Richner: 2016 Top OTs

Last Updated: 5/1/2016 1:00 PM ET
Over the past year there has been some talk in regards to the number of inexperienced and talent deficient offensive lineman coming from college. The belief amongst a few coaches in the NFL is the spread offense in college is doing a major disservice to offensive lineman. These lineman are not learning proper techniques, and are thus fundamentally flawed prospects.

Over the past couple of drafts, the Seattle Seahawks have converted former college defensive lineman into offensive guards and centers. They had success in moving J.R. Sweezy, a former defensive lineman at NC State, on over to right guard. It was at guard where Sweezy impressed coaches and he recently just signed a five year, 32.5 million dollar contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It seems that fewer and fewer rookie offensive tackles are ready to start day one. Most NFL franchises are expecting these rookies to come in and solidify a starting spot. As more and more teams continue to look at the lower college ranks and divisions for technically sound offensive lineman, you may see a few surprises in the mid to later rounds on players that are not household names

It used to be that taking an offensive lineman in the first round was a safe and smart choice. Recently this trend has changed. Last year saw a few rookies who basically redshirted their rookie season. Arizona had their first round selection D.J. Humphries ride the bench for the season. In Cincinnati, the Bengals brought their first rounder, Cedric Oghbuehi along slowly as he was recovering from an injury sustained in college. Oghbuehi only played in five games and did not register a start.

Since 2000, there have been 58 offensive tackles drafted in the first round with an average of roughly four tackles per draft. Fourteen 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-24 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

Rank Player School
1 Laremy Tunsil Ole Miss
2 Ronnie Stanley Notre Dame
3 Jack Conklin Michigan State
4 Jason Spriggs Indiana
5 Shon Coleman Auburn
Top 5 Run Blocking Tackles

Rank Player School
1 Jack Conklin Michigan State
2 Denver Kirkland Arkansas
3 Laremy Tunsil Mississippi
4 Kyle Murphy Stanford
5 Pearce Slater San Diego State

Top- 24 Overall Tackles
Rank Player School Draftable Round
1 Laremy Tunsil Ole Miss 1
2 Jack Conklin Michigan State 1
3 Taylor Decker Ohio State 1
4 Ronnie Stanley Notre Dame 1
5 Jason Spriggs Indiana 2
6 Shon Coleman Auburn 2
7 Kyle Murphy Stanford 3
8 Denver Kirkland Arkansas 3
9 Le'Raven Clark Texas Tech 3
10 Joe Haeg North Dakota State 4
11 Jerald Hawkins LSU 4
12 Brandon Shell South Carolina 4
13 Tyler Marz Wisconsin 4
14 Pearce Slater San Diego State 4
15 Tyler Johnstone Oregon 5
16 Cole Toner Harvard 5
17 Willie Beavers Western Michigan 6
18 Nick Richter Richmond 6
19 Avery Young Auburn 6
20 Alex Lewis Nebraska 6
21 Halapoulivaati Vaitai TCU 6
22 Caleb Benenoch UCLA 7
23 John Theus Georgia 7
24 Stephane Nembot Colorado 7