2014 NFL Draft: OG's Top 10 Offensive Tackles

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I am really only deeply scouting 4-10. I have watched plenty of the other 3 live to know they will have a big and immediate impact. I want to mention my reasoning for Lewan over Robinson so people do not discount me so quickly. They both are big upside players but Lewan has more experience plus he has shown he can be an above average pass protector already. A lot of Robinson's assignments called for the same block whether it be run or pass. Equated to a read option pass usually. The OL never truly knew what the QB was going to do on those plays since they were based on a defensive read. Robinson may be the top OT to come out of this draft when a retrospective is done, but I currently would not take him unless I was already established at LT and wanted to move him over eventually.

Below is how I learned to evaluate OL during my playing time to understand my flaws and what is fixable. Having played DE and DT as well gave me an additional perspective on how to beat these type of lineman.

This is an excellent article written for evaluating O-Lineman.

(If you have not seen my previous post I break things down a bit differently. These will be somewhat shortened just so people do not get bored. I can post more in-depth if there is interest)

Anyways, on to the list and evaluating:

1. Jake Matthews Texas A&M Top 10
Excellent technician
Great Awareness

Needs more strength
Medium upside
Not a finisher/Nasty

2. Taylor Lewan Michigan Top 20
Good at run and pass blocking
Strong and nasty
High upside with massive frame

Is stiff sometimes leading to defeats on inside moves
Sometimes lunges and does not have consistent pad level
Possible character concerns

3. Greg Robinson Auburn Top 10
Best run blocker in draft
Incredible athlete
Nasty blocker who likes to finish
Highest upside in draft

Sometimes overly aggressive
Played in system which limited reads and awareness
Not good at recovering when overpowering fails. Can be "ole'd"
May never develop fully
Has to prove he can be left on an island for an entire game.

4. Zack Martin Notre Dame Mid-Late 1st
I watched 9 of his games dating back to 2012. I recommend watching vs USC 2013, vs ASU 2013 and vs Michigan State 2013. They are all extremely impressive.

Special skills:

Footwork- Excellent footwork in both pass pro and run game. Has the ability to be a mauler and technician because of footwork. A master at getting to the 2nd level.
Combo blocking- He is exceptionally adept at working with the LG (Chris Watt) in double teaming and moving to the next man on the 2nd level. Martin regularly broke plays open by being able to move his man far enough down to either go to the next level or allow Watt to do so.
Versatility- Martin will be able to play 4 positions on the line (Maybe OC as well). His pass protection allows him to hold up at LT or RT and his run blocking ability makes him more than capable of being an OG. His overall understanding of the nuances (combo blocking, down blocking, cutting, stunting, blitz pickup) of blocking should allow him to seamlessly transition between spots with relative talent surrounding him.
Pass pro- Able to absorb bull and speed rushers. Excellent at stopping double and inside moves. Powerful hands and good pad level.
Power run blocking- Able to be a mauler and technician. Great leg drive and balance. Does not lunge. Can wall off stronger defenders or ride aggressive defenders out of their lanes (applies to pass pro as well).
Defense recognition- Masterful at picking up on stunts and blitzes. Works well with LG in stunts. Passes off DE stunting inside by engaging DT rushing outside (see video).

Average skills:

Functional strength- Shows good power but will not bury large competitors a la Robinson or Lewan. Sometimes lunges to make up for this. Makes up for average strength with tenacity.
Cut blocking- Not an excellent cut blocker but gets the job done. Needs to be more aggressive in this area.

Needs significant improvement (Negatives):

Frame- Martin may have maxed out his frame. He is 6'4" and under 310+. Gaining weight may cause loss of movement skills. Below avg arm length means that he has to keep his speed and flexibility in order to win battles.

Not too much to dislike besides frame. His lack of size means he will have to play near flawlessly against elite players. I think his athleticism makes up for the frame deficiency, personally. He's the best blend of technician and mauler just in a smaller "package." If he was a couple inches taller he would probably be thought of as a near top 10 pick. He is a better run blocker than Matthews and a better pass protector than Lewan or Robinson. Unfortunate for him that his size is looked down upon.

5a. Morgan Moses Virginia Late 1st-Mid 2nd
Watched 7 games (1 while at RT vs UNC). vs GT vs BYU vs VT 2013 vs Clemson vs Oregon vs Pitt
Dominant against VT and Pitt. + on UNC and GT. Mixed bag vs BYU and Oregon.

Special skills:

Great strength- Extremely strong punch. Can knock defenders off balance or pancake them when balanced.
Extremely savvy and recognizes defensive formations- ex. Can recognize if beat outside and counter with cut block.

Adept at picking up stunts/blitzes while passing off players.
Versatility- Can play OG and RT as well.
Flashes Dominance- 4 pancakes against VT in 2013. 1 pressure.
Neutralized Vic Beasley (had help early) and shut down Attaochu completely.
Beat Aaron Donald in 1v1 on bull, inside and double moves. 3 Pancakes against Pitt. Only 1 pressure on inside move.
Upside- Carried too much weight but has elite tools and savvy to succeed as high level LT.

Average skills:

Avg cut blocker- Hit or miss on effectiveness. Seemingly just tried to buy time instead of flatten defender.
Avg pass pro- Decent hand fighting, some lunging, able to pass defenders. Wins initial battle, loses on 2nd move (vs Van Noy BYU). Had a draw against Van Noy. Still raw kick slide as LT. Has enough speed and length to reach the edge.
Avg run blocker- Great push, sometimes moved to OG or unbalanced for superior run push. Sometimes blocks air, lunges or fails to lock on. Does best when head up and can drive.

Needs significant improvement (Negatives):

Raw technique- Needs coaching, waist bends on occasion, only one year at LT. The improvement he made from beginning of year to end was impressive.
Engaging-slow to engage, likes to react, needs more explosion
Not overly athletic- Not particularly fast, a little slow to recover. Fast enough considering large wing span.
Body composition- Working to drop bad weight already. Could pay huge dividends (core strength, explosion, flexibility).

After watching all the film I did, I would advocate for Moses being taken at 28 depending on who is around. He only had 1 year at LT and flashed that he can be utterly dominant. Moses does need coaching but a lot repetition should help. Would benefit facing more elite competition in practice (Hardy, CJ, Star, Short). He has already dropped around 20 pounds to shed his bad composition (Weight carry may have been advocated by coaching staff). Moses got better as the year went along. Had his worst games against BYU and Oregon(1st 2 games) while getting progressively dominant vs GT, Clemson and VT (3 of last 5 games). Some people may not see "it", but I certainly do.

Moses biggest "problem" is he does not look smooth or effortless in his work. He gets the job done but it's not as pretty as Jake Matthews or Zack Martin. People see his technique and think he cannot stay at LT. If allowed to play RT and move to LT he would be a NFL starter. I fully believe.

5b. Cyrus Kouandjio Alabama Late 1st - Mid 3rd (Big Wild card)
Watched vs Mizzou vs UGA vs Texas A&M (12 & 13) vs Michigan vs Notre Dame vs LSU (12 & 13) vs Tennessee (13) vs Oklahoma vs VT vs Auburn

Special Skills:

Good punch and core strength- Tosses defenders with great leverage. Does an interesting "head slap" on inside runs where he is pressured outside. Sends defenders flying out of the play with no chance to recover. CK was good for 2-4 pancakes per game in the run AND pass game.
Dominant run blocker- Generates tremendous push in run game. Uses hands and overwhelms opponents. Sometimes lunges and misses (Better in 2013). Hit or miss on lock on (Better in 2013). Can reach 2nd level.
Works well with LG. Always looking to block someone. Takes minimal plays off.
Awareness/Savvy- Adept at reading blitz and passing defenders. Does not expend more energy than needed to accomplish task.
Flashes dominance- Dominated vs Notre Dame, Mizzou, Texas A&M, Michigan (All 2012) and against Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn. Dominated in the run game vs VT and Okla even though was inconsistent in pass pro.
Frame/Upside- Massive frame makes up for some missing athleticism. Working on body composition could pay huge dividends. Linked to his large upside.

Average Skills:

Average pass pro- Good footwork, appropriate hand fighting. Can be beat inside. Needs to sit more against bull rush. Recovers well when beat with initial move. Kick slide more labored in 2013, injury? Hips looked stiffer in 2013 as well.
Adequate cut blocker- Sometimes just gets in the way instead of driving in to legs. Can be extremely effective on quick passes. Did better in 2013.

Needs significant improvement (Negatives):

Ability to anchor- For such a big man CK gets pushed back too often. He recovers but it should not happen in the first place.
Athleticism- Not particularly athletic. Has enough not to get burned. CK has more than Fluker but not by much. Below average straight line speed (even 10 yd).
Injury- His knee has to be a concern. Alabama rides their players hard and damages their NFL longevity.
Extremely inconsistent- Flashes dominance in the same game as playing poorly. 1st half vs UGA bad, 2nd half dominant in 2012 same vs VT and vs Okla in 2013.

If I was going off of just VT and Okla in 2013 he would not stack up better than a late 2nd at best. If you take his body of work I easily see him being a mid 1st rounder. The real issue lies with his knee. Is it truly healthy? How hard did Alabama ride him in college? CK did get better from 12 to 13 overall but he had bad games on big stages. CK can be a big time player in the NFL if he cleans up just a few rough areas. I believe he shows enough dominance to warrant a 1st round pick. I would rank him much higher if his knee was 100%.

7. Brandon Thomas Clemson Late 3rd - 5th
Watched vs OSU vs Syracuse vs USCe (Clowney)

Special skills:

Strong- He is grown man strong. He threw people around and drove defenders back. Should open an iHop.
Hard nosed run blocker- Can be a dominant run blocker, even in space. Has good punch and leg drive. Good down blocker and able to cut when necessary. Impressive combo block and down blocking (see below).

Movement skills- Good out in space. Did not miss blocks because of bad angles. Lacks top end speed but not required past 8 yards. Gets good depth/distance on kick slide.

Average skills:

Pass blocking- He will not be a world beater at pass protection but more than adequate. Covers decent ground with footwork and usually anchors well. Great punch. Can be beat by quick twitchers especially inside.
Awareness- Needs to improve some in awareness. Could be scheme based, but it looks like Thomas misses defenders when going to the 2nd level. Does not even attempt a chip which can cause plays to get redirected or killed.
Athleticism- Not a top flight athlete. Relies more on power. Does not always get to the 2nd level quick enough.

Needs significant improvement (Negatives):

Stiffness- Had a problem adjusting to quick inside moves(Clowney) and in space against quick twitch athletes. Thomas should invest in Yoga.
Health concerns- How will he recover from injury?
Frame- I do not see frame as a knock personally but his lack of arm length and hip flexibility limit his ability to correct for mistakes (vs OSU on Sammy Watkins long TD catch).

Prior to injury I thought he could have snuck in to late 1st or early 2nd. It is a shame since he was having a "late season rise" in scouting chatter.
I still think highly of Thomas despite the injury. If the Panthers believe he will be a special player than he may be worth a 4th rounder relative to talent around him. He has enough power to be an OG or RT. He would need to develop his footwork for either. Sometimes players are only LT or only RT because of struggles with footwork and flexibility. I think he can make that transition.

8. Ja'Wuan James Tennessee 2nd - 4th (Wildcard)
Watched vs UGA (2012) vs USCe vs Oregon vs Alabama vs Mizz (All 2013)

Special skills:

High effort- Always looking to block somebody and finish.
Good coordination between lower and upper body.
Excellent run blocker- Good leg drive and can bury defenders. Impressive strength handling DE and DT when blocking down. Not an excellent punch but leg drive compensates. Surprising ability to pull. He does have problems with 2nd moves and getting shed at times. Does not look to have stiff hips. Works well on combo blocks and can get across defenders face (important for zone).
Durability- Most starts by an OL ever at Tennessee. This should make James extra attractive to the Panthers.

Average skills:

Pass blocking- James is above average for RT and possibly nominal for LT. Can anchor well and is able to effectively pass block. James is adept at re routing. Rarely gets beat on inside moves. Cannot say this is a special skill since he rarely faced the other team's best pass rusher. Shut down Clowney and Jarvis Jones in limited matchups. His worst game was easily against Mizz.
Good cut blocker- Drives in to defenders and takes them off their feet. Not lackadaisical about cutting. He is not spontaneous with it. Only looks to be on called situations. If he learned to utilize this better it would be a great strength.
Awareness- I would rank him with above average awareness if it was not for some lapses. James will occasionally not chip when he should. Will take outside man on blitz instead of inside.

Needs significant improvement (Negatives):

Technique- Lunges in run game, can be knocked off balance, sometimes fails to sustain blocks especially against counter moves. All fixable.
Limited Versatility- May be RT only. I believe he has the potential to play LT but may never be able to because of footwork or athleticism. Far too tall to be an OG. Limits value unless he develops an LT kick slide.

Immediate plug and play RT. James would start on the Panthers day one if he is not overwhelmed. He may improve to the point of being a viable LT with time. Footwork was impressive for only playing RT in college. Usually the worse athlete is put at RT instead of LT. With how mightily his teammate Antonio Richardson struggled I would have thrown James at LT (sink or swim). If the Panthers do not think he will last until the 3rd round I could see taking him at 60 if targeted players are picked over. Without seeing personal workouts I believe he could be an LT but it would take time (kick slide, hips, balance, pass set).

9. Joel Bitonio Nevada Mid 2nd - Late 3rd
Watched vs Fresno vs UCLA vs FSU

Special skills:

Amazing cut blocker- Best I have seen in the entire draft. Extremely effective and knocks players off their feet instead of off balance.
Great footwork- Excels at pulling and walling off defenders. Very good kick slide and has a decent drive in run blocking. I will mention he had a weird hitch vs Fresno.
Technician- Versed in hand placement and ability to wall off defenders (I know I said it twice). Adept at choosing whether to use power, technique or cut block.
Motor- Looks to finish plays. Not "nasty" per se but will put forth maximum effort.
Effective pass blocker- Uses footwork and angles to cut off defenders. Can subtly re route instead of jarring the opponent. Above average at sensing blitzes and stunts. Helped somewhat by extremely athletic QB.

Average skills:

Avg power run blocker- Does not get an effective push. Better able to wall off defenders or cut block (hint hint zone scheme).
Combo blocking/chipping- Bitonio is not powerful enough to combo strong/heavy DT's. He does not always chip which causes some plays to blow up in the backfield.
Battled Anthony Barr to a draw.

Needs significant improvement (Negatives):

Power- Inconsistent power generation. He does not have a jolting punch but can get push with punch and leg drive together.
Frame- Light weight, not overly strong. May be difficult for him to play any position but LT because of lack of power.
Never dominated- He is a solid player but does not steam roll anyone.

Not 100% sure Bitonio has the weight to play OG. I think his frame is kind of maxed and it may require him to put on bad weight. RT may be too difficult in most schemes unless he adds a good bit of strength. If I was evaluating for a zone scheme he would be my 5th OT. His cut blocking and movement skills are extremely impressive. I would be ok with the Panthers drafting him late 2nd. He does not have as high a ceiling as some above him but he will be an effective NFL'er.

10. Billy Turner North Dakota State Univ Late 2nd - Mid 4th
Watched vs KSU vs Coastal Car vs Northern Iowa

Special skills:

Athleticism- Extremely athletic. This makes up for his lack of technique and awareness. He also has a good frame that can probably put on more quality weight. Long arms mitigate mistakes. Plenty of speed to get to 2nd level in run blocking and pulling.
Above avg pass protector- This is mostly to do with athleticism. Has a good punch and anchor. Can sometimes be knocked off balance but recovers. If his technique was better he would be amazing.
High ceiling- With his frame and athleticism he could go far with coaching up. All of his flaws are coachable but will require time. Not a plug and play situation.

Average skills:

Looks to finish- Not a nasty blocker but can push DL 5-10 yards downfield.
Avg run blocker- Only generates push when "needed". Good combo blocker but sometimes fails in space. Decent downblocker but not impressive
Does not engage well in pass or run. Needs more aggression in making first contact. May be trying to react instead.

Needs significant improvement (Negatives):

Technique/Footwork- Requires a lot of coaching on technique in pass and run. Inconsistent pad level, hand placement, balance. All coachable. Has a weird hitch when pulling, does not fully open hips. His kick slide is more of a skip (both feet are off the ground at once). Most see it is a flaw, I think of it as a weapon to be used when beat. Make up a ton of ground that way. But needs to be coached in proper usage.
Motor- Not a high motor guy. Needs a fire lit under him. Plays big in big games but also plays down to talent, it seems like. Will take backside plays off occasionally.
Lacks confidence- Read reports of him being discouraged in Senior Bowl practices. Currently an athlete playing OT.
Awareness- Turner has hit(KSU) or miss(NIU) awareness. He will need a lot of reps especially with stunts and blitzes to get a feel for how to "catch and pass"

Interesting decision to try and block 2 defenders.

Level of competition- This could be a concern for Turner. He had an amazing game vs KSU and did well in the Senior Bowl game. Struggled in those practices.

Turner may be best served honing his craft at RT or OG until he can get his footwork down. I definitely see the athletic gifts to be an upper level player one day. Will probably get selected in 3rd but really should go in the 4th from a developmental stand point.

Extra notes: If you agree or disagree, please explain why. Just saying the person is good or bad without reasoning will not help me or yourself get better at evaluating talent. I did not take these notes for myself, I did this for the community so that we can all be more prepared for the players that end up with a Panthers jersey on their backs.

This is the rest of my draftable list:

11. James Hurst
12. Jack Mewhort
13. Dakota Dozier
14. Antonio Richardson
15. Wesley Johnson
16. Charles Leno
17. Justin Britt

Not really any I would draft past this point personally. Caveat, I did not watch Cameron Fleming or Laurent Tardiff. Take that for what you will in the ranking.

Again, I welcome any feedback. Especially if you do not like the style of writing. For some reason it will not allow me to put up a poll. So for gits and shiggles. Which of these OT's (outside of the top 3) would you not want on the Panthers?

The content of these posts are those of the user/fan making the post only

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