After starting with the interior offensive line, we now move the most important position on the offensive line, the offensive tackle. The Browns have one of the best left tackles in the history of the game in Joe Thomas. On the other side, it is still a question mark.
I believe in Shon Coleman and think he will win the job, making the offensive tackle positions locked up and not a huge need for the 2017 season. But, there is still uncertainty at right tackle, so the Browns may take a look at the offensive tackle class in the upcoming draft. This year’s class of tackles is not great. It is one of the weaker and less deeper positions in the 2017 NFL Draft. But, there are some really good prospects who can start in the league. So with that, let’s take a look at my top five offensive tackles in the 2017 NFL Draft.
1. Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
Ryan Ramczyk is my No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2017 NFL Draft. He is a player with good athleticism and calm technique. Off the snap, he shows good initial quickness to either attack a defender in the run game or get into position in pass protection. He plays with good body positioning, staying square to his target. When he fires off and gets to a defender, he unloads a powerful punch that can affect the rushers’ attack. Overall, he is a good athlete with the movement skills you like to see in a left tackle. He shuffles his feet fluidly and quickly from side to side. His lateral quickness allows him to be good in mirroring his rusher and staying with any sort of speed rusher. The former Badger plays with a wide base and good arm extension. His athleticism allows him to get to the second level in the run game and block down field. He is a patient and calm blocker, who does not often get too nervous and aggressive to make blocks. He can recover using his calm demeanor and athleticism.
But, Ramczyk has some flaws in his game. He does not have the ideal arm length you would like in an offensive tackle, with just 33 ¾-inch arms. Longer edge rushers can get into his body, which can cause him to lose leverage. Off the snap, he takes really small steps out of his stance in pass protection, forcing him to make more steps than other linemen might take. On occasion in the run game, he can get a little overextended to try and reach a player to block. He also can get too high in stance, standing taller with not enough knee bend for leverage. Lastly, his health will need to be investigated after recovering from hip surgery this offseason. But in the end, he has the athleticism, calm demeanor and technique that will suit him well at left tackle.
2. Garett Bolles, Utah
Garett Bolles is one of the top offensive tackles in the class because of his great athleticism for a man his size. At 6-foot-5, 297 pounds, he is able to move so smoothly, giving him great mirror skills. He ranked in the top two of all the offensive linemen at the NFL Combine in the 40-yard dash, broad jump, 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, showing his great athleticism. He is able to shuffle his feet quickly, moving side to side in easy fashion. His ability to change directions helps him switch onto different rushers at a moments notice. He is quick off the snap, getting the right position to take on the opposing defender. His athleticism allows him to get to the second level of defenses and block down field. He plays with good knee bend, while keeping a good wide base. When he gets near a defender, he outputs a powerful initial punch that can really startle a defender. He is a player who plays all the way to the whistle and shows some really good toughness and nastiness in his game.
But, Bolles has some weaknesses in his game. The Utah lineman’s hands placement is inconsistent. He has a tendency to aim too high on defenders, which can lead to his balance to get shaky. His inaccurate hands placement can also allow defenders to get into his body. He can get too forward, with his upper body leaning in front of his legs, which can lead him to fall off blocks. Overall, he is not a powerful or strong lineman. He has a smaller lower half, so he does not produce a lot of leg drive on his blocks. He also can get bull rushed on occasion from the bigger, stronger defenders. Nevertheless, Bolles’ athleticism is outstanding, giving him the ability to be a really talented left tackle in the NFL.
(#72 LT Garett Bolles)
3. Cam Robinson, Alabama
Cam Robinson is a huge man with impressive strength and power to his game. At 6-foot-6, 322 pounds and 35 ½-inch arms, he has more than an ideal size for an offensive tackle. Through his size, he boasts great strength and power in his game. He can manhandle players using his long, strong arms to take hold of defenders and push them where he wants them to go. He is a player who can make holes in the run, plowing defenders out of the way. He displays a powerful and stunning punch when he gets to the body of defenders. His power comes from his complete bulky upper and lower body. He is always standing with good knee bend, giving him strong leverage on almost every play. What makes him suited for offensive tackle, likely right tackle, is his solid athleticism for a man his size. At the snap, he shows good initial quickness to explode either forward into run blocking situations or back in pass protection to get in position to take on the rusher. He has solid lateral quickness to mirror in pass protection and stay in front of rushers on the edge. His athleticism allows him to get to the second level and block down field, too.
But, Robinson is far from a clean prospect. He leans far too much in his stance, giving him some balance issues. He can lead with his head when blocking, which can lead to multiple problems. His leaning causes him to fall off blocks. Even though he can make it too the second level, he often misses targets, who are quicker or if he tries to dive to get to the player. His change of direction and feet are not fluid. He is clunky and can be tough to transition to different directions, leading to speed rushers beating him on the edge. His body positioning can be lazy, where he just reaches rather than moves his feet and body to stay in front. But, I believe he is a right tackle in the NFL with the power and solid athleticism to be a good one.
4. Antonio Garcia, Troy
Antonio Garcia has one of the higher ceilings in the class because of his great athleticism. He moves incredibly well for an offensive tackle and a player 6-foot-6. Off the snap, he shows good quickness to fire into his stance and be ready to make the block. He is best in pass protection. He has fluid hips and change of direction to quickly follow rushers in any direction. He has light feet with a quick shuffle. These traits give him a strong ability to mirror rushers in pass protection. He works to stay with rushers all the way around the rushing arc, keeping them away from the quarterback. He plays with good arm extension in pass protection, too. His ability to get into the right position helps him win against the defender. He quickly moves to the right body position to square up the rusher. His upper body is pretty strong, showing instances where he pancakes defenders with his upper body. He also displays a powerful punch when he contacts on blocks.
But, Garcia is far from a finished product. His hands placement is a mess. He can be too wide, often times almost hugging defenders rather than keeping his hands on the chest of the rusher. His hands can go too high, causing him to be higher in his stance and lose leverage. One of the biggest issues with Garcia is his weight. He weighed in at the NFL Combine at 302 pounds, but most say he played around 280 pounds in college. He lacks a stout lower body, which hurts his ability to drive on blocks. This makes his run blocking not a huge strength, because he does not drive players around to make holes. His weight will be a big issue for teams to have to deal with at the next level. But, Garcia’s athleticism gives him so much potential to be a starting left tackle in the NFL.
5. Roderick Johnson, Florida State
Roderick Johnson has the ideal size that teams would love to have in their left tackle. He stands at 6-foot-7, 298 pounds with incredible 36-inch arms. His length is his greatest asset. When he uses his full arm extension, rushers have an extremely tough time getting away from him. The Florida State lineman can latch onto defenders and can be very hard to get away from, sustaining the block until the play is away from him. His arms unload a lot of power and strength, especially in the run game. He can lay a powerful initial punch that takes the defender back and off his spot. He can drive players off their spot and create holes for the run game. He has solid snap reaction paired with good initial quickness to make the first move against the rusher. At his size, he is a solid athlete with the ability to shuffle his feet back into pass protection. He also can get to the second level to block down field. Overall, his size and length are tough to get around, allowing some wiggle room to recover if initially beaten.
But, Johnson is also a work in process. He is a leaner. He has a tendency to get his upper body ahead of his feet, causing some balance issues. He struggles with balance in pass protection. He can over shuffle to the outside, allowing defenders to beat him inside because of his weight is focused on the outside. Along the same lines, Johnson is a little stiff in the hips. This hurts his ability to change directions and shift to block a player on the other side of his body. His feet are choppy with short shuffles. His short shuffle can cause him to over compensate, leading him to shuffle his feet too quickly to try and stay ahead of the rusher, leaving him susceptible to the inside counter move. I think he also does not have the fluid and quick shuffle to face the top speed rushers on the edge. Lastly, he can improve his arm usage, more consistently keep his arms extending and at the right spot on defenders. Nevertheless, he has the length and strength to be a right tackle in the NFL with some more development.
(#77 LT Roderick Johnson)