Top Five 2017 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. Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
Bio: After two years of playing Division III ball, Ryan Ramczyk decided to transfer to Wisconsin. After sitting out 2015 for transfer rules, he came on strong the next year starting every game at left tackle and earning first-team All-Big Ten honors and Associated Press All-American accolades.
Strengths: Fires out of stance with pads tucked under bent knees. Accelerates into man. Punch and extend drive blocker with hip flip to lock in. Pushes with flat back and flat footed follow through to sustain and move defender off his mark. Technician who has been taught the fundamentals. Good tape in both power and zone plays. Athletic, easy mover. Balance and body control are building blocks of his play. Initial footwork in run game is impressive. Urgent quickness in reach blocks. Smooth pass slides with hands that are always punch ready. Hands land with flat feet, great accuracy, force, and timing. Keeps his chin tucked and back flat. Utilizes stiff inside hand to protect against spin rushers. Keeps punch tucked near sides. Can reset his hands if long-arm defenders get into his body. In constant state of mirroring rusher and rarely breaks down early to lunge or lean around the edge. Excellent awareness against most rush moves.
Weaknesses: Has linear frame with narrow shoulders and short arms for the position. Lack of a broad frame makes protecting his edge more challenging at the pro level. Edge players with length land jabs to his frame to create separation. Will play too upright and straight-legged at times. Can't afford to be late out of stance as his first two kick slides won't gain much ground. Could have issues on redirect blocks against inside moves. Had arthroscopic surgery on torn labrum in hip that caused him to miss Wisconsin's bowl game, is expected to miss combine as well as pro day workouts due to recovery.
Projected Round: 1
Compares to: Joe Staley
Possible landing spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. Cam Robinson, Alabama
Bio: A five star recruit out of high school, Cam Robinson chose to play at Alabama. Over the next three years, he started every game at left tackle helping the Tide offense to playoff seasons each year.
Strengths: Large, proportional frame with ideal combination of thickness and athleticism. Fires into his target with a forceful pop generating early power and push. Can uproot defender and turn him out of hole as a drive blocker. Able to respond to power with power. Can work seamlessly from block to block in combos. Works and climbs to second level with controlled, tracking footwork. Has initial quickness to pull and land on defenders in space. Athletic enough to slide over and catch inside rushers. Usually works feet into position pre-contact in run game. Good length and gets decent extension in his first punch. Consistently gains necessary ground to the edge. Has feet necessary to mirror edge speed and flatten them over the rush arc. Plays to the whistle.
Weaknesses: Balance issues. Struggles with high-motor defenders. At times he ducks head into his run blocks, losing sight of a moving target. Narrow in-line power base due to lack of bend and excessive leaning. Weight creeps too far past his feet in both run blocks and pass protection. Inconsistent when sustaining blocks. On the ground more than a tackle should be. Has to learn to run his feet under him at contact. Can improve as move blocker with better angles. Feet go dead when punching from shallow pass set. Gets caught punching from heels of his feet and without much bend allowing speed-to-power rushers to blaze past him. Questionable instincts. On twists, dives down with defensive ends and will miss twisters around edge. Scouts will be checking into his background after he was arrested with a teammate with marijuana and a stolen handgun in their car.
Projected Round: 1
Compares to: Ereck Flowers
Possible landing spot: Detroit Lions
3. Garett Bolles, Utah
Bio: After overcoming self destructive behavior, Garett Bolles got his life together and enrolled in junior college. He decided to transfer to Utah where he would play well enough at left tackle to garner first-team All-Pac 12 recognition.
Strengths: Elite athletic ability with the best feet at the tackle position in this draft. Movement skills are smooth. There isn't an angle block he can't get to. Smooth climbs to linebackers as a work-up blocker, and has rare ability to accelerate from that block up to a third target. Has lateral quickness in run game to cross-face from backside and seal on the play-side. Can take quick steps, sinks, and scoops defensive ends on base blocks. Quick feet allow for more patience to scan for stunts. Can meet edge speed with quick sets in pass pro. Plays with a mean streak and loves to finish. Outstanding change of direction to mirror without a hitch in his transition. Keeps weight on inside foot in his slides. Moves feet into position against inside counters. Balanced in his pass sets and keeps blocks centered. Should get bigger and stronger with more weight work after unorthodox path to the NFL.
Weaknesses: Frame is a little narrow and legs are shorter than normal. Devoid of drive power in his lower level. Pad level rises and he struggles to generate much movement against stout outside linebackers at point of attack. Needs better knee bend into second-level contact. Inconsistent in sustaining his blocks. Power can toss him off balance. May be limited by scheme fit. Needs to keep hands inside to bolster strength in his base. Lacks trust in his core power against speed-to-power rushers. Leans into blocks with feet behind him to brace up. Will need sharper punch and more sink in his sets. Gives initial ground against power and doesn't always anchor quick enough. Will be 25 years old by opening day.
Projected Round: 1-2
Compares to: Cedric Ogbuehi
Possible landing spot: Chicago Bears
4. Zach Banner, USC
Bio: After redshirting and having surgery on both hips, Zach Banner finally got on the field for the Trojans in 2014. Over the next three years, he was a fixture at right tackle.
Strengths: Massive man with good upper-body strength. Has length and girth to overwhelm smaller defenders. Able to withstand a bull rush thanks to enormous frame. Powerful road-grader who blasts holes open as down blocker and generates movement with his base blocks. Leverage not always necessary to produce push at point of attack. Won't find him on the ground much. Decent athlete for his size. Functional combo blocker. Initial kick slide is fairly smooth. Can make life miserable for pass rushers when he latches strong hands into their frame. Could play right tackle but would need help against edge speed. Balance and redirect are defent.
Weaknesses: Weight management a big issue. Has seen weight balloon close to 400 pounds. Pass protection is a major concern. Could be too big and bulky to handle NFL edge talent. Lacks athleticism and quickness to recover when beaten. Slower than desired out of stance. Has to open early and lunge to protect the edge in pass pro. Rarely flat-footed at punch, relying on girth over technique. Takes wide route to his target with punch. Doesn't mirror well enough to keep defender from escaping from side once engaged. Lack of bend and high center of gravity could make move to the inside a challenge. Has had issues with penalties during time as starter at USC.
Projected Round: 2
Compares to: Rob Havenstein
Possible landing spot: Minnesota Vikings
5. Antonio Garcia , Troy
Bio: In four years at Troy, Antonio Garcia started 42 games at left tackle. He was an honorable mention All-Sun Belt pick in 2015 and a first-team all-conference selection as a senior.
Strengths: Extremely athletic. Very good lateral quickness coming out of stance. Former high school basketball player who still has basketball feet. Able to mirror pass rushers before and after engagement. Rarely beaten cleanly around edge by speed. Continues to slide feet and maintain engagement up and around pass arc. Works to keep his blocks centered in his power zone. Easily redirects back inside to chase an inside challenge. Has loose hips and quick feet providing recovery ability. Plays with his length. Fluid in space and can get to challenging angles. Keeps battling to anchor if he gets bumped early. Finds ways to get his man blocked no matter what.
Weaknesses: Under 300 pounds. Carries stringy frame with upper body that looks more like a defensive end a than offensive lineman. Lack of lower body strength caused by elevated pad level. Needs to bend hips to dip pad level below defender's. In pass protection, opens outside hip up early rather than staying square in initial stages. Hands take outside path to target and punch can be ill-timed, allowing rusher first strike into his frame. Defaults to lunging at target when he panics. Lacks anticipation against twists. Will have to add more bulk and strength. Grabs and holds to counter bull-rush. Narrow base carries no power as base blocker in run game. Footwork and angles inconsistent on reach blocks.
Projected Round: 2
Compares to: Sebastian Vollmer
Possible landing spot: Jacksonville Jaguars