2011 NFL Draft Player Rankings: Offensive Tackles
The left tackle position is one of the four core positions in the NFL. It’s arguably the second most important, only behind quarterback, which is obvious.
A great tackle is not always the most athletic or physical, but is generally very intelligent, outsmarting their defenders. Strength is a plus, but footwork and the ability to get a good drop step off of the snap is even more important.
There are two main types of tackles: maulers and finesse blockers. Maulers are your run blocking machines who are generally stronger, get great push in the run game, and keep their hands inside and their defenders close. Finesse blockers are known for their quick feet, excellent drop step off of the snap, and are fantastic in mirroring their defender, staying with even the quicker defenders, but having the quickness to recover if beaten by a power rusher.
Here are the rankings for the top offensive tackle prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft.
1) Tyron Smith- USC- 6’5 307*
Many people have fallen in love with Smith. While some think he should have returned back to school, one can’t fail to see just how big of upside he has. Smith is a bit undersized, but uses excellent athleticism as well as surprising strength to effectively play his position. Physically, he has more room to grow, and is a bit of a workout warrior. Comparisons of 2010 3rd round pick Bruce Campbell arise, in terms of overall athleticism and potential. He’s excellent in pass protection, and doesn’t get a bad push in the run game. He is quite the project in the NFL, but will benefit most in a zone blocking scheme.
2) Anthony Castonzo- Boston College- 6’7 311
Castonzo is one of the most athletic tackles in the draft. A four year starter, Castonzo has developed into a dominating tackle in pass protection. His athleticism helps him deal with even the quickest of rushers. He lacks push in the run game as his strength is quite average, but that can be improved with an NFL strength and conditioning program. He looks to be one of the top offensive tackles off the board in April.
3) Nate Solder- Colorado- 6’8 1/4 319
Solder is quite the physical specimen. He stands tall at 6’9, and is very strong, getting great push in the run game. His quick feet allow him to stay in front of his opponent in pass protection, and his long arms allow him to punch the defender with ease. The former tight end has started in every game since 2008 since bulking up and moving to left tackle. Solder is rising up draft boards quickly.
4) Gabe Carimi- Wisconsin- 6’7 1/8 314
Carimi is a top three offensive tackle on most peoples’ draft boards. But he’s falling a bit on mine. The more I watch him, the more I see that his future may be at right tackle in the NFL. He’s a mauling tackle who paves the way for running backs, and does a great job capping the end, allowing the runner to cut off of his back. He’s not the most athletic tackle and he struggles against speed rushers. He doesn’t do a good job of punching the defender off the snap, and tends to get to close, forcing himself to get his arms behind the defender potentially causing a holding call.
5) Derek Sherrod- Mississippi State- 6’5 3/8 321
The Mississippi State product is one of the most well rounded tackles in the nation. He’s got quick feet, and gets a good push in the running game. His athleticism allows him to shut down many of the quick pass rushers in the SEC, and he does a good job punching defensive ends and maintaining separation. Sherrod could easily be the first tackle off of the board, although he could afford to bulk up a slight bit and gain strength, but that’s just nitpicking.
Projection: 2nd round
6) Clint Boling- Georgia- 6’4 1/2 308
Boling is a versatile lineman with solid footwork. He struggles off the snap with his dropstep in pass protection, but uses his hands well. His best bet may be to switch to guard in the NFL. He does a nice job getting underneath his opponents pads, however.
7) James Carpenter- Alabama- 6’4 1/2 321
James Carpenter took over for Andre Smith in 2009, and has done a reasonable job bolstering the run game. Carpenter has above average strength and has good leverage in the passing game but is just average in both aspects.
8 ) Joseph Barksdale- LSU- 6’4 7/8 325
While Barksdale is a solid pass protector, his best feature comes in the run game. He’s excellent in getting to the second level, using his athleticism in space in the running game. It’s hard to really get a feeling for his ability in pass protection with a scrambling quarterback at the helm lately. But he’s a good right tackle prospect with left side potential with enough work. His footwork is a bit sloppy in pass protection.
Gilbert has been forced into playing a bit of left tackle when Xavier Nixon missed some time early in the season. Gilbert’s best quality is in the run game as he gets a good push, and is excellent snapping off of the line. His footwork in pass protection is very questionable and he may have to move to right guard in the NFL if a team doesn’t feel he can handle the tackle spot.
10) DeMarcus Love- Arkansas- 6’5 3/8 315
Love is more of a dominant run blocker rather than a finesse tackle in pass protection. He’s great in getting to the second level. He has a lot of upside, however, in the passing game if he can adjust his footwork. He’s very agile for his size, and has long arms to punch his defender. He’s better against quicker pass rushers, but he tends to get bullied against powerful bull rushes. He’s very versatile after playing both tackle positions, and even some guard.
11) Jason Pinkston- Pittsburgh- 6’3 3/8 317
Pinkston does a nice job in the running game, and has helped Pittsburgh in the running game over the last two seasons. He’s struggled a bit in pass protection in 2010, but part of that is due to the inexperience of Tito Sunseri who has a knack for holding onto the ball too long. Pinkston isn’t as athletic as you’d like to see, and his height is a small concern. His best fit is at right tackle or left guard in the NFL.
12) Jah Reid- Central Florida- 6’7 1/8 327
Reed has shown a nice ability to use his quick feet and raw power to help his team in the run game. He does a great job of sealing the edge, and has good power. He’s only mediocre in pass protection, but he is a hard worker and is very coachable.
13) James Brewer- Indiana- 6’6 1/4 323
Brewer is a raw offensive tackle which could bolster an NFL team’s running game at the next level. He’s not very athletic, but he has good strength and gets a good push. His pass protection is suspect as he is slow and often plays too stiff. He needs to prove that he can stay healthy.
14) Lee Ziemba- Auburn- 6’6 317
Ziemba is a pure right tackle at the next level, and will have to be groomed. He plays a bit stiff, but has above average strength, and has a high football IQ.
15) Willie Smith- East Carolina- 6’5 3/8 310
For a guy with Smith’s size, he’s impressed with his overall athleticism. Smith needs work on his technique and gaining strength. He has quick feet and could be a project left tackle.
16) Darius Morris- Temple- 6’4 321
Morris is a pure right tackle, and maybe even right guard at the next level. He has above average strength, but lacks athleticism in pass protection. He has good potential, but really needs to work on his footwork at the next level to become a better threat in the passing game.
17) Nick Claytor- Georgia Tech- 6’6 285*
Claytor is an athletic tackle who is quite raw, and probably should have stayed in school for another season. He has potential to be a legit starter at the next level, but has many question marks with his footwork and overall technique.
18) Josh Davis- Georgia- 6’7 1/8 313
Davis is a versatile lineman who uses his arms well in pass protection. Doesn’t have a mean streak, and can miss assignments in the run game.
19) Derek Newton- Arkansas State- 6’4 7/8 311
Newton is a slightly more athletic tackle with above average footwork. He lacks the strength to keep up with bull rushers, but gets a good dropstep off the snap to mirror quick edge rushers. He could use work in the run game, but is more of a finesse pass blocker.
20) Tray Allen- Texas- 6’4 305
Allen is an underachiever who is best slotted to play right guard in the NFL. He gets a good push in the running game, but his very suspect in pass protection. He’s not very athletic and can be slow off the snap at tackle.
21) Johnny Culbreath- South Carolina State- 6’6 310
22) Jarriel King- South Carolina- 6’5 317
23) Chris Hairston- Clemson- 6’6 1/8 326
24) Kyle Hix- Texas- 6’6 7/8 318
25) Rob McGill- Louisiana Tech- 6’6 310
26) Cody Habben- Washington- 6’6 290
27) Cory Brandon- Oklahoma- 6’7 321
28) Richard Lapham- Boston College- 6’8 315
29) D.J. Scott- East Carolina- 6’6 320
30) Kenny Wiggins- Fresno State- 6’7 315
31) Bo Thran- Oregon- 6’5 285
32) Curt Porter- Jacksonville State- 6’7 295
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