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. I wasn’t able to go as far in depth this year as I did last year, but enough to develop a feel for the class and compile my rankings.
It’s been very well known for a while in the NFL, they have a quarterback problem. There simply aren’t enough good quarterbacks to go around. So how do you help propel lesser quarterbacks? Protect them. Simply put, quarterbacks are much more effective when they’re provided adequate amount of time to read the defense and make the right decision. The other way to help boost a quarterback? RUN THE DAMN BALL. That’s where the offensive line comes in. This year’s class has good depth, especially on the interior, but some pretty nice tackles at the top end as well.
Top OT Prospect: Laremy Tunsil Ole Miss 6’5″ 310
The former 5 star recruit in 2013 didn’t disappoint during his time in Oxford, MS, and was simply the best offensive tackle in college football this past season. He only played a half of the season in 2015 due to an investigation, and came basically off the bench and shook off the rust vs Myles Garrett, a consensus first round pass rusher for 2017 from Texas A&M. He’s nasty in the run game, and at 21 years old, offensive tackles simply aren’t supposed to be as polished as he is. He’s a day 1 above average starter in the NFL at left tackle.
Top Interior OL: Ryan Kelly Alabama 6’4″ 311
The Crimson Tide ran all over everybody in 2015, and maybe even a bigger part of that than Derrick Henry, was Ryan Kelly. The best center in this class, Kelly has been hailed by Lane Kiffin as being potentially the most important piece of their offense. He made all of the protection and run scheme calls, and is an incredibly smart player. He’s a day 1 starter in the NFL, and should develop into one of the best centers in the game.
Biggest Bust Potential: Jack Conklin Michigan State 6’6″ 308
Conklin was under recruited coming out of HS, so it was extra impressive when he jumped onto the scene in 2014 playing well vs Randy Gregory and Joey Bosa. Despite his impressive play over his career, he’s being touted as a top tier offensive tackle, and I just don’t see it. He plays mean, which you like to see, but his footwork is a mess. He’s a better fit at guard, but could probably also play right tackle. However, someone is gonna draft him too high, and play him at left tackle. “Bad teams stay bad.”
Biggest Sleeper: Denver Kirkland Arkansas 6’4″ 335
Denver Kirkland is not small. He’s an absolute road grader in the run game, and he’s a 25 dollar taxi cab ride to get around. Coming out of the Arkansas program, Kirkland is well versed in a gap power run scheme and should be a day 1 starter inside at either guard spot. He has experience playing left tackle in college as well, so he has some positional versatility. Kirkland tested woefully at the combine, but if you’re drafting Kirkland to be an athlete, you’ll be disappointed. He’s a lunch pail guy, and one of my personal favorites in this class.
Small School Stud: Dominique Robertson West Georgia 6’5″ 324
A former juco kid, Robertson also stopped at Texas Tech for a cup of coffee before transferring to D2 West Georgia. He’s very long, with 36 inch arms, and bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times, incredibly impressive for someone with arms that long. He’s a late round guy, people will question the level of competition and why he went through three schools, but he’s a “tools” type prospect late in the draft, and if he booms, it’s a great find. If he busts, it was a late round pick.
My Offensive Tackle Rankings
1. Laremy Tunsil Ole Miss Top 5
2. Taylor Decker Ohio State 1st Round
3. Ronnie Stanley Notre Dame 1st Round
4. Jason Spriggs Indiana 2nd Round
5. Jack Conklin Michigan State 2nd Round
6. Germain Ifedi Texas A&M 2nd Round
7. Le’Raven Clark Texas Tech 3rd Round
8. Kyle Murphy Stanford 3rd Round
9. Shon Coleman Auburn 4th Round
10. John Theus Georgia 4th Round
My Guard/Center Rankings
1. Ryan Kelly (C) Alabama 1st-2nd Round
2. Josh Garnett (G) Stanford 1st-2nd Round
3. Cody Whitehair (G) Kansas State 1st-2nd Round
4. Nick Martin (C) Notre Dame 2nd Round
5. Connor McGovern (G) Missouri 2nd-3rd Round
6. Denver Kirkland (G) Arkansas 3rd Round
7. Sebastian Tretola (G) Arkansas 3rd-4th Round
8. Isaac Seumalo (G/C) Oregon State 4th Round
9. Vadal Alexander (G) LSU 4th Round
10. Max Tuerk (C) USC 4th Round