Offensive tackle is one of the most important positions in football; having quality tackles is essential for having a successful offense. There is a premium placed on prospects who have what it takes to play OT in the National Football League, especially on the left side of the line. Because these players are so valuable to teams, they tend to go quickly on draft day. Last year a record eight tackles were selected in the first 26 picks, all of whom were expected to become immediate starters for their teams. If 2008 was any indication, NFL teams would be wise to grab a tackle early if they expect to draft a starting-caliber player at that position.
As we approach the 2009 NFL Draft, there is a general consensus that at least five offensive tackles carry first round grades, with another three earning second round grades:
J. Smith (Left Tackle - 1st round grade)
E. Monroe (Left Tackle - 1st round grade)
M. Oher (Left Tackle - 1st round grade)
A. Smith (Left Tackle - 1st round grade)
W. Beatty (Left Tackle - Late 1st round grade)
E. Britton (Right Tackle - Late 1st round grade)
P. Loadholt (Right Tackle - Late 1st, early 2nd round grade)
J. Meredith (Left Tackle - Early to mid 2nd round grade)
Once you get past those eight players, you start getting into the developmental guys - players who will need to sit for a year or two before assuming a starting role as a tackle, or guys who might have to move inside to guard.
Are players like Beatty, Britton, Loadholt, and Meredith among the top 32 prospects overall? I don't think so. But because they can potentially play such a crucial position in the NFL, their draft stock is given a significant boost.
Since 2000, 16 out of the 22 Pro Bowl offensive tackles were former first round picks. 5 were second round picks, and only one was undrafted. This is yet another example that the cream tends to rise to the top when grading out offensive tackle prospects, and if you are an NFL team looking to draft a possible starter, you'd better get one early:
First Round Picks:
Second Round Picks:
Undrafted Free Agents:
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