NFL Draft 2011: The Top Ten Offensive Linemen on the Board
In almost every draft, there is a prototypical left tackle, who everyone believes is going to vacate the board in the top five picks. Teams at the top of the draft usually have line issues, so they jump at the chance to obtain a franchise left tackle.
This year, many mock drafts don't have an offensive lineman going in the top ten picks. No tackle has solidified his spot as the consensus number one lineman in the draft, which is going to make this draft very interesting from a line perspective.
Last year, we saw Trent Williams skyrocket up the boards and become the first lineman taken. At this time last year, Anthony Davis wasn't expected to be drafted between the end of the first round and early second, but ended up going to the 49ers with their first pick in the draft.
Here are the top ten linemen in the 2011 draft class.
#10: Kristofer O'Dowd
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Kristofer O'Dowd has serious medical issues. Serious knee problems and a torn labrum may be enough to deter teams from dubbing him a plug and play center.
O'Dowd is one of those guys who seems like he has been in college football forever. He was at USC when John David Booty was under center. At nearly 6'5", O'Dowd is a mammoth offensive lineman.
This may or may not be considered a positive attribute. O'Dowd doesn't carry a whole lot of his weight in his legs. In order for teams to want to dub him the anchor of the offensive line, he is going to have to prove he can hunker down and win the leverage battle.
#9: Zach Hurd, G/T
Zach Hurd is 6'7", but he is versatile enough to play anywhere on the offensive line. Hurd is being projected as a late round tackle, but for teams with a serious need at guard, Hurd is an enticing prospect.
Like O'Dowd, he is oversized for an interior lineman. Hurd is physical and athletic enough to get out into space. Playing tackle is going to be a transition for him, but Hurd could develop into a mauler right tackle later on in his career.
#8: Clint Boling, G/T
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Clint Boling is yet another tweener tackle/guard type. He played both as a four year contributor to the Georgia Bulldogs' offensive line. Boling could add depth immediately. He may not be a plug and play guard or tackle, but he would be nice to have on roster while he develops.
Teams could fall in love with Boling's experience in the SEC and versatility. He looks like a natural guard, but appears to be making a self-induced push towards being a tackle at the next level.
#7: Will Rackley, G
Many people have never heard of Will Rackley. This is probably due to the fact that he plays guard at Lehigh. Even so, we saw teams fall in love with Mike Iupati in the last draft. If you can play, it doesn't matter where you went or who your competition was, be it Idaho, Lehigh, or anywhere else.
Rackley is 6'3" and just over 300 pounds. He has an excellent build to him for the guard position. He is stout, physical, and has surprising quickness. Rackley might not be the most highly touted lineman in this draft, but he is going to make an impact at the next level.
#6: Mike Pouncey, C/G
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Mike Pouncey's most appealing feature is that he is the twin brother of Maurkice Pouncey. Even if he isn't an All-Pro as a rookie, being the closest thing to the best young interior lineman in football can't be a bad thing.
Pouncey may be a better guard than center, thought he can play anywhere along the interior line. His size and experience in the Florida offense makes him NFL ready. It is unclear where he is going to land, but it is difficult to see him getting past the first 48 picks.
#5: Nate Solder T
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Nate Solder is an ex-tight end. Being athletic comes with the territory. At 6'8", Solder has unparalleled length. He is an excellent pass rusher and has the arms to frustrate edge rushers.
Solder's strength comes into question. He didn't impress in the weight room at the Combine, but he isn't exactly tailor made for the bench press. His long arms actually hinder his performance in that area. Solder may slip in the draft because of his questionable strength, but don't be surprised to see a team make a play for him early on.
#4: Gabe Carimi, T
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The water in Wisconsin needs to be investigated. Yet another Badger offensive lineman could easily find himself being selected in the first round. Carimi was a standout in this year's combine drills. He moves well and always appears sure of himself.
Carimi is 6'7" and won the Outland Trophy. If that isn't enough, take a look at one of his performances against College Football's best defensive ends. Carimi rarely finds himself on the wrong end of the battle at the line of scrimmage.
#3: Stefen Wisniewski C
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Stefen Wisniewski could be starting at center next in the NFL on opening day in 2011. Wisniewski knows something about earning a starting job while transitioning to the next level. He earned a starting job at Penn State at center as a true freshman.
He has great feet, physicality, and football roots. He is great in pass protection and is a technical run blocker. As of right now, some mock drafts have Wisniewski falling to the third round. NFL-ready linemen are few and far between and he won't see the end of the second round.
#2: Tyron Smith T
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After putting up 29 reps on the bench press at the NFL combine, Tyron Smith sustained an injury that will prevent him from completing the rest of the drills. It may or may not affect his draft stock.
Smith threw on extra weight that may have taken him to the next level. His body is well proportioned and he fits the left tackle mold more so than any other lineman in the draft. He is athletic and quick, but it doesn't take away from his raw power.
Smith has the ability to cave in one side of the defensive line. A coach at the top of the draft could fall in love with him at the top of the draft. He might not even make past the third pick.
#1: Anthony Castonzo, T
Boston College is a factory for offensive lineman. Anthony Castonzo has allowed that statement to remain true, at least for the time being. Castonzo is a mammoth and a tactician. Throughout the combine, if a player was unsure of how a drill was supposed to look, all he had to do was see how Castonzo was doing it.
Castonzo has great flexion and nearly flawless technique. The transition to the NFL is likely to go easier for Castonzo. It appears he will one day develop into a franchise left tackle. Teams covet guys with size, high character, and sound technique. Castonzo happens to have all three.