2015 NFL Draft Position Review: Offensive Tackles



Charlie lays out an overview at the top players from each position for the 2015 NFL Draft. For further information, check out our in-depth analysis of 2015 NFL Draft Prospects by Position.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: draftcampbell@gmail.com
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

This page was last updated April 10, 2015. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

Position Review: Offensive Tackles

Offensive Tackle Class
Early-round talent: A-
Mid-round: B+
Late-round: B-
Overall grade: B+

2015 prospects vs 2014
Ereck Flowers < Greg Robinson
Andrus Peat < Jake Matthews
La'el Collins < Taylor Lewan
D.J. Humphries < Zack Martin
T.J. Clemmings < Ja'Wuan James
Cedric Ogbuehi > Cyrus Kouandjio
Donovan Smith > Jack Mewhort
Jake Fisher > Justin Britt

This year's draft class doesn't have as good of group of tackles as 2014. However, the group for the 2015 NFL Draft isn't bad. Last year was very strong as five went in the top-20 picks. If Lewan had been in an average draft class, he would have been the top-rated tackle. The 2015 class has some quality tackle prospects with a lot of players with big upside.

If you were to merge the two classes Robinson, Matthews and Taylor are still the top tackle prospects. Flowers and Peat would be about equal to Martin. Collins and Humphries are about equal to James. Ogbuehi would be higher if it weren't for his bowl game ACL tear, but he's ahead of Kouandjio. Smith and Fisher would go behind Kouandjio, but ahead of Mewhort and Britt.





Safest Pick: Ereck Flowers, Miami
The 6-foot-6, 329-pound Flowers is a very powerful run-blocker who blasts defensive linemen off the line of scrimmage. He also was excellent as a pass-protector for the Hurricanes. Sources say that Flowers needs to improve his bending and not getting too wide with his hands, but those are issues he can be coached up on. Flowers is only 20 years old and has tons of upside. At the very least, he should be a superb right tackle.

Previous Picks:
2014: Jake Matthews
2013: Luke Joeckel

Biggest Bust Potential: La'el Collins, LSU
The two candidates I really considered here were Collins and D.J. Humphries. Humphries has a lot of physical talent but has major durability issues. Still he's played well. In my opinion, Collins is being overrated. He really didn't create movement in the ground game in 2014 and can struggle with dynamic edge rushers. I think Collins would be better as a guard or right tackle in the NFL. If he played right tackle or guard, I think that would dramatically reduce his bust potential. However, Collins will most likely be drafted to play left tackle.

Previous Picks:
2014: Cyrus Kouandjio
2013: D.J. Fluker



Offensive Tackles Rankings by Attributes


Pass Protection:
NFL prototype: Joe Thomas, Browns
  1. Cedric Ogbuehi
  2. D.J. Humphries
  3. Ereck Flowers
  4. Andrus Peat
  5. La'el Collins
  6. Jake Fisher
  7. T.J. Clemmings
  8. Donovan Smith


Recap: Franchise left tackles have to be rock solid in pass protection. Most teams feature a right-handed quarterback, so the left tackle has to be trusted to shut down pass-rushers coming from the blind side. Joe Thomas is the top offensive tackle in the NFL and is the current gold standard for a franchise left tackle.

You might be surprised to see Ogbuehi this high, but of this group, he has the ability to be an excellent left tackle in the NFL. Ogbuehi has a great feet and athleticism, and is a natural knee bender. He can negate speed rushers with ease and is an elite athlete at tackle. Ogbuehi gave up a string of sacks in the middle of the 2014 season because he couldn't sustain blocks. The reason Ogbuehi couldn't sustain blocks was because he was injured and prevented from working out fully in the weight room. If Ogbuehi could add some strength, he has the skill set to be a lock-down pass-protector as a pro.

Humphries really elevated his pass blocking in his final season and, at times, looked like he had the potential to be dominant in the NFL. Humphries is very quick and is a good athlete. He had some issues when going against Shane Ray last season, and other good rushers the year before, so like Ogbuehi adding strength will help Humphries in the NFL. Humphries did that before the Combine, so if he can maintain that weight during the season and avoid injury, he has the speed and athleticism to be a good left tackle.

Flowers has the athletic ability to be an excellent blind-side protector. He is somewhat raw, but with good coaching, he should turn into an asset at left tackle once he improves his bending and stays inside with his arms/hands. Flowers negated speed rushers and bull rushers with ease last season. He had a string of dominant games and has tons of upside for the long run.

Peat had two good years at left tackle for Stanford. He had some issues with rushers like Washington's Hau'Oli Kikaha and Utah's Nate Orchard last year. Peat needs to get more consistent, but he has the quickness and the feet to play left tackle in the NFL with some development.

Collins improved as a senior, but he could have some issues with speed rushers in the NFL. Collins seems a little stiff at left tackle, and his movement skills look like he could be better off at guard or right tackle.

Fisher moved to left tackle as a senior and performed well. In the long run, he could be more effective at right tackle in the NFL. The same goes for Smith. He could be a bull as a right tackle, but his pass protection isn't a good fit at left tackle. Smith will need to improve on his pass blocking for the next level.

Clemmings has a good athletic skill set, but he needs to improve his pass-protection skills as he had trouble with speed rushers at Pittsburgh. That was very apparent at the Senior Bowl as he got roasted in one-on-ones. However, Clemmings has a good skill set and was playing defensive line just two years ago. He has the physical talent to be good, but is a major work in progress.

Run Blocking:
NFL prototype: Joe Staley, 49ers
  1. Ereck Flowers
  2. Donovan Smith
  3. T.J. Clemmings
  4. Andrus Peat
  5. D.J. Humphries
  6. Jake Fisher
  7. La'el Collins
  8. Cedric Ogbuehi


Recap: Flowers is definitely the best run-blocking tackle in the 2015 NFL Draft. He is an animal in the ground game and has the ability to blast open holes. His power allows him to push defensive linemen around and move them out of their gap with ease. Flowers' hands are extremely strong, and when he locks on, that defender is done as he rides them around the field. Flowers should be an impact run-blocker immediately in the NFL.

Smith was a good run-blocker for Penn State over his career. He is strong at the point of attack and did his job to open up holes for ball-carriers. At the Senior Bowl, Smith was very powerful and was rocking defenders off the line of scrimmage.

Clemmings can be a bull in the ground game, and that really helped get his draft stock going in the right direction during his senior year. He is quick to the second level and can ride defenders around the field.

Peat does well in man, power and zone plays. He can push around defenders and is able to get to blocks on the move.

Humphries showed improved run blocking in his final season for the Gators as he did a nice job of opening up holes for Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor. The added weight should make him even better in the NFL.

Fisher is a mobile blocker, and the Ducks had a lot of success running behind him. He doesn't pack as much punch as the others though.

Collins and Ogbuehi were reliable run-blockers in college, but neither one blasted defensive linemen off the ball. Generally, Collins would keep his man blocked and away from making a tackle, but he wasn't getting movement. Ogbuehi is fast to the second level and just needs more strength to move defenders.



Feet:
NFL prototype: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets
  1. Cedric Ogbuehi
  2. D.J. Humphries
  3. Jake Fisher
  4. Andrus Peat
  5. Ereck Flowers
  6. T.J. Clemmings
  7. La'el Collins
  8. Donovan Smith


Recap: The best feet in the 2015 NFL Draft belong to Ogbuehi. He is very light on his toes and is very fast shuffling his feet to get in position to head off speed-rushers.

Humphries is very close and is just a notch below. He has fast feet and can pick them up and put them down in his backpedal or when firing out of his stance.

Fisher has fast feet that allow him to get out in front in the ground game. He does a nice job of getting downfield to hit blocks.

Peat has quality footwork as well. Sometimes he gets in a bad habit of reaching and lunching rather than moving, thus he's behind the top two.

Flowers is a big tackle, but he has surprisingly nimble feet. Flowers did well taking on smaller speed rushers and quick ends with size.

Clemmings and Collins flash good feet, but both need to get more consistent. Collins' feet looked improved at the Senior Bowl and Combine compared to his senior year.

Smith doesn't have bad feet, but he never displayed as much agility as the players ranked above.

Quickness:
NFL prototype: Trent Williams, Redskins
  1. Cedric Ogbuehi
  2. D.J. Humphries
  3. T.J. Clemmings
  4. Ereck Flowers
  5. Andrus Peat
  6. Jake Fisher
  7. La'el Collins
  8. Donovan Smith


Recap: All of these tackles have quickness, but some are better at using it than others. Ogbuehi is the quickest tackle in the class; Humphries is second. Each is fast to get out of his stance and can fire into the second level of the defense. Both have good speed to move laterally, too. Their respective quicknesses will be assets in the NFL.

Just like the footwork, Clemmings shows good quickness at times, especially in run blocking. He has to get faster at getting depth in his pass-blocking drop and reacting to rushes on the inside. Clemmings must get more consistent for the NFL.

Flowers, Peat and Fisher all move well. Flowers has surprising quickness for such a big blocker. He gets on linebackers faster than they expect. Collins showed some speed at the Combine, but he didn't play that fast in college. None of these tackles are plodders, so that shouldn't be a weakness at the next level.



Zone-Blocking Scheme:
NFL prototype: Duane Brown, Texans
  1. Cedric Ogbuehi
  2. D.J. Humphries
  3. Jake Fisher
  4. T.J. Clemmings
  5. Andrus Peat
  6. La'el Collins
  7. Ereck Flowers
  8. Donovan Smith


Recap: All of these tackle prospects could execute in a zone-blocking system. They all have enough athletic ability and speed to play it. Ogbuehi (6-5, 306) and Humphries are the best fits because they are fast while being extremely mobile. Each one has shown the ability to block on the move in their read-option offenses.

Fisher (6-6, 306) and Clemmings (6-4, 307) both played in offenses that featured a lot of zone blocking in 2014. Oregon's running attack is more similar to a zone-blocking than a man-blocking scheme. Peat also did zone blocking at Stanford and would fit that system in the NFL.

Collins showed more athleticism and speed at the Combine and Senior Bowl than previously, which should help interest zone teams. He would better off in a zone scheme than having to move linemen at the point of attack in a power-man scheme.

Flowers (6-6, 329) and Smith (6-6, 338) could both operate in a zone scheme. If they were drafted into a zone scheme, they might want to trim some pounds to further improve their quickness and mobility.

Man Scheme:
NFL prototype: Joe Thomas, Browns
  1. Ereck Flowers
  2. Donovan Smith
  3. T.J. Clemmings
  4. Andrus Peat
  5. D.J. Humphries
  6. La'el Collins
  7. Jake Fisher
  8. Cedric Ogbuehi


Recap: The top two, Flowers and Smith, are great fits for man-blocking schemes. Both can bully defensive linemen with strength. Each can get movement at the point of attack. Flowers and Smith have the power to push around defenders and move them out of their gaps.

Clemmings would be a good fit in a power-man scheme. He can be a bully as a run-blocker and take his lineman out of his gap. Clemmings also is quick to hit blocks on the second level.

If Peat is drafted into a man scheme, pad level and knee bend will be critical for him. He is so tall that he needs to make sure he stays low to get leverage. Peat has a huge, powerful lower body, so when he maintains his pad level, he can bully defensive linemen around.

Humphries, Collins, Fisher and Ogbuehi are all pretty equal in this category. In his final season, Humphries improved his power and ability to push linemen around. Collins played with more power ferocity as a junior than he did his senior year. Fisher and Ogbuehi will need more power if drafted into a man scheme.

Guard/Right Tackle Potential:
NFL prototype: Zack Martin, Cowboys
  1. T.J. Clemmings
  2. Donovan Smith
  3. Ereck Flowers
  4. Jake Fisher
  5. La'el Collins
  6. Cedric Ogbuehi
  7. Andrus Peat
  8. D.J. Humphries


Recap: Some teams like to move college tackles inside to guard or to right tackle. Other roster considerations also cause some tackles to start their careers on the right side or moving in to guard.

Clemmings, Smith, Flowers and Fisher all have experience at right tackle and might be better off playing there as rookies. Clemmings and Flowers have the skill set to play left tackle. Clemmings and Smith could move inside to guard, thus they're ranked ahead. In speaking with sources, they don't think that Flowers should be moved inside to guard.

Fisher played right tackle, but he could use more power for that in the NFL. Fisher could move inside to guard, and sources have compared him to Justin Britt, who was a similar guard/tackle prospect last year.

Ogbuehi showed a lot of versatility at Texas A&M. He played guard as a sophomore, right tackle as a junior and left tackle as a senior. Ogbuehi could play any of those positions, but he would be best utilized as a left tackle.

Some teams feel that Collins should move to guard or right tackle and that would be much better off in the NFL at one of those positions. I happen to agree with that sentiment.

Peat and Humphries were both starters at left tackle and didn't move around much. Peat looks like he has the skills to transition to right tackle if need be.

Downfield:
NFL prototype: Joe Staley, 49ers
  1. Cedric Ogbuehi
  2. Andrus Peat
  3. T.J. Clemmings
  4. Jake Fisher
  5. D.J. Humphries
  6. La'el Collins
  7. Ereck Flowers
  8. Donovan Smith


Recap: Ogbuehi was great for Texas A&M on screen passes, end arounds and slip screens. He fired downfield to hit blocks on linebackers and defensive backs. The Aggies had a lot of variety in their offensive plays over the past three years, and Ogbuehi showed that he is a factor as a downfield blocker.

Clemmings and Fisher were also good at getting out of the tackle box to hit blocks. Each of them should be better than most NFL tackles at hitting blocks downfield, especially Fisher. They both are athletic and agile.

Humphries and Collins will have the ability to get downfield to hit blocks. Both are quick tackles who move well in space, but Collins didn't always play up to it. Flowers and Smith can get the job done there as well, but in their careers, their schools ran behind more in a downhill approach.





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