Richner: 2014 Top OTs

Last Updated: 1/18/2015 8:58 PM ET
Since 2000, there have been 49 offensive tackles drafted with an average of 3.5 tackles per draft. Twelve tackles have been selected in the first round of the past three drafts. The rise in offensive linemen being drafted in the first round shows the position's value and importance to NFL teams.

While the learning curve can be steep, having an elite tackle to offer maximum protection and shut down an opponent's top pass rusher is a highly sought-after commodity. The size and measurables of offensive linemen are becoming more impressive each season. Some of the linemen today are posting better Combine performances than tight ends and even some receivers of years past.

This year's offensive linemen are ranked and evaluated using both career and single season stats, such as sacks allowed. In addition, we also utilize a complex Combine performance formula that evaluates and compares each player's measurables with those of the top offensive tackles in the NFL.

For ranking purposes, we have broken the offensive linemen into three groups. The first group is the top five pass blockers. A top tier pass blocking tackle has to have the skill set to handle the power rusher. They must possess the strength and leverage to hold their ground and not be driven back into the quarterback's pocket. They must be able to take on speed rushers and possess the quickness to meet the defender on the edge and keep the defender from getting around the corner and attacking the quarterback.

The second category of offensive tackles is in run blocking. Most NFL teams now run a zone-blocking scheme, which relies on players acting as a unit versus taking on individual assignments. In a man-blocking scheme, each player has a specific opponent that he must block on each play. A zone blocking scheme puts emphasis on speed and quickness. In a man-blocking scheme, power and strength are usually emphasized as they must be able to move their opponent out of the gap or, in some cases, move an entire pile to pick up key yards.

The final rankings are the top-10 overall rankings for the offensive tackle group. These rankings include both the pass blocking, run blocking and Combine measurables to determine an overall rating.

Top 5 Pass-Blocking Tackles (Number team sacks allowed in 2013)
1) Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) (21)
2) Cyrus Kouandijo (Alabama) (17)
3) Morgan Moses (Virginia) (24)
4) Greg Robinson (Auburn) (18)
5) Joel Bitonio (Nevada) (26)

Top 5 Run-Blocking Tackles (2013 Total Rushing Yards, YPR, Rushing TD, YPG)
1) Greg Robinson (Auburn) (4,596; 6.3; 48; 328.3)
2) Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) (2,406; 5.2; 33; 185.1)
3) Zach Martin (Notre Dame) (1,967; 4.5; 12; 151.3)
4) Jack Mewhort (Ohio State) (4,321; 6.8; 45; 308.6)
5) Taylor Lewan (Michigan) (1,634; 3.28; 27; 125.7)

Top 15 Overall Offensive Linemen:
1) Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)
2) Greg Robinson (Auburn)
3) Cyrus Kouandijo (Alabama)
4) Morgan Moses (Virginia)
5) Jack Mewhort (Ohio State)
6) Zach Martin (Notre Dame)
7) Taylor Lewan (Michigan)
8) Joel Bitonio (Nevada)
9) James Hurst (North Carolina)
10) Billy Turner (North Dakota State)
11) Wesley Johnson (Vanderbilt)
12) Brandon Thomas (Clemson)
13) Ja'Wuan James (Tennessee)
14) Justin Britt (Missouri)
15) Seantrel Henderson (Miami)