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New York Giants 2019 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackles
90+: Elite, All Pro
85-89: Immediate starter, building block for a decade, franchise player
80-84: First round talent, starter and/or majority of the snaps each week
77-79: Day 2 pick, starter within their first 16-24 games as a pro
75-76: Fourth rounder, has starter traits but needs development
71-74: Fifth/Sixth rounder, should develop into weekly contributor over rookie contract
68-70: Draftable, hopeful for special teams impact and long term development
67 and under: UDFA
*NFL Comparison are not a projection of how good they are, more so their style of play.
WHERE THEY STAND
The Ereck Flowers experiment finally came to an end in 2018, as the team cut him loose and after JAC wanted nothing to do with him, he currently sits as a backup in WAS. That left undrafted free agent Chad Wheeler to take over at right tackle, a role that looked overwhelming for him at several points in his second year. 2019 will be telling as to whether or not he has a long term future with the club. Nate Solder had a year to forget on the other side after signing a monster contract with the team last offseason. A lingering neck injury didn’t help and his play did stabilize a bit down the stretch, but there is some long term concern there. Similar to their situation inside, the depth leaves a lot to be desired. Jylan Ware and Brian Mihalik have not impressed in their limited playing time on Sundays and Victor Salako may not be athletic enough to handle the speed of the NFL. This group needs talent and depth.
1: Jonah Williams – Alabama – 6’4/302
Summary: Junior entry. A three year starter dating back the beginning of his freshman season, a rarity under the Nick Saban era along the offensive line. One year at right tackle before settling in for two seasons at left tackle. First Team All SEC in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Williams is likely to be the unquestioned top offensive lineman in the class. He has the pro-caliber technique and control that can mirror just about anyone with a sense of ease and consistency. While he does have some work to do in the weight room, his upside is that of a 10+ year starter at a position that can be very hard to fill for some clubs. What he lacks in current power presence can be more than made up for with his arsenal of blocking-tools. Some will view him as a guard early on in his career, but his fit will depend on the team that drafts him. Week 1 starter regardless.
*The entire pre-draft process, Williams has been my guy for NYG at #6, cat is out of the bag (unless they sign Remmers). I believe in this kid both as a player and as a person and if there is one guy I am the most confident will be at least a very solid player for a long time, it’s this kid. Williams has experience at right tackle and I think he is a week 1 starter who can handle the Ryan Kerrigans, the Demarcus Lawrences…etc right away. After watching how badly this OL has impacted the potential of this offense and team overall, this could be the final piece that, in combination with Zeitler, creates a right side of the line that can be one of the best in the league coming up from one of the worst.
NFL Comparison: David Bakhtiari / GB
2: Andre Dillard – Washington State – 6’5/315
Summary: Fifth year senior. Three year starter and two-time First Team All Pac 12. The jury may still be out if he is better suited inside or on the edge, but no matter the case Dillard will be a long-time solid pro. His movement-efficiency and contact-balance will be a weapon against any kind of defender whether it be at the point of attack or in space. Dillard checks a lot of boxes and will give a team multiple options how to use him both right away and in the future.
*Over and over again, Dillard just screamed smooth and consistent. The term “dancing bear” that I have heard Gettleman use several times fits Dillard very well. I do question some power and aggression traits, but not to a point where I bumped him down out of the top 15-20 overall. If NYG goes defense early, I think Dillard will very much be in play at 17. Another guy who can handle RT right away and gives the offense a lot more confidence.
NFL Comparison: Jake Matthews / ATL
3: Jawaan Taylor – Florida – 6’5/312
Summary: Junior entry. Three year starter who has seen the majority of his action on the right side and that is where he likely ends up in the pros. Taylor is a massive, silver-back who can dominate on contact time after time. When his lower body is bent enough which keeps his feet in the game, there isn’t much that can be done to beat him in pass protection. The awareness and confidence are apparent, as he never seems to lose himself no matter who he is matched up against. Taylor has as high a ceiling as any lineman in this entire class as long he puts the work into shore up simple, but vital, technique components.
*There is more boom or bust in Taylor’s projection than most of the guys at the top of this list, but the more I scouted the more I liked. He has heavy hands and such a sturdy base that if his footwork and leverage can be just OK, he will win the one on one battles. I think there is a strong chance he is the first OT off the board if I am predicting what will actually happen. Looking hard at JAC.
NFL Comparison: Ja’Wuan James / DEN
4: Cody Ford – Oklahoma – 6’4/329
Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Former left guard with just seven career starts entering 2018. Ford made the move to right tackle and earned 1st Team All Big 12 honors. He projects equally well at both spots in the NFL but his technique shortcomings and inconsistency may keep him inside initially. The footwork, triangle numbers, and desire all have checks in their respective boxes. Drafting him is a gamble because there is an assumption is he will continue to develop the notable shortcomings, as he just doesn’t have a lot of experience to look back on.
*I think most teams are looking at Ford as a tackle and if NYG brings him in, that will be the case. I am split on where he fits best but with tackles being harder to find, that is where I think he ends up. Getting past that debate, Ford was really hot and cold on my sheet when it came to grades. He was inconsistent but when he was on, he looked as reliable as anyone. The sticky hands and play-through-the-whistle mindset are attractive but I’m not sold on him being ready right away.
NFL Comparison: La’el Collins / DAL
5: Max Scharping – Northern Illinois – 6’6/327
Summary: Fifth year senior who has had one of the most successful careers in MAC history. He started all 52 games of his career split between both tackle spots and some action at guard. Scharping was a three time 1st Team All MAC honoree and a top tier kid off the field. His jump to higher competition at the senior bowl exposed some core strength and functional athleticism issues, but Scharping is as advanced as anyone when it comes to technique and consistency. His hands and feet are constantly where they need to be and he rarely compensates them based on what the defender is doing. If his ability can catch up to his skill set, Scharping will be a solid starting caliber tackle.
*During the year I had a 1st round outlook on Scharping. I always have a thing for tackles who play with plus technique and consistency because at the end of the day, I want reliability from that spot. But when the Senior Bowl came around, Scharping struggled more than I thought and it made me re-think the grades a tad. I still like him but I view it more as a Day 2-like meaning I think he needs a year before he can be thrown in there. But I mean it, if this kid can get stronger and more stable, he can be one of the best OTs coming from the class. He checks a lot of boxes.
NFL Comparison: Ryan Ramczyk / NO
6: Yodny Cajuste – West Virginia – 6’5/312
Summary: Sixth year senior who overcame knee issues early in his career to eventually earn All Big 12 honors in 2017 and 2018. Cajuste showed stretched of play where he looked like a first rounder and week 1 starter in the NFL. However it was almost always followed by stretches of play where he looked like a day 3 prospect at best. Throw in the notion that scouting and projecting tackles from the West Virginia offense can be difficult and makes Cajuste one of the riskier prospects in the class. He will bring physicality and toughness to the trenches but the hope will reside in how he develops the skill set. If he does, he will be a long time starter.
*Another guy who, early on in the year, I was all over and had him heading towards round 1 territory. However the more I watched and after seeing him in a different light, his grade went backwards. Cajuste isn’t completely clean off the field, either. There is a heavy handed beast who lives inside though and when he really gets after it, it is bad news for the opponent. It just comes down to him always playing like that and taking in NFL coaching. If he does, look out. Also a shot he moves inside to guard.
NFL Comparison: Bobby Massie / CHI
7: Dennis Daley – South Carolina – 6’5/317
Summary: Former junior college All American who started for two years in the SEC at left tackle, matching up against some of the best edge defenders college football had to offer. Daley has been a very up and down player throughout his career. His low points make him look undraftable but his best tapes make him look like a day 2 pick. He is somewhere in the middle of those two and lot of his success will depend on how hard he works at his craft and a team not rushing him into action. Daley is a solid left tackle prospect worth taking a chance on if you can promise he sits and cleans himself up for at least a year.
*Daley really has the upside of a top end starting tackle if he can apply himself and clean the little things up. He isn’t far away but it will come down to the situation he is brought into and how hard he grinds. He has the goods and he has proven they are fully functional on numerous occasions, the consistency just needs to show up.
NFL Comparison: Reilly Reiff / MIN
8: Yosh Nijman – Virginia Tech – 6’7/324
Summary: Fifth year senior. Former defensive end who was quickly moved to tackle during his redshirt year. Nijman has starting experience at both tackle spots but missed time in both 2017 and 2018 with injuries. There is still a lot of rawness to his game but he has flashed some really good tape against some really good competition. Nijman has natural power and heavy hands combined with a mammoth frame that can end things quickly if he is accurate with his hands. The stiffness and inconsistent technique along with the medicals are all red flags, but there is something about this kid that screams upside.
*I didn’t get a full medical report on Nijman like I do on most others, so there is a little asterisk mark here. That aside, I have been drawn to Nijman for the past few months. I really like what I saw in flashes and even though there are movement limitations, I think he has enough length and hand power to keep tackles from reaching the edge. A 1-2 year project who has the upside of a really good starter.
NFL Comparison: Rob Havenstein / LAR
9: Chuma Edoga – USC – 6’3/308
Summary: After some spot duty in 2015 and 2016, Edoga put together two very solid years as the starting right tackle for the Trojans. He ended his career with a 2nd Team All Pac 12 season and is viewed as one of the best athletes at the position. He lost over 50 pounds of bad weight since arriving at USC, but the athletic tools were always there and now he needs to put some more quality weight back on. His gifted lower body in terms of athleticism and flexibility can make him a weapon if he enhances his strength and power. He is likely a guard in the NFL and one who zone blocking schemes will be especially attracted to.
*I’m not all in on the idea that tackles need to be a certain height and I think the league is past that as well. Edoga has the necessary length and footwork to handle the best speed rushers in the game, but he lacks power presence and hand strength. There is enough stand out tape to his name, but I wouldn’t want him in there right away similar to what MIN ideally wanted to do with Brian O’Neill a year ago. However he was forced into action because of injuries and fared OK down the stretch. Edoga could be in a similar situation.
NFL Comparison: Charles Leno Jr / CHI
10: Greg Little – Ole Miss – 6’5/310
Summary: Junior entry with 2+ years of starting experience. First Team All SEC in 2018 after being named second team in 2017. Little has the ideal physical package for the hard-to-find left tackle position and more than enough to tape to warrant the belief he can be a solid player there in the NFL. The athletic ability is there and while his power presence appears good enough against the bull rush, he struggled to lock defenders up over and over all year. The hand-techniques are vital to success in the NFL and it may be his biggest issue. A lot of work to be done for Little and if he consistently works at it, his future is bright. But the one thing a team will need to be sure about is his work ethic/passion/drive.
*I know I have Little a lot lower than where most people project. But this is a kid everyone touted as a first rounder last summer. Halfway through the year he “dropped” if you will, into the 20’s. Now most don’t think he is a first rounder. Well his stone dropped into the deeper end of the pool for me, as I think his potential is solely based on the tool set but nothing to do with his skill set of drive. Little doesn’t have a great reputation among coaches and looks to be yet another gifted but chronic underachiever. Day 3 is the soonest I would look at him.
NFL Comparison: DJ Humphries / ARI
11: Donnelle Greene – Minnesota – 6’5/335
Summary: Fifth year senior. After two years in junior college, Greene transferred to Minnesota and started his last two and a half years. He locked himself into left tackle and earned Honorable Mention All Big 10 honors two straight seasons. Greene is a wide, physical power blocker who is capable of winning most matchups when he locks his bear paws on defenders. He has a way of putting defenders through the ground and really controlling his gaps as a run blocker. His issues reside in pass protection where his balance and inconsistent foot and hand placements can hurt him. If he can take in coaching and work hard at his craft for a year or two, he has starting tackle or guard written all over him.
*If a team really wants to enhance their run blocking with a little loss in pass protection, Greene can be a higher target than this. He is a nasty, angry dude when he gets to move north and push defenders around. He doesn’t look nearly as efficient or confident when he has to drop back and play the balance game. Still a decent amount to work with here.
NFL Comparison: Brandon Shell / NYJ
12: Justin Skule – Vanderbilt – 6’7/320
Summary: Four year starter in the SEC who checks a lot of boxes but his weaknesses are obvious every week. Skule is a well oiled, technique-savvy veteran who knows how to play the game with his feet. His balance and control make it easy for him to adjust in space, but the lack of lower body strength and overall aggressiveness came back to bite him over and over. The base is there, but he needs time to really improve his body and core strength.
*A multi year project who has a lot of things going for him from a coachability and technique perspective. Throw in the really wide long frame, Skule could be a candidate to throw in the weight room with a sleeping bag and tell him to come out in 2021 ready for action.
NFL Comparison: Anthony Castanzo / IND
13: Tytus Howard – Alabama State – 6’5/322
Summary: Fifth year senior. Four year starter from Monroeville, Alabama. The former high school quarterback and basketball star progressed year by year into a 1st Team All SWAC tackle who played on both sides of the line. Howard’s background and body scream upside, but his tape doesn’t always agree. While he shows some natural combat ability, his lower body is slow and heavy and he is going to need a lot of time and work to improve vital techniques. Howard needs to replace some of his bad weight so he can sustain his power on them move outside. A move inside may even be in the forecast.
*Howard is a really hot name who many are projecting as a 2nd rounder. Trust me I went back a couple times and I just didn’t see it. There is so much sloppiness to his game and he is not the athlete many make him out to be. I see a backup caliber guy who you just don’t want to see in there because he loses too many battles inside and outside. I can understand the desire to bring him in late, there was some quality tape from the Senior Bowl week, but he is a major project.
NFL Comparison: Germain Ifedi / SEA
14: Paul Adams – Missouri – 6’6/317
Summary: Fifth year senior and three year starter. Two time team captain. Adams has had a lot of ups and downs, but he put together a solid pre-draft process and the thought is that his best days are ahead. He is a tough, hard nosed competitor who was up against some of the best competition college football had to offer. He fought through a couple injuries as a senior but when he’s right, he proved to be capable of handling speed, but not power. There is a lot of extra core strength needed here but if he can acquire that in time, he could be a very capable, versatile backup.
*Adams is in a cluster of tackles who project to backup roles, but I want to keep him at the top of that cluster. I like his game from an athleticism point of view and he plays really hard. Constantly the guy downfield looking to pick up the extra block. Some are saying he will move inside, but I think he gets a shot at tackle initially.
NFL Comparison: Ty Sambrailo / ATL
15: Mitch Hyatt – Clemson – 6’5/303
Summary: Four year starter with 59 starts to his name, a school record. Freshman All American in 2015, Two time All American, two time winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the best offensive lineman in the ACC. Hyatt has more experience and more accolades that can fit on a normal sized shelf. He has been a steady piece to arguably the top team in the nation in recent years. His tools aren’t overly impressive, as he lacks a lot of push and hand power, but he is a consistent and constantly repeated player who can project to a few spots. Hyatt may not translate into an NFL starter, but he is the kind of quality backup every team is looking for.
*Just looking as his career experience for maybe the best college football team in the nation in recent years, Hyatt should be projected a lot higher. There are some initial tests that he passes with flying colors, but for the past two years I have seen a ton of him and the same issues exist. He doesn’t have a power game and he isn’t a very gifted mover in space. I just see a very limited ceiling here, although I wouldn’t mind a guy like this backing up a few spots.
NFL Comparison: Chris Hubbard / CLE
16: Ryan Pope – San Diego State – 6’7/320: 73
17: Williams Sweet – North Carolina – 6’6/313: 73
18: Trey Pipkins – Sioux Fallas – 6’6/309: 73
19: Bobby Evans – Oklahoma – 6’4/312: 72
20: Oli Udoh – Elon – 6’5/324: 72
21: Calvin Anderson – Texas – 6’4/297: 71
22: David Edwards – Wisconsin – 6’6/308: 71
23: Jackson Barton – Utah – 6’7/310: 71
24: Martez Ivey – Florida – 6’5/315: 70
25: Joe Lowery – Ohio – 6’6/300
**TOP UDFA SLEEPER**
Christian Harris – Duke – 6’5/300
A fifth year senior who really only started for a year. A late bloomer who still has a ways to go physically, Harris stood out to me on several occasions from a balance and technique point of view. I look for that more than most, and I think he has the base you want to work with when talking about candidates for your practice squad. I liked what I saw against Clemson, his stiffest competition and I think he can be a guy you revisit in a year to see what kind of power improvements he made, because the other things are there.
A lot depends on the Mike Remmers situation, as the need for a starter significantly decreases if he is brought in. Ideally that situation is figured out before the draft, but who knows. Anyway, the Giants marching Chad Wheeler out there isn’t the worst thing in the world because this line has potential to be strong enough elsewhere, but if there is a possibility to bring a highly graded player to take that spot, I think they need to go for it. A quality offensive line is near-mandatory with the current personnel and situation at the NYG skill positions. Jonah Williams at #6 or Andre Dillard/Jawaan Taylor at #17 needs to be heavily discussed. I think NYG fans have lost track of just how much of a difference a quality line can be, especially for a team with an immobile, nearly done QB and a superstar RB. If they look past OT early, fine. But they need more talent on this team at that spot at some point, plain and simple.