2014 NFL Draft logo2014 NFL Draft

NFL Draft 100: Matt Miller's Top Offensive Tackles

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 28, 2014

NFL Draft 100: Matt Miller's Top Offensive Tackles

1 of 11

    Patric Schneider

    One year after three offensive tackles were selected within the top five—Eric Fisher to Kansas City, Luke Joeckel to Jacksonville and Lane Johnson to Philadelphia—we're blessed with another fantastic offensive tackle crop in 2014. In fact, give me this year's group over the heavily lauded 2013 class.

    With a group headlined by Greg Robinson (Auburn) and Jake Matthews (Texas A&M), who is the best of the bunch? That's what the NFL Draft 100 aims to find out.

    The goal of the NFL Draft 100 series is to identify the best players at each position based purely on film study and analysis. 

    The B/R NFL Draft 100 metric is based on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance on a 100-point scale. Unlike our NFL 1000 series, this project factors in upside for each player, as the NFL draft is as much about upside as it is about past production.

    Offensive tackles are judged on run-blocking (40 points), pass-blocking (40 points), upside (20) and all of the technique, athletic ability and football intelligence needed to play the position.

    In the case of ties, the ranking is based on which player I prefer personally. (Subjective? Yes. But ties are no fun.)

    I scouted each player with these key criteria in mind. The following scouting reports and grades are the work of months of film study and in-person evaluation.

     

10. Jack Mewhort, Ohio State

2 of 11

    Associated Press

    Pass-Blocking

    30/40

    There is good and bad to be found in Jack Mewhort's film as a pass protector. On one hand, he has ideal length (34" arms) and size (6'6", 309 lbs) to be a left tackle in the NFL. When facing a power defensive end, he's stout enough and has a strong enough base to sink his weight and arch his back to sustain a bull rush.

    On the flip side, Mewhort lacks agility and quick feet to move in space. He'll struggle off the snap when facing speed—just look at what Vic Beasley (Clemson) and Dee Ford (Auburn) did to him in 2013. Mewhort looks the part, but with his limited kick-step quickness and agility in space, he's best suited to play right tackle in the NFL. 

    Run-Blocking

    34/40

    In the running game, Mewhort can be physically dominant. He approaches the defense with a mean streak and can get low enough to drive-block off the ball. When blocking at the second level, he can struggle with balance and leverage, but he has the length to reach defenders. His mobility when attacking linebackers will be questioned in the pros, but he's strong enough to have an impact opening holes and sealing off defenders as a lead-blocker.  

    Upside

    17/20

    Mewhort projects best as a right tackle, but he could play left tackle in a pinch and do just fine. While he's not overly athletic, his upside comes from the fact that his technique just needs a few refinements (he tends to over-set against speed rushers). Mewhort could ideally play tackle or guard in the pros.

    Overall

    81/100

9. Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee

3 of 11

    Michael Conroy

    Pass-Blocking

    36/40

    Ja'Wuan James has tremendous athletic potential as a pass-blocker, but his inconsistencies on film are concerning. That's why a player with the raw tools to become a long-term starter at either tackle spot isn't graded overly well.

    James has the reach (35" arms) and power to stun defenders off the ball, and having played right tackle, he's accustomed to handling both speed and power. He shows good hand placement and the feet to reset and counter a secondary pass-rushing move. His footwork can be very raw, and while he is light on his feet, he doesn't always play with balance or great knee bend. 

    Run-Blocking

    33/40

    James looks the part physically, but he doesn't play with power at the point of attack. He's a finesse blocker in space and can struggle to drive-block off the line of scrimmage. He is athletic enough to be a mover and can get out in space to do work, but he has some hip stiffness that affects his ability to dominate the second level. However, his angles and hand placement are highly developed. 

    Upside

    17/20

    James has the athleticism to play left or right tackle in the NFL, but he must fix his raw footwork and technique to realize his full potential. James may be slightly over-drafted due to the lack of depth at offensive tackle as well as his athletic upside. 

    Overall

    86/100

8. Joel Bitonio, Nevada

4 of 11

    Michael Conroy

    Pass-Blocking

    31/40

    A left tackle at Nevada, Joel Bitonio has positional versatility in the NFL. Ideally, he will move to guard, but like Justin Pugh last year, he could also play tackle.

    In space, he has better-than-average footwork and can move laterally in either direction to cut off defenders. Playing inside will allow his functional strength to shine, and it will also help cover up a lack of length (despite having 33.875" arms) on the corner. He shoots his hands well to punch and can anchor to absorb a bull rush or power move. He is a great athlete that dominated at the combine. 

    Run-Blocking

    38/40

    A mean, nasty player in the running game, Bitonio is a finisher. He displays great burst off the line and has a non-stop motor to attack at the first and second level. He uses his base well and blocks from his core. He won't lunge at defenders, and he moves his feet well to get in position and take the right angle on a defender. He has the movement skills to come down the line or push up-field, and he has shown high accuracy as a blocker on the go. 

    Upside

    18/20

    Bitonio held his own at tackle, but his upside is at guard. There, he looks like a future Pro Bowler thanks to his nastiness in the running game and ideal physical profile. 

    Overall

    87/100

7. Antonio 'Tiny' Richardson, Tennessee

5 of 11

    Donald Page

    Pass-Blocking

    35/40

    A two-year starter at left tackle, Antonio "Tiny" Richardson handled some of college football's best pass-rushers over that time period. In 2012, he was one of few people to stop Jadeveon Clowney and showed exceptional length and quickness off the snap. In 2013, Richardson wasn't as impactful for the entire season, but he did give Kony Ealy a tough matchup when the two went head-to-head.

    Richardson has great length (35" arms) and size (6'6", 336 lbs), and he bends well for a man of his stature. You won't see him lunging at edge rushers or letting his top get too heavy. He doesn't always move his feet well to get to the edge, but he can compensate with long arms and raw strength.

    Run-Blocking

    33/40

    Richardson can struggle to get low and sustain blocks against seasoned defenders with some hand use. He has to learn to play with better pad level in order to finish blocks and use his big length and power to drive and dump defenders. This doesn't show up in the passing game, but when working the run he can be a bit timid and struggle to engage and dominate physically.

    Richardson has the tools to be great here, and he could play either left or right tackle with his length and footwork. However, he must become more consistent with his effort and pad level. 

    Upside

    19/20

    The right coach could turn Richardson into an All-Pro. He has a lot of talent, but his film is very inconsistent. It would be a gamble to draft him too early based upon his gifts, but you also can't risk letting him slip by and become a star for someone else. Tiny is a solid second-round prospect. 

    Overall

    87/100

6. Morgan Moses, Virginia

6 of 11

    Michael Conroy

    Pass-Blocking

    36/40

    A massive man with the ideal body (6'6", 314 lbs) and length for the NFL, Morgan Moses passes the eye-ball test. With his 35.375" arms, there is little he can't reach off the edge. He cuts off the corner exceptionally well with his reach, but he could get better at sliding his feet to remain balanced. He will let his upper body travel and can get off-center, but he does a great job of protecting the edge with his length. He'll fan out pass-rushers and doesn't let guys bend the edge on him.

    If Moses gets his hands on a defender, he is strong enough to sit down and shut down the rush. He would benefit greatly from an NFL conditioning program, but he has already shown improvement in this area from the time he left Virginia up to the combine.

    Run-Blocking

    35/40

    Moses tends to play too tall and will give up leverage in the running game if he doesn't get the initial jump. He's not the most agile player at the position and can be too stiff in moving off the line of scrimmage.

    He's powerful and long, though, and has no trouble reaching outside linebackers. His second-level movement isn't great due to limited agility, but he's strong enough to push the pile off the line. His long arms allow him to lock out defenders and then turn them to seal off rushing lanes. 

    Upside

    18/20

    As mentioned above, a season of work with an NFL strength and conditioning coach could turn Moses into a star. He has all the tools to be an upper-level starter on the right side. 

    Overall

    89/100

5. Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama

7 of 11

    Nam Y. Huh

    Pass-Blocking

    35/40

    A left tackle for Nick Saban, Cyrus Kouandjio moves more like an NFL right tackle. At 6'7" and 322 pounds with knuckle-dragging arm length (35.625"), Kouandjio has the ideal build for either side in the NFL. He's long but lean and has the natural length to keep defenders from arching off the edge.

    Kouandjio has the ability to make defenders turn the corner like an 18-wheeler—with long, slow bends. He doesn't show great burst or flexibility and can struggle with speed rushers (see Eric Stryker of Oklahoma), but he also didn't receive much help in the Alabama blocking scheme. When facing a true edge-rusher, he's elite at pushing them away from the quarterback (fanning out) and has a strong punch to stun rushers off the line.

    Run-Blocking

    36/40

    Kouandjio is very inconsistent in the running game, but he has the natural tools to be elite. When locked in, he can fire off the ball and move any defender in the game, but he will too often have a bent back and lunge to his step.

    If balanced, he can push and move the pile as a playside tackle. He also has the length to reach weakside linebackers and seal off cut-back lanes. He lacks movement skills for the second level, however, and could easily struggle to keep up with faster NFL defenders.  

    Upside

    19/20

    Questions about Kouandjio's repaired knee will determine his draft positioning, but if healthy, he has room to exceed his draft stock. Kouandjio, like D.J. Fluker last year, could be an instant-impact starter in the NFL.  

    Overall

    90/100

4. Zack Martin, Notre Dame

8 of 11

    David Zalubowski

    Pass-Blocking

    37/40

    A super-smart, high-character, high-experience player at left tackle, Zack Martin has NFL-readiness jumping off the screen. Martin is a quick puncher with strong hands and very good placement. He's able to get wide in his base and fight at the line with good balance and agility. He also shows good footwork and balance when protecting the edge.

    He doesn't have great length (32.875" arms) and that shows up on film. In the NFL, he could struggle to slide his feet and reach defenders arching off the edge. That's why his best projection is to the right side—where he'd be facing less of the high-end, athletic pass-rushers—or at guard. 

    Run-Blocking

    36/40

    Martin has all the movement skills to execute NFL-level blocks. He shows the agility and quickness to pull and trap, and he does a good job of reaching defenders at the second level with accuracy. He's smart with his angles when attacking the outside and can be strong enough to push the edge and seal off in the running game.

    Playing tackle, he'll be asked to reach outside linebackers, something he could struggle to do in the pros. That's why he may be best served at guard thanks to his agility and high-level technique. 

    Upside

    17/100

    Martin has the tools to step in and play right tackleor even left tacklein the NFL, but at guard he could be an All-Pro. His upside will vary depending on which position he ultimately lands at. 

    Overall

    90/100

3. Taylor Lewan, Michigan

9 of 11

    Michael Conroy

    Pass-Blocking

    38/40

    At 6'7" and 309 pounds, Taylor Lewan has the ideal, prototypical size to play left tackle in the NFL. Coupled with impressive agility, explosiveness and movement skills, he has the perfect athletic profile for the position.

    Lewan uses all of those attributes to produce a clean, fluid kick-slide. He gets off the line well and shows the quickness to get depth and cut off the corner. He shows a strong punch with his left hand and moves with good balance. His production was up and down in 2013, but he ended the season strong and coupled that with an elite combine performance.  

    Run-Blocking

    35/40

    Lewan plays mean and nasty, but he struggles to finish blocks cleanly. He is active up to the whistle, and maybe even a little after it too. He has a habit of lowering his head and lunging to reach defenders in the running game, which causes him to lose leverage and angles. That's fixable, but he has to learn to win with leverage and not expect to simply move defenders around with his length and power. His movement skills would allow him to play in a man or zone scheme if he can succeed at keeping his pad height down.

    Upside

    17/20

    Lewan has the ability to instantly step in and anchor the offensive line at left tackle, but there are off-field concerns to address. If he's cleared there, and if a team can refine his leverage and increase his punch strength, he could be a longtime Pro Bowler. 

    Overall

    90/100

2. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

10 of 11

    Patric Schneider

    Pass-Blocking

    40/40

    A blue-chip technician at the left tackle position, Jake Matthews is the ideal prospect for a pass-heavy offense. He has experience playing both left and right tackle, and for the past two seasons he has protected a mobile quarterback (Johnny Manziel) that tends to hold the ball for long periods of time.

    He's operated mostly of out a two-point stance in the past, but he is athletic enough to put his hand in the dirt. At 6'5" and 308 pounds, he doesn't have great bulk, but he is quick moving off the ball and has a smooth kick-slide and punch. He's patient and never panics in his pass sets. His base is balanced and strong, and he won't get run over by power rushers. Matthews is a superb technician, but he's not a finesse blocker. He can get mean and will finish blocks that take a pass-rusher out of the field. 

    Run-Blocking

    36/40

    The A&M scheme doesn't get much credit for producing run-blockers, but Matthews can fire off the ball and drive defenders. He's low in his initial burst and has excellent hand placement, which helps him secure great angles. He chops his feet well and won't get high in his drive. If asked to play right tackle, he may struggle with bigger defensive ends, but he has the quickness to stun players and get an advantage in the running game. 

    Upside

    18/20

    Matthews has the ability to play every spot on the offensive line—and play them at a high level. There are concerns that he has maxed out as a technician and athlete, but the "right now" from Matthews is unusually high. He's one of the cleanest tackle prospects to leave college in years.

    Overall

    94/100

1. Greg Robinson, Auburn

11 of 11

    Michael Conroy

    Pass-Blocking

    35/40

    Greg Robinson is the ideal athlete for the modern NFL. At 6'5" and 332 pounds, he has 35" arms and ran the 40 yard dash in 4.92 seconds at the combine. That's unreal.

    Yet while he's an elite athlete, his pass-protection technique needs some work coming out of an Auburn system that relied on a lot of zone-blocking and quarterback runs. Robinson has the reach, quickness and agility to be just fine in the NFL, but he needs help in learning to time his punches and in how to get depth while maintaining a low, coiled pad height and quick feet.

    Much of what Robinson can do as a pass protector remains unknown on film, as Auburn simply didn't throw the ball from the pocket very often. He still has to mature physically, as he was a redshirt sophomore when he left school. 

    Run Block

    40/40

    An elite athlete and supremely powerful player, Robinson straight up dominates in the running game. He has unreal movement skills and can get down the field to make huge blocks in space. Coming out of a zone-running scheme, he's accustomed to pulling, trapping and exploding up field.

    When Robinson gets his hands on a defender, they're done for that play. He's relentless and plays with the mean streak needed to finish blocks with power. When asked to come down the line and make a block, he takes the entire defense with him.  

    Upside

    20/20

    As an athlete, Robinson is incredibly rare. Given that and his elite ability as a run-blocker, he has some of the best upside you'll ever see from an offensive tackle. 

    Overall

    95/100

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices