All Things Offensive Linemen

March 30th, 2011

Are the Bucs sniffing Will Rackley in the third round?

Let’s hear it for a welcome break, albeit a short one, from Aqib Talib chatter. Soon he’ll be arrested, and then the arrest affidavit will come out and there’ll be a fresh round of speculation and hype.

NFL Draft guru Justin “The Commish” Pawlowski serves up his latest position breakdown below: offensive linemen.

Enjoy the most comprehensive Bucs-focused and entertaining draft coverage around.


Offensive Tackles

1. Tyron Smith – USC
6’5’’ – 307 lbs – DNP
1st Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  A huge part of being an elite offensive tackle is having excellent technique.  Smith has the best technique of any offensive tackle in this draft.  Smith also possesses some of the longest arms in the draft, which prevents defensive linemen from getting into his chest.  Smith has the most potential and upside of any offensive lineman in this draft.

Why The Commish would stay away:  Although Smith has bulked up this off-season, he has never played at a weight higher than 280 lbs.  First, I’d be concerned that he’ll be able to keep the weight on.  I’d also be worried that he might lose some of his quickness and good technique with the added weight.

Impact on the Bucs:  I don’t think the Bucs are sold on James Lee at right tackle.  Smith played right tackle at USC, so if the Bucs want to continue building the protection for Freeman, Smith would be a nice fit.  However, I would not trade up for him, and would have to think a long time before taking Smith over a defensive player.  The Bucs are bringing Smith in for a visit

Comparison: D’Brickashaw Ferguson – New York Jets

2. Gabe Carimi – Wisconsin
6’7’’ – 314 lbs – 5.27
1st Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  Big, nasty, and physical are three reasons I’d take Carimi. 

Why The Commish would stay away:  Any time you have a big and physical tackle from the Big 10 conference, you wonder if he can handle the speed rusher off the edge.  If Carimi is going to play left tackle and protect the blindside of a franchise quarterback, he better be an elite pass protector, and I don’t think he is.

Impact on the Bucs:  I think Carimi could be destined for a 10-12 year career as a right tackle in the NFL.  With the Bucs having a possible need at right tackle, I would not mind one bit if they draft Carimi.  Carimi would probably be a better fit than any offensive tackle the Bucs could consider in the first round.  I doubt it would happen because of the Bucs need for defense, but if it did, the Bucs would have two offensive tackles to anchor their offensive line for years.

Comparison: Jon Runyan – Philadelphia Eagles

3. Anthony Castonzo – Boston College
6’7’’ – 311 lbs – 5.23
1st Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  I have to love the 52 starts Castonzo has against top competition in college football.  Castonzo is another player with real good technique and measurables.  While Tyron Smith might have the most potential as an overall tackle, Castonzo has just as much potential as a left tackle to protect the blindside of a franchise quarterback. 

Why The Commish would stay away:  Castonzo’s lack of strength worries me.  He might be a developmental project because he might not be strong enough to handle some defensive ends in the NFL yet.  Lower body strength is lacking the most.

Impact on the Bucs:  I think Castonzo’s future lies at left tackle.  I always want my right tackles to be bigger and more physical.  Castonzo’s strength is his athleticism and technique.  I’m a believer that Donald Penn is one of the best left tackles in the NFL, so there is no need to even think of replacing him.

Comparison: Jake Long – Miami Dolphins

4. Derek Sherrod – Mississippi St.
6’5’’ – 321 lbs – 5.28
1st Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  Sherrod’s intangibles stand out to me the most.  He’s a very smart player with outstanding instincts and awareness.  Sherrod was 2nd team all academic as well.  He has an outstanding work ethic and great leadership skills.  Sherrod’s also had a ton of experience in the SEC.  As for his talents, Sherrod is extremely balanced and nimble for a man his size.

Why The Commish would stay away:  Sherrod doesn’t dominate as much as I’d like to see from him.  Sherrod can also struggle with leverage at times, which takes away from his power.

Impact on the Bucs:  Sherrod is a candidate to play either right or left tackle in the NFL.  I think Sherrod is one of the more underrated prospects in this year’s draft.  Again, I don’t think tackle is a huge target area for the Bucs, but if he was selected, Sherrod would compete for the starting right tackle position immediately.

Comparison: Michael Oher – Baltimore Ravens

5. Benjamin Ijalana – Villanova
6’4’’ – 317 lbs – DNP
1st/2nd Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  I like an offensive lineman with a wrestling background like Ijalana.  He is a big boy who’s very nimble and plays with great leverage.  His violent punch can stifle an opposing player and stop him in his tracks.

Why The Commish would stay away:  The competition for Villanova wasn’t the best and I have concerns with how Ijalana will handle speed rushers off the edge in the NFL.  Ijalana also lacks the ideal height (6’5’’ – 6’7’’) of an NFL tackle.  I know it’s just one inch, but these scouts and front offices are very particular.  I think it’s pretty dumb.

Impact on the Bucs:  I think the 20th pick is too high for Ijalana, so the only way Ijalana is taken by the Bucs is if he falls to them in the 2nd round.  He compares favorably to Davin Joseph and could play guard or right tackle.

Comparison: Davin Joseph – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

6. Nate Solder – Colorado
6’8’’ – 319 lbs – 5.05
1st/2nd Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  I love the combination of size and athleticism with Solder.  He is a converted tight end, so you know he is athletic.  Solder is also very good in pass protection as he only gave up 5 sacks in 3 years as a starting offensive tackle.

Why The Commish would stay away:  Let’s start with his height.  Anytime you’re that tall, leverage is going to come into question.  Also, just a few weeks after the combine, Solder weighed in at 307 lbs at his pro day.  At 6’8’’, that is very light.  I wonder if Solder can keep the weight on.

Impact on the Bucs:  I’m not the biggest fan of Solder.  I do not think he would be a great fit for the Bucs.  I think Solder is a solid tackle with potential to start on the left side.

Comparison: Winston Justice – Philadelphia Eagles

7. Marcus Cannon – TCU
6’5’’ – 358 lbs – 5.28
2nd Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  Cannon fits the description for my ideal offensive lineman.  He is massive, physical, and mean.  Cannon could be great in run blocking and opening holes for a smash mouth offense.

Why The Commish would stay away:  Obviously, with a man this size, maintaining weight will always be an issue.  Also with a man this size, he’s not as nimble or quick in pass protection.  Cannon will be limited to right tackle, but might be forced to move down to guard.

Impact on the Bucs:  I think Cannon could end up as a star at the guard position.  With that said, Cannon really isn’t the type of lineman the Bucs typically go for.  If we were to slip to their pick in the 2nd round, I wouldn’t mind if he was under consideration.  A left side of Donald Penn and Marcus Cannon could be nice.  I’m not getting my hopes up.

Comparison: Leonard Davis – Dallas Cowboys

8. Marcus Gilbert – Florida
6’6’’ – 330 lbs – 5.46
2nd/3rd Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  I think I like Gilbert’s versatility the most.  He can play left or right tackle, and also move down to guard.  He has a lot of experience against top competition as well.  Gilbert has good leadership skills and a nasty demeanor.

Why The Commish would stay away:  It seems like Gilbert lives for the stalemate.  Gilbert just doesn’t do a great job at finishing off blocks or dominating in the run game.  Gilbert also seems to lose leverage at times.

Impact on the Bucs:  The Bucs have always had a thing for linemen with versatility.  Gilbert might be a nice mid round selection who could compete at right tackle or guard for the Bucs.

Comparison: Jonathon Scott – Pittsburh Steelers

9. James Carpenter – Alabama
6’4’’ – 321 lbs – 5.28
3rd Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  Carpenter was a 2-year starter at left tackle for Alabama, but is versatile enough to play right tackle or guard as well.  Another positive from playing at Alabama is that Carpenter played well against top competition.  He has very good body control for a man his size.

Why The Commish would stay away:  Carpenter isn’t quick enough or have long enough arms to play left tackle in the NFL.  Carpenter also is not as nasty as I want in my offensive linemen.  It seems like he might be lacking a killer instinct.

Impact on the Bucs:  Again, the Bucs like versatility in their linemen.  If selected, Carpenter could compete at right tackle or at guard.

Comparison: Vernon Carey – Miami Dolphins

10. James Brewer – Indiana
6’6’’ – 323 lbs – 5.27
3rd/ 4th Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  Brewer is a tremendous athlete with a lot of raw ability.  He is very nimble and does a good job at pulling and getting to the 2nd level.  Brewer’s big frame and long arms allow him to potentially play left tackle in the NFL.

Why The Commish would stay away:  Brewer is very raw.  He just started playing football as a senior in high school.  By being inexperienced, Brewer lacks ideal technique and is not very powerful. 

Impact on the Bucs:  Brewer could be a big time boom or bust prospect in the middle rounds.  He is inexperienced and very raw, but also very talented.  For the Bucs, Brewer would add decent depth and an eventual contender for right tackle, but not immediately.

Comparison: Chris Williams – Chicago Bears

Interior Linemen

1. Mike Pouncey – OG/OC – Florida
6’5’’ – 303 lbs – 5.28

1st Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  I know he’s not his brother, but after what his brother did with the Steelers, it’s hard to ignore that.  Pouncey is tough, physical, and plays with great technique.  He is a very smart player who plays with excellent technique and has a ton of experience against the best competition in the country.

Why The Commish would stay away:  As much as people want to believe it, Mike Pouncey is not his brother.  He is not dominant in the run game and can get caught lunging at times.  Dare I even bring up shotgun snaps?

Impact on the Bucs:  I do think the Bucs have a legit interest in Pouncey.  He can play guard and be an eventual replacement for Jeff Faine.  Also, remember that Mike Tomlin has the other Pouncey and has probably been bragging to Raheem a lot.

Comparison: Maurkice Pouncey – Pittsburgh Steelers

2. Danny Watkins – OG – Baylor
6’3’’ – 310 lbs – 5.40
1st/2nd Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  In a very short time, Watkins developed into a very good offensive lineman at Baylor.  Once Jason Smith was drafted in the top 5 a couple years back, Watkins stepped in at left tackle and never lost his job.  He is a late bloomer, 27 years old, but is very mature and can step in and start right away.  He decided to play football when preparing to become a firefighter.  Watkins is very tough and has a fantastic work ethic.

Why The Commish would stay away:  I’m a little weary because Watkins is already 27 years old and still has a lot to learn in terms of technique.  With not much experience, Watkins will most likely also deal with a position change to right tackle or guard in the NFL.

Impact on the Bucs:  I do not think Watkins is a great fit for the Bucs unless they trade back.  At 27 years old, Watkins is already older than half the Bucs team.  If drafted, he’d compete at right tackle and guard. 

Comparison: Logan Mankins – New England Patriots

3. Stefan Wisniewski – OC – Penn St.
6’3’’ – 313 lbs – 5.35
2nd Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  Intangibles are high with Wisniewski.  He is very smart with excellent instincts and great awareness.  Wisniewski was also fantastic in the classroom.  He is very tough and physical in the trenches.  Wisniewski could end up as a starter, leader, and captain for a long time.

Why The Commish would stay away:  Wisniewski is not as dominant in the run game as I’d like.  He’s also not the best athlete and lacks agility.

Impact on the Bucs:  The 20th pick might be a bit high, but Wisniewski has 10-year NFL starter written all over him.  Jeff Faine’s injuries and money should be concerns.  Much like Pouncey, Wisnieski could step in at guard before eventually sliding over to center.

Comparison: Alex Mack – Cleveland Browns

4. Jason Pinkston – OG – Pitt
6’3’’ – 317 lbs – 5.45
2nd/3rd Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  As a 4-year starter at Pitt, Pinkston has a lot of experience vs. very good competition.  Let’s not forget, he went against Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus everyday at practice as well.  Pinkston is a compact lineman with good bulk and strength.  Pinkston should also have some versatility along the line.

Why The Commish would stay away:  Pinkston is not as physical as you’d like him to be.  Because of this, Pinkston does not get a good push and is not dominant in the run game.  Pinkston has also struggled with conditioning, and his work ethic has been questioned.

Impact on the Bucs:  I’m not sure Pinkston fits what the Bucs look for in a lineman.  His questionable work ethic stands out the most.  If he is selected by the Bucs, Pinkston would challenge for right tackle and guard.

Comparison: Shawn Andrews – New York Giants

5. Will Rackley – OG – Lehigh
6’3’’ – 309 lbs – DNP
3rd Round

Why The Commish would draft him:  Versatility is a huge word with Rackley.  He played left tackle at Lehigh, but should be able to play any position on the line in the NFL.  Rackley has very good technique and plays with very good leverage.

Why The Commish would stay away:  Obviously, the competition wasn’t the greatest for Lehigh, so that is a concern.  I’d also like to see Rackley play with and get more strength.

Impact on the Bucs:  Rackley seems like a guy the Bucs would go after.  He is very versatile and could fit anywhere they need him.  Rackley could be a very solid mid-round pick with potential to eventually start.

Comparison: Jeremy Zuttah – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4 Responses to “All Things Offensive Linemen”

  1. BamBamBuc Says:

    Hey Justin,

    I’ve seen some things about the Bucs maybe getting a guy like Ryan Bartholamew late in the draft. Maybe 6th or 7th round. If I remember correctly, his combine numbers were pretty ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean his technique is any good. What do you think? Good value pick as a project interior lineman in the late rounds?

  2. jarrett Says:

    Brandon Fusco should be somewhere in this article

  3. Pete Dutcher Says:

    I suspect the Panthers are going to surprise everyone and take Blaine Gabbert over Fig Newton.

    Blaine Gabbert is looking really good these days. I watched Newton’s pro day highlights and the kid under throws a lot of passes.

  4. IMHO... Says:

    @ Pete
    Pro Days don’t hold much clout. It’s no defenders, pads, or pressure. Despite all the negatives surrounding him, Cam is a proven winner and steps his game up under extreme pressure and faced SEC defenses. What exactly has Blaine proven? He folds easier than hot laundry out tha dryer. He lost 2 NAVY of all teams, which has height and weight restrictions in a bowl game.