Analyzing the Top Tier Offensive Tackles in 2012 NFL Draft
Editor’s Note: A few days ago, we had an article published in the Dallas Observer which argued why Doug Free should be moved to guard. In addition to his contract being a sunk cost and rookie right tackle Tyron Smith being ready to make the switch to the left side, there will also (likely) be a top tier offensive tackle available for Dallas with the 14th overall selection. While the team needs all the help it can get on defense, selecting an OT in the first round would instantly upgrade two positions. DCT contributor Justin Shoemaker took some time to analyze the top three offensive tackle prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Matt Kalil (USC)
– sole reason Tyron Smith played right tackle for USC
-incredible footwork and very nimble for a 6’7” guy. . .has the size to dominate in the power running game but the quickness to get out on counters, tosses and screens
– very comparable to Joe Thomas and Jake Long. . .has tools to be All-Pro
– unless Dallas moves up, he will be out of reach (likely No. 2 overall)
– Note from Jonathan: When I began studying Tyron Smith last year, I just assumed he was a left tackle. After a couple plays I realized the player I was reviewing was white, so I had a pretty good idea I wasn’t watching Smith. I kept watching, though, because that player (Kalil) was absolutely dominant. I can say I wholeheartedly believe Kalil is the top offensive tackle prospect I have seen. . .ever. He’s superior to Thomas and Long, in my opinions, and he will be an All-Pro for a decade.
Jonathan Martin (Stanford)
– has protected Andrew Luck, but may have looked better than reality due to Luck’s quick release (in much the same way Peyton Manning has made his average line look elite)
– surprisingly better in run blocking than pass protection
– versatile enough to play RT or LT; can set the edge, but still has agility to get to second level
– can play aggressively and with an attitude at times, but then becomes defensive and gives up too much ground to the pass rusher.
– seems to struggle when matched up on nine-technique players or 3-4 outside linebackers; thrives against “power” seven or five-technique rushers
– still has plenty of room to improve technique; would be instant upgrade over Free, even at right tackle
Riley Reiff (Iowa)
-typical Big 10 lineman, which means everyone loves the run blocking ability. . .will have more knocks on his pass protection
-can get a little stiff and awkward in both run blocking and pass protection; not a natural athlete like Kalil or Martin
-great awareness of the pocket and pushing the defender beyond it; will let defenders rush themselves out of play
-could be beast in various run blocking schemes, but may not fit as well for the Cowboys if they plan to incorporate more “finesse” runs with Murray and Jones
– no quit attitude until the whistle blows, play contagious to teammates (he’s a Marc Colombo with skill)
-very much like fellow Hawkeye Bryan Bulaga,
– probably not enough value at No. 14