2020 NFL Combine Preview: OT
The opinions of this year’s tackle class vary from person to person, some say it’s a deep group while others say that the value stops after the fourth tackle off the board. No matter which side you align yourself with one thing can be agreed upon, and that is the fact that the Offensive Tackle position is one of the most important positions on the field. In this preview I will discuss my top ten Tackles that will be at the combine.
Prospects will be listed in alphabetical order
Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas
A talented tackle who could be able to contribute immediately to a team that focuses on the run. Measurements could have an effect on how teams view Adeniji. Some see him as a Tackle while others see him moving inside, I personally feel that he will fit best as an interior lineman. Can be impactful in the run but can struggle in pass protection due to stiff footwork. Good measurements and a good showing in the drills will do wonders for Adeniji and could help determine whether he ends up a day two or day three pick.
Ben Bartch, St. John’s (MN)
MOST LIKELY TO BLOW UP THE COMBINE
Bartch is a converted TE who boasts smooth movement and decent footwork. His inexperience at the Tackle position is concerning but his move to Tackle has been a successful one. We have seen multiple TE to Tackle converts have success in the NFL due to their athleticism, Jason Peters as an example. Bartch should put up some impressive numbers at the combine, but his most meaningful reps will come from the footwork drills.
Mekhi Becton, Louisville
MOST LIKELY TO SURPRISE
One of the top four Tackles in the class Becton has a lot of things that you like. His length is outstanding, and he should boast one of the best sets of measurements. I don’t expect him to crush the 40-yard dash, but I do expect him to surprise people with his footwork during drills. The ease in which he moves at his size embarrasses me as someone who struggles to walk through my kitchen without knocking everything over. He is one of my favorite prospects in this class, and I expect him to be a top 15 pick.
Austin Jackson, USC
Jackson is similar to Bartch in that they are both natural athletes who move will at the Tackle position. Jackson is much more refined than Bartch however, but that isn’t to say that he is without fault. He can be a bit stiff in pass protection and needs to work on his strike level consistency. He should have a good performance at the combine, and I expect him to be drafted early in round 2.
Josh Jones, Houston
Jones was one of the big winners at the Senior Bowl, and this performance threw his name into the discussion as a first-round talent. The potential is absolutely there when it comes to Jones, but teams will need to continue to unlock that potential by refining his raw ability. I have personally teetered on the idea of Josh Jones as a round 1 pick. His best situation would be to land on a team late in the first that could let him sit and work out his imperfections, similar to Andre Dillard for the Eagles last season, Dillard was much more refined in pass protection, however.
Lucas Niang, TCU
Another mammoth who can move like a dancer Niang will find himself in a starting lineup sooner rather than later. He has the athleticism to play any position on the line but with his combination of size and athleticism I feel he is best at Tackle. He lacks the brutish strength of Becton but should have similar measurements. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go late in the first round, but I expect him to land in the early 2nd.
Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Andrew Thomas may not be the flashiest of the Tackle group, but I do think he is the “safest”. Above all other prospects I feel that Thomas is the most likely to start early without much concern. He is one of the top 4 tackles but lacks some of the physical traits that the others have. If he were to show that he is more athletic than some may think it could provide teams with the security that he is the pick for their team. As I mentioned before he has the ability and technical prowess to succeed immediately, similarly to Wills, and I think that he will be a top 15 pick.
Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn
To say that Prince Tega Wanogho is raw would be an understatement, he has only spent a small amount of time playing football. After making a note that he is still new to the game it is important to notice that he has an uncanny ability on pass protection. What he lacks in technique he makes up for with his natural ability to protect the quarterback. I think he goes mid round 2, and I think that he would be benefitted by sitting a short time to learn and polish up his game. I will be a starter sooner rather than later, but his inexperience does not allow him the ability to start immediately.
Jedrick Wills, Alabama
Wills might be the most impressive of his class, and his combination of size, technique, and athleticism will be tantalizing for teams picking high in the draft. There has been some discussion about whether or not he can play on the left side in the NFL. While I still feel that Thomas is the safest bet as a left tackle prospect, I also feel that Wills is quite possibly the best overall prospect, potential included. I feel confident saying that the first tackle off the board will be either Thomas or Wills.
Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
MOST LIKELY TO BLOW UP THE COMBINE
There is a sense of security when selecting a lineman from a school like Iowa or Wisconsin. You just get the feeling that their pro caliber guys will just work. This is likely something that will factor into the selection of Wirfs. He is incredibly athletic and should have quite the day at the combine. He has the ability to start for teams at tackle, but I feel that his best fit is at guard. He has pro bowl caliber, if not all pro caliber, potential at guard very early in his career. This is not to say that he lacks that same potential at tackle, but that he seems to me to fit better as an NFL guard.