Over the past week I have been providing my early player rankings by position for the 2014 NFL Draft. This is a brief look at who I believe the top five players at each position are at this point in the draft evaluation process.
With the NFL Scouting Combine only a little over a week away, the draft landscape could change rather rapidly depending on how well these players do in drills and workouts, but for now, this should at least give you an idea of who some of the top players are at each position.
On Monday, I highlighted my top inside linebacker prospects, but today, I want to turn to the trenches, specifically on the offensive side of the ball, and give you my top five offensive line prospects in this year’s draft class.
1. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2. Greg Robinson, Auburn
3. Zack Martin, Notre Dame
4. David Yankey, Stanford
5. Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
Matthews and Robinson headline a talented offensive tackle class, and both players could be off the board within the first fifteen picks of the first round.
Matthews is the son of Hall-of-Fame tackle Bruce Matthews, and cousin to the Packers own Clay Matthews. However, Matthews is more than just good genes, he’s a tough, physical tackle that can play on either the left or right side.
Robinson has tremendous physical talent and size (6-5, 320) and is the only player that could challenge Matthews for the top lineman spot in the draft.
Robinson does lack experience at tackle and wasn’t isolated too often as a pass blocker at Auburn, so he’s still a bit underdeveloped as a pure pass blocking left tackle.
Tackles are often over-drafted, so these players may be taken before highly talented guards such as Yankey and Su’a-Filo.
Even if Yankey and Su’a-Filo aren’t taken until the second round, don’t be fooled by their draft position. They have all the tools to be day one starters in the NFL and could even play center if a team like Green Bay drafts them.
Martin may be the most unique offensive line talent in this class. He played left tackle for a majority of his time at Notre Dame, and even impressed at this position in the Senior Bowl. But because of his size (6-4, 305) and mauling style of play, many see Martin better suited at guard in the pros.
Either way, Martin offers versatility, which makes him valuable as an NFL offensive lineman.
Even though the tackles will headline the offensive line position going into the draft, this year’s group of guards is very talented, and it goes well beyond Yankey and Su’a-Filo.
Alabama’s Anthony Steen is a tough player that brings a certain punch to the position. Even though he may lack ideal size (6-2, 310) and athleticism, he plays with excellent technique and is a durable player that will give it his all every time he steps on the field.
At 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds, Clemson tackle Brandon Thomas will probably play guard in the NFL and could be a player that brings some athleticism to the position. Thomas impressed many people at the Senior Bowl down in Mobile, and he could be a guy that would be a great find for a team in the third round looking for offensive line help.
Look for these players and plenty more at the position to impress with their workouts as the NFL Combine gets underway in Indianapolis on Feb. 22-25th.
Check back here at Lombardiave.com for the next position’s top five draft prospects. Also, look for a more in-depth position-by-position breakdown later in the spring as we get closer to the NFL Draft in May.
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