Could Britton be the top tackle?

Could Eben Britton be the most underrated tackle in the draft? With the measurables used to grade offensive linemen, Britton actually has the advantage over those ranked higher than he is.

Away from all the hype of the more "sexy" positions the Vikings could draft, the feeling is still there that the team needs to upgrade at right tackle.

Dave-Te Thomas is the most in-depth profiler of draft prospects, and he cuts through all the hype to compare the top tackles in this year's draft from a statistical basis. Here are the facts to compare, according to Thomas's reports.

Thomas compared the top five tackles – Eben Britton, Eugene Monroe, Michael Oher, Andre Smith and Jason Smith – who are all widely considered first-round draft picks. When it comes to the basics of the height and weight, there isn't a big difference. Britton is the tallest at 6-foot-5 6/8 with and Andre Smith is the shortest at 6-foot-4. Andre Smith is the heaviest at 348 pounds while Jason Smith is the lightest at 306. Britton is the fastest in the 40-yard dash at 4.98 while Andre Smith was the slowest at 5.28 seconds.

But while measurables are nice to look at, what matters is performance and Thomas breaks those down. All five tackles played 12 games in 2008, making the statistics average out nicely for them. While Britton gave up the most solo tackles (18) to his defensive responsibility and Andre Smith and Michael Oher the least (13), Andre Smith actually was the worst in total tackles (37) allowed to his responsibility. Michael Oher (27) was the best in that category.

All five of them played left tackle in 2008, making sacks allowed a premium statistic to watch. Andre Smith was the best at that, allowing only one, according to Thomas' stats, while Eugene Monroe and Jason Smith (who are considered the top two tackles) actually gave up the most (3.5) among this group of first-round tackles.

Oher and Jason Smith gave up the most tackles for loss at 6.5 while the other three gave up 4.5. Andre Smith gave up the most quarterback pressures at 5.0 while Monroe and Britton are credited with allowing only one.

When compiling the rankings based on tackles allowed, sacks allowed, tackles-for-loss allowed and pressures allowed, Britton actually ranks the highest, followed by Monroe, Oher, Andre Smith and Jason Smith.

While giving up negative plays against the competition is one way to evaluate tackles, Thomas also ranked the top tackles on their blocking successes. Britton had the most knockdown block (116) and Andre Smith the fewest (86). Britton was also ranked atop the first-rounders in touchdown-resulting blocks (22) while Oher had the fewest (14). Britton also ranked highest in the downfield blocks (15) and had the fewest amount of penalties (2), and he earned the highest grade.

Britton also topped the rankings in drive-blocking performance, which is measured by knockdowns, downfield blocks, and touchdown blocks to his side of the field. Finally, he also ranked highest in vertical pass protection, which measures sacks allowed, pressures and passing yards to the lineman's side.

Britton pretty much dominated Thomas' compiled grades, which might just leave the Vikings fortunate to have him available to them at No. 22.

For a closer look at all the charts used in Thomas' grading and the different categories, click here.

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