2016 Preseason All-American Projections: Offensive Tackles

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2016 college football season Walter Football will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises and the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next May in the 2017 NFL Draft.

First-Team Offensive Tackles:

Cam Robinson, Alabama

Robinson was a freshman sensation for the Crimson Tide in 2014. He was the leader on an offensive line that allowed only 16 sacks on the season. It didn’t go as well in 2015 as Robinson allowed pressure and sacks on the quarterback, especially early in the year. Robinson had some real problems with Texas A&M superstar Myles Garrett for example. However, he was better down the stretch and helped open a lot of holes for Heisman Trophy winning running back Derrick Henry. Robinson played well in the playoffs to help Alabama bring home another National Championship.

If Robinson can get more consistent in pass protection, he could be a very special player. The scary part for the opposition is Robinson (6-6, 326) has a ton of upside and could be a truly dominant blocker this fall. Robinson had an offseason arrest, but the chargers were dropped. If he lands a suspension that could hurt his chances of getting postseason awards, but given the track record of Nick Saban, Robinson will probably only get a slap on the wrist. Thus, I see Robinson barely missing any time at all.

Roderick Johnson, Florida State

At the start of the 2014 season, a heralded Seminoles offensive line was severely underperforming as Winston was under a lot of heat and consistently bailing out missed blocks. The line played much better starting midway through the season when the freshman Johnson took over at left tackle and Cam Erving was moved to center. That improved the protection for Winston and opened a lot more holes for freshman sensation Dalvin Cook. Johnson really impressed with his play in his debut season.

Johnson was solid in 2015 and contributed to Cook having a tremendous sophomore season. Florida State didn’t have as good of a passing game, but that wasn’t Johnson’s fault as he was reliable at giving his quarterback time to throw. As a sophomore, Johnson had respectable performances against teams with good edge rushers like Clemson, Louisville and Florida. If he fixes some issues with his technique and becomes more consistent, he could be a lock-down blocker in the ACC this fall.

Second-Team Offensive Tackles:

Chad Wheeler, USC

Wheeler (6-7, 280) has been the starting left tackle over the last three seasons for USC. He was a quality left tackle for the Trojans in 2015. Wheeler is a skilled pass protector with quickness and athleticism on the edge. He does need to get stronger for the NFL. Wheeler broke into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman at left tackle and did a quality job for the Trojans. Over the past few seasons, Wheeler was a good protector for Cody Kessler.

Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

McGlinchey could be a prospect who really rises in the 2016 season. He turned in an impressive season at right tackle in 2015. The 6-foot-7, 310-pounder showed nice length and athleticism on the edge. He was a reliable pass protector and will move to the left tackle position now that Ronnie Stanley is in the NFL. McGlinchey could end up being in the upper echelon of tackles, similar to Cam Robinson and Roderick Johnson.

Third-Team Offensive Tackles:

Conor McDermott, UCLA

McDermott led a strong UCLA offensive line in 2015 that only allowed 14 sacks on the season. In the ground game, he was an effective blocker at helping to open holes for Paul Perkins. McDermott was very reliable to protect freshman quarterback Josh Rosen as well. McDermott (6-9, 310) has played left tackle for the Bruins and was arguably their best offensive lineman even with Caleb Benenoch, Jake Brendel and Alex Redmond leaving for the NFL. McDermott probably is a right tackle for the next level, but he should produce a good senior year protecting Rosen.

David Sharpe, Florida

The Gators had a lot of injuries on their offensive line in 2015 and had to move players around. Sharpe (6-6, 355) saw action at both tackle positions last season and was a good run blocker who flashed some pass protection skills. He needs to improve his pass blocking but has upside to develop. Sharpe also could move inside to guard for the next level.

Honorable Mentions: Michigan’s Mason Cole, USC’s Zach Banner, Stanford’s Casey Tucker, UCLA’s K.C. McDermott, Clemson’s Mitch Hyatt, Oklahoma’s Mitch Hyatt, Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown, Texas’ Connor Williams, Arkansas’ Dan Skipper, Utah’s J.J. Dielman and North Carolina’s Jon Heck.

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