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2018 NFL Draft OT Rankings

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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Ranking the draftable offensive tackle prospects from the 2018 class, out of Southern Pigskin's coverage area.

These rankings are comprised of what are the draftable/PFA worthy prospects from our coverage area here at Southern Pigskin -- the ACC, SEC, Sun Belt, and SoCon.

These rankings include a basic rundown of strengths and weaknesses, from the pre-combine rankings, plus new round projections, player comparisons, and a more in-depth summation of my personal opinion on each respective player.

Starting with the quarterbacks, they will be released one day at a time until all of the position groups are up. After that, they will be easily found in a comprehensive database from a homepage that includes an updated mock draft.

QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | IOL (OG/C) | EDGE (DE/3-4 OLB) | DL | LB | CB | S

​OFFENSIVE TACKLES

1. Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh: 6’7, 297

Strengths: Superior athlete with top notch footwork and length. Very consistent with few mistakes. Does his job as a run blocker. Elite in pass pro.

Weaknesses: Lacks ideal play strength. Isn’t blowing anyone off the ball on run plays.

Player Comparison: Jack Conklin

IMO: It’s imperative that O’Neill ends up in the right situation, although that could be said for most players. The difference is that O’Neill, in a system suited to his strengths, could end up as a perennial pro bowl caliber tackle. He is a superb athlete for the position and one of the best pass blockers in the class. As he gets stronger he could even become an above average zone run blocker. He will have a hard time handling power early on, as was displayed at the Senior Bowl, but, in time, O’Neill’s upside could prove to be as high as anyone’s.

Round Grade: Late 1st

2. Isaiah Wynn, Georgia: 6’2, 313

Strengths: Elite athleticism for the position. An absolute technician. Effective run blocker, excellent in pass pro. Good awareness.

Weaknesses: Lack of size may necessitate move inside, but that opens up a new set of problems with handling power.

Player Comparison: Charles Barkley, but football

IMO: Wynn is a tackle at the next level. Or should, at least, be given a chance to start there. Obviously his physical profile would indicate a move inside, but Wynn isn’t your average prospect. Why cater to his size when his skillset dictates the contrary? He’s a super athlete and had the best season of his career at tackle where he faced more speed than power, which he is better equipped to handle. Even as a run blocker he moves guys and does the job because of how quickly he gets into his opponents. His limited length is reasonable enough cause for concern to downgrade him to the early second round, but Wynn is a natural tackle that could be a well above average NFL starter. Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole at guard or center where he’ll constantly get overpowered by stronger players. Let him do what he does and reap the benefits.

Round Grade: Early 2nd

3. Will Richardson, NC State: 6’6, 306

Strengths: Good size for the position. One of the most efficient pass blockers in the country last year. Doesn’t make many mistakes. Effective mover blocking down.

Weaknesses: Has had a hard time staying out of trouble during his career at NC State. Limited sample size.

Player Comparison: Jake Matthews

IMO: There are some technical issues to clean up with Richardson, but his talent alone should warrant a second round pick and maybe even first round consideration. It’s his off the field issues that hold him back. That said, perceived character concerns are one of the most prominent market inefficiencies in professional sports. Albeit on a smaller sample size at NC State, Richardson was one of the best pass protectors in the country. He needs to work on his balance and lateral agility, but if he stays out of trouble he could be one of the best tackles to come out of this class.

Round Grade: Early 3rd

4. Geron Christian, Louisville: 6’5, 298

Strengths: Good size and athleticism, with proper length. Versatile, played both tackle spots at Louisville, sometimes in the same game. The lone bright spot on a bad offensive line last year.

Weaknesses: Needs to improve play strength. Footwork in pass pro leaves a lot to be desired.

Player Comparison: Michael Schofield

IMO: Lamar Jackson wasn’t done many favors by his offensive line last season, but Christian held up his end of the bargain. Long and athletic, he consistently took care of his man, playing both tackle spots at times. What’s really enticing is that he still has a lot of room too develop in that respect. He may never be a dominant run blocker, but he has a good enough feel to hold his own and should be able to do that going forward as he gets stronger. Last year was his bet season in college, which is to be expected, but it was also arguably the only season he was even above average. The lack of long term success pushes him down some for me, but his upside still warrants a day two selection.

Round Grade: Late 3rd

5. Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State: 6’4, 308

Strengths: Good size. More athletic than most tackles. Gets to the second level and finds someone else to hit. Versatile, adaptable, smart.

Weaknesses: Not strong enough to handle power rushers. For as well as he moves, he’s still been one of the worst pass blocking tackles in college football over the last two years.

Player Comparison: T.J. Clemmings

IMO: Rankin’s performance has never lived up to his physical tools. He’s got great punch at the point of attack, regularly stopping defenders in their tracks, but just as often struggles to sustain blocks. He’s too upright as a run blocker and has not shown the foot quickness needed to hold up against NFL edge rushers. He works hard, but just seems to lack a feel for the game. The talent here is obvious in flashes, but he’ll need to be properly coached up for a few years before he can expect to become a starting caliber tackle. Ultimately, he may even need to move inside.

Round Grade: Mid 4th

6. KC McDermott, Miami: 6’6, 311

Strengths: Good length with strong punch. Improved as a pass blocker with more tackle reps last year.

Weaknesses: Feet, technique are not up to par. Still has work to do in pass pro.

Player Comparison: Luke Joeckel

IMO: Really solid performer over the last two years at Miami, especially as a run blocker. Then again, he got away with a lot in college that won’t cut it at the next level. For one, his play strength is nowhere near where it needs to be and his footwork can still be nightmarish in pass pro. His length afforded him a safety net to this point. That no longer exists. Even his run blocking could suffer from his lack of practical power. He does have extremely strong hands that allow him to sustain and control blocks, which could help him to compete early on. Still, it’s worth wondering whether he’ll ever get strong enough to be an NFL starter.

Round Grade: Mid 5th

7. Beau Nunn, Appalachian State: 6’4, 306

Strengths: Led FBS in pass blocking efficiency last season. Vicious punch. Competes on every snap.

Weaknesses: Not as long as one would like for a tackle. Play strength could serve to improve.

Player Comparison: Vinston Painter

IMO: Say what you want about Beau Nunn, but at the end of the day, he got the job done. Even against Georgia and Wake Forest with the likes of Lorenzo Carter and Duke Ejiofor, respectively, Nunn shined. There are four straight years of tape on Nunn, ranging from above average to great, where he improved as a pass blocker in every season. His run blocking has fluctuated a little more from one season to the next. Still this is a player who consistently got better and his senior season ultimately culminated in his allowing the least pressures per attempt in the country. He’s easily worth a draft pick and I probably have him too low.

Round Grade: Late 6th

8. Jaryd Jones-Smith, Pittsburgh: 6’7, 317

Strengths: Big and tall with telephone poles for arms. With his length and adequate kick-slide, he’s a natural in pass pro.

Weaknesses: Does not move very well. A non-factor in the run game. Suffered a brutal knee injury in 2015.

Player Comparison: Rob Havenstein minus the elite run blocking

IMO: Jaryd Jones-Smith will get drafted because of his overall length. His lateral movement and gigantic arms should help him as a pass blocker and yet the production does not reflect that. He was consistently beaten by quicker edge defenders. That, coupled with a low ceiling as a run blocker leaves very little to like beyond his physical frame. Had he not injured that knee a few years ago, this may be a totally different conversation, but, unfortunately, that’s just the reality of the situation.

Round Grade: Late 7th

9. Rick Leonard, Florida State: 6’7, 311

Strengths: Converted defensive end that is still learning the position, so there’s plenty of room for improvement. Athletic enough. Serviceable play strength.

Weaknesses: Very raw. Severely lacking necessary fundamentals and technique.

Player Comparison: Kyle Murphy

IMO: Leonard has the athletic makeup of a decent backup NFL tackle. The problem is that he’s still about as raw as it gets. He does have a full season of starters reps, but his balance and technique leave so much to be desired. He’ll be a project but may turn out to have some value in the long run.

Round Grade: PFA

10. Bentley Spain, North Carolina: 6’6, 310

Strengths: Long and athletic. Effective run blocker in 2016. Good lateral footwork and above average awareness.

Weaknesses: Run blocking regressed in 2017. Play strength is a dire concern. Not much of an asset in the run game.

Player Comparison: Khalif Barnes

IMO: Spain’s NFL future would have been questionable regardless because of his lack of play strength but he needed to have a big year in 2017. While he did improve as a pass blocker last season, his run blocking severely regressed. There’s some athleticism to work with and his last two years at North Carolina warrant a spot in a camp, but he might not be strong enough to stick in the league.

Round Grade: PFA

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP