NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas isn't afraid to boldly dissent from the popular opinion. That's the case with the offensive line prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft, especially when it comes to tackle.
Many consider Jake Matthews the class of the class, but Thomas is more impressed with two others that some have ranked behind Matthews.
"This is where I probably would end up having my heinie hung because I actually have Greg Robinson from Auburn and my guy that I've been touting for years that people finally are starting to wake up to, Morgan Moses," Thomas said. "I've got them ranked ahead of Jake Matthews. Matthews will probably go before either one of them but, my God, when I look at Greg Robinson, I see the second coming of Jonathan Ogden. I look at Morgan Moses, I just think that if any team gets any quality left tackle in this draft, it's going to be that guy."
Moses, the Virginia product at 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, has ideal size for the position with quick feet but questionable power, according to NFL Draft Scout.
Robinson, the Auburn tackle, is rated higher than Moses in some rankings and weighs more than Matthews. He entered college with the ability to play guard or tackle but quickly became a left tackle with a well-rounded skills set for the position.
Matthews has the bloodlines, as he is the son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews and earned a starting spot in the lineup in his freshman season at Texas A&M.
There are others rated higher than Moses, like Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin and Cyrus Kouandjio, but Thomas also likes North Dakota State's Billy Turner as a sleeper among the class of tackles.
"I think that this kid's probably going to go in Round 3, even though everyone's saying Round 7," Thomas said. "I think he's going to be this year's Terron Armstead, where the small-college kid is going to get a big payday on draft day."
Of course, tackle isn't a big priority for the Vikings with Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt under contract, but they could explore the guard market with Charlie Johnson scheduled to be a free agent and Brandon Fusco still developing.
Thomas believes the position will have some converted tackles among the pure guards and likes early entry Xavier Su'a-Filo out of UCLA. Another underclassman, David Yankey of Stanford, isn't as high on Thomas' list even though some have him ranked as the top guard in the class.
"I like (Su'a-Filo) – very good road grader. Reminds me of Mike Iupati out of San Francisco," Thomas said. "I'm not convinced that David Yankey is going to make it in the NFL. This is going to be a reach on the kid if, like people are saying, he goes in late 1 or early 2."
At about 350 pounds, Baylor's Cyril Richardson struggled to move efficiently at the Senior Bowl and Thomas noticed.
"Richardson really blew his chances down at the Senior Bowl. He showed that he can't pass block worth a scrap," Thomas said. "358 pounds, man – he's got to drop some weight because he couldn't sink his hips and get his pads down whatsoever."
His sleeper in the guard class is Brandon Thomas of Clemson, who is shifting positions from tackle.
Depending on what the Vikings do with backup guard/center Joe Berger, they could be in position to draft a center that could also move to guard if needed. If Travis Swanson, at 6-foot-5, is moved to guard, then the best center is Weston Richburg of Colorado State, according to Thomas.
"Great, great, great pass blocker. I love his long reach, I love the way that he gets underneath people and I love how he occupies multiple blockers," Thomas said of Richburg. "He's had a lot of nose tackles over his head and he's taken care of the middle linebacker."
Thomas doesn't believe, as some do, that Florida State's Bryan Stork is the third-best center in the draft, giving that distinction to Tyler Larsen of Utah State and calling him an "animal."
With all their other needs on the roster, offensive line can wait a bit for the Vikings, but a mid-round pick to develop on the interior of the line wouldn't be a surprise. With the versatility of some of these prospects, there could be a move from center to guard or vice versa, but that versatility will likely be viewed as a positive by the Vikings.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Scout's take: Offensive line class
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