Positional Analysis: Offensive Tackles

The Vikings' starters at offensive tackle appear set, but, while the three "Killer Bees" lead the draft prospects at offensive tackle, the team could make a play for a raw prospect in the middle rounds.

Vikings' Offensive Tackles — Bryant McKinnie, Mike Rosenthal, Nat Dorsey, Adam Goldberg.

Vikings' Needs — With Bryant McKinnie returning and Mike Rosenthal coming back from a foot injury that sidelined him for the last 14 games of 2004 and the playoffs, the Vikings have their starters set. Nat Dorsey's only action last year showed he needs some seasoning, and Adam Goldberg is expected to move inside to guard. If the Vikings find value in the middle rounds, don't be shocked to see them select another tackle.

Class of 2005 — The offensive tackle position is one that rarely has enough depth to suit NFL teams. Many NFL guards are converted college offensive tackles, and both tackle spots are critical to team success — both in the running and passing games. But the Class of 2005, while not as thin as some positions, isn't as dominating as it has been has recent years. There is a good chance that the first offensive tackle won't be taken until at least 10 picks in, there may only be two or three taken in the first 40 picks — the Killer Bees of Alex Barron, Khalif Barnes and Jammal Brown — and there may be no more than seven or eight taken on the first day. For a position that routinely churns out a dozen or more first-day picks, if somebody wants an OT they better be willing to move quickly because the quality drops off in a hurry.

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

Alex Barron, Florida State, 6-7, 320 — Fifth-year senior … Three-year starter who was a two-time All-American and All-ACC … Average grade-out number was 91 — meaning he rarely made mistakes … Excellent size, speed and agility … One of the most physically gifted tackles to come out of college in some time … Has great footwork and always gets into good blocking position … Better at pass protection than run blocking … Can push speed rushers beyond the pocket … Biggest red flag is his injury history — a torn right ACL in 2000, a broken right hand in 2001 and right shoulder surgery in 2004 … Despite big size, doesn't have overpowering strength at the point of attack … Doesn't always put out his top effort … Shed eight pounds between the Combine and FSU's pro day, which led to a 4.83 40 … He also posted 19 reps with 225 pounds at the Combine, with a 38-inch vertical jump, a 9-4 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 19.

PROJECTION: If healthy, he could be a Pro Bowl left tackle for years to come. But his injury history and spotty work ethic could have some teams shying away … but not for long. He should be gone by the middle of the first round.

Khalif Barnes, Washington, 6-6, 305 — Fifth-year senior … Recruited as a defensive tackle and moved to OT his freshman year … Missed all but five games in 2004 with a broken wrist … Made 42 career starts … Has very good quickness at the snap … Very good speed and agility for his size … Has quickness to get out to linebackers on running plays and takes good angles … Can get bigger … Needs work on his pass coverage technique … Plays a little too tall at times and gets knocked out of position … Doesn't always stand up against power bull rushers … Ran a 4.92 40 at the Combine with 26 reps, a 35-inch vertical jump, an 8-10 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 16.

PROJECTION: He has shown much more durability than Barron, but is coming off a broken wrist. With his speed and potential to get bigger, he could go off late in the first round or early in the second.

Jammal Brown, Oklahoma, 6-6, 316 — Fifth-year senior … Three-year starter who was called for only one holding penalty his first year and allowed just one sack in his final two seasons … A right tackle … Two-time All-Big 12 and All-American as a senior … Won the Outland Trophy for the top offensive lineman of 2004 … Made a lot of progress last year and became a more complete lineman … Is strong in pass protection and has athleticism to play left tackle if called upon … Has good quickness and gets in position quickly on passing downs and gets off the line quickly on run plays … Has speed to pull or trap block with ease … Doesn't attack defenders and often gets in too close to them to be effective … Doesn't have great run blocking technique and will need individual work with a patient coach … Doesn't have ideal bulk … Didn't lift at the Combine, but had a 5.06 40, a 31-1/2 inch vertical jump, a 9-1 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 12.

PROJECTION: The best natural right tackle in the draft, he could be the target of the Rams in the first round, who are unlikely to mend fences with Kyle Turley. With his versatility to have the bulk to play right tackle and the speed to play left tackle, he could go off in the first round.

THE NEXT LEVEL

Marcus Johnson, Mississippi, 6-6, 310 — Fifth-year senior … A four-year starter who made 45 starts at right guard and three at right tackle — but projects as a tackle by most scouts in the draft … Never missed a game with injury and started each of them … Can overwhelm defenders in run blocking … Technically gifted … Has a very good punch out of the snap and gets in intense one-on-one battles … Needs to improve lower body strength … Will need time to adjust to moving to the next level and likely being asked to play a relatively new position … Plays a little too upright, which will have to change if he is switched … Doesn't have explosive power and needs to build up more lower-body strength … Will get out of position at times and gets pushed backwards … Didn't run at the Combine (last 40 times was 5.52), but did 23 reps with 225 pounds, had a 27-1/2 inch vertical jump, a 8-8 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 17.

PROJECTION: His versatility will have teams looking at him as both a guard or right tackle. His ability to play both will likely have him going off the board somewhere in the early stage of the second round.

Adam Terry, Syracuse, 6-8, 330 — Fifth-year senior … Three-year starter who made 35 consecutive starts at left tackle … First-team All-Big East in 2004 … Enormous size and can get bigger … Is quick off the snap and gets into position quickly … Has prototype height, long arms and an impressive wingspan … Has a strong punch to keep defenders from getting close … Has solid blitz recognition … Plays with a mean streak … Isn't as overpowering as he should be in run blocking … Needs to build up more bulk, which will take time … Didn't play well at the Senior Bowl and left the practices early with an injury … Ran a 5.37 40 at the Combine, had a 28-inch vertical jump a 8-0 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 26 (he didn't lift at the Combine).

PROJECTION: Came on strong as a senior and has a big upside to be a starting left tackle in the NFL, so somebody is likely to bite in the second round.

Wesley Britt, Alabama, 6-7, 314 — Fifth-year senior who was a high school discus champion … A four-year starter … First-team All-SEC three straight years … Winner of the Jacobs Award in 2004, presented to the SEC's top blocker … A natural leader … Has a big frame that he can still grow into … Very agile on his feet and slides into blocking position quickly … Good at blitz recognition … Consistently graded out at 90 or better almost every game he played … Very good burst at the snap and has long arms … Is better in run blocking than pass protection … .Durability is a huge concern, since he broke his left leg in 2003, had a steel rod and two screws permanently implanted and suffered a hairline fracture in his right leg during the Senior Bowl … Didn't have great lower body strength before the injuries … Needs to work on technique … Couldn't run or jump at the Combine, but did 25 reps with 225 pounds and scored a 33 on the Wonderlic test.

PROJECTION: The big question mark will be the injuries. Having broken a leg twice, some teams will be wary of him as a first-day selection. He might make it off the board in the third round, but that's a question mark.

THE BEST OF THE REST

David Stewart, Mississippi State, 6-6, 318 — Fifth-year senior and three-year starter … plays right tackle … Was a captain his senior season … Made 38 career starts … Has sound technique and maintains leverage very well … Likes to shove people around in the running game … Has long arms … Plays all the way to the whistle on every play … Did an excellent job of protecting the edge in the passing game … Doesn't have great upper body strength for the college game, much less the pros … Isn't very mobile … Is better in confined areas than leading running plays in the open field … Didn't have an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl … Ran a 5.25 40 at the Combine, with 28 reps, a 38-1/2 inch vertical jump, a 9-7 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 17.

PROJECTION: He needs to get a little bigger and stronger, but is seen as a developmental project who should go early on the second day of the draft.

Ray Willis, Florida State, 6-5 1/2, 325 — Fifth-year senior … Three-year starter who made 33 starts for FSU in that span … Married … All-ACC first team in 2004 … Well built and has long arms … Solid as a run blocker, not so much so in pass protection … Very good hand punch that knocks defenders back on the snap … Good game intelligence … Hard worker … Isn't as agile as most scouts would like … Has had two surgeries on his left shoulder, which raises some durability concerns … Struggled against top speed rushers … Ran a 5.15 40 at the Combine with 27 reps, a 25-1/2 inch vertical jump, a 7-11 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 24.

PROJECTION: He has the ability to play either tackle spot and some think he has more natural ability than teammate Alex Barron, who is a lock to go in the first round. But his inability to excel or dominate any facet of the game and his iffy shoulder make him a risky pick on the first day — but one that may pay off for a team willing to gamble.

Michael Roos, Eastern Washington, 6-6 1/2, 320 — Fifth-year senior who came to Eastern Washington as a tight end prospect and played just one year of high school football … Played both offensive right tackle and defensive end as redshirt freshman before settling in at left tackle as a sophomore … Three-year starter who made 35 consecutive starts at left tackle … First-team All-Big Sky in 2004 … Excellent size and has the potential to get bigger … Has a good punch and is an excellent run blocker … Doesn't have the upper body strength to be a dominant pass protector when matched up with bull rushers … Inexperienced against top defenders, having played at the Division I-AA level … Doesn't always pick up blitzes and stunts immediately … Ran a 5.25 40 at the Combine, with 19 reps of 225 pounds, a 29-inch vertical jump, a 8-1 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 29.

PROJECTION: A veteran of Division I-AA, Roos is considered a project for the NFL because his technique is unpolished. He will likely be a Day Two selection and, with the right tutelage could develop into a solid NFL player.

Chris Colmer, North Carolina State, 6-5, 306 — Sixth-year senior … An injury machine who broke his wrist as a senior in high school, sat out his first season at NC State with surgery on his right shoulder, had surgery on his right ankle in the spring of 2002 and missed the 2003 season after being diagnosed with Parsonage-Turner Syndrome — n virus that caused numbness, tingling and pain in his left arm from the shoulder to the forearm … In the two seasons he played full-time, he started every game, including last season … Is a mauler who likes to play with a mean streak … Has a very quick and strong hand punch at the snap … Never stops moving his legs as a run blocker … Isn't a great natural athlete and gets burned by speed rushing defensive ends … Likely suited for right tackle only in the pros … Didn't run at the Combine, but did 29 reps, had a 26-inch vertical jump, a 8-6 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 26.

PROJECTION: He has the skills and experience to be a Day One pick, but his laundry list of injuries could cause some teams not to even consider him until the later rounds.

OTHERS TO WATCH
Jeremy Parquet, Southern Mississippi (6-7, 323)
Pete McMahon, Iowa (6-7, 329)
Doug Nienhuis, Oregon State (6-6, 307)
Michael Munoz, Tennessee (6-5 1/2, 305)
Calvin Armstrong, Washington State (6-7, 325)
Anthony Alabi, TCU (6-5, 310)


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