Iowa's Robert Gallery may be the NFL's next super-tackle, but this year's overall crop of offensive linemen is not considered to be star-studded.
Gallery and Arkansas' Shawn Andrews may be joined in the first round by Miami's Vernon Carey, but, beyond those three, any other lineman selected in the first round might represent a "reach" pick.
"There's a big fall-off after the first two guys," jaguars.com draft analyst Tony Pauline said, referring to Gallery and Andrews.
Gallery, 6-7, 323, is a pure left tackle who might represent the safest pick in the draft. Pauline believes the Raiders will select Gallery with the second overall choice.
"He's a real solid pass-protector; not as good a run-blocker as people give him credit for being, but he's still solid," Pauline said.
It's been said of Gallery he doesn't belong in the same category with Orlando Pace, Jonathan Ogden and Tony Boselli, but Gallery might be the position's dominant player of the future. He's a top athlete with great smarts for the position.
Meanwhile, Andrews may represent one of the draft's biggest risks. At 6-4, Andrews' weight has fluctuated between 365 and 400 pounds over the last year. He reached the 400-pound mark in January, and that may have set off alarm bells among scouts. Once considered a top 10 pick, Andrews' stock has fallen into the middle of the first round.
"The weight issue will push him down. He's a dominant force, but he was better as a sophomore when he was lighter," Pauline said of Andrews, who's coming out following his junior season.
It also hurts Andrews that he's a right tackle only. He's athletic and moves well, but his weight limits his blocking range and he doesn't have the feet of a natural pass-blocker. "If he can put the fork down, he'll be a dominant lineman," Pauline added.
Carey, 6-4, 335, offers versatility. He played right tackle in 2002 then moved to guard for last season, and may have played better at tackle. He's restricted in space but dominates the opposition, bends his knees and is a quality lineman whose size and pedigree could push him into the first round.
In many ways, the second-round crowd of offensive linemen may be the most attractive segment of the crop. It's a group of guys who offer major upside potential, and it's led by USC's Jacob Rogers, 6-6, 307, a technician at left tackle who may not be a great athlete but always gets the job done. Rogers is fundamentally and mentally sound. He knows the position and uses proper technique to create proper blocking angles. He rarely gives up sacks and that'll attract a team in the second round.
Alabama's Justin Smiley, 6-3, 300, tops the guard crop. Smiley worked out well and is athletic enough to be used at left tackle, but guard is his natural position and he can have an immediate impact for a team with need at the position. He's explosive and shows it on tape. He can block on the move, but needs to improve his overall strength and his technique in finishing blocks. He's a prospect to be drafted early in the second round.
Boston College's Chris Snee, 6-2, 314, is close behind. Snee is a dominant player in every aspect of the game and figures to become a certain fixture at guard for some lucky team. Snee doesn't stand out physically, but when you focus on him you see a great pass-blocker who opens holes in the running game. He also offers the potential to develop into a center.
Virginia Tech's Jake Grove, 6-3, 303, is the draft's top center and is a likely second-round pick. Grove is a nasty mauler with a well-rounded game. He's not as good as Jeff Faine, the first center selected in last year's draft when Cleveland took him with the 21st overall pick, but Grove is quality for the long haul.
Adrian Jones, 6-4, 296, of Kansas offers great upside. He was a three-year tight end who moved to left tackle last season without missing a beat. Jones is an outstanding pass-blocker and a solid run-blocker. He impressed scouts at the combine and some team will likely pick him in the second round for his upside potential. Jones has a sensational physique that offers potential to carry more size without diminishing his skills.
Purdue's Kelly Butler, 6-7, 320, is an accomplished right tackle who's athletic (34.5 vertical jump), mobile and has been dominant at the point of attack. But Kelly has gotten by on his combination of size and athletic ability, and now needs to hit the weight room. He only did 19 reps of 225 pounds in his pro day. He's another upside guy, but may have to wait until the third round before he finds out in whose weight room he'll be working.
Georgia Tech's Nat Dorsey is a tall, thin left tackle who is technically sound and intelligent, but has also gotten by on his natural skills and now must dramatically improve his strength and conditioning. He's a prospect to go late in the third round. He ran a 5.48 40 and jumped 28.5 in his workout, but he plays much better than his measurables and should improve those numbers substantially following a conditioning program.
Max Starks, 6-7, 350, played left tackle and right guard at Florida, and that background will probably translate into right tackle in the NFL. Starks is a top run-blocker but he struggles in space. Pauline believes he is the last of the day-one offensive line candidates.
Pauline will provide jaguars.com with updates up to the draft. His draft guide may be purchased by visiting his web site at tfydraft.com.