Top Five 2020 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. Jedrick Wills- Alabama
Bio: A five star recruit out of high school, Jedrick Wills played in 11 games as a true freshman for Alabama. After a solid sophomore campaign, he became a dominant right tackle and was named second team Associated Press All-American and first team All-SEC.
Strengths: Athletic, big, and wide frame. Hips are loose and feet are constantly moving. Quick off the snap to mirror defenders. Tight end speed in space to adjust to moving targets. Good leverage and dexterity at the point of attack. Flexes hips into contact with a lot of power. Plows through down blocks. Constant leg drive to sustain blocks in space. Basketball level quickness to mirror more athletic edge rushers. Pass protects with fixed base. Fires punches with either hand and quickly reloads for the next jab. Keeps composure against counter moves. Balance, feet, and power are elite in recovery. Gritty play demeanor.
Weaknesses: Shorter than the average tackle. Leans too far forward as a run blocker. Occasionally one punches rather than sustains blocks. Control and focus needs improvement in zone blocking sets. Tempo on second level blocks is inconsistent. Rarely see him latch and create space with hands. Blitz recognition and instincts are just average. Over extends in pass protection leads to sacks or pressures. Sometimes gets beat by inside spin moves.
Pro Comparison: Andre Smith
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: New York Giants
2. Andrew Thomas- Georgia
Bio: A five star recruit out of high school, Andrew Thomas was named a Freshman All-American after starting all 15 games at right tackle for Georgia. He moved to left tackle as a sophomore and earned second team AP All-American and first team All-SEC honors. He started 13 games at left tackle and was awarded first team All-American and first-team All-SEC accolades in 2019.
Strengths: Versatility playing both tackle spots. Fierce competitor. Quick lateral movements in the run game. Powerful hands that latch on like a vice. Serviceable redirection on second level adjustments. Quick movements to mirror and neutralize edge rushers. Great awareness against counters with out being out of position. Maintains base no matter how the play develops. Efficient latch skills on kick slides to make first punch. Rare skill at resetting feet to regain leverage and positioning. Neutralizes counter moves with strong right hand to get into defenders frame. Above average recovery to redirect defensive ends with force.
Weaknesses: Lacks prototype bulk with thin limbs. Slightly heavy legged on climbs to the second level. Stiff hips limit lateral movement and pad level for leverage. Top heavy into first contact without flexing hips. More of a fighter than body mover. Footwork to secure on kick outs needs improvement. Pass slides are tough and lack fluidity. Anchor gives way against speed to power edge rushers. Will get caught over extending in pass sets.
Pro Comparison: Trent Williams
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Arizona Cardinals
3. Mekhi Becton- Louisville
Bio: A four star recruit and two time Virginia state champion, Mekhi Becton contributed immediately for Louisville by starting 10 games at right tackle. The following year he started every game splitting time between both tackle spots. As a junior, he was a fixture at left tackle and earned first team All-ACC honors.
Strengths: Mammoth size with thick, proportional frame. Rare wingspan to help with emergency recoveries. Strong upper body knocks smaller edge rushers off their feet. Enough athleticism to make outside zone blocks. Lines up and drives feet to redirect defenders on lateral moves. Potential to crush the opposition with some more coaching. Size can finish plays technique can't. Pass sets are well balanced and fluid. Good positioning to launch punches on slides and pass sets. Gets down on guards side when outside rush leaves. Serviceable redirect to protect inside position.
Weaknesses: Weight management could be an issue if not kept in check. Opens up too early in outside pass sets. Gets off balanced when preparing to launch first punch. Limited natural quickness and must be compensated with better awareness on blitz and counters. Slow to react to inside twists. High hand placement hinders leverage at point of attack. Patience and control needs improvement as move blocker. Overreaches and works ahead of desired target. Has to use his length during blocks sooner. Needs to latch and control rather than shove on kick slides.
Pro Comparison: Orlando Brown
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Cleveland Browns
4. Tristan Wirfs- Iowa
Bio: The Iowa Class 2A Offensive Lineman of the Year, two time state champion in the shot put and discus throw, and state champion wrestler as a senior, Tristan Wirfs stayed home to attend Iowa. He was the first true freshman to start for Iowa under head coach Kirk Ferments at right tackle. As a junior he split time at both tackle spots and earned second team AP All-American and Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors.
Strengths: Elite body composition. Lean muscle mass on well proportioned frame. Versatile athlete as a wrestler and track & field star. Weight room warrior. Quick out of his stance and into his job. Good lateral quickness on move blocks. Runs zone blocks up field to create larger running lanes. Has the upper body strength to power opponents off his frame. Above average technique. Shifted from right to left tackle in some games. Basketball footwork in pass protection. Positioned hand with quick timed strike. Extended teeter with rushers around the arc. Punches and resets to combat counter moves. Awareness to look for defenders adjustments post snap.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent at utilizing dominant traits. Pads and head must remain level as a drive blocker. Average burst in pot first contact. Plays on his toes and shows stiff ankles. Inconsistent change of direction on the second level. Length is questionable to sustain blocks. Leans into pass sets with knees before ankles. Issues with over extending in both the run and pass game. Needs better control at the point of attack. Leans to outside on first punch, opening up his frame. Suspended the first game of 2018 for an OWI arrest.
Pro Comparison: Bryan Bulaga
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Seattle Seahawks
5. Josh Jones- Houston
Bio: Originally committed to Oklahoma State, Josh Jones chose instead to stay home and attend Houston. After redshirting his first season, he was the starter for all 13 games the following fall at left tackle. By his senior season, he was named second team All-AAC.
Strengths: Long frame with room to bulk up. Above average athlete with good knee bend. Able to get difficult play and back side blocks. Quick out of his stance and to the edge on pull blocks. Climbs with ease to get to the linebackers. Great and fast improvement from year to year. Hand placement has improved over the course of his college career. Smooth lateral movements to mirror edge rushers. Many of his flaws can be fixed with good coaching and should improve. Shows signs of being a fighter in the trenches.
Weaknesses: Too slow at getting his hands free and his arm length does nothing for him. Lacks understanding of angles as a move blocker. Needs better burst into contact as a drive blocker. Inconsistent body control due to poor core strength. Footwork and technique in pass sets still need refined. Feet need to stay set on first punch. Pass sets are often off balance, leaving shoulder open to speed rushers. Too much waist bending leads to poor anchor against bull rushers.
Pro Comparison: Bobby Hart
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Tennessee Titans
Other Notable Prospects
Austin Jackson- USC
- Great athleticism, poor technique
Trey Adams- Washington
- Rare height, underdeveloped frame
Prince Tega Wanogho- Auburn
- Athletic versatility, slow initial burst
Robert Hunt- Louisiana Lafayette
- Rare bulk and athletic traits, below average instincts
Matt Peart- Connecticut
- Long arms and frame, poor play strength
Terrance Steele- Texas Tech
- Good vision, stiff knees
Calvin Throckmorton- Oregon
- Tough and strong, short arms
Yasir Durant- Missouri
- Big frame, slow feet
Lucas Niang- TCU
- Physical run blocker, odd body type
Hakeem Adeniji- Kansas
- Good hands, sloppy footwork
Tyre Phillips- Mississippi State
- Broad frame, below average mirror
Jack Driscoll- Auburn
- Four position versatility, inconsistent hands
Alex Taylor- South Carolina
- Good foot quickness, poor center of gravity
Charlie Heck- North Carolina
- Son of an o-line coach, tall and high cut
Ezra Cleveland- Boise State
- Good technique, questionable play strength
Colton McKivitz- West Virginia
- Gritty demeanor, lacks length
Cameron Clark- Charlotte
- Long arms with big hands, penalty machine