Since the beginning of the 2014 NFL Draft process, offensive tackle has been considered one of the strengths of the class. As many as five offensive tackles could come off the board in the first round, with a handful of others close behind on the second day of the draft.
Since last summer, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews has been at the top of our board, but the order in which these linemen are picked could make for an interesting story on draft day. Off-the-field and injury questions are lingering for some of the top prospects, which could make things tough on NFL teams when drafting.
1. Jake Matthews | 6'5 1/2, 308 pounds | Offensive tackle | Texas A&M
Matthews grades out as one of the best prospects in this class regardless of position. What makes Matthews even more intriguing is his room for growth. When people see a tackle as pro-ready as Matthews, they assume he's close to maxing out his potential. But if Matthews can add strength, he could become one of the best tackles in the league.
2. Greg Robinson | 6'5, 332 pounds | Offensive tackle | Auburn **
Players like Robinson don't come along too often. He is the best run blocker in this draft class. He comes off the ball with so much force and sustains blocks. Teams may have a tough time getting a feel for just how well Robinson can pass block because he wasn't asked to do it often enough at Auburn. At least, not in the traditional sense. His technical flaws and inexperience definitely stand out, but he’s the type of player who won't have any issues translating physically to the NFL.
3. Taylor Lewan | 6'7 1/8, 309 pounds | Offensive tackle | Michigan
The physical attributes are there for Lewan. He's obviously big and powerful. He can handle playing left tackle because of his length and footwork. The question NFL evaluators will have about Lewan is about his technique. He doesn’t always keep a proper base and will reach too much. If he can take well to coaching, he should have a good NFL career.
4. Cyrus Kouandjio | 6'6 3/4, 322 pounds | Offensive tackle | Alabama *
In a vacuum, Kouandjio grades out as a first-round pick. However, the issue of his knee has surfaced leading up to the draft. For the most part, Kouandjio was solid in pass protection at Alabama. He anchors as well as any offensive tackle in his class and has enough length to make up for some of his technical flaws. While nobody will mistake Kouandjio for a mauling run blocker like Robinson, he does tend to push the pile in the ground game.
5. Morgan Moses | 6'6, 314 pounds | Offensive tackle | Virginia
Few players in this year's draft are as physically imposing as Moses. In both his build and playing style, he's a lot like Cordy Glenn of the Buffalo Bills. Speed of course will give Moses issues, but he's so long that he can reach to the outside and neutralize it. Moses doesn't make a lot of bad moves at tackle and from there his natural ability and power take over. He has shown he can mirror speedier rushers. Moses can dominate defenders at the point of attack and will drive players into the ground. In the run game, Moses is able to open up big holes by shoving a defensive end or linebacker to his left, opening things up for a big inside run.
6. Antonio Richardson | 6'5 3/4, 336 pounds | Offensive tackle | Tennessee *
On the surface, Antonio Richardson looks like he should be a dominant offensive tackle. He has the build for it as well as the quick feet and strength to be just what NFL teams are looking for on the offensive line. However, Richardson doesn't play with nearly enough balance, often bending at the waist and failing to recover after getting beat. When everything is going smoothly for Richardson, he has the ability to dominate. His technique just fails him a bit too often.
7. Ja'Wuan James | 6'6, 311 pounds | Offensive tackle | Tennessee
Based on how the two played during the 2013 season, an argument can be made that Ja'Wuan James is a better offensive tackle than his teammate Antonio Richardson. He doesn't present the same type of potential, though, because he doesn't have the flexibility or quick feet Richardson flashes. James has long arms and a strong punch with the strength to drive defenders, but he needs to get better in space and when it comes to containing the edge with smooth footwork.
8. Jack Mewhort | 6'6, 309 pounds | Offensive tackle | Ohio State
Mewhort got picked apart by Buffalo's Khalil Mack in the first game of the 2013 season, and that game exposed Mewhort's lack of foot quickness. It also showed why he may be better off on the right side in the NFL. Mewhort was often lined up on that side at the Senior Bowl and did well. Once Mewhort gets into his stance, he shows good power to control blockers. He can handle the bull rush and is smart enough to pick up inside rush moves. The speed moves, though, still give him issues.
9. Billy Turner | 6'4 7/8, 315 pounds | Offensive tackle | North Dakota State
Billy Turner has a ton of athletic potential but is still a ways away from reaching that ceiling. He's light on his feet and moves well. He also has a nasty attitude when blocking and a ton of strength. Even against Kansas State and at the Senior Bowl, Turner showed off that strength, so it wasn't just his level of competition making him look strong. However, he needs to improve his balance in space and limit how much he lunges when he blocks. Turner has the strength to anchor if he was a bit more patient with his punch and got a bit lower in his stance when blocking.
10. Brandon Thomas | 6'3 1/4, 317 pounds | Offensive tackle/Guard | Clemson
A left tackle at Clemson, Thomas could have a future at right tackle or, maybe even better, guard. He certainly has the blocking mindset to play guard. He's a powerhouse run blocker with a mean streak. A three-year starter at Clemson, Thomas is a smart player who knows how to play the angles or pick up blitzes. Where he struggles is against speed rushers. Thomas' kick slide should be faster, and he'll be late out of his stance at times. He'll also get bent over at the waist instead of the knees. If he can get coached up some, though, Thomas should be a solid NFL player.
11. James Hurst | 6'5, 296 pounds | Offensive tackle | North Carolina
Had Hurst not suffered a broken leg as a senior, he would likely be considered much higher in the draft. Don’t forget, he fared well against Jadeveon Clowney at the start of the season. He also would have benefited from attending an all-star game. Hurst is solid both as a pass blocker and a run blocker. He has good length and gets good hand placement. Speed rushers will give Hurst trouble if his initial step is beaten. He doesn’t show the foot speed to continue working the edge. Too often, Hurst will overextend his arms and lose leverage. He may be better at right tackle in the NFL. He can be hard to push around at the line.
12. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif | 6'5, 315 pounds | Offensive tackle | McGill
13. Seantrel Henderson | 6'7 1/8, 331 pounds | Offensive tackle | Miami
14. Cameron Fleming | 6'4 7/8, 323 pounds | Offensive tackle | Stanford *
15. Justin Britt | 6'6, 315 pounds | Offensive tackle | Missouri
16. Wesley Johnson | 6'5 3/8, 297 pounds | Offensive tackle | Vanderbilt
16. Charles Leno | 6'4, 304 pounds | Offensive tackle | Boise State
17. Michael Schofield | 6'6 5/8, 301 pounds | Offensive tackle | Michigan
18. Cornelius Lucas | 6'8, 316 pounds | Offensive tackle | Kansas State
19. Ryan Groy | 6'4 5/8, 316 pounds | Offensive tackle | Wisconsin
20. Matt Patchan | 6'6 1/4, 302 pounds | Offensive tackle | Boston College
21. Jimmy Bennett | 6'9, 306 pounds | Offensive tackle | Connecticut
22. Jake Olson | 6'8, 305 pounds | Offensive tackle | Central Michigan
23. Chris Martin | 6'5, 303 pounds | Offensive tackle | Central Florida
24. Aaron Williams | 6'5, 324 pounds | Offensive tackle | Arkansas State
25. Jeremiah Sirles | 6'6, 310 pounds | Offensive tackle | Nebraska