The offensive tackle position, specifically tackles who can pass protect on the blind side, is a priority area come draft time. Thus pre-season grades for players at this position are highly anticipated and this year offers a lot of surprises.
1) Anthony Castonzo/Boston College: Castonzo leads the position with a grade of 6.5. We would not rank him this high but we are of the opinion Costonzo is a good player now and offers a tremendous amount of upside potential. Late 1st/2nd Round
2) DeMarcus Love/Arkansas: Love is a terrific athlete but barely better than average as a tackle. His grade of 6.3 puts him above a number of talented players we rank higher than Love. 2nd/3rd Round
3) Derek Sherrod/Mississippi State: Sherrod is a well built left tackle who blocks with solid fundamentals. He’s not the greatest athlete and his strength at the point is below average. 2nd/3rd Round
4) Nate Solder/Colorado: This is the first surprise. Solder’s verified computer numbers (6080/302lb/4.9) are outstanding. He’s also been a terrific tackle at CU the past two years. We feel he deserved a higher grade than 6.0. 2nd/3rd Round
5) Marcus Gilbert/Florida: After initially seeing this grade (6.0) we were scratching our heads yet after watching extensive film on Gilbert we now understand. He’s a terrific combination of size, strength and athleticism. The Gators right tackle looks like he has the underlying skills to hold down the left tackle spot in the NFL. 2nd/3rd Round
6) Orlando Franklin/Miami-Fl: Franklin spent most of his junior season at guard but has the size and build to play tackle. 3rd/4th Round
7) Jason Pinkston/Pittsburgh: Pinkston is one of our favorite left tackles in the nation yet his verified height of 6034 will knock him off the tackle boards for a number of teams. 3rd/4th Round
8- Christian Hairston/Clemson: We were surprised Hairston received such a high grade (5.7) as he does not always play to it on the field. To his credit Hairston scored really well in the pre-season wonderlic, matching Anthony Castonzo for the highest score of all the draftable tackles. 3rd/4th Round
9) Gabe Carimi/Wisconsin: Shocking to say the least. In many ways Carimi’s pass blocking skills remind us of the play of former Badger Joe Thomas. His grade of 5.7 was equal to the grade Russell Okung received one year ago. 3rd/4th Round
10) Daniel Ziemba/Auburn: Ziemba is a mechanically sound college left tackle we think will be better served on the right side. 3rd/4th Round
11) Ben Ijalana/Villanova: Grade, 5.5 3rd/4th Round
12) Derek Newton/Arkansas State: Grade, 5.3 5th/7th Round
13) Cory Brandon/Oklahoma: Grade, 5.3 5th/7th Round
14) Kyle Hix/Texas: Grade, 5.3 5th/7th Round
15) James Brewer/Indiana: Grade, 5.2 5th/7th Round
16) Josh Davis/Georgia: Davis is a large tackle (6067/300lbs) with better than average athleticism. He really lacks playing balance and must improve his functional football strength. 5th/7th Round
17) Curt Porter/Jacksonville State: Grade, 5.1 5th/7th Round
18) Willie Smith/East Carolina: Grade, 5.0 5th/7th Round
19) Joseph Barksdale/LSU: We were high on Barksdale entering the ’09 campaign but his play took a step back last year. 5th/7th Round
Notes: Jarriel King/South Carolina, Richard Lapham/Boston College, Robert McGill/Louisiana Tech were given priority free agent grades.
How does this compare to last year? Trent Williams was atop the list one year ago with a grade of 6.5. Tony Washington and Selvish Capers followed with 6.0 each than Russell Okung at 5.7.
Of the eighteen tackles given draftable grades last year seven were not selected in April. This year’s class of seniors added one more (19 total) to the number of tackles that received draftable grades.