2012 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles

Posted Apr 18, 2012

Regardless of how some of the recent rules changes have impacted the way the game is played on offense, if the protection isn’t there for the quarterback none of that matters. So the offensive tackles in this year’s draft class have some leverage when it comes to where they’re picked.

Five years ago the Miami Dolphins used the first overall pick on left tackle Jake Long, who has gone on to reach the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. USC’s Matt Kalil, Ohio State’s Mike Adams, Iowa’s Riley Reiff, Stanford’s Jonathan Martin and Florida State’s Zebrie Sanders all bear a slight resemblance to Long. Throw in Bobby Massie of Ole Miss and Oklahoma’s Donald Stephenson and you have a good list to choose from.


Adams passes the look test with his height and long arms, which is why he is ranked in the top five on many draft boards at his position. The fact that he played against some of the best competition in college and was involved in a lot of big games for the Buckeyes in his four years helps Adams when it comes to questions about his readiness for the next level. His footwork is an asset in pass blocking as he can get set quickly to withstand a bull rush while also being able to block down the field in running situations. Consistency and health are the biggest concerns for Adams as injuries and disciplinary issues kept him out of the lineup too often.

Like Long back in 2008, Kalil is clearly the top prospect in this year’s draft and is poised to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil. After redshirting his first year at USC, Kalil was a virtual brick wall on Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley’s blind side the last two years and scouts will have to search hard to find any flaws in his game. As imposing a sight as he is at the line of scrimmage, Kalil is light on his feet and uses his big frame to smother and reposition opposing pass rushers. He also explodes off the line in running situations and can take on linebackers at the second level, with the only semi-valid criticism being his susceptibility to defenders going low on him because of how he stands upright. Otherwise he’s a surefire first-rounder.

Martin had the unenviable task of protecting the projected first overall pick of this year’s draft, quarterback Andrew Luck, at Stanford and he answered the bell. Slightly shorter than Kalil and Adams but with the same arm length, Martin is athletic, strong and has mastered the technique necessary to succeed in the NFL. But as polished as Martin appears to be, he did not help himself by skipping the Combine workouts with an illness and then struggling at his Pro Day while Luck and guard David DeCastro impressed. His fastest time in the 40-yard dash with the wind at his back was 5.33 seconds and he only managed 20 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, but what he put on film should balance things out.

An underwhelming performance in Indianapolis might have hurt Reiff’s stock a bit as he has dropped behind Martin and Adams in the rankings for tackles in some people’s eyes. Reiff has the prototypical size with his arm length being the one concern that has stood out, as they are almost an inch shorter than some of the other tackles in his class. Considering that he began his career at Iowa on the defensive side of the ball, Reiff developed quickly as a tackle and displayed good power and quickness in pass blocking situations. He was also dominant opening holes in the run game and his combination of footwork and the use of his hands frustrated opposing defensive linemen, but big and heavy defensive ends in 3-4 schemes could give Reiff problems.

Sanders played both left and right tackle for the Seminoles and uses his hands well to keep pass rushers at bay. He is long but not quite as thick as some of the other prospects in the draft so whatever team drafts him will almost certainly ask him to hit the weight room and add more bulk. Sanders was exposed at the Senior Bowl as someone who needs more polish in his technique and his strength has been called into question, but his versatility could lead to him going a bit higher than some project.


Jeff Allen
6-4, 307

Cordy Glenn
6-5, 345

Bobby Massie
6-6, 316
Ole Miss

Mitchell Schwartz
6-5, 318

Donald Stephenson
6-6, 312
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