Top five prospects by position
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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki
This is the fifth of a 12-part series that offers up scouting reports on PFW’s top five-ranked players at their respective positions in the 2012 NFL draft. Full scouting reports and the latest buzz on nearly 500 draft prospects, including results from roughly 200 pro days, can be found in PFW’s Draft Database.
The top talent in this year’s OT class hails from the junior ranks, headlined by USC’s Matt Kalil and Iowa’s Riley Reiff. Kalil fits the prototype left tackle mold, has been very consistent in pass protection and should anchor an offensive line for a long time. Despite not possessing ideal length, Reiff understands leverage, is efficient working angles and can also handle either edge, although he may prove best inside. Illinois’ Jeff Allen has demonstrated he can play on either side and, though he may never look the part, was a very consistent producer the last four years and is capable of being plugged into a lineup readily. Cal’s Mitchell Schwartz, likewise, does not have a “wow” factor and must clear medically, but his consistency will endear him to evaluators. Ohio State’s Mike Adams and Stanford’s Jonathan Martin could be better-suited for the right side than the left they manned in college, with noticeable problems handling speed. Collectively, the class is stronger than usual and once again could see tackles flying off the board much earlier than they grade out on tape because of the immense leaguewide need for the position, with supply never able to keep pace with demand.
1. Matt Kalil, USC (Jr.)
Ht: 6-6 5⁄8, Wt: 306, Sp: 4.99, Arm: 34 1⁄2, Hand: 10 3⁄8
Notes: Last name is pronounced “kuh-LIL.” Father played college football and brother, Ryan, played center at USC (2003-06) and is currently a Pro Bowl center for the Carolina Panthers. The California prep was named a Parade All-American as an offensive and defensive lineman. Redshirted in ’08 and dealt with a sprained knee for part of the season. Saw action in 12 games on special teams and as a backup right tackle in ’09, making one start against Boston College (did not play against Arizona State). Switched to left tackle in ’10 and made all 13 starts. Blocked a point-after try against Notre Dame. Had a standout ’11 campaign, starting all 12 games at left tackle and winning the Pac 12’s Morris Trophy as the top offensive lineman, as selected by the defensive linemen.
Bottom line: Has drawn comparisons to Cleveland Browns 2007 third-overall pick Joe Thomas because of his reliability in pass protection and could prove to be a very dependable left tackle in the pros. Does not “wow” on tape and almost looks more like a right tackle than a left but consistently finds a way to get the job done and seldom gets beat. Can step into a starting lineup immediately and function at a high level.
NFL projection: Top-10 pick.
2. Riley Reiff, Iowa (Jr.)
Ht: 6-5 3⁄4, Wt: 313, Sp: 5.19, Arm: 33 1⁄4, Hand: 10 1⁄8
Notes: Last name is pronounced “REEF.” Also lettered in wrestling, golf and track. Was named the South Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year after being an All-State selection as a defensive end and tight end. In July 2008, was arrested for public intoxication and interference with official acts after the incoming freshman led eight officers on a 20-minute chase on foot through town. Redshirted in ’08. Started 11-of-13 games in ’09, making three starts at left tackle, seven at left guard and the season finale at right tackle. Made all 13 starts at left tackle in ’10. The first-team All-Big Ten selection started all 13 games at left tackle in ’11.
Bottom line: Athletic college left tackle lacking ideal arm length for the left side in the pros and might be best on the right side or even kicking to guard. However, he excels in pass protection enough to factor on either edge and, similar to Tennessee Titans Pro Bowl OLT Michael Roos, could outmaneuver speed rushers with patience, anticipation and efficient angles.
NFL projection: Top-20 pick.
3. Jeff Allen, Illinois
Ht: 6-3 7⁄8, Wt: 307, Sp: 5.22, Arm: 33 1⁄2, Hand: 10
Notes: Uncle, Shon Williams, played football at Miami (Fla.). Allen was a four-year varsity starter as an Illinois prep. Enrolled early in January 2008. Appeared in 11 games as a true freshman that fall, starting the last nine games at right tackle. Flipped sides in ’09 and started all 12 games at left tackle. Helped pave the way for the Big Ten’s top rushing offense as a team captain in ’10, making 13 starts at the weak-side tackle spot. Started all 13 games again on the weak side in ’11, finishing his career with 47 consecutive starts. Received the Illini’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award the past two years.
Bottom line: A model of consistency on and off the field, Allen makes the game look easy and is one of the best pure pass protectors in this year’s draft, with the unique balance, coordination and agility to warrant late-first-round consideration as a left tackle prospect. Versatility, football smarts and durability could allow him to start immediately and play at a high level for the next 10 years.
NFL projection: Top-50 pick.
4. Bobby Massie, Mississippi (Jr.)
Ht: 6-6 1⁄8, Wt: 316, Sp: 5.18, Arm: 35, Hand: 9
Notes: Was an All-State offensive tackle as a Virginia prep before attending Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) in 2008, where he was the top-ranked prep school player in the country. As a true freshman in ’09, he saw action in all 13 games and started the final five contests at right tackle. Started all 24 games at right tackle over the next two seasons.
Bottom line: A big, surprisingly athletic college right tackle who appears to be more naturally suited for the left side in the pros. Flew under the radar in the fall but has shown well against better competition. Possesses the size, arm length and enough agility to function on the left side, although he may be best starting his pro career on the right.
NFL projection: Second-round pick.
5. Mitchell Schwartz, California
Ht: 6-5 3⁄8, Wt: 318, Sp: 5.43, Arm: 33 1⁄2, Hand: 10
Notes: His brother, Geoff, is an offensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings. Mitchell, a California prep, redshirted in 2007. Made all 13 starts in ’08 — started the first three games at right tackle before switching sides and starting the final 10 contests at left tackle. Was the starting right tackle in all 13 games in ’09. Moved to the other side of the line for the ’10 campaign, making all 12 starts at left tackle. Was limited during spring practice in ’11 with a back injury that required surgery and had bothered him in previous years, but made all 13 starts at left tackle in the fall.
Bottom line: Big, experienced, dependable, bump-and-steer college left tackle who lacks ideal athletic ability and quickness to man the blind side in the pros but could develop into a serviceable right tackle or move inside. Has highly desirable size, smarts and versatility, though long-term medical assessment could affect his draft standing and pro career.
NFL projection: Second- to third-round pick.
Click here to see scouting reports for offensive linemen to watch.