Written by- Jack Bourgeois
With just under a month to go until the 2018 NFL Draft is underway, plenty of teams are looking to bolster their offensive line and protect their franchise’s $20+ million signal caller. This year’s draft class is rich with potential starting caliber tackles on both the left and right side. When ordering this list the value of being able to protect a quarterback’s blind side had to be taken into consideration. Now more than ever teams are required to have two talented tackles that can protect the edge. With the right side having to face pass rushers like Khalil Mack and Von Miller, you can’t get enough help up front. Teams such as the Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles are stacking their defensive line, meaning it’s time for the league to counter and address the holes upfront before it’s too late. All that said, any prospect who can play the left side will still present more value to a team, hence the ordering of this top 5.
1. Mike McGlinchey, University of Notre Dame
Height: 6’ 8”
Weight: 312 lbs
Career Stats: 26
Bench Press: 24 reps
Arm Length: 34”
Mike McGlinchey is the consensus number one tackle on nearly every draft board in the country. Though he may not be the most physically gifted or have the best form, he’s as close to a can’t miss prospect as it gets. Nothing flashes off the screen saying perennial All-Pro talent, but he surely has all the tools and enough technique required to be a quality starter in the league. Mike is a solid athlete with the length to match his height, moves quite well for a big guy, and is a versatile offensive lineman who thrives in the run game, especially when pulling or being asked to block downfield. He’s tailor-made for a zone blocking scheme but could be a starter on either side of the line and in any offense.
The second-year starter and two time team captain had success at both tackle positions in his collegiate career, starting 12 games at right tackle in 2016 before making the transfer over to the blind side this past season and lining up next to the draft’s top O-line prospect in Quenton Nelson. McGlinchey and Nelson combined to make the most dynamic college football guard/tackle duo in recent memory and they were a staple of Notre Dame’s offense. Mike certainly benefited from being next to the best offensive lineman to come out of CFB in arguably the last 5 years. Defenses would often scheme opposite of the two Fighting Irish anchors and rarely did he face a top-tier edge rusher his senior season. That was until North Carolina State came to South Bend. The draft classes’ best DE Bradley Chubb had his way with the Notre Dame tackle, equating to Mike’s worst game of his collegiate career. He was bullied and beaten off the line of scrimmage throughout the game, giving up 3 sacks and a ton of pressures. Let it be known that it was pouring rain the entire game, and anyone who has to reacti and recover in nasty weather is at a disadvantage on the football field. Fortunately, outside of McGlinchey’s film against Chubb and a few clips from the Miami game, his tape is nearly flawless.
Mike is one of, if not the best, run blocking tackle in the 2018 NFL Draft. He possesses a quick first step, excellent arm extension, and fluid mobility to get to the 2nd level of the defense to spring open significant gains. His greatest asset is his punch — he uses his long reach to deliver the blow and dictate where his opponent is going. McGlinchey also understands blocking concepts exceptionally well, always getting his body in the right position to seal the edge and open up running lanes. He’s without a doubt the Draft’s best at his position when it comes to blocking downfield, consistently hustling to make blocks in space on screen plays and when asked to pull. His footwork and overall lower body technique have room for improvement, at times he gets off balance and looks somewhat clumsy. His change of direction and reaction steps are his main weaknesses — he has trouble adjusting to the inside move due to his length. It’s hard to be quick at 6’8”, but luckily his technique and reach make up for his slight inadequacies. He excelled against interior defensive lineman who relied on power over speed and has the kick slide to beat most pass rushers to the edge but could struggle against the NFL’s elite. If he can clean up his inconsistent technique, the lack of quickness when redirecting, and add some mass to his semi-slender frame, he could potentially be a top 10 NFL tackle for years to come.
Mike is as natural of a left tackle as it gets, and his combination of size, athleticism, power, and decent technique make him this year’s safest bet at tackle in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. The Notre Dame prospect may not have the highest ceiling amongst his peers, but he without a doubt has the highest floor. Teams know what they are getting if they draft Mike McGlinchey: a high character leader, with a high motor and worth ethic, who can instantly step in as a starter at either position day one. The bottom line is McGlinchey is a sure-fire pick who should see interest just outside of the NFL Draft’s top ten come April 26th. Expect him to be the 1st tackle and 2nd overall lineman off the board just behind his now former teammate Quenton Nelson.
Projected Round: 1st
Team Fits: Cardinals, Seahawks, Chargers
NFL Comparison: Taylor Lewan
2. Orlando Brown, University of Oklahoma
Weight: 345 lbs
Career Stats: 40
Bench Press: 14
Arm Length: 35”
If not for a 5.85 40-time and one of the worst performances in the history of the NFL Combine, I would be sticking up for Brown and claiming he is the best tackle in the draft. On film alone, it’s hard to argue he isn’t the most dominant lineman coming out this year, but for some reason, his film doesn’t match the measurables. Luckily for Orlando, the game isn’t played in shorts and a tee shirt, so I will rely on the tape that shows a mountain of a man destroying everyone that lined up across from him. He’s the son of the late Zeus Brown, who played in the NFL from 1993–2006 and was regarded as one of the toughest players of his generation. Orlando has the pedigree and knows what it takes to make it in the NFL, so showing up to the combine overweight and out of shape drew many red flags in the eyes of scouts. Brown weighed in at a whopping 345 pounds, a bit more than his college playing weight, and barely edged out NFL Analyst Rich Eisen’s 40-time. Brown has many execs and scouts scratching their heads wondering which player and person they are going to get. More than anything his work ethic has come into question, and players like that make you wonder what will happen once they get a paycheck.
A wise man once told me “Underwear numbers don’t mean s*** and the film don’t lie.” He goes by Chucky and gave me that little tidbit of advice when asking him about underperformers at the NFL Combine last month. So who am I to go against one of the smartest football minds of all time? Orlando Brown without a doubt has the most impressive film amongst any left tackle entering the NFL Draft. His massive frame and length created a mismatch against every pass rusher he faced. His long arms and huge kick slide allowed him to make up time against faster edge rushers. His one step would cover the same amount of ground as a DE’s two or three, and rarely was he beat on the outside. He was practically undefeated against the bullrush, and though his 14 reps on the bench weren’t very impressive, his power is derived from his lower body. He’d often stop rushers dead in their tracks, absorbing the blow like a true body catcher who’d rarely get pushed backwards. According to multiple sources, he only allowed two sacks and two QB hits in the past two seasons, which is extremely hard to come by in College Football. He did a tremendous job at protecting Baker Mayfield’s backside, especially for a quarterback who often looked to extend the play.
The 1st Team All-American can’t do it all; he isn’t the most versatile player and will be best suited for a power run scheme. His hand placement and footwork will need to be cleaned up, as well as his pad level. He is slow as molasses when being asked to pull across the line, often taking up space as a lead blocker instead of creating it. As long as a team isn’t asking him to move East and West, his lack of speed won’t be an issue. Bulldozers don’t need to be fast. They need to protect and move piles, and Brown does both better than nearly any lineman not named Quenton Nelson. His explosion off the line and powerful punch often ends with defensive linemen on their back or 5+ yards off the line of scrimmage. He is a destructive down blocker who often takes multiple defenders out of the play, and uses his NBA-like wingspan to get his hands on linebackers when in the 2nd level to make up for his lack of athleticism. Brown is a finisher who never takes plays off and is always looking to find someone to hit until the whistle blows. His most prominent attribute is his ability to seal the edge when reach blocking — the man is a true mauler and road grader in the run game.
With the right coaching and scheme fit, the son of Zeus could see himself following in his father’s footsteps. Brown’s brute strength and size, mixed with an aggressive, punishing style of play, will overshadow his downfalls. His draft stock will depend on him being able to convince NFL teams he’s willing to put in the work. Orlando already improved on all of his numbers at his pro day, shedding 0.22 seconds of his 40, 5 lbs off of his weight, and adding 4 more reps on the bench. Orlando is a massive man, with enormous upside that teams won’t be able to ignore.
Projected Round: 1–2
Team Fits: Ravens, Eagles, Seahawks
NFL Comparison: Max Starks
3. Kolton Miller, UCLA
Weight: 310 lbs
Career Stats: 23
Bench Press: 24
Arm Length: 34 ⅛
Kolton Miller is a left tackle prospect out of UCLA, and many reports have him in the 1st round. Some scouts are up and down on the LT, saying he has the physical traits and measurable but his technique and pad level aren’t there. In my opinion, he is the most well-rounded tackle in the draft. He’s got all the physical attributes needed to play the position. His technique in both the run and pass game are quite good for being 6’9”, especially his athleticism. The redshirt junior’s prototypical build is going to have NFL teams intrigued, and the fact that he set the combine record for offensive linemen with a 10’1” broad jump and ran a 4.95 will make teams fall in love. He’s not scheme specific and his inconsistencies are there, but correctable, and his work ethic isn’t in question. What’s there not to like?
His playing style is a mixture of finesse, power, and tenacity. He typically doesn’t win with pure strength, but his quick feet and relentless effort seem to be his key attributes. He gets good movement off the line of scrimmage in run blocking with a quick 1st step and pop. His hand placement is very consistent and he has a great understanding on how to use his length to his advantage when in run blocking. He’s fast enough to play in a zone scheme and strong enough to play in a downhill power system. His athleticism allows him to quickly get down the line when asked to pull and lead block. His 2nd level blocks are some of his best highlights, as he sells the screen perfectly and gets downfield to position himself to make a block. You normally don’t see the leaner, taller tackles playing the run as aggressively as he does. Miller has a mean side the second he’s moving forward.
One of this year’s top quarterback prospects, Josh Rosen, can attest to that. Miller is remarkably agile for his size, and he possesses the ability to recover when initially beat with great lateral movement and balance. Kolton also has experience playing in 30 games during his 3 year career at UCLA and, according to Pro Football Focus, he only surrendered 4 total sacks during that span. He was promoted to left tackle this past season, starting all 13 games for the Bruins. Kolton is very disciplined and has a great understanding of the offense and his responsibilities within the system. Rarely ever penalized, he keeps his hand placement in between the numbers, making it hard for defenders to disengage. His kick slide is quick and long but at times he can be stiff and choppy with his lower body.
His footwork is somewhat inconsistent and he needs to improve on lowering his pad level by becoming more flexible when bending at the knee. He has all the tools to succeed at the next level and enough proper form to not be considered just a raw athlete. If Miller can correct the little mishaps in his foot placement, add some power to those long arms, and get low enough to win the leverage battle, he can be a quality NFL tackle for years to come.
Projected Round: 1–2
Team Fits: Patriots, Bengals, Bills
NFL Comparison: jared veldheer
4. Connor Williams, University of Texas
Weight: 320 lbs
Career Stats: 28
Bench Press: 26
Arm Length: 33
Connor Williams is an intriguing offensive line prospect out of the University of Texas whom many consider to be a 1st round talent, and some even regard as the Draft’s best offensive tackle. After an injury-plagued season that only saw him on the field for 5 games this past year, exec’s are questioning if he’ll be able to return to his sophomore form. Two years ago he was looked at as one of the most talented prospects in all college football, surrendering a total of 0 sacks, 0 QB hits, and only 11 pressures according to Pro Football Focus. That is a godly stat line, one any team would kill to have their left tackle produce. That same year he helped running back D’Onta Foreman lead the nation in rushing yards. He’s a workout warrior and a leader in the locker room, constantly setting the tone for his entire team. His work ethic is through the roof, his form is nearly flawless, and his teammates rave about his character. So how is he not higher on everyone’s draft boards?
Williams is hands down the most technically sound tackle in this years draft, but will he be considered a tackle at the next level? The Longhorn’s lineman has NFL-caliber form, but his lean frame, short arms, and limited raw power have many questioning if left tackle is his exact position. It’s rumored he could be asked to play guard or even center at the next level, depending on what team takes him. Regardless of his lack of measurables, he’s a consensus first-team All-American, and his talent is undeniable. Connor’s footwork and mechanics are very crisp, as he hardly ever makes a wrong step or has any sign of wasted motion. Williams’ best attribute in pass blocking is his quickness to the edge, and thus he matches up very well against speed rushers. Recovery and balance are also strong points of his game, and Connor counters the inside move as well as he can protect the edge. On the other hand, he has shown to be vulnerable against defensive ends who can translate speed to power. A majority of his pressures and negatively graded plays have come against the bull rush. It is why many feel that he’ll be bullied once he gets into the NFL.
The tackle’s run blocking is top notch, and he uses proper form and leverage to win his battles in the trenches. His 1st step might be the fastest amongst his positional group, and once he’s won the body positioning battle he’s hardly ever pushed backwards off the line of scrimmage. Lack of reach or not, his hand placement is consistent when run blocking, and he often finishes with his opponent many yards off the line. Connor is highly productive when asked to pull and block downfield. His athleticism allows for him to be very accurate when in open space trying to make contact with defenders. He’s great at squaring up his opponent so he can explode into his blocks. Williams’ quickness and agility allow him to make adjustments last-second on defenders trying to slip or sidestep his engagement.
Left tackles are the staple of an offensive line. Without one, guards aren’t free to double-team interior defenders, and quarterbacks become antsy when the can’t trust their blind side. Connor Williams has all the tools and technique needed to be a high-quality NFL tackle, but his arm length could be what derails his draft stock. If he drops out of the 1st round, his reach will be the reason why. Without being able to dictate the distance and maintain positioning against bull rushing defenders, the bigger, more athletic defensive ends we continue to have their way with him. Each year the NFL has to filter through the average players who are only there because they have an insane work ethic, while the elite physically gifted athletes can show up and check every box without effort. To a small extent this feels like one of those stories, and my guess is that Connor Williams will be slid inside where he’ll be able to take even more advantage of his speed.
Projected Round: 1–2
Team Fits: Patriots, Cardinals, Seahawks
NFL Comparison: Jake Matthews
5. Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State University
Weight: 305 lbs
Career Stats: 17
Bench Press: 24
Arm Length: 33
Martinas Rankin can be summed up as a powerhouse. A product of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, he spent 2 years there and became the #1 nationally ranked junior college offensive tackle. Rankin went on to redshirt his junior year and accepted an offer at Mississippi State. He earned a starting role in 2016 and ended up only playing 9 games at LT during his senior year due to a high ankle sprain. He was able to handle the spike in competition once he got to Miss St., actually earning himself 1st team all-SEC honors in 2017.
Rankin is built like a tank. For his size, he’s an exceptional athlete, with active, quick setting feet and decent lateral movement. Martinas’ power is his what sets him apart from the rest of the tackle crop. Rankin might have the best explosion off the line of the group listed. He’s a pile mover who can get nearly any defensive end going backwards. His punch packs some heat, and he uses it to gain leverage and throw his opponents off balance. Rankin is surprisingly quick at getting out of his stance for a thicker framed lineman. It shows on tape when down blocking, as he often makes contact with defenders before they even have a chance to counter the blow. The Mississippi State product may not be considered fast, but he’s still got enough speed to pull from left to right and seal the edge. His athleticism still limits him from excelling at blocking in open space or downfield, but it’s never for lack of effort.
Martinas’s pass blocking technique isn’t necessarily his strong suit. The man tends to rely on strength over form, though he is hardly ever overpowered. He does a good job when kick sliding and cutting off the corner, and mirrors his opponents well. However, his redirect and recover could use some help. He tends to lunge into his blocks and overstep, giving the pass rusher an open lane to the QB. He’s got decent bend and balance when engaging his opponents. Although he’s similar to Connor Williams in the sense that his reach isn’t really on par with NFL standards, he isn’t bullied as often due to his brute strength. According to PFF, he only surrendered 2 sacks and 3 QB hits in his 9 game senior season but also had 9 penalties, more than doubling anyone else’s penalty totals on this top 5.
The Mississippi State prospect should still be considered pretty raw, with massive potential and room to grow as an offensive lineman. He is highly versatile, having played all 5 positions throughout his collegiate career, which is the primary reason he should be a target of interest come day 2 in the 2018 NFL Draft. His power will allow him to play the left tackle position. Still, he’ll need a good O-line coach and the right fit, or he’ll be destined for an interior blocker position.
Projected Round: 2–3
Team Fits: Texans, Cardinals, Browns
NFL Comparison: Donovan Smith