March 23, 2016 - Greg Gabriel
The Top 5 Offensive Tackles in the 2016 NFL Draft
Looking at the offensive as a whole, the 2016 NFL Draft is not nearly as strong on that side of the ball as some of the recent drafts. However that is not the case at the tackle position, where as many as four or five players could be selected in the opening round of the Draft next month in Chicago. Laremy Tunsil – Ole Miss As of right now, Tunsil is the odds on favorite to be the first pick in this year’s Draft. He has the natural physical tools to be a quality starter for years to come. Tunsil has height, bulk, length, athleticism and skill. He is a natural knee bender who is explosive on contact. In short he makes things look easy. Playing in the tough SEC, Tunsil has had to go against some of the best defensive linemen in college football and has consistently shown well against them. He can mirror in pass protection and doesn’t give ground versus bull rushers. He has no real negatives other than he missed half of the 2015 season due to an NCAA suspension. When he came back he looked as if he never missed a beat. He will become a starter the day he signs his contract. Jack Conklin – Michigan State – This name might surprise you. In league circles, the race for the number two tackle to be drafted is a close one between Conklin and Notre Dame’s Ron Stanley. At the Combine, Conklin proved to be bigger, faster and stronger than Stanley in every drill. On the field, Conklin plays with a more consistent intensity. Conklin has proved to be a physical run blocker who gets movement and consistently finishes. He can get to the second level and adjust on the move. In pass protection, he has a quick set and can mirror and anchor. He shows a strong punch and is able to control his opponents. Conklin is an underclassmen entering the draft so he is still young and will still get bigger, stronger and better. Some clubs are looking at Conklin as the safer pick at this time. Ron Stanley – Notre Dame Going back almost a year, Stanley has been looked at as being a possible top five type selection. There is no question that he has the physical traits and skill set to become a very good NFL tackle but there is a group of NFL people who question his intensity and demeanor. Watch tape and you see a tall guy with great feet and length. He can slide and recover as well as anyone. In the run game, he shows his inconsistency. He lacks the power at this time to consistently get movement and you will see some stalemates. His intensity level varies form play to play. When he was at the Combine, he did exceptionally well in the position drills, but his performance in the measurable drills (3-cone, 20 yard shuttle, long jump, vertical jump) was very average. He also did not bench. In a recent interview on Sirius XM he stated that he felt he would do only 20 reps of 225 which is well below average for a lineman. Next week, is the Notre Dame Pro Day and Stanley has his work cut out for him to regain the number two slot on many draft boards. Taylor Decker – Ohio State Turn on the tape of any Ohio State game and it’s easy to see why Decker is so highly thought off by NFL evaluator. He is a very physical guy who plays at a consistent high level of intensity. While he didn’t test out as being an overly strong guy (22 reps at the OSU Pro Day), he has a lot of power in his lower body and through his hips and he is consistently able to get movement with run blocks. In pass protection he can set, punch, anchor and mirror. He can get a little wide with his hands but that can be easily corrected. While Decker played his entire career on the left side at Ohio State, it wouldn’t surprise me if he at least starts his career on the right side in the NFL. Though he is very tall at 6’7, he has shorter arms (33 ¾”) for one so tall. His lateral agility is good, not outstanding and for those reasons he may be better suited for the right side. Germain Ifidi – Texas A&M In recent years. Texas A&M has done an outstanding job in developing offensive lineman. They have had a number of lineman taken in the premium rounds and this year will be no exception. Germain Ifidi entered the Draft as an underclassmen and he should have a bright future. His first two seasons as a starter were at guard and he moved outside to tackle this past season. He has tackle height and length (6’6”, 36” arms) to go along with good strength (25 reps). He also has good natural size (324). With only one year of experience at tackle, he still needs to improve his footwork and technique but the tools are there. Having only played on the right side at Texas A&M, I assume that is where he will play in the NFL. He may lack the required lateral agility to make the move to the left side.