We at WFNY have been taking an early glance at the 2018 NFL Draft, given how slow and painful the Browns season has been. There is little hope left for the 2017 NFL season, so many fans’ eyes have shifted toward the offseason and the 2018 NFL Draft. WFNY’s Jake Burns and Joe Gilbert are here to help facilitate that transition by taking an early look at what each positions class could be like in April.
Today, we have moved our attention to the trenches, focusing in on the offensive tackle position. The offensive tackle spot is an important position as they are in charge of the edges of the pocket, blocking some of the best defensive athletes from getting to the ball carrier.
So with all that, let’s take an initial look at what we might see in the 2018 offensive tackle class.
|Joe Gilbert’s Top 5 OTs||Jake Burns’ Top 5 OTs|
|1. Connor Williams, Texas||1. Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame|
|2. Orlando Brown Jr., Oklahoma||2. Mitch Hyatt, Clemson|
|3. Mitch Hyatt, Clemson||3. Connor Williams, Texas|
|4. Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh||4. Tyrell Crosby, Oregon|
|5. Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame||5. Orlando Brown Jr., Oklahoma|
Best of the Rest: Toby Weathersby (LSU), Martinas Rankin (Mississippi State) and Chukwuma Okorafor (Western Michigan), Desmond Harrison (West Georgia), Jamarco Jones (Ohio State), Will Richardson (NC State)
Which offensive tackle do you feel stronger about than most people?
Joe: The player I feel stronger about than many people is Mitch Hyatt of Clemson. Hyatt is not an unknown, but most people do not have him as their No. 3 offensive tackle in the class. Hyatt has good length and a solid frame to add more weight, paired with good athleticism. One of the best qualities is his composure. He does not rush his technique or playing style. He is a good pass blocker, along with a tackle who can pave some holes for the run game. He just gets the job done.
Jake: I enjoy what Tyrell Crosby brings to the table in Oregon. It’s tough to evaluate tackles who come from quick hitting spread systems, but Crosby brings an element of toughness and finishing that might be unmatched in this class. He has great feet and power when called upon against speed rushers, and he is able to anchor down when going against the bull rush as well. With some coaching, he may end up challenging as the best tackle in this class.
Who is your No. 1 offensive tackle in the class and why do you believe he is the best offensive tackle?
Joe: Connor Williams is my No. 1 offensive tackle because he has a rare combination of power, technique, size and feet. He is one of the cleanest tackles in terms of technique with his feet, body position and hands. He can really move defenders out of the way with his power, making him a strong run defender. His feet help in pass protection and in getting to the second level to block in the run game. He is equally good at pass protection and run blocking.
Jake: Mike McGlinchey is my No. 1 tackle in this class and it’s really a feel thing for me. He has overwhelming size and strength and is a really great athlete but he lacks in top end foot speed for the position. My feeling is that he will make that development through the right system to handle the types of speed rushers we see in the NFL. He is really solid in every phase of the game already, and if he improves his get back off the ball initially he can be a franchise left tackle in the future.
What are your thoughts on the overall offensive tackle class? How would you rate the class?
Joe: I don’t think there is a can’t miss elite talent in the class, but overall I like the depth in the top half of the class. I think there are a lot of good players with different skill sets that could possibly be taken in the first two or three rounds. Compared to last season, I think this class is deeper with the same level of leading talent with no real elite, can’t miss prospect. This class should produce quite a bit of starting quality offensive tackles.
Jake: This is generally a poor class. After the top three prospects, you’re running a risk of being left with a major project type player who has little to no guarantee of ever contributing at a key tackle position for your offense. Even Hyatt, McGlinchey, and Williams leave plenty to be desired. I have long-term concerns about Orlando Brown in the NFL. I think he may even be moved inside at some point.
Who has the best single skill set and what is that skill set?
Joe: I believe Orlando Brown Jr.’s power and strength is the best skill set in the class. Brown is a massive and I mean massive man with the power and strength to go with his size. Listed at 6-foot-8, 345 pounds, Brown can move defenders like a common man moves a chair. There are numerous examples where he is tossing defenders out of the way or pancaking them. His power and strength can really be amazing to watch.
Jake: Mitch Hyatt’s foot speed is the best in the class. He is able to get back on just about any type of rusher, as we saw him against Florida State’s Josh Sweat and NC State’s Bradley Chubb. Mix the foot speed of Hyatt with his hip bend and leverage skills and he is about as close as we have to really quality sure thing at left tackle in this class. He doesn’t have McGlinchey’s ceiling, but his basement is much higher.
Who is a sleeper offensive tackle who you are keeping an eye on?
Joe: I think Jamarco Jones of Ohio State is a player to keep an eye on. He has a lot of the things teams look for in an offensive tackle. He has a good frame and great length. He has gotten better over time at Ohio State, improving his performance throughout his career. With more development, I think he has so much potential to be a starting left tackle in the league.
Jake: Not many people know about West Georgia’s Desmond Harrison as he transferred from Texas following a season long suspension in 2014. It’s been a long road for the young man, but he seems to have found his way at West Georgia and the talent is real. He has NFL size, quickness, athleticism and length. His combine and Senior Bowl, should he go, will be important factors in his draft stock, but he might be a fun late name to keep an eye on.
What is the impact of this offensive tackle class to the Browns?
Joe: The Browns will definitely need to start looking to find the eventual replacement of left tackle Joe Thomas. With his career coming to end sooner rather than later, the Browns may need to look earlier than usual to find a left tackle for the future. I think Shon Coleman is the future at right tackle, so the Browns will need to address the future of the blind side. A second or third round pick would not be out of the realm of possibilities for the Browns to look at an offensive tackle in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Jake: Like Joe said, the Browns have to entertain the idea of replacing Joe Thomas eventually and the torn triceps Thomas suffered earlier in this season has only made the idea more prevalent. The problem will be where they want to spend that draft capital. I don’t see them going after a tackle early this year, and that’s fine. They will probably aim for something in round three where they hope to find a hidden gem.
Connor Williams Highlights
Mike McGlinchey Highlights
Mitch Hyatt Highlights
Tyrell Crosby Highlights
Orlando Brown Highlights