Positional Analysis: Offensive tackles

Offensive tackle is an in-demand position at the top of the draft because of their job protecting the quarterback on the left side. A handful of tackles could be gone in the first 20 picks, but there could be a void in the second round as this class offers many big talents with some question marks.

VIKINGS OFFENSIVE TACKLES — Bryant McKinnie, Phil Loadholt, Ryan Cook, Drew Radovich, Chris Clark, Patrick Brown.

VIKINGS NEEDS — The Vikings have a player who was selected to the Pro Bowl in McKinnie and a starter who was a second-round rookie last year in Loadholt. The fact that three of their eight practice squad players are OTs – Radovich, Clark and Brown – it would appear that the Vikings will be content to let those players fight it out for a roster spot behind McKinnie, Loadholt and Cook and likely won't make a move at this position this year. But, if a player they really like might be able to eventually become McKinnie's replacement, they could jump on a project player.

THE CLASS OF 2010 — The draft could be dominated by offensive tackles early in the first round. Russell Okung is the most likely to come off the board first, probably at No. 4, but no less than five or six offensive tackles could come off the board in the first round. The big question will be how a specific player will fit in a specific offensive line scheme, which could shuffle players like Bryan Bulaga of Iowa, Trent Williams of Oklahoma, Anthony Davis of Rutgers, Charles Brown of USC and Bruce Campbell of Maryland. There is a good chance that offensive tackle will be the most-selected position in the first round for two reasons – there is a lot of top-end talent in this year's draft class and the depth beyond the top six or seven players is thin and the drop-off is significant, which will put the top guys at even more of a premium.


Russell Okung, Oklahoma State, 6-5¼, 307 — Fourth-year senior…Became a starter five games into his true freshman season and started the final 47 games of his career…Started eight games as a freshman at right tackle and the 39 games the last three years at left tackle…An Outland Trophy finalist last year…Excellent size and has all the measurables teams look for in a left tackle…An elite pass protector who keeps the blind side of the quarterback safe…Has a strong hand punch to get defenders off course…Gets out of his stance quickly and sets up fast…Can neutralize defenders when he gets his hands on them…Keeps his legs moving on contact…Loves the game and is an emotional on-field leader…Has very good upper-body strength…Has 36-inch long arms…Doesn't have great agility…Will struggle at times in run blockinig, grabbing defenders instead of driving them with the same intensity he brings to pass protection…Comes of his stance high at times and can get pressed hard by speed rushers or players with multiple pass rush moves…Doesn't always hold blocks in run protection and will fall off at times…Didn't jump at the Combine, but ran a 5.22 40 at the Combine with 38 reps of 225 pounds. PROJECTION: A dominant presence in the country's best conference, his durability and flexibility make him the top OT on the board. He should be gone within the first five picks of the draft.

Bryan Bulaga, Iowa, 6-5½, 314 — Third-year junior…Started five of the seven games he played as a true freshman and all 23 games he played the last two seasons…Played left guard in 2007, before suffering a left shoulder injury that required surgery…Missed three games last year after suffering from a thyroid condition…Has explosive quickness off the snap and gets after defenders in a hurry…Has very good footwork and can consistently fight off speed rushers looping to the outside…Plays with good leverage in run blocking…Has good base strength in run blocking…Has a mean streak…Has the kind of body that can grow larger and add more bulk…Doesn't have exceptional arm length (33½ inches) and defenders can get into his body…Doesn't have elite upper-body strength…Pops up too high at times and can get caught off-balance…Injury history – only one full season since high school – is a problem and some teams might be concerned about thyroid issue…Relatively inexperienced compared to other prospects…Ran a 5.23 40 at the Combine with 26 reps, a 27½-inch vertical jump and an 8-2 broad jump. PROJECTION: He has many of the intangibles that prototypical offensive tackles possess. There may be some concerns about his inability to show the kind of durability teams expect from top OTs, but his talent and upside should have him off the board in the top 10 picks.

Trent Williams, Oklahoma, 6-4¾, 315 — Fourth-year senior…Half-time starter his first two seasons and finished career starting 39 of 51 games…All-Big 12 selection as a junior…Played his first three seasons at right tackle and moved to left tackle in 2009…Played the 2009 season with a variety of injuries, including injuries to his knee, hip, shoulder as well as a concussion…Has excellent foot speed and agility for a man his size…A strong run blocker…Comes out of his stance strong and finishes blocks when he gets engaged with a defender…Plays with good leverage and can seal and close off defenders…Is a tough guy who will play through injuries…Has a nasty streak,,,Has inconsistent technique in his pass blocking…Had some growing pains initially when moved to the left side…Doesn't have good upper-body strength (see below) and isn't committed to weight room conditioning…Is slow to react to the snap at times …Wasn't an on-field leader despite being a four-year starter – not elected as a captain…Needs to work on making his technique more consistent…Ran an impressive 4.88 40 at the Combine with 23 reps, a 34½-inch vertical jump and a 9-5 broad jump. PROJECTION: A tremendous athlete who has the baggage of not being committed or passionate about the game. However, his ability to play both left tackle or right tackle at a high level will have him off the board in the top half of the first round.


Anthony Davis, Rutgers, 6-5, 323 — Third-year junior…Became a starter five games into his freshman season, starting the final 32 games of his college career…Made eight starts at right guard as a freshman and 24 starts at left tackle in his final two seasons…Turned down scholarships from USC, Ohio State, Notre Dame and others to play for home-state Rutgers…Has excellent size with long arms and big hands…Has a good hand punch and can jolt defenders with it…Strong in run blocking and can steer defenders where he wants them to go…Plays with good leverage and has better playing strength than weight room strength…Keeps his legs moving on contact…Very quick out of his stance…Is a finisher…Doesn't have great upper-body strength (see below)…Will have an inconsistent effort from one game to the next…Allows defenders to get into his body too easily…Doesn't use his hand punch in pass protection and gets backed up too often…Ran a 5.38 40 at the Combine with just 21 reps of 225 pounds, a 33-inch vertical jump and an 8-3 broad jump. PROJECTION: Has all of the intangibles to be a solid NFL left tackle, but inconsistent technique and production will drop him a little bit in the OT rankings of some teams. That being said, there is little chance he doesn't make it out of the first round.

Charles Brown, USC, 6-5½, 303 — Fifth-year senior…Two-year starter who started the final 26 games of his college career…Recruited as a tight end and didn't move to the tackle spot until spring practice in 2008…Has a big frame with long arms (35¼ inches) and hands (11¼ inches)…Has the quickness and agility to slide outside to cut off speed rushers and force them out of plays…Had a jolting hand punch…Has good balance and leverage in pass protection…Finishes blocks and can neutralize smaller defenders…Will go face-to-face with defenders in run game and play through to the whistle…Doesn't have good upper-body strength (see below)…Doesn't play with a consistent mean streak and will be beaten on more plays than he should…Will get out of position and, when he does, consistently falls off his blocks…Isn't a mauler, more of a grab-and-seal type of run blocker…Gets less agile the farther away he gets from the line of scrimmage…Didn't run at the Combine because of a left calf injury and did just 21 reps of 225 pounds. PROJECTION: Is one of the biggest name position players at a big-time program, but doesn't do the kind of the things that make a left tackle dominant. Has the kind of body frame that can add more weight and be an impact player, but he will need to have more consistency and passion to his game.

Bruce Campbell, Maryland, 6-6½, 314 — Third-year junior…Played in just 27 games in three seasons, starting 17 of them…Had brain surgery as a high school student to relieve pressure because his body was growing too fast for his bones to handle…Spent a year at the Hargrave Military Academy for a season…Became a full-time starter midway through the 2008 season, but missed four games due to turf toe and a strained MCL…Has long arms (36½ inches) and a massive frame…Is a strong weight-room leader…Is among the most athletic pass blockers among the Class of 2010…Has good agility for a man his size…Is able to push defenders and seal them off at the snap…Can get to the second level with ease when pulling…Extremely raw and doesn't translate his natural strength consistently on the field…Needs to improve his run blocking technique…Is a little thin-structured and may not have the kind of body type needed to add 20 pounds of bulk at the next level…Isn't a student of the game and makes too many mental mistakes…Doesn't play with a nasty streak or finish with a vengeance…Ran a 4.85 40 with 34 reps, a 32-inch vertical jump and an 8-5 broad jump. PROJECTION: Scouts have very different opinions of Campbell. He is a prototype athlete, but is raw and never consistently faced top competition. Because of his outstanding measurables, he could go to the Raiders as high as No. 8. If he doesn't, however, he could slide all the way out of the first round because of his red flags.


Rodger Saffold, Indiana, 6-4¾, 316 — Fourth-year senior…Started 41 of the 42 games he played during his career at left tackle…Missed time the last two seasons with a back injury and a sprained MCL…Has good foot speed and agility… Can slide to the outside to cut off speed rushers consistently and take them out of plays…Has solid anchor strength…Is a hard worker who plays to the whistle…Has excellent technique with his feet and doesn't end up on the ground often…Dominated the competition in one-on-one drills at the East-West Shrine Game and raised his stock significantly as a a result…Isn't consistent with his technique…Comes out of the snap a little too upright at times and will let defenders get into his body…Has short arms (33 inches) for his height and will struggle to keep strong, fast defensive ends from driving him back…In not an aggressive in-line run blocker…Doesn't have an explosive hand punch and seems content to play with more finesse than consistently attack in run support…Stops his feet too often on contact, which doesn't bode well against savvy defenders…Ran a 5.23 40 at the Combine with 27 reps of 225 pounds, a 29½-inch vertical jump and a 9-5 broad jump. PROJECTION: A four-year starter who made a name for himself at the East-West Shrine Game practices. If he can add some bulk, he has the chance to be a solid tackle, but some teams may project him as more of a guard prospect in the NFL, which will likely drop him into the second round.

Jared Veldheer, Hillsdale (Mich.), 6-8¼, 312 — Fifth-year senior…Started all 46 games of his college career…Has incredible size and has worked his tail off in the weight room – came to Hillsdale as a 245-pound stick figure and added 70 pounds of muscle over four years…Has very good foot quickness and agility…Had a very strong showing at the Combine, finishing at or near the top in several of the position drills…Has good knee bend and can sink into blocks to pass protect…Can adjust to moving targets and has good recovery footwork…Works hard in practice and the weight room…A student of the game who is extremely coachable and led by example…Played nothing but small-school competition and his learning curve will be daunting…Not overly aggressive in his blocking…For being so tall, he has short arms (33 inches)…Doesn't have great lower-body strength because he's a blown-up 250 pounder…Will stop his feet too often on contact…Doesn't play with a mean streak…His height may be more a hindrance than a help in the NFL…Ran a 5.09 40 at the Combine with 32 reps, a 33½-inch vertical jump and a 9-1 broad jump. PROJECTION: The term "project" applies as much to him as just about anyone in the draft. A self-made player who had to play at a small school while his body filled out, he has shown durability and a willingness to learn that a lot of coaches will like. But, because the jump in talent will be pronounced, he will be a second-round pick at best. However, with his upside, if he makes it to third round, he won't last long.

Selvish Capers, West Virginia, 6-4¾, 308 — Fifth-year senior who had to sit out the 2005 season because of academics…Became a starter midway through his sophomore season and started the final 32 games of his college career at right tackle…Has very good agility and foot quickness to pull and lead the running back through the hole…Plays with excellent leverage and drives defenders off the ball…Is strong in run blocking…Has the awareness and the agility to pick up blitzes and stunts, react to them and stop them in their tracks…Is raw in terms of game experience and technique…Isn't committed to the weight room and had a brutal showing lifting at the Combine (see below)…Played in a spread offense and never had to line up with a hand in the dirt…Doesn't have a powerful hand punch…Doesn't play with nastiness and uses a little too much finesse and isn't a consistent finisher…Too often stops moving his feet on contact…Ran a 5.14 40 at the Combine with 19 reps of 225 pounds with a 30½-inch vertical jump and an 8-10 broad jump. PROJECTION: He will be pigeon-holed as a right tackle and will likely need some time to develop his upper- and lower-body strength. His athleticism made him some money at the Senior Bowl and the Combine, but his lack of physicality will likely push him into the third round.

Adam Ulatoski, Texas, 6-5½, 300 — Sixth-year senior who greyshirted while recovering from a back injury in 2004 and redshirted in 2005…Became a starter a month into his freshman season and started 44 of his final 45 games, starting 16 games at right tackle and 28 games at left tackle…A Parade All-American in high school…Is a high-intensity player who has a nasty streak and plays to and beyond the whistle…Has good footwork and agility and doesn't end up on the ground often…Has a good hand punch and uses it aggressively…Is adept at putting seal blocks on DEs…Doesn't lose agility when asked to block in space on pulls and screens and gets to the second level without much of a problem…Can get pushed backward by quick-twitch DEs who can explode off the snap…Has some durability concerns since he has played through knee, elbow and shoulder injuries over the last two years…Despite playing left tackle at a power school like Texas, he doesn't have the range and speed to play there as a pro and will have to be moved to the right side…Is inconsistent with his pass blocking and will get pushed back too often…More of a clutch-and-grab blocker than an aggressive attacker…Ran a 5.53 40 at the Combine with 24 reps, a 26-inch vertical jump and a 7-10 broad jump. PROJECTION: A four-year starter at a power school would seem to be an automatic ticket punch to the NFL. But Ulatowski is neither a premier athlete nor a top talent and will have to learn to adjust to the right side. He will likely still be on the board into the fourth round.

Kyle Calloway, Iowa, 6-6½, 323
Jason Fox, Miami, 6-7, 303
Ramon Harewood, Moorehouse (Ga.), 6-6¼, 363
Tony Washington, Abilene Christian, 6-6¼, 311
Sam Young, Notre Dame, 6-7¾, 316

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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