The 2013 NFL Draft saw three offensive tackles off the board in the top four picks and the run continued with eight off the board in the top 100 selections. As the NFL continues to turn the offensive page to high tempo, passing attacks – pass protectors continue to increase draft value.
The 2014 NFL Draft should be filled with quality pass protectors as the senior class feature two tackles that were widely thought to be headed out of school to join the ranks of the NFL. Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan opted to stay in school and could provide a tandem of top ten tackles.
The underclassmen tackles will feature a high ceiling prospect in Cyrus Kouandijo but it’s far from a complete class and lacks depth beyond a couple of junior tackles.
After the break check out our 2014 NFL Draft offensive tackle rankings.
1. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Matthews opted to return to A&M for his senior season as he was the starter on the right side for three years. Matthews will get a shot to prove he can play the left side after being relegated to right tackle duties because of Luke Joeckel’s presence. Matthews was a stalwart on the right side and could prove to be worthy of a top three selection if he can hold down the fort on the left side this season.
2. Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Lewan is a nasty, physical blocker with the work ethic to be a great one. I had a chance to see Lewan’s work ethic this spring. Lewan was consistently the last U of M player off the practice field – getting extra work in after practice with coaches and doing additional conditioning. That said, Lewan looks like a right tackle at the next level, albeit a very good one.
3. James Hurst, North Carolina
This is my pick to rise throughout the season. Hurst is an experienced starter on a very good UNC line that has the feet and length to be a franchise LT at the next level. At this point he’s neck and neck with Lewan and I wouldn’t be surprised if he challenged for a spot in the top ten when it’s all said and done.
4. Jack Mewhort, Ohio State
Mewhort is a former guard that took over the left tackle duties with the departure of Mike Adams. Mewhort was solid last season but needs to prove he has the feet to play on the left side at the next level. He’s a tall prospect with some leverage issues but Ed Warriner is one of the best in the business and should have Mewhort’s technique up to par this season.
5. Zack Martin, Notre Dame
I’m not sure that Martin finds a home at tackle in the NFL but has the goods to be a very good guard prospect at the next level. He was much improved in 2012 and with continued improvement could make a case to play right tackle.
6. Ryan Groy, Wisconsin
Groy’s versatility should help him in a major way come evaluation time. He’s played all over the Wisky line and will move to left tackle for his senior season. Groy was very good at left tackle last season (better than Ricky Wagner) in two contests. If Groy proves consistent in edge space, he’ll be flying up draft boards.
7. JuWaun James, Tennessee
James is drastically undervalued – probably even in our rankings. He’s a highly experienced starter that will make near fifty collegiate starts after all is said and done. James is a collegiate right tackle that could make the move inside at the next level. He’s powerful at the point of attack but lacks the feet to a great pass protector on the edge.
8. Austin Wentworth, Fresno State
Wentworth spent his first full season on the left side last year and held up admirably. He’s played right tackle and right guard and could play any of those spots at the next level. Another season protecting the blindside of Derek Carr will help Wentworth in the eyes of NFL talent evaluators.
9. Seantrel Henderson, Miami
One of the most highly recruited tackles in recent memory has struggled to make the transition to the “bigger pond.” Henderson has played mostly on the right side at Miami but struggled through a back injury, a suspension, and a car accident. He’s got an NFL frame to go with nice athleticism for his size but teams will be worried about maturity issues that have popped up over his career – dating back to high school.
10. Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt
11. Morgan Moses, Virginia
12. Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State
13. Donald Hawkins, Texas
14. Jake Olson, Central Michigan **Watch out for Olson – plagued by injuries but skill set to be a a very nice LT.
15. Bryce Quigley, San Diego State
16. Jeremiah Sirles, Nebraska
17. Ed Olson, Minnesota
18. Kenarious Gates, Georgia
19. Danny Kistler Jr., Montana