Look, I’m no expert here, and I know even less about offensive lineman; however, I’m going to do my best to sift through the best tackles in the draft. I’ve got one guy who I think is head and shoulders over the rest. Even so, there are several quality players this year.
1) Mekhi Becton Louisville
I’m sure that someone else out there agrees with me, but none of the lists I use to decide who I need to watch listed Mekhi Becton above second for tackles. Becton received All-ACC honors this past season. At a towering 6’7” and 364 pounds, he looked like the most talented member of the Cardinals’ roster.
Even with his size, Becton has the agility to mirror any defender. He uses a wide base and great footwork to control defenders. His base and ability to keep a lower pad level allows him to create a strong punch. Once he is at the next level, he absolutely destroys defenders.
It’s hard to find much wrong with Becton’s game. Just watch the Clemson game. His weight might be an issue. If it gets out of control, he’s going to be a bust. He doesn’t play like a guy who doesn’t care, so hopefully, he gets down about 15 pounds before the beginning of the season.
2) Andrew Thomas Georgia
The All-SEC and AP All American tackle leaves Georgia after starting for three seasons. Andrew Thomas fits the size bill at 6’5” and 315 pounds. Thomas also made the AP All American second team at the end of the 2018 season in his first year at left tackle for the Bulldogs.
Thomas uses his hands as good as anyone in the country. Defenders get shut down as soon as he engages with them. He’s quick to recognize the defensive rush scheme and adjust his zone assignment. Hitting the opponents is what he lives for.
While he is athletic enough to get by, speed rushers will get by him. His kick back is slow which allows faster rushers to blow by him. Occasionally, he lets his pad level get too high while running down field which limits his downfield blocking ability.
3) Tristan Wirfs Iowa
Tristan Wirfs put on a show at the combine which bumped him up in the rankings for many draft analysts. It was truly an impressive performance for the 6’5”, 320-pound second team All American. Wirfs was also named the Big 10 offensive lineman of the year.
If nothing else, Wirfs is an athletic freak especially for a big man. He is the most natural athlete of any offensive lineman in the draft. Once engaged with a defender, the match is over. Wirfs dominates his opponents. A career facing off against quality Big 10 defenders has polished his technique.
Despite his talents and natural abilities, I’m worried about a few things. First, he spends way too much time on the ground. During run blocking, Wirfs tends to lean his weight into the defender which gives away his control to the defender. It looks like Iowa plays a lot of zone blocking protections, and Wirfs looks lost with twists and stunts. Furthermore, he’s a right tackle. He did play a bit at left tackle, but how can you spend a high pick on a right tackle?
4) Jedrick Wills Alabama
Joining Wirfs as a second team All American is Jedrick Wills. Lining up at right tackle, Wills was still the blindside blocker for left-handed Tua Tagovailoa. He’s started on the right side for the Tide for the last two seasons.
Wills creates a solid, wide base which sets his formidable foundation. With that balance, he did a great job protecting Tagovailoa’s back. Alabama created a talented lineman with Wills who has mastered the fundamentals of the position.
It’s clear that he can get the job done, but I want to see more passion on the field. I might be off base because I don’t know this kid, but he just seems to be going through the motions. I want to see more meanness. I want to see him continue to play once the ball passes him down the field. I didn’t see that in the games that I watched.
5) Josh Jones Houston
I was torn with the final spot, but it went to Josh Jones over Isaiah Wilson from Georgia by a narrow margin. Jones is a bit of a rawer talent with more of an upside. He’s a large framed man at 6’5”, 319 pounds. He was named to the All AAC team.
Jones keeps his pad level low with a wide base to attack the defender. Once he locks down on a defender, he takes charge of the situation. He imposes his will and tries to destroy the opponent. His technique improved considerably since last season.
Like all raw prospects, Jones is a boom or bust guy. He needs to work on his footwork. He slowly kicks back in pass protection which allows pass rushers to get in on him quickly. To combat this, Jones needs to improve his punch and footwork. These are fixable; however, he’s not a natural runner which isn’t going to be taught at this point in his life.