We are very close to the end of this excruciatingly long wait for the NFL Draft. Here is a last minute guide to the offensive tackle prospects teams will be looking at all weekend. Check back tomorrow for a guide on the interior offensive lineman in the Draft.
The Top Five
The mauler. Robinson has the size, length, and athleticism to become the premier offensive tackle in the NFL. Since Auburn didn’t run many pro style pass protections and had a unique running game, Robinson did not have to do a lot of the things he will be asked to do at the next level. This is what makes him difficult to project. However, I have seen enough of his tape to see his immense potential. If he can transition into the pro game smoothly and get rid of his leaning issues, this guy has the physical tools to be a Hall of Fame offensive lineman.
2) Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (6’5″; 308)
The technician. Matthews took over for Luke Joeckel at left tackle in 2013 and surpassed him as a draft prospect. Matthews has nearly flawless technique, particularly in pass protection. His technique and footwork allowed him to stone defenders for long periods of time while Johnny Manziel would improvise. While not a mauler, he is a solid run blocker: Good at walling off defenders and getting to the 2nd level. Carrying the Matthews name, he should be the safest pick at offensive tackle in this draft, although he is probably already close to his ceiling. I expect Matthews to be a Pro-Bowl caliber offensive lineman.
I have the Michigan tackle just under the other two, but he is another excellent prospect and could work himself into the top ten. Lewan was the stalwart of Michigan’s offensive line and lined up at tight end a lot in different packages. His excellent combine verified the athleticism that you see on film. Lewan is not as fluid of an athlete as Matthews and shows a tendency to run block with high pad level. He has also been classified as a dirty player and has gotten in some trouble with personal foul calls. While you like to see this type of toughness and intensity on the field, I would rather see it come in the form of pancake blocks and not grabbing facemasks. Despite his question marks, Lewan is a guy who can be a very good tackle in the NFL for a long time.
4) Zack Martin, Notre Dame (6’4″; 308)
A lot of pundits are saying that Martin would be better suited at guard, but I think he can be a solid pro at any position on the line. The word that comes to mind when I watch Martin on tape is reliable. He isn’t the biggest guy. He isn’t the fastest. He just gets the job done and he did it for four years at Notre Dame. There really aren’t many holes in his game, besides his kick slide in pass protection. He uses more of a modified back pedal, but it works for him. In order to be truly successful at the next level he will probably have to refine that technique, especially if he is going to play tackle. Martin is being underrated in this draft solely based on his length, I would not be surprised to see him come off the board earlier than people expect.
Moses took over at left tackle for current Jets lineman Oday Aboushi and put together a nice season. Moses looked dominant at times especially in down blocking on power type run plays. At the next level I’m a little bit nervous about his footwork and pad level. His feet are often very close together which leads him to lean on guys. He also has a strange pass set where he almost takes a false step in order to get going. Despite this, I can’t help but love his physicality and functional strength on the field. An NFL conditioning program and some solid technique work could propel this guy to elite status.
The Next Five
6) Ju’Wuan James, Tennessee (6’6″; 311) – Played right tackle in college, but has the footwork and athleticism to make a transition to left tackle. Solid technique, but needs to get a little better run blocking.
7) Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (6’7″; 322) – Too much really bad tape out there to truly trust this guy, not to mention his horrible combine numbers. Should be fine, though, if he is moved to right tackle in the NFL.
8) Billy Turner, North Dakota State (6’5″; 315) – See a lot of potential in this small school prospect. He needs some coaching on footwork and using his hands, but he could turn out to be excellent pro starter.
9) Antonio “Tiny” Richardson, Tennessee (6’6″; 336) – Is absolutely massive and surprisingly athletic. Has great length and huge hands, but needs to learn how to use those hands and stop lunging. Has a great nickname.
10) Jack Mewhort, Ohio State (6’6″; 309) – Not that quick or agile, but strong and technically sound. should be moved over to right tackle to take advantage of his strengths.
The big Canadian is the number one rated prospect for the CFL. He is a project in the purest sense of the word and will need to be taught proper technique almost from scratch. Despite his rawness, he shows the strength and athleticism needed to eventually be a starting lineman in the NFL. He had a decent outing in the East-West Shrine game and may be better suited to play guard. Either way, he will most likely be drafted higher than projected as there are several teams that really like him including the Jets, Patriots, and Eagles.
An absolute physical specimen with arm length and hand size that scouts dream about, Henderson was an intriguing prospect. When watching the tape, he just doesn’t even come close to living up to expectations. He is wildly inconsistent, showing flashes of dominance followed by some horrible play. He often lunges at defenders which leads him to spend way too much time on the ground. Since the season ended he has been in a downward spiral, putting on a horrible performance at the Senior Bowl and failing the drug test at the combine, which is almost inconceivable. He has definitely been removed from a lot of teams draft boards. It will be interesting to see who he lands with, because if he can figure it out, he has the tools to be very good.