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Top Five 2016 NFL Draft Prospects- Offensive Tackle
These guys will protect the edges of the offensive line and keep the quarterbacks safe. Today I rank the top five offensive tackle prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
Bio: Since his freshman year, Laremy Tunsil has been a fixture at left tackle for the Rebels. He was a two time All-SEC selection and scored a touchdown in his final game against Oklahoma State.
Strengths: Came to Ole Miss as the top offensive tackle prospect and lived up to every bit of the hype. Has the elite foot quickness of an elite NFL tackle and his base remains balanced and controlled throughout his pass reps. Excellent bend and flexibility in his ankles, knees and hips while maintaining good pad level throughout his pass protection. Plays with textbook handwork. Uses a boxer’s jab in his left hand with measured timing and force. Uses length to control the play, but is willing to slide without even hitting if defender continues to stay outside his reach. Understands importance of footwork in pass protection. Intelligent tackle with above average instincts as he gets hints of upcoming blitzes. A rocket in the open field as screen blocker. Great body control and balance. Makes climb to second level with good timing and collects himself to strike linebackers. Got into SEC linebackers and gave them the kitchen sink in the running game.
Weaknesses: Frame needs more mass. Will lose patience and reach at times while looking for second contact in pass protection. Couldn't start and play in every game in any of his three seasons. Struggles against bull rushers. More of a finesse run blocker.. Great feet don’t come with powerful legs. Missed bowl game in 2013 due to knee injury and two games in 2014 due to partially torn bicep. Broke his leg in the 2015 Peach Bowl. Was charged with domestic assault against his stepfather last June. Suspended for seven games in 2015 due to receiving impermissible benefits.
Projected Round: 1
Possible landing spot: Tennessee Titans
2. Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
Bio: After playing sparingly as a freshman, Ronnie Stanley joined an offensive line that only allowed eight sacks by playing right tackle. After Zack Martin left for the NFL, Stanley was moved to left tackle as a junior and only allowed one sack on the year. He decided to return for his senior year because he wanted to win a National Championship. While things didn't work out that way, Stanley did nothing to hurt his draft stock.
Strengths: Races out of the starting spot and into pass sets as well as tackle in college. Has long arms and knows what to do with them. Plays with fast hands and a accurate punch. Doesn't panic when he loses hand placement. Specializes in getting his hands into the pass rusher first to help him control the flow of the snap. Well coached. Wins with motion over power. Hard to beat around the edge with speed. Hard worker who plays to the whistle. Flexible and athletic with great change of direction against counters. Has quickness off the snap to get to difficult backside blocks on blitzers. Able to move into space and hit moving targets to spring the big run. Fell off of too many blocks in 2014, but did much better job of bringing his feet under him this year to help him sustain his blocks in 2015. Able to gain late victories when it looks like stalemate in the running game. Durable and reliable.
Weaknesses: Needs to build up strength. Struggles against physical edge rushers. Will need to win with feet and technique. Doesn’t have upper body strength to maul when play gets off track. Has athleticism to recover when he’s beaten but is just average at best when redirecting his man off course. Is more quick that fast. Gives ground to bull rushers when his feet aren’t set at punch. Balance is needs improvement.
Projected Round: 1
Possible landing spot: Jacksonville Jaguars
3. Taylor Decker, Ohio State
Bio: In his four year career, Taylor Decker was the undisputed leader of the offensive line. As a freshman at Ohio State, Decker played in all 12 games on special teams. As a sophomore, he was moved into the starting lineup at right tackle. As a junior, he was the offensive line's only returning starter and played all 15 games at left tackle. As a senior, Decker was named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the year.
Strengths: Great height and frame. Blessed with above average core strength and the ability to match power at the point of attack. Tough guy who has the field demeanor to be an instant leader along an offensive line. A brute on downblocks. Fires into his target and drives his feet through contact. Doesn’t hesitate on second level blocks and looks to strike an unforgettable hit on linebackers and defensive backs. Smooth and natural in vertical pass sets. Gains good ground with his first two kick slides. Straight pass sets with good hands. Has hand strength to snatch and control a central block. Three year starter with a winner’s pedigree. Played basketball in high school which helped with his body control.
Weaknesses: Tendency to pop straight up and play with high pads when moving in space. Shows surprisingly limited knee bend considering he's a former basketball player. Struggles to redirect his weight quickly and changing directions to hit moving targets is a hassle. Stiff strider in space. Shows tendency to overset when attempting to set out on speed rushers. Upright style will cause problems for him against quick and smaller pass rushers. Average athleticism limits effectiveness against counter moves. Mirrors well pre-snap, but ability to mirror diminishes once first contact has been made. Short arms for his height. Relies on hand strength and upper body power over footwork and balance. Has issues consistently redirecting pass rushers who get to his edge.
Projected Round: 1
Possible landing spot: San Diego Chargers
4. Jack Conklin, Michigan State
Bio: Despite not receiving any scholarship offers out of high school, Jack Conklin has made a name for himself at Michigan State as a walk on. After redshirting his freshman year, Conklin started 13 of 14 games at either right or left tackle in 2013. Over the next two seasons, he was a permanent fixture at left tackle.
Strengths: Feisty with ability to recover when beaten. Plays with good core strength and impressive hands. When he latches into defenders, he makes it difficult for them to disengage. Works well with guards in combo blocks. Leveraged second level blocker. Makes strong initial contact as a run blocker and rolls hips up underneath him to uproot defenders. Technically sound in pass protection with a wide base and ability to mirror rushers. Consistently shoots inside hand first and lands his punch with good accuracy. Drops anchor like a brick in pass protection sinking his body and getting arm extension with inside hand placement.
Weaknesses: Not much of an athlete and might have issues with NFL edge speed. Has a habit of sliding back too quickly in his pass sets rather than maintaining a more squared pad level. Able to stuff single rush moves, but below average athleticism will be tested by counters mover. Always looks to win on the physical front, but can be a little slow to work his feet into proper position after first contact. Hands can get a wide and grabby once he’s in space.
Projected Round: 1
Possible landing spot: Miami Dolphins
5. Shon Coleman, Auburn
Bio: After sitting out his first two seasons at Auburn as he underwent treatment for leukemia, Shown Coleman earned playing time as a backup left tackle in 2013. Over the next two years, Coleman was a fixture at left tackle.
Strengths: Very long and gets big disruption from arm length. Above average play strength with strong upper body. Extremely physical with a sack full of nasty with him. Drive blocker who uproots defenders and creates open lanes. Latches onto defenders with large, strong hands. Gets chippy as run blocker and aggressively finishes. Pass sets are balanced with decent slide to the edge. Has ability to redirect inside against stunts. Uses his punch as intimidation. Fires his hands from inside his frame and lands with ideal accuracy. Plays in space. Smooth climbs to second level and mirrors oncoming defenders looking to engage. Has played on the left and right side. Held his own against elite SEC edge rushers.
Weaknesses: Base tends to get too wide, hindering balance. Leans into contact in pass sets and consistently plays with weight too far forward. Footwork poor when punching, opening space around the corner. Poor footwork in general. Lunges at rushers trying to turn corner rather than sliding feet into position. Has habit of leading with head down, causing him to miss run targets at times. Got away with a lot of holding in college. Doesn't bring feet through contact in run game and has trouble sustaining blocks without mauling. Needs hands to control defender rather than just dominate. Will turn 25 as a rookie after sitting out two years overcoming leukemia diagnosis.
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible landing spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers