Jaguars.com previews the 2007 NFL draft in an eight-part series. Part IV features the offensive linemen.
This is a great year to need a left tackle. Wisconsin's Joe Thomas (pictured) tops a left tackle crop that'll go deep into the first day of the draft.
"The interesting thing about my tackles is they're all left tackles. You hope it's that way but that's rare," former Bills president and Steelers director of football operations Tom Donahoe said. Donahoe previews this year's crop of offensive linemen in a guest appearance as jaguars.com's talent evaluator.
Here's Donahoe's top 10 offensive linemen:
- Joe Thomas, T, 6-6, 311, Wisconsin—Thomas is an accomplished left tackle who overcame a knee injury and subsequent surgery in his junior season. Thomas struggled early last season and was tentative in his play, but returned to his old self late in the year. He's athletic and intelligent; a top pass-blocker who may not be totally recovered from the knee injury but far enough back to be a top five pick. Thomas has room to grow and add more power to his frame.
- Levi Brown, T, 6-5, 323, Penn State—Brown offers power as a run-blocker to the left tackle position. He needs to improve his pass-blocking but he's athletic enough to leave no doubt he will. When he does, he could become a dominant player. As it stands, he's a little vulnerable at times to an inside move. "He has more bulk than some of these other tackles and has more power in his game. He didn't run as well at the combine but he can bend his knees and slide his feet," Donahoe said of Brown. Brown figures to be a top 10 pick.
- Joe Staley, T, 6-6, 306, Central Michigan—If you want a pure athlete, Staley is your guy. He ran a 4.75 at the combine and is a pure left tackle. "A little under the radar because of where he played, but when you look at his game and his athletic ability, he has a chance to be drafted pretty good," Donahoe said. Staley needs to get a little stronger. He's a late-first round prospect.
- Ben Grubbs, G, 6-2, 311, Auburn—Grubbs is tough physically and mentally. He's already graduated; team leader with good feet and the power to play inside. "If he has a weakness, it's in pass-protection but I don't think it's a major flaw," Donahoe said. Grubbs will go late in round one or early in round two.
- Aaron Sears, G/T, 6-3, 319, Tennessee—Sears is a tackle who will probably move to guard. He's played all the line positions except center; very versatile, very strong, very tough and a three-year starter. He can play in space. Second round.
- Justin Blalock, G/T, 6-3, 320, Texas—Played guard and tackle; more of a right tackle than a left. Four-year starter who is a good run-blocker. Has some power in his game, but needs to be more consistent and play with more intensity. Second round.
- Ryan Kalil, C, 6-2, 299, USC—"I love this player. I think he's a little bit of a throwback. Some people are worried about his size but I think he's one of the toughest linemen in the draft," Donahoe said. Kalil has good bloodlines; father played in the USFL. "He reminds me of Tom Nalen," Donahoe added. Second or third round.
- Doug Free, T, 6-6, 324, Northern Illinois—He may need time; he's raw but a good long-range prospect. Big, rangy; needs to get stronger and improve his technique. Free offers major upside for the third round.
- Ryan Harris, LT, 6-4, 305, Notre Dame—Very athletic but is a finesse player and has to develop more strength and power in his game. Too good of an athlete not to be taken on the first day. Three-year starter, very smart but needs more anchor and power in his game. Harris' stock fell at the Senior Bowl.
- Manny Ramirez, G, 6-3, 326, Texas Tech—Ramirez is a classic road-grader. "He's a short-area player; a mauler who benches 550 pounds. Ramirez has a good work ethic but he's got to be the right fit for somebody; somebody who zone-blocks and doesn't want their guards out in space," Donahoe said. Fourth round.
Other tackle prospects include James Martin of Boston College and Mike Otto of Purdue. Donahoe is high on guards Andy Alleman of Akron, Allen Barbre of Missouri Southern and Cameron Stephenson of Rutgers. Leroy Harris of North Carolina State and Doug Datish of Ohio State are centers who will be drafted.