NFL Draft '06: Scouting the Offensive Tackles

Athletic offensive tackles are always in high demand on draft weekend. Those who effectively protect the quarterback's blind side command a premium and are usually selected early in the process. After several lean years at the position 2006 is ready to make up for lost time. Three seniors are top 20 picks and another four upperclassmen could be off the board by the end of round two.

Full Name: Sam Baker     School: USC

Ht: 6-4.5     Wt: 290     40: 5.25     Yr: 3So

Pos: Terrific young prospect with outstanding upside for the next level. Displays footwork sliding out to protect the edge and stops speedy edge rushers. Excellent hand jolt and rides opponents from their angle of attack. Stays square and naturally strong.

Neg: Bends at the waist which hurts his agility and balance.

Analysis: The next in a long line of top tackles to come from the USC program, Baker was terrific as a redshirt freshman and offers great upside for the next level.


Full Name: Justin Blalock         School: Texas

Ht: 6-3.5     Wt: 325     40: 5.31     Yr: 4Jr

Pos: Powerful run blocking tackle who drives opponents off the line of scrimmage. Displays outstanding jolt and explosion. Plays with good pad level and a solid position blocker that seals defenders from the action. Quickly gets hands into opponents, controlling them at the point of attack. Gets a lot of push up the field.

Neg: Lacks fluid footwork sliding out to protect the edge and slow to adjust. Struggles on the second level, over extending into blocks.

Analysis: Dominant on the strong side, Blaylock is a terrific right tackle prospect for the next level. Must learn to play with better balance yet has great natural strength and the ability to be used in several different systems.


Full Name: Levi Brown         School: Penn State

Ht: 6-4     Wt: 318     40: 5.21     Yr: 4Jr

Pos: Terrific underclassmen with outstanding strength at the point of attack. Solid run blocker who takes opposing lineman off the ball. Plays with a nasty attitude and works until the whistle blows. Sets with an incredibly wide base, bends knees and gets terrific leverage against opponents. Some ability to chop block.

Neg: Lacks footwork and top blocking range. Does not possess the desired height for a strong side blocker.

Analysis: A productive player at Penn State since early in his college career, Brown has potential at guard or strong side tackle in the right scheme. Offers good upside for the next level.


Full Name: Jeromey Clary         School: Kansas State

Ht: 6-6     Wt: 305     40: 5.17     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Underrated lineman who stands out in pass protection. Patient, blocks with leverage and shows football intelligent. Stays square, keeps defenders in front of him and a solid position blocker who makes exceptional use of angles. Quick in all aspects and controls defenders once engaged at the point. Outstanding football instincts. Large enough to block down on opponents.

Neg: Not light on his feet and rumbles about the field if asked to block in motion. Lacks top footwork sliding out protect the edge. Not a physical run blocker nor a true finisher

Analysis: Productive since his sophomore campaign, Clary is a solid prospect with good amount of upside potential for the next level. Needs to fill out physically and develop a nasty streak yet a spot starter and dependable back-up at the next level.


Full Name: Daryn Colledge         School: Boise State

Ht: 6-4     Wt: 295     40: 4.99     Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Technically sound blocker with top skills in pass protection. Sets with a wide base, bends knees and plays with leverage. Keeps feet moving throughout the action, makes tremendous use of angles and walls defenders from the action with good body positioning. Displays outstanding hand technique, effectively placing them into defenders and removing opponents from the action. Nasty, works hard and gives effort until the whistle blows.

Neg: Marginal run blocker who rarely gets movement.  Taken off the ball by large defenders.

Analysis: Though he lacks extraordinary feet for a left tackle, Colledge has done an exceptional job at Boise State and projects well to the next level. Understands the position, uses all his assets to a maximum and plays with great intensity. Solid top 60 selection next April.


Full Name: D'Brickashaw Ferguson         School: Virginia

Ht: 6-4.5     Wt: 290     40: 5.31     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Athletic blocker who stands out in pass protection. Fluid moving about the field, plays with forward lean and easily anchors at the point of attack. Slides his feet in space, adjusts to oncoming defenders and displays great punch with his hands. Quick out to the second level and redirects to linebackers, removing them from the action. Explosive and good initial strength at the point run blocking.

Neg: Not overly instinctive. Lunges into blocks which adversely effects his balance. Marginal run blocker does not finish.

Analysis: Naturally gifted, Ferguson is a terrific athlete that can develop into a dominant left tackle at the next level. Needs to improve his run blocking strength and finer details of the position but worth an early selection next April.


Full Name: Jami Hightower         School: Texas A&M

Ht: 6-4     Wt: 360     40: 5.24     Yr: 5Sr

Pos: King sized blocker with terrific football awareness. Plays with forward lean, effectively uses angles in pass protection and anchors at the point. Easily turns opponents off the line run blocking and jolts them with tremendous hand punch. Cognizant and does a good job picking up assignments. Sets with a wide base and blocks with leverage.

Neg: Poorly conditioned, rumbles about the field and has difficulty adjusting. Does not display top blocking range or cover a large area. Missed the entire 2003 campaign with a staph infection.

Analysis: A lineman who can be used at either tackle or guard, Hightower is a good combination of size, athleticism and football intelligence. Must properly condition himself and get back to playing form off the illness which sidelined him as a true junior yet possesses great upside for the next level.


Full Name: Daniel Inman         School: Georgia

Ht: 6-6     Wt: 320     40: 5.31     Yr: 4Jr

Pos: Nice sized blocker that displays consistent improvement. Patient, shuffles his feet in pass protection and makes good use of blocking angles. Knocks defenders from their angle of attack with good hand punch, rarely gives up an inch of room and adequate skills in motion. Smart and stays with assignments.

Neg: Not a natural knee bender, lacks adjustment as well as playing balance. Must learn to finish. Not effective far off the line of scrimmage.

Analysis: A king sized blocker with excellent upside for the next level, Inman will be a top strong side tackle moving towards 2007 draft.


Full Name: Winston Justice         School: USC

Ht: 6-5     Wt: 300     40: 5.15     Yr: 4Jr

Pos: Powerful lineman and a devastating run blocker that destroys opponents. Displays great jolt and explosion in all aspects of his game. Stays square and easily turns defenders from the point of attack. Slides out off the edge in pass protection. 

Neg: Limited skills on the second level. Not light on his feet. Sat out the '04 season with suspension.

Analysis: An outstanding tackle prospect with potential on either side of the line of scrimmage, Justice possesses the skills needed to quickly start in the NFL. Must stay away from off the field disruptions to meet expectations placed upon him but an early draft choice when he turns pro.


Full Name: Travis Leffew         School: Louisville

Ht: 6-4     Wt: 302     40: 5.22     Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Solid position blocker effective in pass protection. Quick off the snap, effectively uses angles and works to stay square, fighting hard until the whistle blows. Aert and aware of assignments. Patient, extends hands into opponents and keeps his feet moving throughout the action. Good job bending knees and playing with leverage. Some ability blocking in motion.

Neg: Lacks top range and footwork off the edge. Gets minimal movement from run blocks and not dominant.

Analysis: Efficient in all aspects, Leffew has potential at both tackle or guard. Lacks top size and athleticism yet could surprise at the next level.


Full Name: Jake Long         School: Michigan

Ht: 6-6     Wt: 330     40: 5.25     Yr: 3So

Pos: Terrific young prospect and the next top blocker to come from Ann Arbor. Bends knees playing with a wide base, keeps his feet moving throughout the action and anchors in pass protection. Patient, effectively uses blocking angles and rides defenders from their angle of attack with terrific arm punch. Powerful upper body and hands. Gets movement from run blocks and controls opponents once engaged at the point.

Neg: Does not run block with great balance. Marginally effective on the second level. Must become more cognizant of where he is on the field.

Analysis: Flashing consistent skill as a sophomore, Long offers terrific upside for the next level. Possesses the size and seemingly the athletic ability to handle left tackle duties in the NFL.


Full Name: Taitusi Lutui         School: USC

Ht: 6-5     Wt: 370     40: 5.51     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Strong blocker best in confined quarters. Quick off the snap, knocks defenders to the ground and opens holes for the running game. Patient in pass protection, effectively uses blocking angles and controls opponents with hands once engaged at the point. Works hard and uses all his assets to maximum.

Neg: Not effective far off the line of scrimmage. Lacks playing balance and top footwork.

Analysis: A lineman with tremendous size, Lute did a terrific job during his first campaign at USC. Naturally suited to play strong side tackle and will get better the more experienced he becomes.


Full Name: Marcus McNeill         School: Auburn

Ht: 6-7.5     Wt: 332     40: 4.97     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: King sized blocker who offers a terrific combination of power and athleticism. Sets with a wide base, patient in pass protection and displays outstanding punch with the ability to easily knock defenders from their angle of attack. Solid position blocker who engulfs opponents at the point of attack. Possesses long arms and strong hands. Surprisingly effective blocking on the move. Adjusts well in pass protection, picking up stunts or twists thrown by the defense.

Neg: Must make better use of blocking angles and improve his playing balance. Bends at the waist, lacks top footwork sliding out to protect the edge and at times seems unsure himself. Struggled against David Pollack of Georgia last year.

Analysis: A king sized blocker who displays excellent movement skills, McNeill has tremendous upside potential for the next level. Projects well on either the strong side or at left tackle and if he consistently plays on all cylinders, a productive NFL tackle for years to come.


Full Name: Troy Reddick         School: Auburn

Ht: 6-4.5    Wt: 317    40: 5.71     Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Cognizant, tough blocker best in a small area. Sets with a wide base, keeps his pads low to the ground and plays heads up football. Patient in pass protection, jolts defenders with outstanding explosion and knocks them off the ball. Uses all his assets to maximum.

Neg: Lacks footwork sliding out to protect the edge and does more stepping than sliding. Marginal body control, does not redirect to defenders well and lumbers about the field.

Analysis: Possessing adequate size and the strength to play at the next level, Reddick is a marginal athlete but would be effective in a system which reduces his area responsibilities.


Full Name: Jonathan Scott         School: Texas

Ht: 6-6.5    Wt: 307     40: 5.32     Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Athletic blocker with terrific upside potential. Quick off the snap, stays square and effectively uses body positioning to seal defenders from the action. Bends knees playing with leverage, can slide his feet in pass protection and makes good use of blocking angles. Gets out of the second level annihilating linebackers. Jolts opponents with hand punch or drives them off the line, getting movement from run blocks.

Neg: Must become more aggressive in his blocking and develop a nasty attitude. Bends at the waist or over extends which reduces his ability to finish.

Analysis: Flashing the ability to dominate, Scott must show more consistency and a greater physical nature to his game. Possesses the size and athletic skills to be a top 32 choice yet has not met the complete expectations placed upon him.


Full Name: Arron Sears         School: Tennessee

Ht: 6-3.5    Wt: 330    40: 5.31    Yr: 3Jr

Pos: Outstanding prospect with the potential to play several positions on the offensive line. Possesses a terrific lineman's build, plays with a wide base and good [ad level.  Makes outstanding use of angles, keeping his feet moving throughout the action and displays good awareness. Gets movement from run blocks and stays square, anchoring at the point. Jolts opponents with hand punch and displays excellent power.

Neg: Not light on his feet and lumbers around the field. Lacks top footwork in pass protection.

Analysis: A dynamic young prospect that's effectively held down every position on the Volunteer's line except center, Sears offers great potential as was versatility. Not a pretty looking at left tackle yet can hold down the position in the right system.


Full Name: Kyle Tatum         School: Alabama

Ht: 6-6     Wt: 295     40: 5.21    Yr: 4Jr

Pos: Terrific young prospect at strong side tackle. Bends knees playing with leverage and good pad level. Patient in pass protection, quickly gets hands into opponents then rides them from their angle of attack. An imposing looking lineman who blocks down on defenders. Displays solid awareness.

Neg: Stiff and lacks adjustment.

Analysis: A prospect with a good amount of upside potential, Tatum needs to improve the details of his game and learn to play with greater flexibility.


Full Name: Herbert Taylor         School: TCU

Ht: 6-4    Wt: 290    40: 5.21     Yr: 4Jr

Pos: Athletic strong side blocker with good potential for the next level at either tackle or guard. Bends knees playing with leverage, quick off the snap and immediately gets out to the second level. Stays square controlling opponents at the point. Helps out teammates. Turns defenders off the line opening holes for the running game.

Neg: Lacks top footwork and the ability to slide laterally. Does not always display wherewithal on the field.

Analysis: A solid blocker for the Horned Frogs since his sophomore campaign, Taylor has been a consistent performer and projects well to the next level.


Full Name: Joe Thomas         School: Wisconsin

Ht: 6-7    Wt: 305     40: 5.03     Yr: 3Jr

Pos: Outstanding pass blocking tackle and the next top lineman to come from the Wisconsin program. Patient, stays square and keeps opponents in front. Nicely slides his feet throughout the action, blocks with leverage and plays with excellent body control. Displays blocking range and easily rides defenders from their angle of attack with good hand punch.

Neg: Bends at the waist which adversely effects his balance. More of a finesse\wall off blocker and not a masher in running situations.

Analysis: A top underclassmen who had a brilliant sophomore campaign, Thomas is an outstanding pass protector and will be a top pick once he enters the draft. Needs to increase his run blocking strength and also stands to develop a nasty streak yet offers great upside for the next level.


Full Name: Albert Toeaina         School: Tennessee

Ht: 6-5    Wt: 350 4    0: 5.35    Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Outstanding run blocker always looking for someone hit. Strong at the point, gets movement from run blocks and easily turns opponents off the line. Solid position blocker, anchors at the point in pass protection and jolts opponents with good hand punch.  Works to bend knees and offers nice size.

Neg: Not effective far off scrimmage, lacks top footwork and marginal range.

Analysis:  A strong side tackle prospect, Toeaina offers outstanding size and skills. Needs time and experience to refine his game yet does possess a good degree of upside potential.


Full Name: Jeremy Trueblood         School: Boston College

Ht: 6-8    Wt: 319    40: 5.33    Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Big, dominant blocker effective in confined quarters. Quick off the snap, blocks with forward lean and displays terrific hand jolt. Stays with assignments, possesses a nasty attitude and works hard until the whistle blows. Devastating run blocker who easily controls opponents at the point of attack, pushing them off the ball or removing them from the action. Blocks down or engulfs defenders. Solid job bending knees and playing with leverage.

Neg: Struggles in space, lacks adjustment and has difficulty with speedy edge rushers. Does not display great blocking range and has trouble picking up stunts or twists.

Analysis: Doing a terrific job at left tackle for Boston College, Trureblood has the size and skill to be a strong side blocker at the next level. Does not possess the feet to play on the blindside yet will be a top 75 selection for a team which needs a right tackle.


Full Name: Andrew Whitworth         School: LSU

Ht: 6-6.5    Wt: 325    40: 5.31    Yr: 5Sr

Pos: Large, tall blocker with an excellent feel for the position. Seals defenders from the action with body positioning, gets hands into defenders and controls them at the point of attack. Patient, does not overextend and plays within himself. Displays outstanding awareness as well as blocking vision. Nasty, always looking for someone a hit and blocks down on opponents.

Neg: Lacks adjustment and not a natural knee Bender. Must improve his playing balance. Needs to finish blocks.

Analysis: A productive player the past three seasons at LSU, Whitworth has potential in the NFL though his prospects at the left tackle position may be limited. Not a great athlete yet does the little things well and his size is enticing.


Full Name: Eric Winston         School: Miami-Fl

Ht: 6-6    Wt: 310     40: 5.12    Yr: 4Sr

Pos: Athletic weak side blocker that's shown continual improvement the pass three seasons. Quickly sets in pass protection then effectively uses angles and body positioning to protect the edge. Keeps his feet moving and displays good adjustment. Good punch with his hands and stays with the action. Significantly improved his strength at the point of attack and gets movement from run blocks, driving opponents off the ball.

Neg: Suffered a terrible knee injury in October of ‘04. Seems bulkier this season and as a result his pass blocking has suffered.

Analysis: An offensive tackle with outstanding upside potential for the NFL, Winston seems like a natural at the position since moving over from tight end. Offers a great deal of upside and will only get better as he physically matures yet must get back to 100% health before any team uses an early draft pick for his services.


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