2018 NFL Draft: Offensive linemen

This is a pretty solid draft for offensive lineman, with both quality and depth. 

Offensive Tackles:

Connor Williams: Supremely talented. Can win at the first and second levels on running plays. Excellent at battling pass rushers. Even if they win at contact Williams is tenacious at bouncing back and stopping forward momentum. Quite difficult to beat with an outside rush as he has excellent timing and technique. Very rarely penalized.The Longhorns offense was notably worse when Williams was absent. I’m a big fan of Williams and expect him to be a quality NFL left tackle. (Update: Apparently the concern with Williams is he might not have the length to play left tackle. His arms were 33 inches at the combine. I think those concerns are rubbish.)

Mike McGlinchey: Excellent run blocker. Good power at the point of attack and vision to block at the second level. Some issues in pass protection as he has a high center of gravity and has difficulty winning on initial contact. Relies on length and technique rather than agility and athleticism on speed rushes, which gets him into some trouble. His skill-set might be better suited to right tackle, but teams will see if he can make it work at left tackle first. Apparently teams have Williams and McGlinchey rated fairly closely together. I’m not seeing that and would strongly prefer Williams.

Chukwuma Okorafor: I love Chuk, and not just because we share a birthday. His length (34.5 inch arms), and mobility are excellent. He has a lot of power on initial contact, which occasionally gets him into problems via holding penalties. He has tremendous power, but sub-optimal technique. His instincts aren’t great which leads to pass-rushers having a chance to grab the initial advantage. The thing is, he was successful with sub-optimal technique in the MAC. His raw talent is quite high. He will require significant coaching at the next level, but I’d rather gamble on a dude who’s ceiling is elite rather than a guy with solid technique who might not have the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL. Huge upside pick.

Tyrell Crosby: It’s an open question as to whether or not he can play in space at the next level. There are concerns about his length (32.5 inch arms), flexibility, footwork, and power. There are a lot of boxes you need to check off to be a quality left tackle in the NFL. I’m agnostic on the issue. On one hand, Crosby has very good upper body power. He attacks pass-rushers and was very good at handling a variety of stunts and moves. However, he didn’t have the ability to coordinate his hips and legs with his upper body efficiently. That means he was great against bull rushes where he could just anchor himself, but less effective at holding his position after initial contact where he wasn’t able to set himself. It’s an open question whether or not he’ll have to move right tackle or inside to guard. Oregon’s opposition wasn’t good enough to provide a clear answer, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Orlando Brown: If he had skipped the combine to hang out with Colin Kaepernick and kneel outside of police departments, it wouldn’t have hurt his draft stock more than actually showing up. His measurables of height, weight, and length were all premium, but athletically he was a disaster. Even worse, he was weak, managing a mere 14 bench presses (225 pounds). He’s 6’7, 345 pounds, with 35 inch arms. That alone means he’s tough to get around or through. On film the only major weakness I saw was range. His slow foot speed and poor lateral agility meant he was limited in his ability to impact a play. I can see him working at left or right tackle so long as the team that drafts him accepts his limitations. Pre-combine I had him as a late-first rounder. Now I figure he’ll be available on day two.

Martinas Rankin: He blocks in two different fashions. He has a very quick punch, which unfortunately can be hit or miss. The whiffs are a real problem. Otherwise he prefers to let defenders come to him rather than extend his arms and create initial contact. NFL coaches are going to need to work on his technique, particularly vs. the outside rush. He has good mobility, but I’m concerned that he doesn’t have the power to dominate at the next level. He might be forced to move inside to guard. Despite Brown’s combine from Hell, I’d rather gamble on his upside.

Kolton Miller: Dude us 6’8, 309 pounds, with 34 inch arms. That comes with the strengths and limitations you’d expect. His center of gravity is high and his agility is suspect. On film, he did a good job of positioning and getting to the second level. On film, Brown looked better to me, but Miller had a much better combine and may end up coming off the board first. The big question for me is how much lower body power Miller can add. If he can’t add much, he won’t be able to hold his position against power rushers. His upside is that he can be a tackle in the Nate Solder/Jared Veldheer mold. To use the modern vernacular, Solder and Veldheer were both “thicc” where Miller is lean, and that’s my main concern.

Jamarco Jones: Didn’t impress me at first. As I saw more of him I noticed he made few mistakes. When a defender got an advantage over him, Jones did a great job of pushing him away from the quarterback before he broke free. Eventually he won me over with his general competence. He might not be quite good enough to play left tackle in the NFL, in which case I’d expect him to do a fine job at right tackle. Will be a great value if he somehow falls to day three.

Brian O’Neill: Polarizing prospect. He went from basketball to tight end to right tackle to left tackle. He won with athleticism, which allowed him to maintain a number of bad habits. Like Rankin, he likes to shoot for a quick punch, which the corresponding whiff problem. If he can be properly trained, he has the power and athleticism to be a quality left tackle. That’s a big “if” though, so the question is how high do you want to take a developmental prospect? Boom-bust pick.

Will Richardson: I can’t tell if he was poorly coached at NC State, or if he just don’t have great football instincts. Given his athletic gifts, he should have been more effective than he was. There are four potential NFL outcomes:

1. Proper coaching fixes his issues. He can be a serviceable left tackle.

2. His ceiling is right tackle.

3. He has to move inside to guard.

4. He’s just not fixable. Bust.

At some point on day three the reward outweighs the risk. I wouldn’t use a day two pick on him

Guards:

Quenton Nelson: Nelson plays with a tremendous blend of power and technique. His spatial awareness is fantastic and he’ll block in a fashion that assists his line-mates. Like Barkley, he’s close to a perfect prospect. The only flaw I can find with Nelson is he might be a bit too aggressive, trading power for consistency, but his hit rate (literally) was high enough that I think it’s worth occasionally getting off balance. After the potentially elite quarterbacks and Chubb, Nelson should be the first player off the board.

Isaiah Wynn: Did a great job at left tackle at Georgia. He projects at a guard in the NFL due to his height (6’2) and length (33 inch arms). I’m a bit concerned about the move because it exposes him to the interior monsters on the defensive line. He has great hand technique and above-average mobility. Given his talent and experience, he should be able to find a position at the next level. I’m just not certain what that position is. It might be worth it to see if he can handle playing tackle at the next level. If not, plan B can be to add weight and power to hold down the fort inside. Plan C might be to learn to snap the ball. Wynn is too good not to find a position. I just wish I could be more certain as to what it will be.

William Hernandez: Feet of clay, but man, he kicked ass at UTEP. His power was just unfair against that level of competition. So long as you don’t ask him to move much, he’ll be able to hold his ground at the next level. I’m a fan of Hernandez and I expect him to be a quality NFL guard. Worth a 1st round pick.

Austin Corbett: Was a four-year left tackle at Nevada. It doesn’t look like he has the skill-set to handle tackle at the NFL level, so the question is where he should move inside. I think he fits best at left guard, but he might end up at center. Corbett has great footwork, but second-tier power. Like Wynn, he’ll need to find a proper fit. The difference is Wynn is much more athletically gifted. I’d pass on Corbett unless my coaching staff was confident in his future roll.

Braden Smith: Inconsistent technique. Struggled with awareness in space, particularly at the second level. But man, when he got his hands on you he was great. He’s played both tackle and guard. I wonder if he’ll get a shot at tackle at the next level. His film at Auburn was mixed. The good plays lead me to believe he has a high ceiling and might be worth taking ahead of Corbett. I guess his eventual position will be wherever the coaching staff feels they can best harness his gifts. Lot of upside here.

Centers:

Billy Price: Showed significant growth in 2017, correcting the errors that had plagued his game previously. He switched from guard to center, and still has power to play guard at the next level. His biggest weakness is his footwork immediately after the snap. Defenders can put him out of position with a good initial rush. If he can square up, his power is excellent. Continued refinement of his technique should make him an effective pro wherever he ends up on the line.

James Daniels: Better technique and athleticism than Price. He’s more familiar with the position and a better fit at center. However, he lacks Price’s power. The question for a team choosing between the two is whether you want to gamble on Daniels in the weight room or Price in the film room. I’d bet on Price because his fail case of moving to guard is better than Daniels’ case of moving to the bench. Truth be told, I expect both to succeed.

Frank Ragnow: Very tricky pick. Ragnow is recovering from an ankle injury that ended his season. If healthy he’s an excellent run-blocker. His blend of power and technique was elite. His pass protection wasn’t on the same level, partly due to his footwork. He also didn’t have the same level of power when he had to hold a spot rather than attack it. His upside is that of a quality center, but if his ankle is bothering him, this could be a complete whiff. That’s a question for the medical staff and is above my pay grade.

Mason Cole: Tricky to evaluate, but for different reasons than Ragnow. Cole played at left tackle last season, which wasn’t an optimal fit for his skill-set. Inside he has a good blend of power and technique. He doesn’t have the upside of any of the players listed above him, and I wouldn’t consider taking him until day three.

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