Inside the War Room Offensive Tackle Edition
Top Offensive Tackles
In the 2014 NFL Draft we saw three offensive tackles go in the top eleven picks. This year we could see three senior offensive tackles go in the top ten picks. This senior class also has some intriguing prospects who could easily rise dramatically up the draft board.
- Cedric Ogbuehi Texas A&M 6-5 300
Look for Ogbuehi to continue the two year trend of Texas A&M having lineman drafted in the top ten of the draft. Ogbuehi is an outstanding athlete who excels in pass protection. He will also be shifting to left tackle next year just like his former teammate Jake Matthews did last season.
- Cameron Erving Florida State 6-6 302
Erving is a former defensive tackle who has only played two years on the offensive line at Florida State. It is very impressive that he has made this transition so smoothly; especially when you factor in he has started every game at offensive tackle since moving from defensive tackle.
- Brandon Scherff Iowa 6-5 320
Scherff is one of the strongest offensive tackles in this year’s draft. His strength allows him to excel as a run blocker, and adds a level of toughness to the offensive line. I worry about his lack of great athletic ability, and his high pad level.
- Eric Lefeld Cincinnati 6-6 309
Lefeld was the leader of an offensive line that led the American conference in rushing, and only allowed 12 sacks last season. I like the consistency Lefeld shows, and the fact he is solid if not great in all areas of offensive line play.
- La’el Collins LSU 6-5 315
Collins was named second team All-SEC after helping LSU rush for a school record 37 touchdowns last season. When scouting Collins his power and physical play stands out. His power and physicality allows him to excel as a run blocker. He does lack elite athletic ability and his best fit will be at right tackle in the NFL.
Sleeper Offensive Tackles
- Sean Hickey Syracuse 6-5 299 #7 OT
Hickey is one of the more athletic offensive tackles in the senior class. He has been working hard in the strength and condition program as well and has already added eight pounds of muscle this offseason. If he can continue to add strength, and has another stellar season look for him to earn a second round draft grade.
- Brett Boyko UNLV 6-7 310 #9 OT
Boyko is still learning the finer points of offensive player after playing quarterback in high school. When watching his film the first thing that stands out to me is the fact he has very long arms, which allows him to keep defenders away from his body. He might be best at right tackle though, since he lacks great feet.
- Ty Sambrailo Colorado State 6-5 310 #12 OT
Sambrailo was the leader of the Colorado State offensive line which helped their offense become the most productive offense in school history. He is also is a very consistent player grading above 89% in every game he played in last season.
- Jermaine Barton Illinois State 6-7 315 #16 OT
Barton is my highest rated small school offensive tackle in the draft. Barton is a big physical lineman who should garner a lot of NFL attention. His best fit will be at right tackle in the NFL.
Welcome to Miami
Last week one of the more interesting transfers of the year happened when Jake Heaps transferred from Kansas to Miami. This is the second time Heaps has transferred schools. He started his career off by attending BYU where he split time with quarterback Riley Nelson as a freshman, until Nelson was injured and Heaps took over for the remainder of the season leading the team to a 6-4 record. Heaps had an outstanding year breaking Ty Detmer’s freshman touchdown record, and overall threw 15 touchdowns and for 2,316 yards. Unfortunately, he could not improve on his freshman season as a sophomore and was benched during the season for former starter Riley Nelson. Heaps decided he would transfer from BYU after his sophomore year since he was no longer the starter.
In 2012 Heaps took a redshirt season due to the fact he transferred to another FBS school. He struggled last season completing only 49% of his passes and throwing ten inceptions compared to only eight touchdowns. On the positive side he did have a higher completion percentage and passing efficiency rating then last season’s backup Montell Cozart. He also played on one of the worst offenses in college football at the University of Kansas. Last season the Jayhawks ranked 117th in passing and 121st in points. Despite putting up significantly better stats last season Heaps lost his starting job to Cozart this spring, which was a leading factor in why Heaps decided to transfer to the University of Miami.
At the University of Miami Heaps will have to perform better than he did last season to earn the starting job. This fall he will compete with redshirt freshman Kevin Olson for the starting job. He will also face a major challenge from Ryan Williams who hopes to return from his torn ACL by the time Miami faces Nebraska on September 20th.
When evaluating his film the first positive thing that stands out is his untapped potential. He has decent arm strength, and is an above average athlete. I also like the fact he was a highly regarded recruit coming out of high school, and had a good freshman season at BYU.
I have a ton of concerns with this prospect though. The first one being that he is extremely raw both mentally, and mechanically. He throws way to many passes into double coverage, and overall makes a lot of decisions that are very questionable. His mechanics also need a lot of work. He tends to throw off his back foot a lot, and at times stares down his receivers. His accuracy needs work as well. Last season he only completed 49% of his passes, and threw a lot of passes that did not even come to close to being a catchable ball. The last major concern I have with Heaps is his poor production. By all accounts he had a horrible season at Kansas last season, and was benched at both Kansas and BYU.
While I currently don’t have Heaps on my draft board he is a player worth watching. Playing at Miami this season he will be playing with a lot better supporting cast, and in a better offensive system. If he can keep the starting job when Ryan Williams comes back, and is a productive starter he could garner some late round or priority free agent interest.
Who Fits What Scheme
One of the more interesting questions when evaluating offensive lineman is what type of lineman to build your team with the quick more athletic lineman, or the bigger physical lineman who lacks some athletic ability. A team answers this question based off of what they run offensively, and what this requires out of the position.
Teams that like quick athletic lineman the most are teams that run the zone offense. A classic example of a team that liked the smaller quick lineman was the Denver Broncos of the late 90’s. Some team that prefers this type of lineman currently are the Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, and New England Patriots. These teams require their lineman to pull a lot which requires good agility, and lateral movement which smaller guys tend to have more of than the big bulky lineman. The quick athletic lineman also tends to be better at cut blocking, and pass blocking due to their quick feet and agility. The biggest negative with this type of lineman is that they lack great power, and tend to not be the best fit in a power running scheme.
The teams that run a power running game like the San Diego Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers tend to like the bigger more physical lineman. These bigger offensive lineman tend to have several positives with the biggest positive obviously being the strength they have. I was talking to Briar Cliff coach Cory Miller this week on the issue, and he brought up an interesting point. According to him bigger lineman allows your offense to be simpler since you can just overpower teams, while smaller lineman requires you to have more movement on your offensive line, and it requires you to use more smoke and mirrors to be an effective offense.
One thing all NFL people can agree on though is that an NFL offensive lineman needs to be tall with long arms. This is so important because their long arms allows them to keep defenders away from their body, and reach defender easier. When looking at last year’s Pro Bowl roster every single lineman who made the Pro Bowl was over 6-2, and the average height for a Pro Bowl tackle was 6-5 while the average height for a Pro Bowl guard and center was 6-4.
When looking at this year’s draft class it is important to look at what schemes a team runs to help narrow in on the players they would have a strong interest in drafting. For example, if a team runs a power running game they will most likely pass on a player like Syracuse’s Sean Hickey since he lacks the size to fit in their scheme. While a team that runs a zone blocking scheme will more than likely pass on a player like Brey Cook of Arkansas because he lacks the athletic ability to do a lot of the things these teams ask their offensive lineman to do.
Ten Football Thoughts
- I think one of the most underrated players coming into the season is Iowa State center Tom Farniok. When watching him the first thing that stands out to me is his athletic ability. Iowa State pulls him a lot which he does very well. He also does a very good job of cut blocking. He is not the most powerful guy, but he should be a very good fit in a zone blocking scheme.
- I think Craig Bohl will be the leading candidate for the Nebraska job if Bo Pelini is fired after the season. Bohl took the head coaching job this year at Wyoming after leading North Dakota State to back-to-back National Championships. He graduated from Nebraska, and I have been told going back to his alma mater is his dream job.
- I think Dri Archer will have a significant impact this year for the Steelers on special teams. He will return kicks this year for the Steelers, and could also see time at RB and WR.
- I think it will be very interesting to see how well Chiefs LB Dee Ford does when the pads come on. He has gotten rave reviews so far in OTA which is not surprising since he is a player who relies on his athletic ability, and quickness. The concerns I had with him going into the draft had to do with how he would hold up physically which we won’t see until the pads come on.
- I think a quick edge pass rusher to keep your eye on this year is Alvin Dupree of Kentucky. Last season Dupree was named second team All-SEC after recording seven sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. He reminds me some of Dee Ford, and Marcus Smith who were first round draft picks last year.
- I think we lost one of the best coaches in football this week when Chuck Noll passed away. One thing that is often looked with Noll is the fact he brought a lot of talent in from small schools. Some of the players he drafted from small schools include Joe Greene from North Texas State, Mel Blount from Southern, John Stallworth from Alabama A&M, and Greg Lloyd from Fort Valley State.
- I think Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will be making the correct choice if he does not enter the 2015 NFL Draft. Winston is still very raw, and needs to develop more maturity before he enters the NFL.
- I think it’s interesting that more Hall of Famers went after the 7th round of the draft then in the second round of the draft.
- I think it stinks that there will be no NCAA15 football this year. There will be no game this year due to the lawsuit going on about using player likeness in video games, and in other areas.
- I think I am trying to model this article off of Monday Morning Quarterback with Peter King. I find King to be one of the best sports writers, and think his Monday Morning Quarterback article is one of the most informative articles on football. I hope this article can become the NFL Draft version of Monday Morning Quarterback eventually.
LSU DE Jordan Allen has transferred to Arizona. He will be eligible this season since he has already graduated. … Former Tulsa basketball player Pat Swilling Jr. will play football this year for Tulsa. … Former Indiana QB Tre Roberson will be attending Illinois State for his senior season. … The following seniors are leaving the University of Kansas football team RB Darrian Miller and WR Andrew Turzill. … The following players are leaving the Penn State football program G Anthony Alosi, WRs Richy Anderson and Jonathan Warner, and QB Austin Whipple…. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota will be eligible for the Senior Bowl since he has already graduated. .. Ohio State QB Braxton Miller has begun throwing lightly after having offseason shoulder injury. .. According to NewsOK.com Dorial Green-Beckham is now considering transferring to Oklahoma. … Georgia Tech defensive tackle Jimmie Kitchen has been suspended from the Georgia Tech football program, and is now looking to transfer to an FCS school. …