In an effort to get through all of the positions before the draft, I’ll be just shortly naming some of the prospects to watch in this draft class, as well as some potential sleepers and maybe busts. This isn’t nearly as in depth as I’d prefer to go, but for the sake of getting them done, they’ll be pretty concise.
It’s been talked about, almost ad nauseam, how the NFL is a passing league, and how Quarterbacks are breaking records almost yearly because teams are throwing so much more than in the past. This puts a premium on pass protection, and negating the pass rush that teams are spending obnoxious amounts of money on. Also, ultimately at the end of the year, the teams that succeed are the teams that can run the ball successfully, and Runningbacks struggle to have success without a good Offensive Line. Maybe most interesting is that both of my top two “Interior” players played Left Tackle collegiately, but project best as Guards. This year’s class in the trenches is pretty solid, both at Tackle, as well as in the interior. I’m going to list both in this article, and will also combine Guard and Center as “Interior”.
Top OT Prospect: Andrus Peat Stanford 6’7” 313
As much as this kills me as a former O-Lineman, to say this, Andrus Peat has the highest ceiling in this class at Tackle, and he’s a fine prospect. My main issue with Peat, despite his upbringing through Stanford’s Pro-Style power run offense, is that Peat is soft. Like get him a coloring book soft. But he’s got the frame, and technically he’s very good. If you can add a mean streak to Andrus Peat, you’re looking at a perennial Pro-Bowler at Left Tackle.
Top Interior Prospect: La’El Collins LSU 6’4” 305
Collins probably projects best to Left Guard in the NFL, after a successful career in Baton Rouge at Left Tackle. Collins lacks the ideal length of a blindside protector at the next level, but is a nasty and tenacious run blocker, and plays with a mean streak, thus part of why I have him ranked over Peat. Collins could potentially play Right Tackle if needed or asked to in the NFL, but at the very worst he’s a rock solid Guard in the NFL.
Biggest Bust Potential: T.J. Clemmings Pittsburgh 6’5” 309
A converted Defensive Tackle, Clemmings was moved to Offensive Tackle, and uses his athleticism and strength to win. Clemmings is a nasty run blocker and has good feet, but is so raw at this point, it would be easy for a team to over draft Clemmings and put him in a position to fail. He’s got quite a ways to go with his footwork, and should probably initially start at Guard and allow him to move outside as needed.
Biggest Sleeper: Trenton Brown Florida 6’8” 355
Being one of, if not the biggest prospect in this year’s draft, Brown may definitely be the draft’s “biggest” sleeper, terrible pun intended. Brown only played part-time at Florida, from what I could tell it was more for lack of conditioning, which is expected at that size, however it’s something that can be worked on. Brown struggles to maintain blocks past the initial punch, but his ability to move people due to his sheer size almost makes up for it. Brown will be a late round pick, but his potential is nearly as big as he is. He’s only a Guard in the NFL, though.
Small School Stud: Ali Marpet Hobart 6’4” 307
Division 3 stand up! Marpet was the only D3 player invited to the Senior Bowl or the Combine, and he impressed at both events. At the Senior Bowl, Marpet was much better once moved inside to Guard, but wasn’t in awe of the level of competition, which bodes well for the small school All-American. Coming from a run-first offense at Hobart, it was encouraging to see Marpet look so natural in pass protection in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. Marpet has generated a pretty significant amount of buzz, and could be selected as early as the late 2nd round.
My Tackle/Interior Rankings:
- Andrus Peat Stanford 6’7” 313 1st Round
- D.J. Humphries Florida 6’5” 307 1st Round
- Jake Fisher Oregon 6’6” 306 2nd Round
- Ereck Flowers Miami (FL) 6’6” 329 2nd Round
- Cedric Ogbuehi Texas A&M 6’5” 306 2nd Round
- Donovan Smith Penn State 6’6” 338 3rd Round
- Rob Havenstein Wisconsin 6’7” 321 3rd Round
- Ty Sambrailo Colorado State 6’6” 311 4th Round
- Daryl Williams Oklahoma 6’5” 327 4th Round
- Corey Robinson South Carolina 6’7” 324 4th Round
- La’El Collins (G) LSU 6’4” 305 1st Round
- Brandon Scherff (G) Iowa 6’5” 319 1st Round
- Cameron Erving (C) Florida State 6’5” 313 1st Round
- Josue Matias (G) Florida State 6’5” 309 2nd Round
- Tre Jackson (G) Florida State 6’4” 330 2nd Round
- Laken Tomlinson (G) Duke 6’3” 323 2nd Round
- A.J. Cann (G) South Carolina 6’3” 313 3rd Round
- Ali Marpet Hobart 6’4″ 307 4th Round
- B.J. Finney (C) Kansas State 6’4” 318 4th Round
- Jeremiah Poutasi (G) Utah 6’5” 335 4th Round