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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki
According to several of my sources, there is an outside chance Levi Brown, in contrast to popular perception, could be the first offensive tackle drafted. Three teams with which I consulted in the past 24 hours regard Brown to be the top OT prospect in the draft. Wisconsin's Joe Thomas is clearly more refined and polished, they admitted, but every team values talent differently. With 32 teams, there are 32 different flavors, and Brown’s more physical style of play is strongly preferred by teams that seek to employ a smash-mouth, knock-‘em-off-the-ball front.
Few could dispute that Brown is bigger, stronger and plays with more power. Several top decision-makers who have met with defensive prospects have also cited conversations with players as further evidence, accompanying their evaluations, to support their belief.
Top pass rushers who have faced both Thomas and Brown have told interrogating teams that Thomas is good but they would much rather play against him than Brown. The reason cited by players: “Brown is so big and plays to hurt you.”
Anchor ability was also cited definitively by one evaluator as one of Brown’s greater strengths in comparison to the rest of the OT crop. Thomas, Central Michigan OT Joe Staley, Notre Dame’s Ryan Harris, Arkansas OT Tony Ugoh and Boston College's James Marten — who are all potential OLT prospects — do not come close to possessing the type of core strength and power that Brown does.
That said, I still expect Thomas to be the first offensive tackle drafted. Brown, however, will not be very far behind, and if I were pulling the trigger, I would feel better about the long-term prospects of Brown.
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You may want to check out ProFootballWeekly.com's coverage leading up to the draft, including Thursday's draft-related "Way We Hear It" on the ongoing Raiders-Buccaneers feud, which may impact the first round of the draft.