The NFL Draft Snapshot series continues with one of the premier positions in the NFL, offensive tackle. Tackles are at an absolute premium in the NFL, with most of the best players at the position being first round picks. This is a very talented tackle class with every type of tackle there is: quick footed athletes, big maulers, and intelligent technicians. Whatever a team is looking for in a tackle, this draft can offer it in every round.
La’el Collins, LSU, 6-5/321, First Round Grade
Collins is the prototypical left tackle. He has incredible size, with tremendously long arms and heavy, violent hands. In addition to being an aggressive, intimidating run blocker, Collins is a powerful lineman who does a great job in pass protection. The biggest concern with Collins is that he occasionally comes off balance in his pass sets, and he may end on the ground in the run game. Despite this flaw, he consistently gets the job done. This can be cleaned up with his footwork. There are speculations that Collins is better suited inside, but he has the body type and ability to dominate every position along the offensive line.
Pro Comparison: Trent Williams, Washington
T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh, 6-6/305, First Round Grade
Clemmings is a bit more raw than Collins, but he has the potential to be just as good, if not better, of a player. The Pitt lineman is a very impressive athlete with great size, quick feet and bully strength. He flashes a very intriguing violence to his game that teams (and myself) love to see in any offensive linemen. Issues are found in inconsistent hand placement and sloppy footwork, as he relies too much on pure athletic ability and can sometimes come off balance. Clemmings also tends to lose leverage from time to time. These issues do not come up regularly, but they can certainly be improved upon. Clemmings, a former defensive linemen, has sky high potential, so here is to hoping that he reaches it in the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Duane Brown, Houston Texans
Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State, 6-5/315, First Round Grade
Sambrailo has a lot to like as an offensive tackle. He is a clean technician with good feet, great awareness and good hand placement. He is a good, yet unspectacular athlete, but makes up for it with his great field IQ. Having an incredibly high motor player (other white player cliches, etc.), he plays with a nastiness that makes watching him very enjoyable. He is likely maxed out to where he can be as a player, but there is no doubt he can impact day one in the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Todd Herremans, Philadelphia Eagles
Brandon Scherff, Iowa, 6-5/320, First Round Grade
Scherff is a bit of a polarizing prospect in the scouting community. He is getting viewed by some as a top five player, while other see him as a fringe first round player. Is he a guard? Is he a tackle? A lot of it comes down to nitpicking, but that is why we are all here. Scherff is a tremendous athlete from the perspective that he is stupidly strong, and he moves very well down hill. The Iowa prospect is a violent, bullying player who wants to block every player into the ground. He is a fun player to watch, no doubt. The issue I find with Scherff is his functional length (pause). I use this term to refer to whether or not a player can use their arm length, lateral agility or both to block on the edge or keep themselves clean. Scherff has middling length, and he is a bit stiff (pause, again). I think there remain the qualities of a good NFL tackle, but a move to guard would likely maximize his skill set, very similar to Joel Bitonio and Zack Martin last year. Wherever he ends up, Scherff will be a good NFL player, but it would not be shocking to see him move to guard.
Pro Comparison: Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys
Jake Fisher, Oregon, 6-6/300 Pounds, High Second Round Grade
Fisher fits into the “quick footed athlete” archetype. As a former tight end, Fisher has phenomenal movement skills for a 300 pound person. He has great feet, mirroring ability, and he does a great job blocking in space. Despite being a very smart player, Fisher is not consistently strong or aggressive, and he needs to improve his hands at the next level. Oregon linemen tend to be lighter coming into the NFL, so it will be important for him to put on some weight. He has the frame and the movement skills to be a very good NFL tackle, so hopefully he can get the sand to match.
Pro Comparison: Luke Joekel (but more aware), Jacksonville Jaguars