It’s a known fact that in the NFL the most important position on the field is your quarterback. While it’s great to provide him with weapons, if you’re not stable up front on the offensive line, most particularly at the blindside, it’s all but a wasted effort.
In past years we’ve seen a heavy crop of quality offensive linemen come through the NFL Draft. Just last year we saw Ronnie Stanley, Jack Conklin and Laremy Tunsill all go in the 1st round – all of whom showed tremendous promise in their rookie seasons. Just a few years back we saw Eric Fisher go 1st overall, with Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson following right behind him.
While there doesn’t appear to be an offensive tackle prospect worth taking in the top 10, there are still some quality tackles to be had in the 1st round. Plus, the heavy demand will likely force a run at some point on day one of the draft. Cam Robinson is the standout tackle in this class, although suffers due to the common narrative regarding Alabama tackles as we’ve seen guys like D.J. Fluker and Andre Smith not live up to expectations in recent years. If you want a mean, intimidating presence at your blindside, Garett Bolles is the man for the job. If you want more of a savvy, technician type, go after Ryan Ramczyk.
In this draft class, if you want a starting caliber offensive tackle, you’re going to want to address that within the first 2 rounds as this class is weak in the depth department. Draftniks always point to QBs being drafted ahead of their perceived market value, but that holds true with offensive tackles as well. This year’s crop of bookends is a bit of an anomaly as far as draft position is concerned, but one thing is for certain, they’ll come off the board earlier than most think.
Below we have compiled our consensus OT rankings between our Breaking Football draft team which includes the individual rank from each writer for each player. Let us know what you think in the comments below and follow the rest of our draft team on Twitter @MichaelJKist, @SteveDraft_ , @ZachHicks2.
Small School Sleeper: Julie’n Davenport (Bucknell)
Playing for Bucknell University throughout his career, Davenport flew under the radar. The 6’7″ 318 pound tackle may be the most raw yet impressive talent at tackle in this class. He possesses incredible length (36 1/2″ arms!), well above average strength, and decent mobility to be a good RT or possibly a LT in the NFL. If he can refine some of his technique and footwork, Davenport could be the best offensive lineman from this class years down the road.
Biggest Riser: Antonio Garcia (Troy)
Did anyone even know who this guy was before the season? If so, kudos to you. If not, you’re like the other 95% of us. Antonio Garcia came on strong late in the season and built quite the draft stock for himself. He even flirted with the 1st round in a lot of mocks drafts there for a while. Since, he seems more like a solid 2nd round guy in a weak offensive tackle class. Garcia has appealing traits on tape, but it’s his play weight and rawness that remain a concern to most scouts. Still, he’ll be off the board quickly come late April with the high positional demand.
Biggest Faller: Roderick Johnson (Florida State)
FSU has history of producing top draft picks and entering the 2016 season, Johnson’s buzz according to Walter Football, was good enough to warrant 1st round consideration, even going so far as to say that he could be drafted before teammate RB Dalvin Cook. One year later Johnson looks like a Day 3 guy. His stock was particularly affected by Michigan EDGE Taco Charlton slicing and dicing him like a tomato.
Risk Factor: Garett Bolles (Utah)
Garrett Bolles has the size, length and athletic profile NFL scouts salivate over. However, when you dig into the tape, he’s extremely raw and lacks the functional strength to really be a bookend tackle. We are talking about a 25 year old rookie who will need time to develop. That’s a major risk for where he’s currently being projected to come off the board.
Breaking Football’s 2017 NFL Draft OT Rankings
|4||Taylor Moton||Western Michigan||4||4||4||4|
|10||Jermaine Eluemunor||Texas A&M||8||12||7||9|
|11||Roderick Johnson||Florida State||10||11||8||12|