NFL1000: Free-Agency Rankings for the 2017 RT Market

NFL1000 ScoutsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2017

NFL1000: Free-Agency Rankings for the 2017 RT Market

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    Welcome to Bleacher Report's NFL1000 free-agency preview, a series where we'll use the power of the 17-man NFL1000 scouting department to bring you in-depth analysis of every NFL free agent this offseason. In this installment, lead scout Doug Farrar and offensive tackle scout Duke Manyweather dive into this year's right tackle class.   

    Historically, left tackles are perceived as more important than right tackles, and the reason is obvious: Protecting the quarterback's blind side is crucial to offensive success. Unless your quarterback is a lefty like Steve Young or Michael Vick, your right tackle isn't in that particular barrel.

    In the modern NFL, however, quick passing offenses and roll-right boot-action schemes (think of the Falcons) make the right tackle more important. Teams will often put their best edge-rushers on the defensive left side to get a jump on the quarterback as he's reading the field, cutting off his primary escape route. As a result, the modern right tackle is tasked to get out of his set in a hurry, engage with his hands and follow that edge-rusher through the pocket.

    Like most underrated positions in the NFL, right tackle is a lot tougher than it looks. Here's our ranking of the available right tackles in the 2017 free-agency pool.

    Previous Installments

    NFL1000 Free-Agent Quarterback Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Tight End Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Fullback Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Kicker/Punter Rankings
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    FL1000 Free-Agent Left Tackle Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Offensive Guard Rankings
    NFL1000 Free-Agent Center Rankings

    All advanced statistics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

8. Menelik Watson

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Incomplete: Menelik Watson did not play enough in 2016 to receive full grading. 

    NFL1000 RT scout Duke Manyweather

    Menelik Watson started Week 1 and Week 3 for the Oakland Raiders, playing a total of 45 snaps in those two games combined. From there, he didn't get back onto the field for the Raiders until Week 9, where he saw action mostly in spot duty as a backup, until he was forced into the starting lineup again in Week 16.

    The Raiders had high hopes that Watson, the 42nd overall pick in 2013, would anchor the left side of their offensive line for years to come. When he proved to be a liability at left tackle, however, Oakland switched him to the right side. Watson has not been a full-time starter at any point during his four seasons in the NFL. Instead, he has battled injuries, has been out-performed and was benched on multiple occasions.

    Watson's best chance at getting signed this offseason would be a minimum-salary, one-year deal with a team looking to add depth at right tackle.

    Doug's Quick Take

    Watson has been an average pass-protector throughout his NFL career, but he'll need to shore up his run blocking considerably before he can perform at a starting level. Right now, he's a depth signing only.

    Potential Suitors: Oakland Raiders

         

7. Austin Pasztor

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Pass Pro: 16.6/25
    Run Block: 17.9/25
    Power: 14.5/20
    Agility: 13.9/20
    Positional Value: 7/10
    Overall: 69.8/100
    2016 NFL1000 Offensive Tackle Rank: 27/38

    NFL1000 RT scout Duke Manyweather

    Austin Pasztor is a fifth-year veteran who the Jacksonville Jaguars signed after he went undrafted in 2012. He spent three seasons with the Jaguars before signing with the Cleveland Browns in 2015. Pasztor has a ton of experience as both a full-time starter (43 starts) and as a primary backup, and he has played right tackle and both guard slots.

    Pasztor gets after defenders in the run game, showing he can use strength at the point of attack to jolt defenders back and get initial movement. He can also position-block to create a quick crease for running backs to burst through. The 26-year-old isn't going to reach and seal many edge-defenders, but he can widen the lane when angled drive-blocking. He was highly effective working double-team and combo blocks with his guard.

    In pass protection, Pasztor has his limitations. He is fine when he can quick-set, maintain even weight distribution and establish a low center of gravity, which allows him to settle his feet, punch and anchor. Pasztor runs into trouble when rushers attack his edge with an explosive burst. He doesn't expand his set points and mistimes his punch, making him susceptible to being beaten.

    Overall, Pasztor filled a need for the Browns in 2016 after they let Mitchell Schwartz leave in free agency, as the young linemen they drafted were not ready to take on a full-time starting load. With the promise Shon Coleman showed, however, don't expect to see Pasztor back in Cleveland as the starting right tackle. If a team is in the market for a versatile stopgap starter with plenty of experience, Pasztor fits that bill.

    Doug's Quick Take

    Pasztor's 1,020 snaps in 2016 were by far the most in his career, and he played the part of a league-average tackle in most respects. These days, that's enough to keep him in the NFL, and he'll get looks from other teams as a result. He has more potential in a quick zone scheme.

    Potential Suitors: New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns

        

6. Marshall Newhouse

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Incomplete: Marshall Newhouse did not play enough in 2016 to receive full grading. 

    NFL1000 RT scout Duke Manyweather 

    Marshall Newhouse was a fifth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2010, and he became a full-time starter in 2011. He ran into injuries early on in his career, which seemingly halted his development. Newhouse is a seventh-year player with a ton of starting experience (56 career starts) between the Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants.

    Newhouse is a below average run-blocker who relies more on positioning than on strength, power and explosion. He's adequate in pass protection and can have success against about 75 percent of the league's edge-defenders, but he'll struggle against those who possess elite traits. For a team in the market for depth at tackle, Newhouse fits that mold, and he can start in a pinch as well.

    Doug's Quick Take

    Newhouse alternated between left guard and right tackle in 2016, covering more than one base as the Giants' offensive line was fairly decimated by injuries. I expected more from him based on his TCU tape than I've seen in the NFL, as he has generally struggled to convert his mechanics to power and he's caught short by speed-rushers. He's a good swing tackle option who can slip inside when necessary.

    Potential Suitors: New York Giants

        

5. Sebastian Vollmer

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Incomplete: Sebastian Vollmer did not play enough in 2016 to receive full grading. 

    NFL1000 RT scout Duke Manyweather

    The New England Patriots originally selected Sebastian Vollmer with the 58th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. In 2010, he was named to the Associated Press All-Pro second team after an outstanding sophomore season. Prior to 2013, Vollmer re-signed with New England on a four-year, $16.75 million deal, but he suffered a serious leg injury which ended his season after Week 3.

    Vollmer returned in 2014 and started every game of the season, and he was instrumental in New England winning Super Bowl XLIX. In 2015, he made starts at right tackle (five games) and left tackle (10 games) during the Patriots' run to the AFC Championship Game. This past season, Vollmer dealt with shoulder and hip ailments and spent the entire 2016 season on the PUP/injured reserve list for the Super Bowl champions.

    Vollmer has been a solid starter at right tackle and is adequate (at best) as a left tackle. He is long and lean, and he plays with impressive strength and power. Upon returning from the lower leg injury he suffered in 2013, Vollmer's lower-body mobility and lateral agility clearly declined. His range in pass protection, which was once a strong tool, is no longer the same.

    Bringing Vollmer in as a free-agent stopgap to compete with a young tackle wouldn't be a bad idea. If he wins out and stays healthy, you have a solid veteran tackle, or if the young player eclipses him, you have a battle-tested reserve who can also swing to left tackle. That said, considering his lengthy injury history, teams should not feel comfortable inking the 32-year-old Vollmer to anything more than a one-year prove-it deal.

    Doug's Quick Take

    It's a shame for Vollmer's future prospects that he was hurt in 2016 and thus unable to take coaching from Dante Scarnecchia, the Patriots' legendary line coach who returned to the team last season. The entire line improved exponentially under Scarnecchia, and Vollmer could have used that improvement. To give up eight sacks, nine hits and 28 hurries with New England's quick passing game, as he did in 2015, is a major cause for concern. At this point, he's a project player and an injury risk. 

    Potential Suitors: Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, New England Patriots

        

4. Jordan Mills

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    NFL1000 Scores 

    Pass Pro: 17.1/25
    Run Block: 18.2/25
    Power: 14.9/20
    Agility: 13.6/20
    Positional Value: 7/10
    Overall: 70.8/100
    2016 NFL1000 Offensive Tackle Rank: 19/38

    NFL1000 RT scout Duke Manyweather

    Jordan Mills, who the Chicago Bears selected with the 163rd overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, has started 50 games over his four-year career. After the Bears released him following the 2014 season, Mills made a brief stop in Dallas and Detroit before catching on with Buffalo, where he started five games and appeared in 10 contests. In 2016, Mills started all 16 games for the Bills at right tackle. Seantrel Henderson was Buffalo's presumptive starter at that position heading into the year, but a pair of suspensions left an opening that Mills filled.

    Mills is adequate in pass protection and is at his best when he can quickly short-set and get his hands on edge-rushers, anchoring immediately past the line of scrimmage. He runs into trouble when he needs to expand his set points versus premier rushers that challenge his edge with speed and active hands. Mills is also inconsistent when setting with more depth, and as a result, he is often out of position to anchor.

    In the run game, Mills showed the ability to create leverage with his hands, allowing him to get under defenders, and he uses square power through his base to consistently get movement at the point of attack. When he maintains pad level, he can sustain and strain blocks, powering through stalemates. Mills runs into trouble when his pad level raises on his second step, as defenders are able to leverage and get under him to stand him up. A loss of leverage is a loss of power for him.

    Overall, Mills is an adequate starting right tackle who best fits a team with a high-volume running game. This past season, Buffalo learned it could count on him to turn in steady production.

    Doug's Quick Take

    Mills' primary issues are mechanical. His footwork is imprecise, leading him to get behind against speed-rushers and lunge too often. He isn't always able to use his natural power in the run game because of positioning issues, and he needs coaching from top to bottom. He's a decent depth investment who may have the light come on with the right coaching staff. 

    Potential Suitors: Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings 

        

3. Ricky Wagner

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Pass Pro: 17.6/25
    Run Block: 17.7/25
    Power: 14.5/20
    Agility: 13.9/20
    Positional Value: 7/10
    Overall: 70.6/100
    2016 NFL1000 Offensive Tackle Rank: 21/38

    NFL1000 RT scout Duke Manyweather

    The Baltimore Ravens originally selected Ricky Wagner with the 168th pick in the 2013 NFL draft. After starting Week 1 and surrendering three sacks against Denver, he was largely relegated to backup duty for the rest of his rookie season. In 2014, his first full season as a starter, Wagner only gave up two sacks, one quarterback hit and 20 total pressures in 15 games. The following season, Wagner surrendered just one sack, but that doesn't tell the full story. He struggled in pass protection, especially against premium pass-rushers, as evidenced by the whopping 11 hits and 40 total pressures he allowed.

    In 2016, Wagner seemed to iron out some of the kinks in his pass-protection technique. He gave up three sacks on the year, two of which seemed to be directly his fault (based on film). Wagner showed an explosive vertical set that allows him to get to his spot and settle his feet to anchor. When he could keep his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and maintain half-man leverage against rushers, he showed the strike-zone recognition and punch timing to effectively stop the charge of defenders, and he is able to leverage his hips to anchor. Wagner doesn't always make it look pretty, but he gets the job done.

    Wagner is an adequate run-blocker who gets strong initial push on his angled drive blocks when he surges out of his stance, but he doesn't display consistent strength and sustained power in the run game. After engaging and controlling defenders, Wagner's feet and legs often appeared to be pumping in place, generating little movement to power through stalemates. That allowed defenders to leverage and stack him back or disengage off his block all together. Wagner did a decent job generating force on vertical double-teams with his guard. He was also effective at executing reach-and-overtake concepts on zone, but he struggled with the targeting and footwork needed to cut off the backside when full-flow runs went away, and he came up short when attempting to run and cut to get guys down.

    Baltimore may push to keep Wagner, but he should garner attention from teams in the market for a solid veteran starter.

    Doug's Quick Take

    Wagner's recent career indicates how sacks allowed don't tell the whole story. He's a fairly consistent starter in the right offense, but his limitations are clear. Most likely, he'll go to a team with an immediate need at the right tackle position that is also looking for younger and more long-term talent.

    Potential Suitors: Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings

        

2. Mike Remmers

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Incomplete: Mike Remmers did not play enough in 2016 to receive full grading. 

    NFL1000 RT scout Duke Manyweather

    After going undrafted out of Oregon State in 2012, Mike Remmers bounced between Denver, Tampa Bay, San Diego and Minnesota before latching on with the Carolina Panthers. Following solid seasons in 2014 and 2015, he entered 2016 as one of the league's emerging young right tackles, but injuries forced Carolina to shift him out of his comfort zone on the right side after a Week 3 loss to Minnesota. Remmers struggled with his initial transition to the left side, which his early-season NFL1000 scores reflected.

    It's no easy task for an offensive tackle to switch sides. Pass-protection set points and landmarks change, which throw off punch-timing and makes it difficult to accurately predict when to anchor. As the 2016 season progressed, Remmers began to figure out ways to have success on the left side. A big change was how he learned to pass-set at various angles that negated speed of the left edge. While on the right side, his pass set was almost exclusively vertical, and he would mix in aggressive sets to stop the charge of defenders at the line of scrimmage.

    However, that didn't translate well at left tackle. In 2015, Remmers surrendered nine sacks, one hit and 46 total pressures. The following season, he allowed nine sacks, three hits and 37 pressures. From a pure numbers standpoint, there wasn't much drop-off in the end result, but that's why film and context are key.

    Remmers plays with tremendous physicality and great competitive toughness. He's a better fit at right tackle because of how his skill set allows him to win more consistently, and he showed enough promise on that side for teams to look at him as an option to upgrade their right tackle slot.

    Doug's Quick Take

    Remmers' first task in 2016 was to get over his disastrous performance in Super Bowl 50, when he allowed three sacks and looked overwhelmed by the Broncos' devastating pass rush. But he gave up nine sacks (seven at left tackle) and 37 hurries last season, and the facts are clear from tape: Remmers is a good, functional power-blocker who struggles at the edge and through the pocket. He's fine with any team that puts him on the right side and doesn't demand too much of him in terms of agility and pocket coverage.

    Potential Suitors: Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets

        

1. Riley Reiff

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    NFL1000 Scores 

    Pass Pro: 17.9/25
    Run Block: 19.8/25
    Power: 16/20
    Agility: 14.9/20
    Positional Value: 7/10
    Overall: 75.5/100
    2016 NFL1000 Offensive Tackle Rank: 7/38

    NFL1000 RT scout Duke Manyweather

    Riley Reiff, who the Detroit Lions drafted 23rd overall in 2012 out of Iowa, spent the first four seasons of his career at left tackle. Once Detroit selected Ohio State product Taylor Decker 16th overall in 2016, however, the switch to right tackle became inevitable for Reiff. 

    Reiff isn't going to hook and seal the edge every snap, but he will generate good power at the point of attack and widen the lane on an angled drive block. He's effective working combo blocks, understanding when he needs to stay on heavy or slip off the block. Reiff is a rabid animal as a run-blocker, one who looks to finish every chance he gets. Reiff's motor and competitive toughness are evident when you focus on how he looks for blocks downfield on long runs or when out in space.

    During Reiff's four years at left tackle, he never surrendered more than seven sacks in a season, and he gave up only three sacks in 2014. The following season, however, he gave up six sacks and surrendered career highs in quarterback hits (seven) and pressures (38). He was also responsible for many close calls, as he took chances with his aggressiveness in pass protection. These factors likely convinced the Lions to upgrade at left tackle.

    Toward the middle of the 2016 season, specifically after Week 6, Reiff's play began to drop off. He wasn't performing at the same level he did earlier in the season, and it was clear he was battling some ailments. Against Houston in Week 8, Reiff left the game in the second half, and he was inactive in Week 9 (injury) and Week 10 (sickness). Upon his return in Week 11, Reiff did not look as crisp or as physical as he did in the first few games.

    Overall, Reiff's transition to right tackle was beneficial to Detroit, especially early in 2016. After investing in young offensive linemen in the 2016 draft, the Lions need to make a decision the future of Reiff and right guard Larry Warford, who is also set to hit free agency.

    Doug's Quick Take

    Reiff's short arms show up when he's asked to take speed-rushers in, and when he has to drive upfieldhe needs perfect technique to avoid getting overwhelmed. It's been that way since his Iowa days, and he deserves props for overcoming tough times at left tackle (a position I don't think is ideal for him) and playing well on the right side for Detroit in 2016. That said, he still gives up too much pressure and is prone to the inconsistency you don't want from any highly paid offensive lineman.

    Potential Suitors: New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens