Greg Gabriel: 2017 NFL Draft appears to be weak at the offensive tackle position

Published:
FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2016, file photo, Alabama offensive lineman Lester Cotton (66) and offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) line up against Southern California during an NCAA college football game in Arlington, Texas. Robinson was selected to the 2016 AP All-America college football team, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2016, file photo, Alabama offensive lineman Lester Cotton (66) and offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) line up against Southern California during an NCAA college football game in Arlington, Texas. Robinson was selected to the 2016 AP All-America college football team, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File) — Tony Gutierrez

While we still have three weeks before the deadline of underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft, a position that is usually a strength in most drafts looks as if it might be a weakness this year regardless of who declares. That position is offensive tackle.

Right now, I don’t see a senior offensive tackle who you could say would be a lock first-round selection. Sure, there are talented players, guys who might be able to step in as a rookie and contribute. But with these guys, you are hoping more than knowing they will contribute.

The players I am talking about here are guys like Taylor Moton of Western Michigan, Chad Wheeler of USC, Adam Bisnowaty of Pittsburgh and Avery Gennesy of Texas A&M. Wheeler and Gennesy have the length, feet and agility to play left tackle in the NFL while Moton and Bisnowaty will be right tackles or perhaps guards when they make the jump to the next level.

That leaves underclassmen to fill the void. But even if most of the rumored prospects do in fact enter the draft, the offensive tackle position will still be weak as compared to other years.

The best underclassman by far is Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson. He has lined up at left tackle his entire three-year career and played very well. He has the size, strength, length and athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL. What may hurt him come Draft Day is an arrest last summer. Teams will do their extensive research before they feel comfortable taking him with a high first-round pick. His talent says he should be the first tackle selected. We shall see if he comes out.

Many analysts have Wisconsin junior Ryan Ramczyk as the next best tackle. Ramczyk has only played one year of major college football. He is a transfer from a Division III school and had to sit out last year. While his tape is impressive, he has a guard’s body and may ultimately play inside in the NFL.

The next best left tackle prospect is Florida State’s Roderick Johnson who, like Robinson, has the size, length and athleticism to play on the left side. Johnson needs to become more consistent down after down, but the physical traits are there.

Another junior who is often mentioned as a possible high draft pick is Utah’s Garett Bolles. Bolles has the height, length and athleticism required but at this time he lacks bulk and lower body strength. That will come, but will he be ready to play at a high level as a rookie?

In most years, there are usually a minimum of four or five tackles that a club could take and be comfortable with. Not this year, unless some unexpected underclassmen decide to enter this year’s draft.

Tackle looks like one of the weaker positions, especially when you are looking at premium-round picks. If your team needs an offensive tackle, you better hope they get lucky because it may be luck that gets them a solid prospect.