2014: NFL Draft: Why This Year's Offensive Line Draft Is Deepest in Years

Yueh Ho@@YuehHoCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2014

2014: NFL Draft: Why This Year's Offensive Line Draft Is Deepest in Years

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Any NFL team rebuilding or supplementing its offensive line is in luck. This year's draft is shaping up to be one of the best offensive line draft classes in recent memory. There are six players who could go in the first round and eight or nine who would have been first-round worthy in another year.

    Obviously, Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson lead the mock drafts. But great talent can be found in later rounds too. Here is a list of the four most intriguing O-line prospects in this year's draft.

1. Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Mike Mayock rated Jake Matthews as the number one O-line prospect in the 2014 NFL draft. After the combine, Mayock's prediction looks spot on.

    Matthews looked exceptional in positional drills, and reportedly ran a 4.91 40-yard dash time. Doubts about his athleticism were put to rest.

    At Texas A&M, Matthews served as Johnny Manziel's blindside protector. Despite Manziel's tendency to hold onto the ball, Matthews always kept pass-rushers at bay.

    Whoever lands Matthews will be getting a dominant offensive lineman for years.

2. Greg Robinson (Auburn)

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The debate between who is the better prospect, Matthews or Robinson, will likely be on until draft day. Matthews is the more technically polished prospect, but Robinson has a tremendous amount of athleticism and potential.

    At the combine, Robinson reportedly ran an incredible 4.84 40-yard dash despite being 332 pounds. He also showed incredible strength with 35 bench reps.

    Robinson still needs a bit more polishing, but he has everything needed to be a franchise tackle for a very lucky NFL team.

3. Taylor Lewan (Michigan)

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Michigan's Taylor Lewan also has all the tools to be a dominant NFL tackle. He potentially could go as high as within the top 15 picks.

    The 6'8", 310-pound Lewan has quick feet and length. He plays with a great deal of aggressiveness, and he became more consistent in his senior year. But he still needs to improve his footwork and concentration.

    Still, Lewan is a prospect who can't be overlooked if a team is in need of a left offensive tackle. He will be ready to start on day one.

4. James Hurst (North Carolina)

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    James Hurst is one of the most intriguing offensive line prospects, because he could be the ultimate sleeper. Hurst was a reliable left tackle for many years, and his senior year highlights included shutting down Jadeveon Clowney.

    But Hurst broke his leg in the bowl game against Cincinnati and missed the NFL Scouting Combine. A team will be taking somewhat of a chance on him, since—unless Hurst participates in a pro day at North Carolina—it can't get any of his athletic measurements. Still Hurst should still figure to be a starting-caliber NFL left tackle.

    Experts predict Hurst could slide all the way to the fourth round. Whoever takes him there would be getting a huge steal.

5. Ja'Wuan James (Tennessee)

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Ja'Wuan James is another potential sleeper and could go as late as the third round. James is 6'6" and 311 pounds but is surprisingly athletic and agile for his size.

    Howard has been a reliable pass-protector and uses his hands well. He struggles with footwork and pad level, but with some coaching he could develop into a dominant NFL player.

    James may go as late as the third round but would have instant starter potential.

    Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo.