When it comes to maximizing value in the NFL Draft, getting the big guys early is always an effective strategy. However, if a team can find formidable big men late in the draft, that team is only maximizing value even further.
The 2011 NFL Draft is not considered to boast a strong group of offensive linemen, at least at the top. There is not a true number one tackle in this class, and not much is separating the top five tackles from one another. The strength of this class lies in its depth. Teams could be able to identify sleepers in the later rounds rather than reaching for a non-elite lineman in the first round.
Here at Mocking the Draft, we are compiling a team full of sleepers. In order to be a considered a sleeper, a player must not be a first round prospect, and should not be a consensus top five player at his position. Today we field the entire offensive line.
Offensive Tackle - Joseph Barksdale, LSU
In the fight for the top offensive tackle in the 2011 NFL Draft, it is astonishing that Joseph Barksdale's name does not come up more often. Barksdale is a better athlete than he is given credit for at the left tackle position. In addition his technique is the best I have seen out of any tackle in this draft class. He gets terrific knee bend and keeps his pads low when blocking. Barskdale also has long arms and uses them to his advantage with ideal arm extension in his blocks. His ability to get to the next level, and be isolated one on one are both top notch. Joseph Barksdale has the size and strength of an ideal left tackle prospect.
Offensive Tackle - James Brewer, Indiana
James Brewer has the upside to start at left tackle in the NFL, but will more than likely be eased into action at right tackle. At 6'6'' tall and 320 pounds, Brewer has excellent size for an NFL lineman. At his size, his athleticism is astonishing. Unlike some prospects his size, he gets adequate knee bend and has pretty agile feet. Meanwhile, his strength lies in his ability to sustain blocks at the point of attack, and the fact that he has the range to get to the second level of the defense. He'll be a steal in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft.
Offensive Guard - Will Rackley, Lehigh
Will Rackley is picking up steam heading into the 2011 NFL Draft. He drew quite the crowd of scouts at his pro-day and did not disappoint during the workout. He has three ideal characteristics of a successful interior lineman; a mean streak, strong work ethic, and ideal strength. Rackley could hear his name called a lot earlier than most expect.
Offensive Guard - John Moffitt, Wisconsin
John Moffitt was a huge reason for the success of Wisconsin's ground game this passed season. He may not have stood out during his combine workouts, but the kid is a football player. Moffitt is an all around solid player, and he will get overlooked because he is not necessarily elite in any one area. However, elite talent is not always needed to be successful at guard in the NFL. Moffitt has enough skill and all of the intangibles to be a long time starter in the NFL.
Center - Tim Barnes, Missouri
Barnes is borderline considered a top five center in the 2011 NFL Draft, but he is right on the edge, and thus qualifies for this list. Barnes is a terrific technician with outstanding quickness in the running game. He immediately engages in his blocks and gets to the next level often. His pass protection could use some work, but Barnes is an adequate athlete and very intelligent, making him a coachable kid. The Missouri center will make a team very happy on day three of the 2011 NFL Draft.