Draft preview: Tackle analysis

The Packers need to add some young talent for when the time comes to replace Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. Top prospects Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe figure to be long gone at No. 9, but there are some talented possibilities in the first and second rounds.

Editor's note: This is Part 6 of our 14-part position-by-position breakdown heading to the April 25-26 NFL Draft. We continue with the offensive tackles. The prospects are listed in order based on analysis by Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber and Packer Report, with the comments that follow them based on the beliefs of league experts and insiders.

The Packers' perspective:

Chad Clifton is coming off of minor surgical procedures to both knees and a season plagued by a laundry list of injuries. Mark Tauscher is a free agent coming off of a torn ACL.

Yeah, the Packers have questions at offensive tackle.

Clifton will return in 2009, but his days as an elite pass blocker appear over. Nobody seems to have the slightest inkling of when Tauscher will be ready to play and if he will remain in Green Bay. The Packers think Daryn Colledge can play left or right tackle, and they like 2008 rookie Breno Giacomini. But the offensive tackle spots are critical positions, and the Packers need concrete answers.

In the first round, they might have a chance at Michael Oher, Andre Smith or both. In the second round, William Beatty and Jamon Meredith are possibilities. And further down the list are several prospects who can play in a zone blocking scheme.

Cream of the crop:

Jason Smith, Baylor: The 6-foot-5, 309-pounder arrived at Baylor as a tight end, and that athleticism is evident. His quick feet are a tremendous asset handling speed rushers and in getting to the second level to block linebackers. Would be perfect for a zone scheme. Needs to get stronger to improve as a run blocker, but has a great work ethic and desire to improve. Great personality, too, telling reporters that he enjoys "physically assaulting" defensive players. Could be No. 1 overall pick.

First-round prospects:

Eugene Monroe, Virginia: While Smith has the upside, Monroe (6-6, 315) is the more polished player right now. Great feet as a pass blocker and good power in the run game. Quickness allows him to get to the second level in the run game. Played all over the line at Virginia so has room to improve once he finds a home.

— Michael Oher, Mississippi: By now you know the 6-foot-5, 309-pounder's life story was chronicled in Michael Lewis' "The Blind Side." Spent most of his life far behind academically but made the Dean's List once in college, though scouts wonder how he'll digest an NFL playbook. Didn't begin playing until late in high school but wound up starting 47 games at Ole Miss. Three-time all-SEC and an All-America during his senior season. Quick off the ball, athletic and physical but doesn't always finish or play to his ability.

— Andre Smith, Alabama: By now you know the 6-foot-4, 348-pound Smith's fall from grace at the Combine. Plenty of questions about his desire and will to be great. Was a dominant run blocker. Not a great pass blocker, but he's strong enough to handle bull rushes and has lateral quickness to combat speed. Might have to move to guard because of propensity to gain weight. Right tackle is a possibility too if he struggles against the top pass rushers he'd face on the left side.

Eben Britton, Arizona: Once considered a second-round pick, Britton (6-6, 310) probably has moved into the first round. A junior entry with plenty of room to improve. A strong, physical run blocker. Lacks the quickness to be effective blocking on the move, making him ill-suited for a zone scheme. Might struggle against speed rushers, so could be best on right side.

Just a notch below:

— William Beatty, Connecticut: Seemingly a perfect fit for the Packers if he's around in the second round. Great feet and long arms as a pass blocker. Quick on his feet, adept at blocking on the run and easily reaches linebackers. Came out of nowhere as a senior, which raises some concerns. Even his college coaches question his work ethic. At 6-foot-6 and 291, weight (or lack thereof) is a concern, too. But his upside is huge.

— Jamon Meredith, South Carolina: The 6-foot-5, 301-pounder went from all-SEC left tackle to starting guard as a senior. The versatility is nice, but that's 12 fewer games of tape for scouts to watch him at tackle. Superior intelligence (3.74 GPA and degree in four years). Athletic with good feet to block on the move. Did plenty of zone blocking in college.

Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma: At 6-foot-8 and 343, he's an intimidating presence. Physical run blocker. Left tackle in college but probably not athletic enough to play that position in the NFL. Lacks the quickness to play in a zone scheme.

Others to remember:

Xavier Fulton, Illinois: Scouts' views vary wildly, which isn't surprising considering Fulton (6-5, 301) spent his first three years at defensive tackle. Superior quickness. Perfect for a zone scheme with ability to block on the move. Needs to work on technique and rely less on athletic ability.

Troy Kropog, Tulane: Kropog (6-5, 316), who arrived at Tulane at about 265, started 34 of 35 games over his final three seasons. First-team all-Conference USA last season but didn't face the type of speedy pass rushers he'll see in the NFL. Not a powerful run blocker, either, but has quickness to intrigue a zone team.

Augustus Parrish, Kent State: Parrish (6-4, 297) played in a zone scheme and was someone of interest for the Packers during the pre-draft period. Good feet and cut-blocking ability. Hard to say if he can adjust to the speed of the pro game. College coaches rave about his ability and will to succeed.

Gerald Cadogan, Penn State: Cadogan (6-5, 314) is a quality run blocker who lacks the quickness to stop speed rushers. Played left tackle but may be moved to the right side or even to guard to compensate.

Fenuki Tupou, Oregon: A powerful two-year starter who was second-team all-Pac 10 both years. Was so good that Max Unger was moved to center. At 6-foot-6 and 325, he uses his strength and aggressiveness in the run game. Has quickness but struggles blocking on the move.

Jason Watkins, Florida: Watkins (6-6, 317) started at left tackle in 2007 and right tackle in 2008 after playing tight end his first two years. Height, athletic ability and upside are intriguing combination.

Alex Boone, Ohio State: Boone (6-7, 328) was a four-year starter on both sides but lacks the athletic ability to play on the left side in the NFL. Strong with long arms for pass blocking, but was unable to adjust to the speed of LSU and Florida in bowl games the last two years.

Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech: Started 48 consecutive games before succumbing to a torn labrum. At 6-7, 304, his lumbering size doesn't fit a zone scheme.

Robert Brewster, Ball State: Like Parrish, Brewster (6-5, 310) is a Mid-American Conference player on the Packers' radar. Perfect for a zone scheme because of his quickness, cut-blocking ability and skill in blocking on the move. A feisty blocker, but spent career in spread offense.

Andrew Hartline, Central Michigan: Hartline (6-5, 294) played in a zone scheme. Highly intelligent, which helps him overcome a relative lack of athleticism. Quick off the ball with long arms.

Lydon Murtha, Nebraska: Murtha (6-7, 305) put himself on draft boards by dominating the Combine testing. Big and strong but unable to stay on the field because of everything from a staph infection to pulled hamstring.

— Eric Vanden Heuvel, Wisconsin: Vanden Heuvel (6-7, 321) has leverage problems because of his height and lacks lateral quickness to handle speed. A big, tough run blocker, though.

Ramon Foster, Tennessee: Foster (6-5, 328) is a big, aggressive, physical blocker. Probably lacks the quickness to stay outside in the NFL and doesn't have the athleticism to be a natural in a zone scheme.

Garrett Reynolds, North Carolina: Reynolds (6-8, 309) is the nephew of former NFL linebacker "Hacksaw Reynolds." A three-year starter at right tackle. Doesn't have the athleticism to handle athletic players and isn't as physically imposing as you might think.

Chris Steuber's sleeper:

Joel Bell, Furman: The 6-7, 312-pounder dominated lower-level competition as a three-year starter at left tackle. Scouts like his potential to improve with NFL coaching. Can get to linebackers, has pretty good lateral quickness and a feisty demeanor.


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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. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport


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