dr. Jerry Ugokwe, was Nigeria’s ambassador to Austria and continues to work for the Nigerian government.

Chad Wheeler, USC (6-6, 310): As a senior, Wheeler received some first-team All-American honors. Not bad considering he spent part of fall camp in a walking boot as he battled plantar fascitis and was on the bench to start the season. “It’s like a rock being stuck on the bottom of your heel and you’re just stepping on it,” Wheeler said. “It’s something really sharp.”

The team’s four-year starting left tackle was second-team all-Pac-12 as a junior after missing the end of his sophomore season with a torn ACL.  For as good as he’s been on the field, he’s been too aggressive off the field.

Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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