Sep 28, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers offensive tackle Morgan Moses (78) during the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh defeated Virginia 14-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft: Ben Natan’s Top 10 Offensive Tackles

Sep 28, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers offensive tackle Morgan Moses (78) during the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh defeated Virginia 14-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

One of the premier positions in the NFL, protecting the edges of the offensive line are a big part of having an effective running and passing game. While the argument has been made (by me) that interior protection is more important, that in no way makes the tackle position unimportant. This class is loaded with great athletes and technicians and some players that, while decent tackles, would thrive at guard.

  1. Jake Matthews (Texas A&M): Matthews is a phenomenal technician and possesses very quick feet that he utilizes very well in pass protection and in moving in the run game. He is able to win with great hands, anticipation and angles to win as a pass blocker and as a run blocker. There are some issues with his functional strength, but it is not so detrimental that it cannot be fixed. He is an immediate impact pass protector with room to get even better.
  2. Joel Bitonio (Nevada): Bitonio may be a tad undersized, but you would not know from his play. He is a very good mover in both pass protection and in the running game, but he is also absolutely nasty, constantly working to block his opponent into the ground. Needs to play with a bit more finesse, but I think that at the very worst, he becomes a very good guard.
  3. Greg Robinson (Auburn): One of the most physically gifted players in this entire draft and it shows up on the field. He is an absolute animal in the run game, using quickness and out of this world strength to maul people. In the passing game, his ability can show up, but there are some big flaws. He needs to improve his get off, how he uses his hands and his balance. Robinson is a specimen, but there will some major growing pains in pass protection in the NFL.
  4. Zack Martin (Notre Dame): Martin is a very technical player who uses great hands and quick feet to assert himself in both the run and passing games. Despite his technical prowess, he shorter stature hurts him with occasionally due to lack of length and his lack of strength hurts as well. Usually he does well to mitigate these things, but they are concerns. He might do well moving to guard in the NFL, but he has enough tools to succeed at tackle.
  5. Morgan Moses (UVA): Moses is a phenomenally strong blocker, who uses his brutish strength and a great mean streak to overpower players. He has a tendency to get high in his stance which hurts his balance, but when he can get low and use his hands, he is a brick wall.
  6. Taylor Lewan (Michigan): Lewan is a physical player who uses great length and strength to control his opponents. There are times where he looks dominant, but there are a lot of consistency issues with Lewan. He also struggles with quickness but I do not think it is for lack of ability. If Lewan can nail down his craft with consistency, he can be a very good player, but that is a big question.
  7. Brandon Thomas (Clemson): Thomas is a very powerful presence along the offensive line. He moves downhill very well and possesses very impressive strength. He displays a good anchor in pass blocking and has stalwart potential there. I do have concerns about his lateral agility and his having occasional awareness lapses and feel that maybe he is best suited at guard. Regardless, he has the potential to be a starting tackle in the NFL but there will be growing pains.
  8. Billy Turner (NDSU): One of my personal favorites in the draft, Turner is a phenomenal athlete and a mean player on the field. He is a wrecking ball in the running game and does a great job of moving to the second level. As a pass blocker, he shows quickness and strength as well, but has a tendency to get high in his stance. If he can become more consistent, he can be very good and contribute at a high level all over the field.
  9. Seantrel Henderson (Miami): Henderson could be the best out of this group. He has great physical tools and he flashes the ability to put them use and flat out dominate in all aspects of the game. A big issue with him is his motor on the field. Often he looks disinterested in playing and it affected his overall game. Henderson needs to get a coach into his head and let him be great. Until then, he could just ride the bench.
  10. Wesley Johnson (Vanderbilt): Johnson is not going to wow anyone with strength or  straight line speed, but he is phenomenal. He is incredibly smart and a very quick player. He does everything very well from a technical perspective and he is a very high motor player. He is a little slight in build, but if he can bulk up a bit, his floor is a contributor at guard. He has the intangible ability to be a very good player.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Offensive Tackles

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