12

March

2013 NFL Draft Preview: Ranking the Interior Linemen

Alabama OG Chance Warmack

Alabama OG Chance Warmack

Typically, offensive guards are not drafted very early in the first round. In last year’s draft, Stanford guard David DeCastro was thought to be one of the “safest” picks in the entire class, but he fell all the way to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 24th overall pick.

This year, Alabama’s Chance Warmack has a chance to crack the top ten. Warmack (6-2 317) is a throwback who will help a team immediately as a rookie.

He could go as high as No. 7 to the Arizona Cardinals, so it’s unlikely that he’ll endure a DeCastro-type fall. But either way, Warmack is a surefire first-round pick.

Behind Warmack, the next-best interior offensive linemen in this year’s draft is Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina. Cooper is more athletic than Warmack but isn’t quite as physical. His versatility could help him on draft day, as he also has the ability to play center.

The center position lacks a true can’t-miss guy at the top.

Alabama’s Barrett Jones, Wisconsin’s Travis Frederick and California’s Brian Schwenke all figure to be drafted at some point on Day 2. Jones is the most versatile of the bunch, Frederick is the most physical, while Schwenke is the most athletic.

Warmack and Cooper will likely be first-round picks, but the depth at offensive guard doesn’t stop there. Larry Warford (6-3 332) of Kentucky is viewed as a starting-caliber guard, as is Syracuse’s Justin Pugh (6-4 307) who some prefer as a right tackle.

The Packers’ offensive line has been heavily debated. Aaron Rodgers may very well be the best quarterback in football, but he was sacked more than anyone else in the league. Rodgers deserves some of that blame along with the offensive line.

At guard, the Packers are set with T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton. Adding depth is always a possibility, as is bringing in a center, whether Evan Dietrich-Smith returns or not.

1. Chance Warmack, Alabama – OG (6-2 317)

  • Draft stock: Early-Mid 1st
  • 225-pound bench: DNP, Arm length: 34.68, 10-yard split: 1.83
  • Three-year starter at left guard.
  • The last time an offensive guard was drafted in the top ten was 1997 when the New Orleans Saints took Chris Naeole out of Colorado. Leonard Davis (2001) and Robert Gallery (2004) both have had long NFL careers at guard, but both players were drafted as tackles. Warmack is a guard, without a doubt.
1

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
25

April

Offensive Tackle Rankings: Packers 2012 NFL Draft Prospects

NFL Draft Logo Image

2012 NFL Draft

With the recent release of longtime Packers left tackle Chad Clifton and Derek Sherrod still recovering from a broken leg, the Packers find themselves operating without a real safety net at tackle.

Currently, Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse and Herb Taylor are the only other true tackles on the roster. We really have no idea if Taylor can actually play, and while Newhouse filled in admirably for Clifton last season, is he a true starter in this league? I think that question has not yet been answered.

Taking all of that in account, I think I just moved offensive tackle up my  priority list for Packers draft picks. There are quite a few nice development prospects at tackle in the later rounds, so I expect Ted Thompson to tap into that well and bring in another warm body to compete for a backup spot.

When Ted pulls that trigger, you can come here and see where he stands in the NFL scouting rankings, shown in the table below. But first, some tidbits on a mid-round tackle that could be calling Green Bay home:

Tom Compton:

While there is no true standout to capture scouts’ attention coming out of the lower level ranks, South Dakota’s Tom Compton could be the first offensive tackle from those ranks drafted, more likely in the fifth round.

Compton possesses good thickness throughout his waist and hips, along with a solid midsection, big bubble, good upper body muscle development and high-cut, thick thighs and calves. He possesses good arm length and a big wingspan, along with the above average hand length that allow him to lock on and ride a defender away from the ball. He also shows solid muscle development throughout his shoulders and chest, looking the part of a classic mauler, as he is big, stout and not the type that has a “jiggly” midsection.

Compton proved to be the “total package” at left offensive tackle as a senior, but the thing that really impressed was his quickness and balance as a lead blocker out of the backfield, as he showed his above average quickness and playing speed into the second level (see 2011 Southern Utah and North Dakota games). He has more than enough athletic ability to pull and get in front of the ball carrier on outside runs. He has the feet to adjust to blocks on the move and can easily slide to adjust to the edge rushers. When he plays tall, he will struggle to anchor, but he has very good balance and change of direction agility to recover.