Offensive line help is a constant need in the NFL, but talent is in particularly high demand right now for so many teams, especially at tackle. Can the 2018 class offer enough supply to match the demand? All the top names have questions, but there’s also a lot of potential and upside among the group.
There are some names which are “missing” from this list, and while several of them may well end up being tackles in the pros, they have been included in the guard rankings. These include Isaiah Wynn, Braden Smith, Tyrell Crosby, Martinas Rankin and Alex Cappa. To see all articles in this Top 10 series so far, click here.
1. Connor Williams, Texas. Grade: 1st Round
6’5”, 305lbs. Junior.
The Combine proved a positive week for Williams, whose draft stock was in something of a flux. Though listed by his school at around 6’6”, he looked shorter on film and with questionable arm length on film that might have suggested a move inside. As it turned out, Williams measured in at just over 6’5” with an acceptable 33” arm length.
He may still be pegged as a guard on some draft boards, but even if so, should at least be the next in a recent line of left tackles to make a successful transition to the interior, such as Zack Martin and Cody Whitehair. The potential versatility to play inside or outside could prove useful, regardless.
In addition to his measurements, Williams excelled in his testing and workout in Indianapolis, proving himself as one of the more athletic tackle prospects in this class. Williams plays with outstanding technique, coordination and footwork as a pass protector, mirroring superbly. His awareness and composure make him an assuring presence on the line.
While he can continue to build his strength to assist with his anchor, he plays with enough of a nasty streak that particularly shows up in his run blocking, regularly driving back opposing defenders and finishing them to the turf. Williams moves upfield well and seeks out blocks in space.
Williams’ season was far from ideal, beginning with the worst performance of his college career in the loss to Maryland, before picking up a knee injury against USC that kept him out of a large portion of the season.
He returned in spectacular fashion though with a dominant game against West Virginia and closed out the year back at his best. To mark him down for that one Maryland showing would be harsh, with two and a bit years of otherwise near-flawless film.
2. Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame. Grade: 1st Round
6’8”, 309lbs. Redshirt Senior.
A three-year starter with experience on both the left and right sides of the line, McGlinchey is a well-coached and hard working tackle prospect who ought to have a relatively safe floor and be a day one plug-and-play starter in the NFL. Though having played on the left the past two seasons in replacement of Ronnie Stanley, he arguably looked more natural and comfortable on the right side in 2015.
Excellent size immediately stands out, with not just a tall frame, but long arms with which to attack into the body of pass rushers. That said, there’s often times he doesn’t make full use of that length advantage and would like to see him extend and lock out his arms more. The importance is added to given some struggles this past season in dealing with several of the outside speed rushers faced, having issues recovering after giving up a step early off the snap.
Though experienced, lack of consistency in his form and body control impacts his success, including over-leaning into some blocks and raising his pad level mid-play. Poor balance can lead to ending up on the turf too frequently. Though his length aids his kick slide, inside counters can catch him off guard. Despite all that, McGlinchey doesn’t lose many reps. When he sets a good base, he anchors well when facing direct pressure into his body, and battles to maintain position.
There’s a discipline and intelligence in his blocking, understands his assignments and keeps active eyes to any required adjustments over the course of the play. He ticks off boxes physically not just in his length but as a good athlete with enough play strength, albeit with room to develop the latter further. McGlinchey is an aggressive run blocker, delivers a good punch, and works smartly and quickly when moving upfield and in space.
3. Kolton Miller, UCLA. Grade: 2nd Round
6’9”, 309lbs. Redshirt Junior.
Running under five seconds and breaking the broad jump record for O-linemen at the Combine just added to the list of impressive physical measurables that Miller can cite in his favor, along with a long frame and impressive wingspan.
Having only started 10 games in his previous two seasons, including having his 2016 year ended after five games due to a foot injury, 2017 marked his first full season as a starter. After previously playing on the right, he switched over to the left tackle spot this year, and after a very shaky start, improved as the year progressed.
As indicated by his testing in Indianapolis, Miller possesses ideal athleticism and core strength in addition to his length. While he flashed well, his film is highly inconsistent, including in the latter part of the season in which he was performing relatively better.
As easy as it is to praise his big frame and paint the upside picture, he doesn’t apply it effectively right now. Technique across the board is a significant work-in-progress, but the upper body issues particularly stand out. Hand placement is consistently poor, regularly outside, and often seeming satisfied with achieving any form of contact on his defensive opponents.
He regularly fails to make use of his arm length, not extending, delivering an average at best punch, and allowing controlling contact into his own body. Invites pass rushers to dictate and work off his blocks that can lead to conceding easy pressures and hits on the QB or ball carrier in the backfield.
Early in the season, Miller’s footwork was frantic and awkward, but in fairness improved in composure later in the season. He has the foot quickness to keep up with outside speed rushers, to go with the core strength to hold up against bull rushes when he sets a decent base. The issues appear however, when he sees both in the same play, with rushers converting speed to power mid-play unbalancing Miller.
There’s a lot to love about how the tackle prospect attacks in the run game, looking to flatten defenders on contact, and showing more punch than he tends to in pass protection. He has the movement and quickness to reach the second level on time and find blocks on linebackers.
The fight and work ethic are there in his effort level throughout, even if that doesn’t alleviate the concerns of his inconsistency, technical issues and vulnerability as a pass protector. For a projected early draft pick, he still looks like a lot of work to develop and refine, and no lock to reach the point of being consistently reliable, particularly in keeping his quarterback clean.
4. Jamarco Jones, Ohio State. Grade: 3rd Round
6’4”, 299lbs. Senior.
A first-year starter in 2016, Jones was rather underwhelming in watching his film from a year ago, despite his prominent position on one of the top teams in the country resulting in being high on many offensive line ranking lists entering this season. While still inconsistent, his 2017 film showed improvements in areas on his game as his experience grew.
His ceiling still feels to be relatively limited in terms of his upside, but there’s a very solid foundation to work with, and to be a reliable long-term NFL starter. Though he might not appear the biggest, Jones has disproportionately long arms that give him outstanding reach.
Jones holds up well at the point of attack, proving tough to move off his spot, setting a strong base and wide stance as he anchors down. He battles well post-contact to maintain his blocks, looking in full control as a pass protector. Patient and composed, Jones shows good hand placement and a strong punch, extending to maximize his length, not allowing the likes of a spin move unbalance him, adjusting well to counter moves.
The former Buckeye plays with a bit of an edge in his run blocking, driving defenders back and finishing; there was a lot to like in his aggression when the motor is on full. Jones isn’t a standout athlete for the position but does a solid job working up onto the second level and in space. There are times he can look a little stiff in his movements.
There may not be the elite upside, but there are also no major flaws in his game. He’s noted by Ohio State coaches for his work ethic to improve his game and his intelligence both on and off the field. His improvements from year one to year two as a starter indicate that well.
5. Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh. Grade: 3rd Round
6’7”, 297lbs. Redshirt Junior.
There’s been no middle ground when it comes to O’Neill’s pre-draft process. His outstanding testing at the Combine reflected what was already evident on film that the converted tight end has rare athleticism for the tackle position. However, that was preceded by a Senior Bowl that was close to disastrous for his draft stock. O’Neill struggles mightily in both practices and the game, getting beat constantly in 1-on-1 drills particularly that has to make any team considering drafting him nervous.
The third round grade is a balance of risk versus upside. He could never earn a starting job or could develop into an excellent left tackle. He has experience on both sides of the line, and in his single season of playing on the left for Pittsburgh, he showed progress from a difficult first half of the year to having his strongest game in the regular season finale versus the Miami Hurricanes.
O’Neill features good length within a toned, well distributed frame, and has kept his impressive and easy movement from his days as a tight end. While he’s added plenty bulk, there’s room for more and requires continuing to build core strength which remains a key issue at times on film, routinely getting bullied on contact that can have a knock on effect on his technique and footwork that can unravel.
In addition to his natural athleticism, there’s evidence of applying that well in his reactions, mirroring in pass pro and his ability to keep up with speed rushers outside with an efficient kick slide. While he’s proved vulnerable in pass protection, he also flashes good awareness and football IQ, and can react well to secondary blocking requirements and to counter moves. He teases the ability to recover, readjust and reset his feet.
A big negative in his technique sees him play far too high with poor pad level and consistently struggling with leverage as a result. O’Neill generally extends well, making good use of his length to make it tough to get into his chest for pass rushers, but also tends to combine it with bending too much at the waist, a knock-on effect of the pad level issues. He can really struggle at the point of attack and to hold his ground when facing the bull rush.
His athletic traits are an obvious asset in the run game, quick out of his stance and to fly up to the second level, with nice instincts for seeking out blocks in space.
6. Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan. Grade: 3rd-4th Round
6’6”, 320lbs. Senior.
A prospect who looks the part but far too frequently doesn’t play to it. Okorafor has been starting at left tackle the past two seasons for the Broncos, but the three-year starter has experience on both the left and right sides, and during Western Michigan’s memorable 2016 season, paired with Panthers second round pick Taylor Moton for one of the more talented tackle tandems in college football and part of an effective run game for the MAC school.
Okorafor offers a big build with long arms in addition to his broad frame. Despite his physical stature, he can be a little tentative, and would like to see him impose himself a bit more, to play with more nasty as a blocker. He can allow easy access to the QB round the outside, allowing drives into his outside edge. He doesn't use his punch and length effectively enough against edge rushes to prevent turning the corner.
He also allows contact and pressure into his chest through lack of arm extension, often failing to make the most of his impressive wingspan. There’s too often a lack of toughness shown that can be highly frustrating to watch. He certainly can do it as there are plenty examples where he does dominate the competition he faces; the consistency and motor need to increase significantly.
There’s technical issues as well in Okorafor’s game. He can let his hand placement get a bit far outside. The anchor is pretty average and can get pushed back, partly a factor of poor leverage and balance.
Unquestionably, there is plenty upside to work with. Okorafor shows good quickness in his kick slide for a big man, and combined with the broad frame, can make himself difficult to work around when he's using his length and extension properly. He has obvious foundation physical traits that can be maximized with further technical development to become a solid to good starter.
7. Orlando Brown, Oklahoma. Grade: 3rd-4th Round
6’8”, 345lbs. Redshirt Junior.
An infamously bad Combine performance resulted in everything ranging from simply raising concerns to significant drops down draft boards (at least from some prominent media folk; whether teams have done the same is unknown).
Unlike many, he never held a particularly high grade for me, with a late 2nd-round grade on the initial January board, and even that was a little begrudgingly, as his film felt more third round worthy at the time, but took into account his impressive length and consistency to give up plays only rarely.
A few years ago, LSU right tackle Vadal Alexander was viewed for a while as a Day 2 prospect. He tested very poorly at the Combine and eventually landed in the 7th round. USC guard Damien Mama had a similarly unathletic performance and went from a possible mid-round prospect for some, to undrafted in the end. It remains to see how things will go for Brown, but dropping stock can be argued for. In fairness his numbers were a little better at his pro day, though still not great.
Brown has mammoth size and length, with the power to shut down most bull rush attempts, which are often a waste of time even attempting. When he achieves early contact, his hands can deliver an effective punch and disrupt the desired path into the backfield. When the opportunity is there to finish, he can do so emphatically.
A three-year starter, Brown can cite the scarceness with which he gave up hits and sacks, though the system, frequent quickly released passes, and Mayfield’s ability to escape pressure aiding that. Even so, his performance against Ohio State was the strongest of his career against a talented defensive line group.
While able to make it work in college through his core strength, Brown’s form is a concern, with narrow feet, lack of bend and an upright stance that raises his pad level far too high. The movement issues are reflected on film, and while his feet aren’t awkward, is slower than desired and shows some issues keeping with speed off the edge, particularly early off the snap. That continues on the second level where he can miss blocks in space and overall is limited away from the line of scrimmage.
8. Will Richardson, NC State. Grade: 4th Round
6’6”, 305lbs. Redshirt Junior.
NC State’s defensive line was one of the best in the ACC, and indeed the country, led by BJ Hill inside and Bradley Chubb on the edge. Less heralded was their offensive counterparts in the trenches, who were very much a strength of the team as well. Richardson was a standout of that group at right tackle and has started for the majority of the last three seasons for the Wolfpack.
Richardson has length and a broad frame that has a prototype look for an NFL prospect. He backs that up with good enough movement at his size, proving quick out of his stance and fairly light on his feet, quick to react and move as he mirrors pass rushers and tracks them in space off the edge. He completes the measurables with a likeable combination of strength and aggression, holding up well at the point of attack post-contact.
There’s a tendency to over-lean and bend into contact on occasion, and his technique is a bit sloppy overall, but generally has sufficient control and balance in pass protection. As a run blocker, Richardson is quickly up onto the second level and appears to take pride in overpowering and dominating defenders he blocks. He held up well against talented opposition such as Clemson’s defensive front and was a key contributor in opening holes for breakout star and fellow 2018 prospect Nyheim Hines.
One of the biggest question marks regarding Richardson is character red flags, having received multiple suspensions, including one for a DWI arrest and an early 2017 suspension that was admitted as being marijuana related. Without the question marks related to the suspensions, he held a third round grade here, but might slip into the final day of the draft.
9. Desmond Harrison, West Georgia. Grade: 4th Round
6’6”, 292lbs. Redshirt Senior.
Finally able to make some pre-draft noise, Harrison lit up the 40-yard dash at the Combine, running under five seconds. A weigh-in winner, his long arms, huge hands, and tall, muscular frame points to the physical and athletic upside to work with. That follows some disappointments early this year that included being unwell for Senior Bowl week that prevented him from proving what he could do against better opposition than faced this past season at West Georgia.
While the upside is there, off-field question marks will factor heavily in grading, and while he could sneak into the second day, a day three selection seems more likely, with plenty work to be done on the field, regardless.
After a couple years in California at a community college, he joined Texas, but after a reserve role initially, was kicked off the team, reportedly for multiple positive drug tests. The next two seasons Harrison was not playing football, followed by a year at the Division II level, that might result in taking time to be ready to contribute as a pro.
His length is an obvious asset on film, to establish controlling contact and aiding his finishes against athletic rushers outside. Playing with a nasty streak, Harrison appears to love to dominate and overpower, taking down and finish defenders to the ground. While doing so against over-matched opposition last season, at least his advantages were clearly evident in his play. His quickness can result in effective lead blocks and work out front in space in the run game.
While his natural traits help him find wins in both the run and pass games, technically, Harrison is extremely raw. His lack of experience shows up in not just his form but his reactions and recognitions. Footwork can get highly erratic, with inconsistencies in his base, anchor, pad level and ability to reset his feet when changing direction. Though athletic, Harrison is lean and doesn’t look strong enough to handle direct attacks, on top of issues absorbing from a technical aspect.
10. Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T. Grade: 4th Round
6’8”, 305lbs. Redshirt Senior.
Parker not only has ideal size, but looks the part immediately on film, standout out from those around him from the first snap. Highly experienced as a four-year player with 48 consecutive starts, Parker has been on scouts’ radars each of the past couple of years after being a big factor in the production of eventual fourth round draft pick Tarik Cohen, being clearly noticeable on 2016 film while viewing the electric running back he blocked for.
Parker is not just big, but moves reasonably well for his build, with decent feet and quickly out of his stance and onto the second level as required. His forceful, imposing run blocking style is highly enjoyable to watch as he dominates at his lower level.
That said, there are signs that he could do with adding more strength and developing more power over the early part of his pro career. His attacking style and the competition level slightly masks the actual strength he offers.
An effective pass protector, Parker apparently did not give up a single sack over his first three seasons with the Aggies, and shows decent reactions and mirror technique, even if he has the occasional issue with counters to his inside.
That said, he has some technical elements to clean up for the pros against upcoming better opposition. Parker doesn’t always get full extension from his long arms and can play a bit high and narrow that could lead to balance issues when dealing with heavy-handed pass rushers. The small school O-lineman has NFL size and some upside, with the potential to develop into a starter at a position of great need right now in the pros.
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