Let me skip to the important part. This year’s NFL Draft is not exactly loaded with first-round talent at the tackle position. There are three names who could potentially be drafted in the first round. In any other year, perhaps none of them would be drafted in the first round.
There simply is not enough talent at the position this year, so some of these guys will get drafted based off need alone.
They could blossom and they could have fantastic careers. I have always thought the draft was a crapshoot anyways, both good and bad. Top picks fail and undrafted guys blossom, so this breakdown is certainly not intended to imply that none of these guys will be Pro Bowlers.
Rather, it is a simple breakdown of where these guys rank based off of current information.
Here are my top three draft picks, breakdown of their play, and the highest I would draft them:
1. Cam Robinson, Alabama
• Height: 6 feet, 6 inches
• Weight: 322 pounds
• 40-yard dash time: 5.20 seconds
• Arm length: 35.5 inches
I am going out on a limb here putting Cam Robinson as my No. 1 tackle in the 2017 draft class. He is a controversial choice as the first tackle off the board for a number of reasons. There are concerns about his character, effort, and whether he projects as a better tackle or guard at the next level.
Robinson was charged with felony illegal possession of stolen firearms after police pulled him and a teammate over, allegedly finding marijuana in the car as well.
Performance-wise, Robinson is a top 12-15 pick. The guy is a road grader in the run game. He moves guys off the spot five to six yards with relative ease.
Robinson’s pad level is good for a tall guy, and he rolls his hips on contact well. His arm length is ideal for an NFL left tackle.
Honestly, I’m not quite sure why people think Robinson looks more like a guard than a tackle. He absolutely looks every bit the part of a starting tackle.
With that said, I did see a few moments in which he looked disengaged, in which he got lazy climbing to the next level, and in which he got bull rushed when he shouldn’t have. He remains my top tackle off the board, but when you combine these concerns with the character concerns I would not feel great about picking him higher than 20.
Where I would draft him:
The Denver Broncos pick at No. 20. If they pick him, then they would be banking on their coaches holding this guy accountable at all times and bringing out his best.
I would be good with it.
2. Garret Bolles, Utah
• Height: 6 feet, 5 inches
• Weight: 297 pounds
• 40-yard dash time: 5.05 seconds
• Arm length: 34 inches
Bolles is the best athlete in the draft at tackle this year. He has some sweet feet that would make him ideal for a zone-blocking scheme.
His weight is a little low for the Broncos new power scheme, and his skill set is probably best suited for a team that employs less powerful but more athletic lineman.
Bolles did not participate in the 225-pound bench press event at the NFL Scouting Combine, so we do not currently have a great picture of his overall strength.
With that said, anytime I see a tackle with feet as fast as his, I get intrigued. I would imagine he could add 10 to 15 pounds to his 6-foot-5 frame with little to no effect on his athleticism. If he did, he just might be a great tackle for Denver.
Again, there are character concerns with Bolles regarding past marijuana use and his love of the game.
Overall, Bolles’ film has impressed me enough to have him jump Ryan Ramcyzk as the second-best tackle in the draft.
Where I would draft him:
I think it would be a stretch to take Bolles in the first round. However, if the Broncos still had a vacancy at left tackle come draft time, I would be comfortable with a trade back to the pick 27-32 range and with the reach, considering the fifth-year option in the first round.
3. Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
• Height: 6 feet, 6 inches
• Weight: 310 pounds
• 40-yard dash time: 5.00 seconds
• Arm length: 33.25 inches
Many people have Ramczyk as the first tackle off the board. But though I believe he’ll have a long, successful career in the NFL at right tackle, after spending many hours watching his film I dropped Ramczyk to my No. 3 tackle.
The good: He keeps his hips square in pass protection, he has solid effort, he climbs to the second level, and he can stay locked on to smaller opponents.
The bad: His punch in pass protection could use some work. He has a tendency to lay his hands out there and hope that the defender just runs into them rather than violently punching the defender. Consequently, his hands get swatted too often, and his shoulder ends up leaning too far forward as he tries to make up for his lack of punch.
Compared to Robinson in the run game, Ramczyk is not nearly as explosive.
Where I Would Draft Him:
I think Ramczyk can still help most NFL teams, but I do not think he should be picked higher than the second round.
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