Draft 2001: Offensive Tackles Analysis

2001 POSITIONAL ANALYSIS

OFFENSIVE TACKLES


POSITION OVERVIEW
With the release of Todd Steussie, this is a position in which the Vikings may suddenly have a newfound interest. Unlike previous seasons, there isn’t a dearth of talent at the position in this year’s draft. In fact, only two offensive tackles, Leonard Davis of Texas and Kenyatta Walker of Florida, are viewed as picks going in the top half of the first round. Teams always are looking for a bookend offensive tackle, so a number will go, but probably only a half-dozen in the first 70 or so picks.



THE BEST OF THE BEST
LEONARD DAVIS, Texas, 6-6, 370 — His brother Charlie played for the Steelers and Cardinals — one of 21 brothers and sisters Davis has...A fourth-year senior...Began his career as a defensive tackle and shifted to the offensive line in 1998...Two-year starter who was an All-America in 2000 and a finalist for the Outland Trophy, given to the best offensive lineman in college...Blocked for Ricky Williams when he won the Heisman Trophy...Davis originally looked to be a better fit at RT, but now has shown all the ability needed to play LT...Recorded 39 pancake blocks — a new stat to show OL dominance — last season...Incredible size, but isn’t fat despite weighing 370 pounds...Very long arms — 36 inches from shoulder to fingertips...Very good agility for a man his size...Isn’t as dominant late in games as he is early, because he’s tends to burn out, especially in warm weather...Some believe he is better suited for RT because of his size and the potential for speed rushers to blow past him...Ran a 5.52 40 at the Combine, as well as doing 33 reps with 225 pounds and a 28-inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: A man of this size rarely is seen on draft day. Has all the potential to be an All-Pro for years when he perfects his mechanics and could go as early as the No. 2 pick and likely no later than No. 6 to New England.

KENYATTA WALKER, Florida, 6-5, 312 — A fourth-year junior and three-year starter...All-SEC last year and winner of the Jacobs Trophy, given to the conference’s best offensive lineman...Has played in an offense that translates well to the NFL...Plays right tackle, but is being projected by many teams as a left tackle...Excellent work ethic...Very fluid athlete who can use both his strength and quickness to his own advantage...Seen as the best OT to play for the Gators since Lomas Brown 15 years earlier...Had he stayed one more year in college, he could have been a top three pick next season...Ran a 5.21 40 at the Combine, as well as doing 24 reps and showing a 31-1/2 inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: A player who could end up at either tackle position and do a fine job at both, he could have benefited by staying at Florida one more year. Even so, he could go as early as No. 5 and won’t make it through the first half of the first round.



THE NEXT BEST THING
JEFF BACKUS, Michigan, 6-5, 310 —
Fifth-year senior...Four-time All-Big Ten — second team in 1997-98 and first team the last two years...Played left tackle his entire college career, but is prepared to be used as a RT in the NFL if asked to do so...Very technically sound and reminds a lot of scouts of former Tampa Bay standout Paul Gruber...Extremely durable, he hasn’t missed a game in four years...Played left tackle at the Senior Bowl and more than held his own against the best defensive ends in the draft...Not likely to be a dominant Orlando Pace-type, but will be very effective for the team that takes him...Has trouble with speed rushers, but makes up for it with technique...Ran a 5.32 40 at the Combine, as well as doing 25 reps and a 27-inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: Odds are he will be taken in the middle to late portion of the first round, possibly to Tampa Bay — even though the Bucs re-signed tackle Jerry Wunsch.

MAURICE WILLIAMS, Michigan, 6-5, 306 —
Played with Backus and fellow first-rounder Steve Hutchinson for the Wolverines the last three years...Fourth-year senior who started as a defensive lineman as a freshman...Played guard as a sophomore and didn’t start at right tackle until last year...Looks the part of an NFL pass protecting RT...Has consistently got better as time has gone by...Knows the proper techniques and could play guard if needed...Needs more work on run blocking...Hasn’t played left tackle at the college level.
PROJECTION: Will likely slide into the second round because he is viewed as strictly a right tackle.

KAREEM McKENZIE, Penn State, 6-5, 326 — Viewed as the top high school offensive linemen in the country when he came out of high school in New Jersey, despite playing just two years of high school ball...Fourth-year senior...Two-time All-Big 10...Started as a guard as a sophomore before moving to left tackle in 1999...Stock dropped as Nittany Lions went in the tank...Long arms help him hook DE’s on the pass rush...Strong blocker who is nimble for his size...Senior year slump hurt his stock pretty badly...Can play both tackle and guard positions...Ran a 5.18 40 at the Combine, as well as doing 20 reps and a 33-inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: Didn’t continue his progress as a senior, which dropped him out of being a potential first-rounder to perhaps slipping deep into the second round.

MARQUES SULLIVAN, Illinois, 6-5, 338 —
Fifth-year senior...Played right tackle his first two seasons and left tackle the last two years...Started 22 games at RT and 22 at LT in four years...Is known to giving up too many sacks, even though he has excellent foot movement that negates speed pass rushers...Could get much larger as he matures...Comes to the NFL having played four years in a NFL-style offense...Has depended too much on natural ability and doesn’t work as hard as he should at times...Play dropped off last year and has some teams thinking he could be a bust...Ran a 5.23 40 at the Combine, with 28 reps and a 30-1/2 inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: After a disappointing senior season, he went from a sure second-rounder to possibly falling into the third round.

BRANDON WINEY, LSU, 6-6, 304 —
Fifth-year senior who came to LSU as a tight end, but was moved to offensive line as a redshirt freshman...Three-year starter, playing right tackle as a sophomore and junior and both tackle spots as a senior...Injury-plagued 2000 season that began with a knee injury and ended with a broken thumb and a left wrist injury...Despite it all, he still made Second Team All-SEC last year...A big man who still has room to grow...Earned points with coaches and scouts by suiting up for the second half of the Peach Bowl and playing despite serious injuries after being in street clothes the first half...Was helped for the pro ranks by being tutored by coach Nick Saban, who has produced a number of NFL offensive linemen...The wrist and thumb injury required him to wear a cast that kept him out of the Senior Bowl and didn’t allow him to work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: Injuries hurt his stock, but he could still go late in the second round or in the third round and be a solid NFL lineman.



KEEP AN EYE ON
Dennis Norman, Princeton, 6-4, 306
Jarvis Borum, North Carolina State, 6-7, 335
Elliott Silvers, Washington, 6-7, 348
Tarlos Thomas, Florida State, 6-5, 335
Chris Brown, Georgia Tech, 6-5, 315
Char-ron Dorsey, Florida State, 6-5, 350
Tom Ashworth, Colorado, 6-5, 295
Alex Sulfsted, Miami (Ohio), 6-4, 308
Kendrick Rogers, Alabama A & M, 6-5, 302

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