Positional Analysis: Offensive Tackles

With the questions surrounding Bryant McKinnie and the potential to move Ryan Cook inside to center if a long-term deal with Matt Birk can't be worked out, offensive tackle is suddenly a serious consideration for the Vikings in the first round of the draft. We go in-depth with analysis on the top 10 tackles, with career highlights, critiques, measurables and more.

VIKINGS OFFENSIVE TACKLES – Bryant McKinnie, Ryan Cook, Marcus Johnson, Chase Johnson.

POSITION ANALYSIS – This has become a position that might be a front-burner issue for the Vikings on draft weekend, given the potential suspension coming for McKinnie and Cook's troubles on the right side. As it currently stands, guard Artis Hicks would likely be a replacement for McKinnie if he is forced to sit out by the league and/or the team. The crop of 2008 is relatively deep and will have several players going in the first two rounds. While offensive linemen aren't the "sexy" picks that draw fans to the stadium, they are the foundation of the offense and, considering the Vikings are building themselves around Adrian Peterson, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Vikings use one of their top picks in this area.


Jake Long, Michigan, 6-7¼, 315 –
Fifth-year senior … Started 40 of the 43 games he played at Michigan – 14 at right tackle his first two seasons and all 26 games at left tackle his final two years … Missed seven games in 2005 after surgery to repair a broken bone in his left lower leg … A two-time First-Team All-American and only the sixth player in conference history to be named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year twice … Very good size and has proven himself to be of value in both zone blocking or man schemes … A hard worker who shed 20 pounds before his senior year to increase his agility … .A dominating in-line run blocker … Plays with a mean streak and never lets up on a play … Has incredible upper-body strength (see below) … Is quick off the snap and has good anchor strength to slow down speed rushers … Tends to wear down late in games and needs to work on maintaining his stamina … Will often stop his feet on contact with defensive ends and can get beat by double moves … Doesn't use his hands consistently to jolt pass rushers off the snap … Doesn't have great speed to get to the second level quickly on sweeps … Ran a 5.23 40 at the Combine with a 27½-inch vertical jump and a 8-7 broad jump, but his story was with the weights – his 37 reps of 225 pounds were eight more than any other offensive tackle that lifted. PROJECTION: He could be used at either right or left tackle, but has all the intangibles to be a Pro Bowl-type player, which is why many believe he will end up with Miami with the first overall pick and, if he doesn't, won't make it past the Rams at No. 2.

Ryan Clady, Boise State, 6-6¼, 311 – Fourth-year junior … Three-year starter who made starts in the final 37 games of his 39-game college career … Played right tackle as a redshirt freshman before moving to left tackle for the last two years … Has incredibly long arms and good upper body strength … Finishes his blocks consistently and plays with a mean streak … Is a very good pass protector who gets out of his snap quickly and can handle just about all pass-rush moves … Has the agility to be a dangerous blocker at the linebacker level … Has a body that could add 20 pounds of bulk … Is viewed by some scouts as a finesse player who doesn't consistently use his strength … Didn't face top-end competition consistently in the WAC … Will allow pass rushers into his body and relies too much on his physical gifts rather than working hard to improve and extend his repertoire of blocking moves … Could use more time in the weight room … Was unable to complete his workouts at the Combine because he strained a pectoral muscle at Indianapolis. PROJECTION: Clady has a tremendous upside and is still viewed as a work in progress. He can get bigger and, with the proper coaching, could become a dominant player for years to come. He was the first Boise State player to ever leave school early and could become the first player from the school taken in the first round. That would seem to be a given, because he is very likely to come off the board to Kansas City with the fifth overall pick. Even in a worst-case scenario, he will almost surely be gone by the time the Vikings are on the clock.


Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh, 6-6¼, 321 –
Fourth-year senior … Moved to the United States from Nigeria at age seven and didn't play organized football until his senior year of high school … Spent two years at Valley Forge (Pa.) Military Academy … A two-year starter at Pitt, starting all 24 games he played at left tackle … Huge player with good upper-body strength and long arms … Can dominate and steer pass rushers beyond the pocket … Has the make-up quickness to get to defenders even if beaten initially off the snap … Picks up blitzes and stunts well … Finishes his blocks and plays to the whistle consistently … Does not have consistent run blocking skills – either in mechanics or consistent effort … Is inconsistent as a pass blocker in terms of technique and will allow defenders into his body when not using his hands properly … Has a tendency to wear down late in games … Doesn't have the speed to pull effectively on a consistent basis when a sweep is called … Still very raw for a left tackle in the NFL … His numbers weren't great at the Combine because he worked out with a sprained ankle – running a 5.58 40 with 29 reps (tied for second-best among OTs), a 23-inch vertical jump and a 8-5 broad jump. PROJECTION: Otah has just two years of experience and is still relatively new to the game. His strength is his calling card and he could start immediately at right tackle. But many scouts believe he could develop into a top left tackle, which could be enough to have him coming off the board in the middle of the first round.

Chris Williams, Vanderbilt, 6-6¼, 317 – Fifth-year senior … Started nine games at left guard in 2005 before starting his final 24 games at left tackle the last two years … A two-time all-conference pick and a team captain in 2007 … Very agile for his size and always maintains excellent leverage … Allowed just one sack in each of his two seasons as Vandy's starting left tackle … Has good anchor strength in pass protection … A player who attacks defenders off the snap … Is quick off the snap and is ready for contact almost immediately … Intelligent … Neutralized projected first-rounder Derrick Harvey when the two matched up last season … Has very good lateral movement … Does not have good upper-body strength (see below) … Is viewed by some as more of a finesse player than a mauler … Does not have a strong hand punch and doesn't use it as often as he should … Doesn't have burst or explosion off the snap … Wasn't used often as a pulling or trapping lineman and has a learning curve he needs to adjust to … Doesn't have long arms and quick defenders can get into his body almost immediately … Ran a 5.17 40 at the Combine with 22 reps, a 25½-inch vertical jump and an 8-6 broad jump. PROJECTION: After a very strong performance at the Senior Bowl and a good showing at the Combine position drills, he has likely cemented himself as a first-rounder. However, he will have to get meaner and play with more brute strength if he is to be a long-term success in the NFL.

Gosder Cherilus, Boston College, 6-6½, 313 – Fifth-year senior … Born in Haiti and moved to the United States at the age of 14 … A four-year starter who started 37 games at right tackle before moving to left tackle as a senior and starting 14 games there … His 51 career starts are a school record … Team captain as a senior … Has very long arms (36½ inches) and enormous hands (11¾ inches) … Has good upper-body strength and can push around defenders … Consistently sustains and finishes blocks … Has a strong hand punch that can neutralize defenders … Is versatile and could start at either tackle position as a rookie … Effective pulling on sweeps and traps … Plays to the whistle and seems to enjoy dominating opponents … A good teammate and works hard in practice and in the weight room … Does not have good technique and it showed when he moved to left tackle last year … Does not have natural awareness to recognize and react to delayed blitzes and stunts … Gets too upright at times in pass protection … Does not show a burst off the snap to push defenders on their heels … Tends to grab onto defenders in the run game rather than try to drive them off the ball … Ran a 5.21 40 at the Combine with 25 reps of 225 pounds, a 23½-inch vertical jump and an 8-7 broad jump. PROJECTION: A player with experience in both man and zone blocking schemes, if a team needs a right tackle, he could be an immediate starter. He may take more time to develop into a strong left tackle, but his intangibles are such that he has a good chance to go off the board in the first round – perhaps to the Chargers near the end of the round.

Sam Baker, USC, 6-4½, 310 – Fifth-year senior … His father, David Baker, is the commissioner of the Arena Football League … Started all 49 games he played during his college career … Named to the All-America team his final three seasons, joining Matt Leinart and Richard Wood as the only Trojans to have that honor … Has good quickness in getting into blocking position off the snap and long arms to keep defenders at bay … Has good footwork and is strong when pulling or asked to make hits at the linebacker level … Has a good hand punch and, at times, it can be devastating … Has good mechanics and does a lot of things well … Is good at recognizing and reacting to blitzes … Has short arms and struggles when defenders get into his body … Will come out of his stance too upright and speed rushers can get an edge on him off the snap … Is not a fiery competitor and doesn't play with a sense of urgency or intensity … Often quits moving his feet on contact and can get handled by rushers with secondary pass-rush moves … Doesn't have a burst at the snap to blow defenders backward and doesn't play with a lot of aggression … Ran a 5.20 40 at the Combine with 27 reps, but improved both numbers at his Pro Day workout. PROJECTION: A four-year starter at a power school, Baker has all the accolades a player can get at the collegiate level. But his lack of fire and intensity have some scouts comparing him to former Raiders first-round pick Robert Gallery – a finesse player who dominated in college but struggled in the pros. Baker has first-round press clippings, but his lack of a mean streak may see him slip into the second round.


Carl Nicks, Nebraska, 6-5, 341 –
Fourth-year senior who initially enrolled at New Mexico State as a defensive tackle before being converted to offensive line during summer practice … Transferred to Hartnell College in California in 2005 before spending his final two seasons at Nebraska … A one-year full-time starter who has just 13 career college starts … Is married and has a child … Is big and has powerful hands to lock onto defenders in run blocking … Has long arms to keep defenders away from his body … Has a good punch to jolt defenders … Excellent agility for his size … Has the lateral quickness to help out on double-teams and pick up blitzes and stunts … Is very raw and his technique is inconsistent … Has never been in a system long enough to excel … Stops his feet too often once a defender makes contact … Doesn't use his hands consistently or effectively … Has never taken the time to learn the finer points of leverage and balance … Doesn't fire off the snap with aggression … Ran a 5.23 40 at the Combine with 30 reps of 225 pounds, a 26-inch vertical jump and a 9-2 broad jump. PROJECTION: He is a difficult player to project because he has all the prerequisite skills to be a dominant tackle or guard, but has some serious character issues that will scare some teams away. With only one year as a full-time starter, he will need time to improve. A player who could become special, but already has the "boom-bust" tag applied to him, which should drop his draft stock somewhat.

Duane Brown, Virginia Tech, 6-4¼, 314 – Fifth-year senior who was recruited to VT as a tight end … After playing one year as a backup TE, was moved to right tackle in 2005 and started his next 26 games there before moving to left tackle as a senior – where he started all 14 games in 2007 … A good athlete with exceptional mechanics and fundamental abilities … Has good footwork and balance and moves fluidly on sweeps and traps in the run game … Has a good hand punch off the snap … Is a consistently strong blocker at the linebacker level … Much more of a finesse player than a power tackle … Locks his knees on contact and can get thrown around … Doesn't play with a lot of fire or intensity on a consistent basis … Struggled against top competition … Has trouble handling speed rushers that can get to him quickly … Is not a player who gives 100 percent in terms of practice or dedication to the weight room … Ran a 5.08 40 at the Combine with 23 reps, a 28-inch vertical jump and an 8-8 broad jump, but improved on all of those numbers at his Pro Day workout. PROJECTION: He made a name for himself by shining at the East-West Shrine Game, but doesn't play with a lot of fire and isn't going to be able to step in immediately and take over a starting job. His upside is good, but his limitations will likely have him still on the board into the third round.

Oneil Cousins, UTEP, 6-4, 307 – Fifth-year senior … A native of Jamaica, he moved to the United States as a high school sophomore … Came to UTEP as a defensive tackle but switched to the offensive line after breaking his wrist in his redshirt freshman season … A two-year starter, who started eight games at left tackle in 2006 before suffering another wrist injury and losing his starting job … Started all 12 games last year at right tackle … A good athlete with quickness and agility … Blocks well in the open field and at the second level … Has very long arms to keep defenders away from his body … Has a good hand punch to stun defenders off the snap … Is good at mirroring pass rushers … Is very raw in terms of technique and general understanding of the game … Doesn't sustain or finish his blocks consistently … Doesn't have prototype height for an NFL offensive tackle … Isn't quick off the ball and will allow defenders to get a first step … Falls off too many blocks … Durability is a concern after missing time with two wrist injuries … Is slow to react to blitzes and stunts and will get caught out of position … Ran a 5.11 40 at the Combine with 22 reps of 225 pounds, a 24-inch vertical jump and an 8-4 broad jump. PROJECTION: A raw talent with a lot of upside, his athleticism will get him noticed and on a lot of teams' radars, but his inconsistency and lack of solid technique should allow him to slip well into the third round, if not the fourth, on draft weekend.

King Dunlap, Auburn, 6-8¼, 311 – A fifth-year senior … His father, King Dunlap IV, was a fifth-round pick of the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 draft … Was only a full-time starter during his junior season … Lost his starting job to true freshman Ryan Pugh while recovering from an elbow injury last year, but regained his starting position when Pugh went down to injury … Has a monstrous frame and long arms … Has good leverage and footwork in pass protection … Gets out of his stance quickly and can deliver a good hand punch … Is able to use his long arms to direct speed rushers and push them past the pocket … Can reach linebackers at the second level … Does not fire off the snap in run blocking and plays too upright … Is a finesse player who has had his toughness questioned by his own coaches … Has trouble making contact with moving targets when asked to sweep or slide to pick up blitzers … Doesn't sustain or finish blocks consistently … Plays soft, so much so that he was benched for a time as a senior to prove a point … Ran a 5.28 40 at the Combine with 22 reps and a 30-inch vertical jump. PROJECTION: On size alone, he is almost without peer. He has the physical tools to be a great pro, but has never played with a sense of urgency. He has never shown a passion for the game and pulled himself out of the Combine with what some scouts thought was a mild hamstring tweak. If a team can be patient and convince Dunlap to commit to making himself a better football player, he could be something special. But if he continues to show the lack of fire that he did for much of his college career (aside from his junior season), he could be a mid-round gamble that never pays off.


Anthony Collins, Kansas, 6-5¼, 310
Breno Giacomini, Louisville, 6-7, 304
Tony Hills, Texas, 6-5¼, 308
Chad Rinehart, Northern Iowa, 6-5¼, 321
Geoff Schwartz, Oregon, 6-6½, 331

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