In-depth NFL draft analysis: Offensive tackles

The offensive tackle position doesn’t have elite talent but is filled with options in the second and third days of the 2017 NFL Draft. We analyze the top-10 with their productions, strengths and weaknesses, measurable and on- and off-field issues.

VIKINGS OFFENSIVE TACKLES – Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers, T.J. Clemmings, Jeremiah Sirles, Rashod Hill, Austin Shepherd, Marquis Lucas, Reid Fragel.

TEAM NEED: The Minnesota Vikings haven’t done much in free agency, but the one position they hit hard was offensive tackle, signing free agents Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers to be the frontrunners for starting spots. However, that doesn’t preclude the Vikings from making a move in the draft. Still, with 10 players viewed as tackles (Sirles could be considered a guard), they are already bloated with roster spots already assigned to the position, so a player Rick Spielman covets will have to be available for the trigger to be pulled. 

POSITION ANALYSIS: There is some depth at the position, but there is a lack of elite talent in this year’s draft class, making it one of the weaker overall classes in recent years. There is a growing sentiment that there may not be a single offensive tackle that comes off the board in the first half of the first round, which would be the first time in more than a decade that has happened. There are, however, three players – Ryan Ramczyk, Garett Bolles and Cam Robinson – who will likely come off the board in the first round, but none of them are viewed as plug-in immediate starters without some concerns. The real action here will likely be on Day 3 because there may be only a handful of players selected on Day 2.

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin, 6-5¾, 310 – Fourth-year junior…Was offered a scholarship to Pitt but opted out, going to technical college for a year before playing two years for Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point…A one-year starter who made all 14 starts at left tackle…Has prototypical footwork and is rarely caught out of position…Has extremely good pop coming out of his stance and has the initial quickness to get an early leverage advantage…Has good anchor strength for pass protection…Looks natural and effortless in space…Only a one-year starter at the Division I level…His recent hip surgery will draw some red flags in terms of durability…Isn’t overpowering in terms of pure strength and likely will need to spend a lot more time in the weight room…Didn’t take part in the Combine (medical exclusion) other than to lift due to surgery to repair an injured labrum in his right hip, completing 25 reps of 225 pounds. PROJECTION: A player who ascended quickly in his only year of D-I football, he has the brightest upside of any of the OT class this season, but his lack of top-end competition could drop him past one or two of the other top tackles. He’s a first-round pick, likely coming off between picks 16-25.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1769048-in-depth-nfl-draft-analys...

Cameron Robinson, 6-6¼, 322 – Third-year junior…Three-year starter at left tackle who made starts in all 43 college games he played…Twice named the top blocker in the SEC and won the Outland Trophy in 2016…Last May, he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, an illegal firearm and a stolen gun…The son of former Chargers linebacker Steve Foley…Is massive and has an ideal combination of size and strength to move and steer defenders…Has surprisingly good agility and lateral quickness for a man his size…Consistently stays low coming out of his stance and wins most leverage battles…Has powerful hands and uses them well to jolt and neutralize defenders off the snap…Isn’t a lock to play left tackle in the pros – some see him being more successful as a right tackle or guard…Will struggle to shut off the corner vs. speed rushers – a must for NFL left tackles…When he gets beat, he grabs – drawing 23 penalties the last two years…Didn’t lift at the Combine due to injuries to both shoulders, but a ran a 5.15 40 with a 26-inch vertical jump and an 8-10 broad jump. PROJECTION: A huge player who is likely going to have a long NFL career, but the combination of character red flags, injury issues with both shoulders and the belief he may be better suited to be move to guard or right tackle could hurt his stock. A team will need a specific plan for him, which should drop him into the second half of the first round.

Garett Bolles, Utah, 6-5, 297 – Third-year junior…Played two years at Snow (Utah) College and one season as the starting left tackle for the Utes…Was a troubled teen who went to five different schools due to multiple suspensions/expulsions…Did a two-year Mormon mission in 2013-14 and will be 25 as a rookie…Married with one child…Has very good balance and distribution of strength to handle speed rushers…Has good initial pop out of his stance and very good lateral movement skills…Is a finisher with his blocks and attacks defenders…Is very good blocking at the second level and doesn’t lumber after defenders…Age will be a big concern for some teams who would prefer to have a first-round lineman who is 21 or 22, not 25…Has limited tackle experience after playing defense throughout high school…Can be a little lazy with his fundamentals in pass protection…Didn’t lift at the Combine, but ran a 4.95 40 (second-best among O-linemen) with a 28-inch vertical jump and a 9-7 broad jump. PROJECTION: Is seen as a potential first-round pick, but has some red flags associated with him. He has the measurable attributes teams look for, but he isn’t a student of the game and it shows in his technique issues. For a team desperate at left tackle, he makes sense, but in a stronger draft class, he wouldn’t be a first-round pick.

THE NEXT LEVEL

Dion Dawkins, Temple, 6-4, 314 – Fourth-year senior…Attended Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy in 2012 to get his grades up…A three-year starter at left tackle…Played in just five games as a freshman in 2013, suffering a broken foot, and had surgery to repair a torn right meniscus in the spring of 2015…Plays with a bit of a mean streak and battles up to and through the whistle…Has prototype arm length and the strength to effectively keep defenders from getting into his body…Has a good understanding of blocking angles and uses his leverage to his advantage…Doesn’t always play with the same level of intensity and at times his technique suffers…He has limitations in pass protection, which will have several teams viewing him as a right tackle…Didn’t play elite competition often, so he will have a learning curve…Ran a 5.11 40 at the Combine with 26 reps of 225 pounds, a 26-inch vertical jump and an 8-10 broad jump. PROJECTION: If he can improve his pass protection, he has the ability to stay at left tackle, but the more likely scenario is that he moves to the right side and comes off the board somewhere in the second round.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1768763-in-depth-nfl-draft-analys...

Taylor Moton, Western Michigan, 6-5¼, 319 – Fifth-year senior…A four-year starter who set a school record with 52 starts…Spent his first two seasons at right tackle, his junior year at right guard and moved back to right tackle as a senior…Team captain…Allowed just two sacks in his final three seasons…Was an All-MAC first-team selection in 2016 and got some All-America notice…Has good size and strength and has the needed anchor power in pass protection…Is aggressive with his hands and is willing to fight defenders on every snap…Has good speed and quickness for a big man, turning heads at the Combine with good times in the 20-yard shuttle (4.63 seconds) and the 3-cone drill (7.73)…Too often comes to a stop when he makes contact in run blocking and will need some teaching up to correct that…Relies too much on upper-body strength and will get himself off-balance and make him susceptible to double moves…Didn’t consistently play against elite competition so he will have a learning curve…Ran a 5.18 40 at the Combine with 23 reps, a 30½ inch vertical jump and a 9-1 broad jump. PROJECTION: An ideal fit for a team with a zone blocking scheme, his best chance for success may have to come by moving him inside to guard, but he proved to be durable and effective, which should get him off the board at some point on Day 2.

Antonio Garcia, Troy, 6-6¼, 302 – Fifth-year senior…Started 42 of 43 career games at left tackle…Played just six games as a redshirt freshman due to a right knee injury that required microfracture surgery…Has good explosiveness coming off the snaps and looks to initiate contact…Has long arms and uses them well to glide and slide in pass protection…Plays with a mean streak and looks to finish every play and drive defenders into the ground…Needs to add more bulk and core strength – he weighed in at just 293 at the Senior Bowl, but added nine pounds before the Combine…Played in a quick-hitting pass offense that didn’t require him to hold his blocks for very long…Technique can get sloppy and he has a habit of playing down to his competition when he has an advantage…Ran a 5.15 40 at the Combine with 24 reps, a 31-inch vertical jump and a 9-0 broad jump. PROJECTION: Viewed as a raw talent who will likely need some developing, his athleticism gives him some solid upside, but he isn’t likely to come off the board until the later stages of Day 2.

THE BEST OF THE REST

Zach Banner, USC, 6-8½, 353 – Fifth-year senior…A three-year starter who made starts in all 45 games he played – 43 at right tackle and two at left tackle…A decorated high school basketball player, he was a member of the Trojans basketball team during his redshirt season…The son of former Falcons and Raiders Pro Bowler Lincoln Kennedy…Had hip impingement surgery on both hips in 2013…Is massive and has the strength and size to control defenders and set the edge on the right side…Ideal anchor strength in pass protection…Has a passion for the game and was popular with coaches and teammates, which some scouts look for in players coming into a new system…Doesn’t have good lateral agility and will struggle against speed rushers…His size can be a liability at times when he doesn’t use proper technique because he falls off blocks when he doesn’t play with good balance…Grabs when he gets beat, he was flagged 25 times over the last two seasons…Ran a 5.58 40 at the Combine with 22 reps, a 23½-inch vertical jump and a 7-8 broad jump (the worst among O-linemen who tested). PROJECTION: Some teams may have concerns about potential weight issues because he has fluctuated in that department, but he has all the requisite skills to be a long-term starter at right tackle if he cleans up the weaknesses in his game. A Day 2 prospect who becomes more of a value by the time you get to the third round.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1768763-in-depth-nfl-draft-analys...

Adam Bisnowaty, Pitt, 6-5¾, 304 – Fifth-year senior…Started 43 of 45 career games at left tackle…Missed time with a back injury and two separate left high ankle sprains…Has good foot quickness and agility and gets to the second level naturally and with ease…Consistently neutralized defenders when he got locked onto them…Has a high football IQ and reads and diagnoses well against both speed rushers and power rushers…Has adequate strength, but isn’t a classic NFL left tackle in terms of power…Despite being big, he is a little thin-hipped and will get pushed backward by elite power rushers, which you face every week in the NFL…Comes out too high too often on the snap and will leave himself vulnerable if he takes one misstep off the snap…Ran a 5.23 40 at the Combine with 23 reps of 225 pounds, a 29½-inch vertical jump and an 8-0 broad jump. PROJECTION: On film he looks the part, but he struggled badly in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl. He may be asked to move to the right side or inside to guard, but he plays with fire and is open to coaching, which may be enough to get him off the board at the very end of Day 2 if not early on Day 3.

Chad Wheeler, USC, 6-7, 306 – Fifth-year senior…Started all 45 games of his college career…Has a laundry list of injuries, including shoulder surgery as a high school senior, a torn right ACL, plantar fasciitis, a concussion and a right ankle injury at the Combine…Missed the 2015 Holiday Bowl after an incident with police where he was punching holes in the wall of his apartment while under the influence of something and resisted police to the point they needed to take him down with bean bag guns…Has good feet and plays with good balance to move fluidly in the run game and in pass protection…Has long arms and can use them effectively to thwart pass rushers…Relies on technique and works at improving his game by using angles and leverage to his advantage…Doesn’t have the kind of frame that will add any additional weight moving forward…Had a poor workout at the Combine (see below) and didn’t look natural in many of the position drills he took part in…Given his injury history dating back to high school and running through the Combine, durability will be a big concern for teams look at drafting him…Ran a 5.43 40 at the Combine with a 15 reps (the fewest by any offensive lineman who lifted) with a 20½-inch vertical jump (second-worst among O-linemen) and an 8-9 broad jump. PROJECTION: A solid mid-round prospect who came from a pro-ready program, his long list of injuries and a couple of serious off-field injuries will likely keep him undrafted until Day 3.

Roderick Johnson, Florida State, 6-7, 298 – Third-year junior…Started the last five games of his true freshman season and ended his career starting his last 31 games at left tackle…Won the 2016 Jacobs Trophy, given annually to the top blocking lineman in the ACC…Has good height and length and the type of body that can add 20 pounds of bulk and muscle if needed without losing agility…Has long arms (an incredible wingspan of 86½-inches) and good strength, things scouts and coaches always look for in terms of natural gifts…Plays with good balance in both the run and pass game…Has never played up to his God-given ability and too often is lazy in technique and mechanics…Doesn’t have a jolting hand punch and too often is susceptible to speed rushers looping around him…Doesn’t have ideal foot quickness for a left tackle or the bulk, mass and lower-body strength to be a dominant right tackle at this point…Didn’t not work out at the Combine after getting a medical exclusion for a pectoral injury as well as suffering from the flu at the time of the workouts. PROJECTION: A tantalizing Day 3 project type who looks the part, but has yet to put it all together. If a team has an aging left tackle with a couple of years left in the tank, his upside will get him drafted higher than perhaps he should, but he has the Steal of the Draft type of vibe to him if he puts it all together.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Julie'n Davenport, Bucknell, 6-6¾, 318
Avery Gennesy, Texas A&M, 6-3½, 318
Will Holden, Vanderbilt, 6-7½, 311
Javarius Leamon, South Carolina State, 6-6¾, 332
Erik Magnuson, Michigan, 6-4½, 303
Conor McDermott, UCLA, 6-8¼, 307
Levon Myers, Northern Illinois, 6-5, 307
Storm Norton, Toledo, 6-7½, 308
Victor Salako, Oklahoma State, 6-5½, 303
Justin Senior, Mississippi State, 6-4¾, 331
David Sharpe, Florida, 6-6¼, 343
Dan Skipper, Arkansas, 6-9¾, 309
Sam Tevi, Utah, 6-5½, 311
Jerry Ugokwe, William & Mary, 6-7½, 321


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