One step closer to the start of the season, we made it through the combine and now the count down to the draft is down to 10 days and counting. Between now and the draft, my fellow colleagues and myself are going to break down each position and give you our Top Five prospects to look out for come draft day. Now, last season we all know what type of talent the draft delivered and they pretty much raised the bar on what to expect from draft classes in the future, including this one.
To me, this years draft class is all about offensive linemen. I know it is different for everybody else but being a former tackle/guard myself, I am usually all about the offensive line. Without the offensive line, you wouldn’t score, kinda obvious right? If you want solid production from your offense, you need guys on the front line who won’t crack under pressure. Don’t get me wrong, nobody is perfect, I had my share of holding calls, false starts and missed assignments, but as time goes on and you put in the work, you start to correct your mistakes and sharpen up your game.
Now, back in February, I did a Top Five for Offensive Linemen as a whole, which included tackles and guards. So you may see a few names that I have listed in these two upcoming articles, this one being tackles and my next one being guards, but will see some new faces as well. So with all this being said, I’m pretty sure you are anxious to see who made this list. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out our other Top Five draft prospects for this coming draft. Now let’s get things started and open up with the #1 prospect for Offensive Tackles.
- Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (6’6 306 lbs) – Combine Grade: 95.3 – I have him going #1 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs in this years draft. A completely new look in Kansas City, with Andy Reid being the new head coach and Alex Smith now under center, could definitely use a strong offensive tackle like Joeckel. He was a top performer in the 20 yard shuttle (4.68) and vertical jump (28.5). I really don’t see this kid going anywhere else but Kansas City, but if the Chiefs do end up passing on Joeckel, he will fit perfectly with any team who drafts him. Athletic tackle, pass protection is good and is decent when it comes to run blocking. He started all 13 games in his college run, protecting for quarterbacks like Ryan Tannehill and last seasons Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. He has had Freshman-All American honors, All Big 12 honors and won the Outland Trophy which is given to the best interior linemen in college football.
- Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (6’7 306 lbs) – Combine Grade: 91.3 – If anybody comes close to taking the #1 overall slot in this years draft, it is this man right here. In my mock draft, I had him going #4 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles, who really need to look at offensive linemen in the first round. Like I mentioned before he could still add more to his 6’7 frame when it comes to muscle and does have quick foot work. Top performer in the broad jump (9’8) and vertical jump (28.5). He has played a few games at guard and some right tackle his freshman year. He was apart of an offensive line that average 6.2 yards per play which was second best in the MAC and only allowed 14 sacks all season which was fourth best. Awesome pass protector, has a tall frame and long arms, could use them to his advantage. Needs to work more on his lower and upper body strength.
- Lane Johnson, Oklahoma (6’6 303 lbs) Combine Grade: 86.9 - I didn’t have him going in the first round of my mock draft, but after the combine he has, he could possibly jump into the 1st round either going to the Miami Dolphins or St. Louis Rams. He was a top performer in the 40 yard dash (4.72), vertical jump (34′), broad jump (118′) , 3 cone drill (7.31) and 20 yard shuttle (4.52). As a high school senior, he was an all-state quarterback, yes, QUARTERBACK! He played some tight end and defensive end around 2009 and 2010 and moved to offensive line in 2011. He started 12 games at right tackle in 2011 and moved to left tackle in 2012 where he started 11 games. Quick off the snap, good frame work, strong arm extension, consistent blocker. Down side of this, is his experience as an offensive linemen, can he handle the next level?
- D.J. Fluker, Alabama (6’5 339 lbs) – Combine Grade: 85.5 – I had Fluker going to the St. Louis Rams at #22 but could possibly slip up a few spots and head to either the Miami Dolphins or Dallas Cowboys. Was a redshirt freshman in 2009 where Alabama won their first BCS title against my Texas Longhorns. But he was apart of two out of three national championships as a starting player. He started at right tackle for 36 games during his time at Alabama. Needs to work on his speed and balance, he is a big guy so he will be tough to move. Strong run blocker, could have trouble when it comes to pass blocking as blitzing players can get around him quickly.
- Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6’5 306 lbs) - Combine Grade: 73.0 – A man who was a top performer and almost every combine drill they had, could possibly slip himself into the late first round with the Green Bay Packers or could be picked up early in the 2nd round. He ran a 4.71 in the 40 yard dash, 35.5 inch vertical jump, 112 inch broad jump and a 4.72 20 yard shuttle run. Started 12 games at left tackle during his senior season and replaced Dallas Thomas in the Senior Bowl. A very strong and athletic tackle, probably the most athletic I have seen in awhile, should have a good rookie season and career if he can stay healthy. Awesome arm extension, fast on pass protection so run blocking should not be a problem, especially if he pulls and has to seal a block on the outside. Needs to improve his lower body strength and limit or eliminate him lunging at defenders with his head down, this is one thing you never do as a player, especially an offensive linemen, an easy way to get beat off the ball and miss your assignment.