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Perhaps the deepest and most talent-rich position in the 2014 NFL Draft is offensive tackle. Teams in need of a franchise blindside-protector are in luck, as they may be able to scoop up an elite player with their first-round pick or scoop up a potential-laden prospect sometime in the second.
Leading this year’s class is the consensus No. 1 in Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews, who some scouts consider to be an even better prospect than any of the tackles that were taken during the 2013 NFL Draft. A first-team All-SEC selection each of the past two seasons, Matthews brings both brains and a physical presence to the position. Matthews has filled in at both right and left tackle, and may be the closest thing to a “sure bet” when it comes to the draft.
Following Matthews at No. 2 is Auburn’s Greg Robinson. One of the key cogs who opened up running lanes for Heisman Trophy candidate Tre Mason, Robinson has all the makings of a franchise left tackle. Both powerful and agile, the Tigers standout is an excellent blocker in space and — though he is still considered a bit raw in terms of strength — has room to develop into a premier pass-protector.
After Matthews and Robinson, there is a slight drop-off in terms of rankings but still an outstanding amount of talent and potential prospects. In one grouping there are players ready to suit up Week 1, including Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan. Kouandjio, who earned first-team All-SEC honors this season, is expected to follow the path of numerous former Crimson Tide players who be selected in the first round and have an immediate impact. Lewan entered his final season in Ann Arbor with sky-high expectations and he surpassed them, finishing his Wolverines career with an impressive outing against rival Ohio State.
Then there’s Zach Martin, the offensive tackle who is gaining the most momentum leading up to the NFL Combine. The former Notre Dame standout put forth an impressive outing at the Senior Bowl and has skyrocketed up draft charts in recent weeks. Like 2013 first-rounder Justin Pugh, Martin is viewed as a bit of tweener when it comes to his fit at guard or tackle, but that’ll likely depend on which team picking him has a bigger need.
XN Sports OT Ranking:
1. Jake Matthews
2. Greg Robinson
3. Taylor Lewan
4. Cyrus Kouandjio
5. Zach Martin
6. Moses Morgan
8. Ju’Wuan James
9. Jack Mewhort
10. James Hurst
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