2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama
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This year, the answer is yes.

The wide receiver class is dominating the talk in the draft community, and for good reason. You can argue that 15 wide receivers should be taken within the first three rounds.

While the wide receiver class may be the talk of the town, it’s important not to overlook the strength of the offensive line class. In fact, it’s arguably even stronger, particularly at the top. I may not be an expert in evaluating offensive line talent, but as football enthusiasts, we all understand the traits that translate to success in the NFL.

If a player puts his hands on you, and your reaction resembles someone who just underwent a defibrillator, that’s the definition of raw power. Strength i not just important, it’s critical for an offensive lineman, as it can negate a potential loss and create running lanes.

Highlight blocks that knock defenders over will make the rounds on social media, but everything starts from the ground up in the trenches. Your feet put you in a position to win and execute.

Some things my untrained eyes look for when watching offensive linemen:

  • Staying inside out of the defender
  • The ability to redirect/shift your weight while staying on balance
  • Getting your second foot in the ground quickly
  • Timing your “punch” when the defender shoots their hands
  • The location of your “punch”
  • Winning in various ways with your hands, i.e., inside hand, independent hand usage, “Hamilton technique,” etc.
  • Passing off games in pass protection and looking for work when you’re uncovered

You can point out about 20 other aspects, but we’ll stick with seven. Let’s get to the prospects. I had 15 wideouts Tier 4 or higher. For this position group, I have a whopping 13 offensive linemen Tier 2 or better. So, yeah, this class is not just loaded, it’s bursting with potential. If you cannot find an early contributor this year, it might be time to find a new hobby.

Let’s start with the tackles.

Offensive tackles

Most believe the San Francisco 49ers will draft an offensive tackle at some point in the NFL Draft. Many draft analysts are penciling in the best available tackle at No. 31.

As we know, there’s more than one way to build a roster. Here are the top 14 tackles in the draft.

Tier 5 – Can help you in a pinch

14) Kiran Amegadjie – Yale – 6’5, 323 pounds
13) Brandon Coleman – TCU – 6’5, 313 pounds –
12) Caedan Wallace Penn St. – 6’4 7/8, 314 pounds
11) Christian Jones – Texas – 6’5, 305 pounds

Amegadijie will take some time coming from the Ivy League. He’s the player you want getting off the bus first, as his arms dangle down by his knees. Amegadijie started at left tackle these past two seasons, but they were injury-riddled. He missed the final six games due to a quad injury.

He’s the ying to Coleman’s yang, as Kiran will knock your block off. The problem is that he will flat-out whiff, trying to go for the kill shot. Amegadijie is a work in progress with an injury history who will need time to adjust to the NFL. He has the ability, but you will need to be patient.

Coleman, a fifth-year senior, played left tackle at TCU. At the Senior Bowl, he tried every position but center. He puts himself in position for pass pro and run blocking at the second level. Coleman is in the 82nd percentile in wingspan and the 90th percentile in hand size, the 40, vertical, and broad jump.

However, his lack of strength was displayed during his 1-on-1 reps at the Senior Bowl, which was evident when he played in the Big 12. His lack of mean streak/finishing ability is concerning, and that’s why I’m relegating him to a backup.

Like every other Penn State player, Wallace is a gifted athlete. He has plenty of experience, starting 40 games at right tackle. I’m not sure what I’m getting on a snap-to-snap basis from Wallace, which is why he’s lower. You’re left wanting more from him, whether it’s competitiveness, finishing, or footwork. I didn’t come away thinking, “He could help right away,” which is another reason why he’s in this tier.

The good news is that Jones knows how to play the position. He started at right tackle for Texas. The bad news is he was a 6-year senior, so he had better understand how to play. It’s difficult to project an undersized tackle with no experience playing guard. We all remember what life was like at right tackle for Mike McGlinchey when he dropped weight. Edge rushers in the NFL will push you around.

Jones is impressive in pass protection. When uncovered, his head was on a swivel, and when opponents got into his chest, he showed the ability to anchor and hold up. I was tempted to bump him up a tier because of that, but Jones’ age and size, as well as an 8-second 3-cone, are difficult to ignore.

Tier 4 –

10) Blake Fisher – Notre Dame – 6’5, 310 pounds
9) Roger Rosengarten – Washington – 6’5 3/8, 308 pounds

At a position where traits matter, Fisher is in the 38th percentile for weight and 45th percentile for hand size. Most Notre Dame linemen who enter the NFL are sharp. Fisher is a 3-year sophomore who the Fighting Irish ran behind more than any other tackle in the class. In fact, per Sports Info Solutions, no tackle generated more yards before contact than Fisher. There are reps where he effectively down blocks against a defensive tackle and buries the linebacker. But there are also times when he overruns the linebacker.

In pass protection, I’ve seen him chase the looper all the way to the center or not get consistent depth to cut off the edge rusher. But then, he’ll anchor and reset his hands and hold up against a top-tier player. He struggled with speed more than I would have liked, which is why he’s in Tier 4.

We should be familiar with Rosengarten, as John Lynch and 49ers offensive line coach Chris Foerster worked him through a workout last week. He’s a four-year sophomore on the smaller side. Rosengarten is in the 30th percentile in weight and 20th percentile for wingspan, arm length, and hand size. As you might expect, defenders can get into his chest, and he struggles with power.

The hope is that Rosengarten will improve his strength and fill his frame in the NFL. Rosengarten started 28 games at right tackle, where he showed numerous sets. In the simplest terms, he stayed in front of his man in an offense that chucked the ball all over the place. Rosengarten is quick and has the athleticism to redirect, but his lack of power shows up against the run, and it’s a projection and assumption that he’ll get stronger.

Tier 3 – Boom or bust

8) Jordan Morgan – Arizona
7) Tyler Guyton – Oklahoma
6) Patrick Paul – Houston – 6’7 1/2, 331 pounds

Morgan and Guyton are effectively off-limits in my book because of where they’re being projected to be drafted. They are a round too high and have more bust potential than what’s being led on.

Paul is a fascinating prospect. For a player that large, there aren’t bad habits that you’d expect. And, again, keeping it simple, he does not get beat in 1-on-1 situations — whether it’s against the run or the pass. He started 44 games at left tackle, so experience isn’t an issue. He also has the genes, as his brother is in the NFL on the Washington Commanders.

While Paul does an excellent job of protecting the edge, his hands are often late and wide — almost egregiously so. He played with a level of intent at the Senior Bowl that didn’t exist during the regular season. Tier 3 is as high as I can put you when your technique is an issue, as that’s more important to your success than athleticism and power.

Tier 2 – Day 1 starters, Year 2 stars

5) Kingsley Suamataia – BYU, 6’4 5/8, 326 pounds
4) Amarius Mims – Georgia, 6’7 3/4, 340 pounds

The three-year sophomore committed to Oregon as a 5-star recruit before transferring to BYU. Suamataia has first-round power and range. He can quickly get to his landmarks to cut off speed rushers. However, there are times when he gets too much depth and loses inside. Watching Suamataia climb to the second level and swallow linebackers before driving them out of the screen or KO’ing a defensive tackle when he’s uncovered is a thing of beauty.

When he gets his hands on you, the play is over. Now, getting his hands on you isn’t always easy! Kingsley consistently has the confidence to win with his inside hand, which says a lot. But, like Ricky Bobby, he doesn’t always know what to do with his hands.

Year 1 might be a work in progress as Suamataia figures out what he can and can’t get away with. But thanks to his feet, I’m banking on him being in the correct position the majority of the time. His power comes from the ground up, too.

The tools are in place for him to be quite good early in his career if his coaching staff has the proper plan for Suamataia. It’s worth noting that he started at both left and right tackle at BYU, so there’s positional flexibility.

Mims might not make it to pick No. 31. Well, he shouldn’t. His height, weight, wingspans, arm length, and hand size are all in the 90th percentile or better. He’s also explosive, as evidenced by his broad jump in the 85th percentile. Mims has not played a lot of football, but that does not make him a raw prospect.

He started eight games, which may scare teams off. But he played at Georgia. He missed six games last year due to an injury. Still, it’s impossible to ignore how well he played when he was on the field. There aren’t more than five examples I could find of him losing in pass protection. As a run blocker, he could move a mountain.

Mims will need to see more looks to iron out some potential footwork issues. That way, he’s not playing out over his skis. Foerster, or whoever his offensive line coach, may ask Mims to widen his base. But he’s a moldable ball of clay, a 5-star recruit who moves alarmingly well for a player his size.

It would be surprising to see Kingsley or Amarius still struggling in Year 2.

Tier 1 – The Untouchables

1c) JC Latham – Alabama, 6,5 3/4, 342 pounds
1b) Olu Fashanu – Penn St., 6’6, 312 pounds
1) Joe Alt – Notre Dame

When was the last time we saw a team move up for an offensive tackle? If there was ever a player to do it for, it’s one of these three.

Latham may have a rep as a run blocker where he fails to get his head across on a zone play or overruns a target at the second level. Sustaining at the second level has popped up. I’ve seen him look confused on a “creeper” blitz. But that’s where the complaints stop.

Oh, she’s a brick…house. That’s what goes through my mind when watching Latham.

Latham shut down an edge rusher from Tennesee last year. This player is projected to be the top edge rusher in next year’s draft. Latham is embarrassingly strong. When that’s the case, you assume a player isn’t flexible or doesn’t move well, but that couldn’t be further from the truth with this player. Latham has no issues getting depth and is terrific with his timing and hands.

Latham’s natural power, ability to anchor, and mindset make it easy to fall for him as a prospect. I’d be doing him a disservice to rank him third, so he gets 1c.

Latham, Olu, and Alt are all likely to go inside the top 10, taking them out of the 49ers’ range, even in a potential trade-up scenario. But boy, would it be tempting if somehow one of them slipped to the late teens.

Fashanu makes it pass protection look easy. His flexibility allows him to sit down in his stance, but that doesn’t mean he can’t generate movement in the running game. He’s significantly stronger than your typical 312-pound offensive lineman. But Fashanu’s flawless technique in pass protection and overall polish make him a near-perfect prospect. There are examples of him overrunning his target at the second level, but those are few and far between.

As for Alt, come on. He looked bored on most reps in pass protection. Alt does this thing where he squats, locks out his arms, and steers you in pass pro. It’s cinema. You’ll never guess, but the quarterback who turned tight end and turned offensive tackle is a ridiculous athlete. He possesses plenty of power as a run blocker, but he’s one of the best pass protectors I can remember watching in recent memory.

Next up is the interior class. If you didn’t see them listed here, I’m likely projecting them as a guard for one reason or another.

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