Offensive Tackle

2020 NFL Draft: Reviewing the top offensive tackles

  • 2020 NFL Draft
  • Offensive Line
By Jason Engstrom March 13, 2020 0 Comment
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The NFL has struggled to find consistent, top offensive tackle play coming out of the draft. Here are the top offensive tackles for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The NFL is starving for starting quality offensive tackles. Each draft brings fewer and fewer pro-ready lineman due to the offensive shift amongst the college ranks. In the last few years, colleges have phased into spread offenses, cutting down on the time that the quarterback holds the ball. Some quarterbacks can go their whole career without taking a snap under center, negating traditional pass sets or running schemes. It’s very rare to have 2 or 3 tackles with this much talent in the draft, let alone 5 or 6. Which tackle takes the crown though for Offensive Tackle 1?

Second Tier Tackles

Josh Jones (Houston Tackle)

The former 3-star recruit turned into a stalwart on Houston’s line in his four years as a starter. Jones appeared to be a developmental level player last season but came on at the end of his senior year. He’s a great player in a zone-blocking scheme, and his ability to hit second-level defenders on the run is outstanding. His biggest downfall with be his functional strength, and he could probably benefit from a ‘redshirt’ season in the NFL. He is hit or miss when trying to block guys that can convert speed to power. There will be an NFL team that falls in love with a part of his game and draft him higher than he should go.

Grade: Day 2

Projection: Late first round/early second round

Ezra Cleveland (Boise State Tackle)

Cleveland is an interesting case. His athletic ability will have team’s salivating, although his tape isn’t nearly as impressive. He’s custom-built for a zone-blocking scheme, with the athleticism to get out in front of runners as a lead blocker. Cleveland could see some early work at guard or center for some teams, and may ultimately find a better home there. Where do you put a guy who is a top 10 pick athletically, but has day two tape? He’s a developmental type prospect that, given the right scheme and offensive line coach, could contribute immediately.

Grade: Late Day 1

Projection: Late first round/early second round

Top Tier Offensive Tackles

Andrew Thomas (Georgia Tackle)

Andrew Thomas is big-bodied and fundamentally sound. In most drafts, he would probably be the top offensive tackle. Thomas has some vines for arms (36 1/8″) and is built for mauling defenders. He doesn’t have the same movement ability or athleticism to hit the next level nearly as quickly as some of the other guys in this class. Thomas, in a power scheme, has the upside to be a pro-bowl caliber player at tackle. Expect to see him start his career at left tackle before sliding to the right side.

Grade: Late Day 1

Projection: Mid to late first round

Jedrick Wills (Alabama Tackle)

Do you want a mauler with a nasty disposition? Of course, most NFL teams do as well, and that is Wills. He’s athletic enough and powerful enough at the point of attack that he can slide into any scheme and be successful. He has a jarring punch, although his placement can be inconsistent, which slows down the pass rush. He puts in some of his best work in the run game, however. The torque that he creates with his hips and hands is the best in this class.

He’s position versatile and could be a quality starter at any position outside of left tackle in the NFL. His nasty streak paired with his fundamentals is reminiscent of the recently retired Marshall Yanda. Expect a longer, successful pro career.

Grade: Top 20

Projection: Top 20

Mekhi Becton (Louisville Tackle)

Becton is a generational size/athleticism specimen. His seven-foot wingspan paired with his 6’7, 364-pound frame shouldn’t be able to move as he does. He gets out in space with the best of them and has an accurate punch there as well.

His pass sets and footwork are smooth, and he could play either tackle spot in any scheme. Think Orlando Brown, but way more athletic. Expect multiple trips to the pro bowl for this giant.

Grade: Top ten

Projection: Top ten

The King Offensive Tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft and Why

Tristan Wirfs (Iowa Tackle)

Height: 6’5

Weight: 320

Arm Length: 34″

Athletic Profile

The Iowa Hawkeye is an athletic freak, the likes of which haven’t been seen yet. He set two combine records in the vertical jump (36.5″) and the broad jump (121″), both tests are used to determine explosiveness amongst offensive linemen. His speed is pretty elite as well, clocking in with a 4.86 in the 40-yard dash (1.69 10 yard split.) He’s quite literally off the charts athletically and validates our top 10 grade.

Scheme Fit

His athletic ability and skill set lean more towards a zone-blocking scheme. But, with his power and explosiveness, he could slide just as easily into a power scheme. Wirfs can play both left and right tackle and showed the ability while switching sides in a few games. He’s diverse enough that any team in need of a tackle should be running to the podium should he be available.

Run Blocking

Wirfs does some of his best work in the run game, and his tendency to continue upfield during zone-blocking plays to maximize the ball carriers space. He’s a body mover, his hips, lower body, and upper body generate enough power and torque to remove defenders from his gap. He’s always aware of play direction and duties, and continuously pushes the point of attack. His speed and explosiveness make him a nightmare on counters and pulling plays.

Pass Blocking

The Iowa star has smooth feet and looks like a natural in pass sets and lateral movements. He maintains a good, broad base throughout his kick slides and looks like a seasoned veteran with his punch and hand placement. His strength and anchor at the point of attack are very hard to contend with, and he doesn’t get pushed back often. However, when he does, he can re-anchor with the best of them. His natural leverage as a blocker stems from a wrestling state championship background and has developed with his football career.

Grade: Top 5

Projection: Top 5

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