Football's Unlikely Megastars

As the old cigarette commercial once proclaimed; "It's what up front the counts," such is the case in the building of a winning professional football franchise. Tom Marino has taken a close look at this years class of offensive tackle prospects and gives you his take as to who will be at the head of the class come next April.

The offensive tackle position, particularly on the left side, is the life blood of any consistent, cohesive, offensive unit, since most professional clubs have found it is very hard to win football games with their QB sitting on his butt. Recent player draft have shown the viewing public just how much of a priority GM's, coaches and personnel people have placed on upgrading their respective football clubs by the drafting of quality players at the left offensive tackle position.

Eugene "The Blocking Machine" Monroe came to UVA with a great deal of fanfare and after a relatively slow stat has developed into a truly outstanding professional prospect. You can make book on the fact that this New Jersey native, will be a very early selection in the 2009 player draft. For a big man, he shows uncanny ability to adjust in space to movement while showing the ability to handle off big people in close quarters. Jason Smith of Baylor, Jamon Meredith of South Carolina, and Alex Boone of The Ohio State U should barring injury play a very long time at the professional level. Meredith is a very lean looking three hundred plus pounds, with a ton of ability. Although he will have to sit out the first three contests of the season (NCAA eligibility requirement), I look for him to have an outstanding senior season. Smith has plenty of range, good body balance, recovery and impressive footwork. Boone is the model of consistency; he's big, very physical and over his career has consistently played to a championship level.

Michael Oher of Ole Miss is another highly skilled athlete who many people consider the top left tackle prospect in the country, but based on my 2007 tape exposure, I was disappointed in his overall play. He's going to have to raise his game to game playing tempo and finish with far more consistency. Phil Loadholt from the University of Oklahoma is a giant among giants in an offensive front that can match any professional club in terms of pure physical mass. I really liked his short setting skills and rear power, but I want to see him on the ground far less in 2008. Georgia Tech's Andrew Gardner is big, has a solid skills set and could well be considered an elite left tackle prospect by season's end. Right offensive tackle Jason Watkins is in my opinion the very best Florida Gator offensive linemen prospect in the past decade.

Grade Last First School
A Oher Michael Mississippi U
A Meredith Jamon So Carolina U
A Monroe Eugene  Virginia U
B Smith Jason  Baylor U
B Reynolds Dallas  BYU
B Watkins Jason Florida U
B Gardner Andrew  Georgia Tech
B Fulton Xavier Illinois U
B Boone Alex  Ohio St
B Loadholt Phil Oklahoma U
B Tupou Fenuki Oregon U
B Cadogan Gerald  Penn St
B Stanchek Ryan  West Virginia U
B VanderHeuval Eric  Wisconsin U
C Valdez Jose Arkansas U
C Tepper Mike California U
C Brown Patrick  Central Florida U
C El-Amin Khalil Cincinnati U
C Beatty Will Connecticut U
C Bell Joel Furman U
C Allen Sam Grand Valley State
C Richardson Dace  Iowa U
C Parrish Augustus Kent St
C Randolph Dane Maryland U
C Youngblood Reggie  Miami U
C Murtha Lydon  Nebraska U
C Reynolds Garrett  No Carolina U
C Brost Jon  Northern Illinois U
C Sister Sean  Purdue U
C Lewis Cornelius Tennessee St
C Foster Ramon  Tennessee U
C Reed Rylan Texas Tech
C Thomas Rodrick Tulsa U

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