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March

2013 NFL Draft Preview: Ranking Packers Offensive Tackle Prospects

Texas A&M LT Luke Joeckel

Texas A&M LT Luke Joeckel

Offensive tackle is one of the the deepest positions in the top-half of the first round. Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel is the No. 1 player on my draft board and looks like a lock to be selected in the top five.

One of the most humorous parts of the time leading up to draft day is when offensive linemen are forced to run the 40-yard dash. Terron Armstead (4.71) and Lane Johnson (4.72) ran well, and for that reason, many people are moving them up their draft rankings.

Joeckel didn’t test particularly well athletically at the combine, but fortunately for him, he’s a really, really good football player.

The top three offensive tackles are all worthy of top-ten selections: Joeckel, Johnson and Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. Alabama mammoth offensive tackle D.J. Fluker figures to be a in the mix in the latter portion of round one.

At this point, it looks like as many as five offensive tackles could be selected in round one.

Florida State tackle Melenik Watson is an interesting prospect that could crack the first round and develop into a franchise left tackle. But this class is deeper than the first-round prospects; there are a handful of players at the position that could help out an NFL team as rookies.

1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (6-6 306)

  • Draft stock: Top five
  • 225-pound bench: 27 reps, Arm length: 34.28, 10-yard split: 1.81
  • Three-year starter, declared for the draft following his junior season.
  • The last time an offensive lineman was selected with the No. 1 overall pick was 2008 when the Miami Dolphins selected Michigan tackle Jake Long, but Joeckel has a chance to be the Kansas City Chiefs’ pick at the top of this year’s draft.

2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (6-7 306)

  • Draft stock: Top ten
  • 225-pound bench: 27 reps, Arm length: 34.48, 10-yard split: 1.70
  • Three-year starter, started at left tackle as a junior and senior after seeing time at right tackle and right guard earlier in his career.
  • Selected as a second team All-American by SI.com and a third-team All-American by AP.

3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma (6-6 306)

  • Draft stock: Top ten
  • 225-pound bench: 28 reps, Arm length: 34.28, 10-yard split: 1.61
  • Two-year starter at left tackle, started his college career as a tight end in 2010 before switching to defensive end during the season.
  • Johnson is a unique athlete for an offensive lineman; he was a high school quarterback and was honorable mention all-state. He’s gained 30 pounds since arriving on campus at Oklahoma.

4. D.J. Fluker, Alabama (6-5 339)

  • Draft stock: Late 1st
  • 225-pound bench: 21 reps, Arm length: 36.68, 10-yard split: 1.83
  • Four-year starter at right tackle for the Crimson Tide.
  • Big guy. Fluker is a throwback tackle, helping pave the way for NFL running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, as well as Eddie Lacy who is one of the top running backs in this year’s draft.

5. Menelik Watson, Florida St. (6-5 310)

  • Draft stock: Late 1st / Early 2nd
  • 225-pound bench: DNP, Arm length: 34.08, 10-yard split: 1.80
  • One-year starter at Florida State after transferring from Saddleback (Calif.) College.
  • Played Division I college basketball at Marist before playing football for the first time at Saddleback. Watson was born in Manchester, Great Britain.

6. Terron Armstead, Arkansas Pine-Bluff (6-5 306)

  • Draft stock: 2nd Round
  • 225-pound bench: 31 reps, Arm length: 34.08, 10-yard split: 1.64
  • Three-year starter, also competed in track and field collegiately.
  • Superb athlete for an offensive tackle; slender build allows him to be effective against speed rushers although he can get bull rushed by powerful defensive ends.

7. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee (6-5 305)

  • Draft stock: 2nd Round
  • 225-pound bench: DNP, Arm length: 33.18, 10-yard split: DNP
  • Three-year starter, played offensive guard as a senior but started at left tackle during 2010 and 2011.
  • As a senior, Thomas helped guide the Vols to 475.9 total yards per game, which ranked 20th in the country.

8. Kyle Long, Oregon (6-6 313)

  • Draft stock: 2nd Round
  • 225-pound bench: DNP, Arm length: 33.38, 10-yard split: 1.68
  • One-year starter at Oregon after transferring from Saddleback College.
  • Long started out at Florida State but left the program for academic reasons. During his first year at Saddleback, Long played defensive end before moving to the offensive line. He’s the son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long and brother of Rams defensive end Chris Long.

9. David Bakhtiari, Colorado (6-4 299)

  • Draft stock: Late 2nd / Early 3rd
  • 225-pound bench: 28 reps, Arm length: 34.08, 10-yard split: 1.79
  • Three-year starter at Colorado, declared for the draft after his redshirt junior season.
  • Bakhtiari wasn’t a starter at any level until his senior year of high school. Football is in his blood: oldest brother, Eric, plays for the Tennessee Titans, older brother, Andrew, is a defensive end at the University of San Diego, and uncle, Dan Jackson, played quarterback at California.

10. David Quessenberry, San Jose St. (6-5 302)

  • Draft stock: Late 2nd / Early 3rd
  • 225-pound bench: 25 reps, Arm length: 34.38, 10-yard split: 1.72
  • Three-year starter, also appeared in 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2009.
  • Quessenberry became the first San Jose offensive lineman to play in the Senior Bowl. Enters the draft as a fifth-year starter, after being named All-Western Athletic Conference twice in his career.

Current state of the Packers’ OTs: By the end of the 2012 season, offensive tackle was not one of the Packers’ strongest positions. Marshall Newhouse started all 16 regular-season games at left tackle but certainly wasn’t towards the top of the league in terms of performance. Pro Football Focus graded Newhouse as 45th-best among 57 tackles that played at least 50 percent of their team’s offensive snaps.

Behind Newhouse, 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod didn’t play a single snap in 2012 while recovering from a broken leg. If Sherrod is ready to return in 2013, he’ll likely compete with Newhouse for the starting job at left tackle. But if the team has serious concerns about Sherrod’s long-term health, left tackle may be a possibility early in the draft.

At right tackle, Bryan Bulaga started the first nine games of the season with mixed results before suffering a season-ending hip injury. With Bulaga out of the lineup, undrafted rookie Don Barclay filled in admirably as the starting right tackle.

The offensive line was one of the weakest parts of the 2012 Green Bay Packers, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked a league-high 51 times. But if Sherrod and Bulaga are ready to go to start 2013, the Packers could potentially be two-deep at both tackle spots.

When might the Packers address OT in the draft? The answer to this question is contingent upon the health of Derek Sherrod.

If the former first-round pick is healthy, the Packers may not be inclined to spend an early draft pick on a left tackle. If there are concerns about Sherrod’s health moving forward and there’s a player on the board that would be an upgrade over Newhouse, then a day one or two pick on a tackle is a possibility.

With Sherrod on the active roster, the Packers have five players who could be relied upon to play offensive tackle. Sherrod and Newhouse handle the duties on Rodgers’ blindside, while Bulaga, Barclay and guard T.J. Lang are all capable of handling the right tackle position. There’s been talk of Bulaga sliding over to left tackle, but he’s been a right tackle for his entire three-year career, so he’ll more than likely remain there next season.

Florida State tackle Menelik Watson is an intriguing prospect in the first round. As a former basketball player, Watson is a gifted athlete who could develop into a long-term starter at left tackle. The Chicago Bears could consider Watson as high as No. 20 overall.

Green Bay’s offensive line figures to be addressed at some capacity this offseason, but the team’s most upgradable position as far as depth is center–not tackle. That being said, the Packers could very well draft a developmental prospect in the later rounds in hopes that he develops into a starting-caliber tackle down the road.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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17 Responses to “2013 NFL Draft Preview: Ranking Packers Offensive Tackle Prospects”

  1. Ron LC says:

    If Sherrod is not ready to play by the start of camp this year, he’s a wite-off. Over a year to reccover from a broken bone is an indication that there are other medical issues which are preventing the healing porcess. He must be ready from the git go.

    Love to see Barclay get a fair amount bigger and a little stronger. He certainly played with the energy and aggressiveness the GB Oline needs more of. He teams up very well with Sittion.

    GB can take a flier in later rounds at tackle unless one of two are available at 26(?). Joeckel or Flueker.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      The big question is how much of a risk the Packers are willing to take with their current tackles and the hope that they’ll be able to get the job(s) done and be ready to play.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • jay says:

      Al claimed on twitter a few weeks ago that he’s found a future all-pro that no one’s talking about, but didn’t reveal the name. We’ll probably find it in the draft guide, right?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  2. Scott 1956 says:

    Considering that Newhouse is horrible and Bulaga is coming off a broken hip, the Packers need to draft at least one and possibly two Tackles! Which stinks, because they need D-Line help as well as ILB and Safety!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    • Stroh says:

      The Packers are NOT drafting 2 OT. Hell I doubt the Packers draft one. If they draft OL early, its likely to be a Center and an OT drafted later is probably going to end up at OG.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • James says:

        That’s right.
        They also have Datko.
        A player developing on the practice squad. He would have been at the top of draft boards if he wasn’t injured his senior year. Two out the last three Packer 1st round picks have been looking for Tackles that can protect Rodgers blind side. You can’t keep using first round picks for Left Tackles every year.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • James says:

      The only way I see the Packers pick a tackle in the first round is if Fisher, or Lane Johnson fall to their 26th spot.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      • James says:

        …It would be hard to pass on a value pick with those two incredible athletes.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

        • James says:

          Fisher and Johnson not only could start in the NFL, I think they would be pro bowl caliber Left Tackles.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

          • James says:

            You know these guys would be an instant improvement to most Left Tackles in the league. Even Bulaga and Sherrod.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  3. Scott 1956 says:

    You must remember that before Sherrod was hurt, he was inactive for all but the last two games he played. So he wasn’t getting experience. He’s played a total of what, 40 plays? Can he be the answer? Hopefully. But TT has to make sure that Rodgers blindside is solid, and all we see are one, that didn’t play his first year. Was injured his second. And Newhouse. Who is just slightly better than a swinging door. TT will draft a Tackle in the first or second round!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  4. Savage57 says:

    I would suggest that if past history is any indicator of future success, the one area that the Packers should look to FA for players is OT. For all the good that TT has done in drafting, for whatever reason, finding quality OL is something that has escaped him. But then so has DL, so maybe TT just doesn’t do well with the big uglies.

    Just an idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  5. JRJ62 says:

    I don’t have a lot of faith in either Newhouse or Sherrod at left tackle. Guy that intrigues me is the real athlete and strongest bench guy of the bunch, Terron Armstead. He needs to be watched and if he falls into the 3rd round, maybe. Other than that, our first two rounds have to be defense!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. Don "Yoop" Christensen Yoop says:

    You forgot one. Andrew Datko.
    Datko was considered a 2nd round talent before being injured in college.
    He is the prototypical size you look for in a LT 6-6 318#.
    Speed and quickness with a 5.19 40 time and a 1.76 ten yard.
    Above average agility with a 4.54 shuttle and 7.71 3 cone drill.
    His problem last year was lack of strength because of a shoulder injury.
    The best sports surgeon in the world did the repair on his shoulder and sent a letter to every Team in the NFL saying the shoulder was well repaired and Datko should not have trouble with it.
    A full season on the practice squad and more importantly a full off season of NFL strength training are going to go a long ways for him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. I definitely agree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. [...] was a three-year starter at Colorado, and I had a late-second to early-third round grade on him entering the draft. He was a tackle at the college level but [...]

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