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2017 NFL draft rankings: Top 10 offensive tackles

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Wisconsin vs Western Michigan
Ramczyk in pass protection
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It wouldn’t be a proper draft without offensive lineman discussions for the Miami Dolphins. It feels like the line has been an area of need for the Dolphins for over a decade now.

Unfortunately, this offensive tackle class is paper-thin in talent.

Honorable mentions: Avery Gennesy, Texas A&M; William Holden, Vanderbilt; Jon Heck, UNC; Levon Myers, NIU; Justin Senior, Mississippi State.

10. Adam Bisnowaty, Pittsburgh: Bisnowaty is a guy who does what he can with what he has.

His well-built (6’6”), proportional frame (307 lbs.) is used to keep strong edge rushers in check. Athletically limited, but physically powerful. He has good upper-body strength and uses his hands well when punching out at his defenders in pass protections. He does well with establishing blocks and initiating contact immediately following the snap. He did well with matching the power of many imposing edge rushers in college. He occasionally missed defenders when attempting to run block on stretch plays to the outside. Despite being agile with his upper body, he is stiff in his lower body, restricting his bend and pad level. He has plenty of room for improvement against speedy edge rushers. He doesn’t slide his feet smoothly, and was caught lunging a few times. Despite his toughness, he missed games in the first three seasons of his college career. Questions will arise about his durability.

His ceiling isn’t high, and he is likely seen as a backup in the NFL. I don’t see Miami drafting someone who’s game is limited, and has had durability issues.

9. Chad Wheeler, USC: Wheeler’s inconsistencies will be the deciding factor of his career. Can he overcome them and flourish into a complete offensive tackle?

Despite being a decent athlete with good footwork, he lacks strength. Aside from lacking strength, he lacks good technique. His pad level is too high, he lacks a strong punch on initial contact, and he struggles to stay in front of athletic edge rushers. He thrived in using cut blocks and pull blocks, which showed his athleticism. He does well in run blocking, but he lacks core power to hold up consistently in pass protection. Wheeler’s footwork abandons him when opening gate against more athletic edge rushers, causing him to lunge and lose sight of his man. When he establishes base and extends his arms, he does a nice job of matching edge rushers step-by-step. He has a lot of room for improvement in his pass protection technique, but increasing core strength is his priority – especially someone with his height (6’7”) and weight (310 lbs.) to be successful in the NFL.

He’s a rotational guy, with a chance to be a starter later in his career.

8. Julie'n Davenport, Bucknell: Davenport is considered a project that many teams may be interested in later in the draft.

He has good size and strength, and shows flashes of athleticism. Davenport does a nice job of getting out in space as a pulling tackle and wiping out defenders. He lacks lateral quickness and has heavy feet. He loses technique in space against fast edge rushers, but has great length in his arms and violent hands. He successfully maintains his base and keeps his head back when punching edge rushers. Scouts will question how good he can be since the level of competition he played against was underwhelming. He lacks consistent balance and struggles to redirect defenders inside when getting beat on the edge. He tends to lean into defenders when run blocking, and must learn to keep his technique tight, and feet active.

He’ll need to be polished before seeing the field, but the physical tools are there.

7. Zach Banner, USC: The massive frame of Banner (6’8”, 360 lbs.) cannot be ignored.

It’s his technique that needs a lot of work. He’s a slow, uptight tackle who has trouble with fast edge rushers. He can battle with any bull-rushing defender in the league due to his great strength and frame. He does a nice job opening up huge holes on rushing plays while maintaining his base. It would take elite power to put him on his back. He must find a way to consistently extend his arms and keep his hands active in defender’s frame. He’s going to struggle with redirecting fast edge rushers to the inside once they’ve beat him on the outside, unless he’s properly coached. His pass protection is raw and remains a concern. With faster edge rushers and linebackers playing in today’s NFL, you wonder if he’s too bulky and slow to be effective. There were numerous times on tape where he relied on his size rather than his technique. He struggles to properly mirror the defender’s rush, allowing initial contact to be escaped. He must keep his hips bent, and improve his footwork when redirecting defenders.

Banner has a lot of upside, but he is very raw in pass protection.

6. Roderick Johnson, Florida State: Johnson is a sleeping giant at 6 feet 7 inches tall, 330 pounds. He just needs to refine his technique.

Despite his intimidating physique, he remains raw with his technique. His pass protection is his most concerning deficiency. While he wasn’t bad in pass protection, he wasn’t great either. He was caught lunging forward and overextending his body, leading to ineffective contact with edge rushers. He seems stiff with his lower half, struggling to bend his waist and sink his hips. Despite lacking pass protection technique, Johnson managed to perform impressively in run blocking. His agility was most notably impressive when using cutoff blocks from the backside of zone runs. His combination of agility and power flashed the potential to be counted on in a diverse running scheme. He is strong enough to handle both edge rushers and defensive tackles when run blocking. He needs to polish his pass protection technique, but his boom-or-bust factor could ultimately reward the team who takes a risk on him.

Johnson is an intriguing project for the Dolphins if they decide to draft him late, but will not be expected to be a starter in his first year.

5. Dion Dawkins, Temple: A move to guard may be a huge benefit for Dawkins.

Despite being shorter for the position (6’4”), he has a big frame (317 lbs.) he uses to out-muscle many defenders. He’s one of the stronger lineman in the draft, showing impressive upper, lower and core strength. He did well against bull rushers, and isn’t afraid to get nasty. Dawkins provides a consistent wide base, and rarely loses his balance. He jolts his body forward aggressively, using his hands and legs efficiently when run blocking. He must keep his hands active in pass protection, as he tends to grab defenders. He needs to keep his head back when throwing his body forward in pass protection. Despite being fluid and quick, he is a little stiff with his hips and pad level. He struggled with using cut-off blocks against linebackers and athletic defenders, but that was due to his technique. He needs to learn how to play with instinct rather than pure power on every play.

He can handle being an offensive tackle in the NFL, but I’ve read many consider him a guard. I agree with that assessment. I think he can unlock his true potential as bruising guard with some athleticism. Dawkins certainly makes sense as an upgrade at guard for the Dolphins.

4. Antonio Garcia, Troy: Garcia had his stock rise after a huge performance at the Senior Bowl.

He’s a tall, lanky prospect who will need to add weight (290 lbs.) to hold up in the NFL. Despite being undersized, he’s an exceptional athlete with great lateral quickness. He was outstanding at setting the edge, and was rarely beaten by fast edge rushers. He has great footwork, and his hips remain loose throughout his blocks. He showed his athleticism in his impressive tape against Clemson. Garcia is most impressive at some of the challenging angles he successfully blocks edge rushers. He has impressive upper body strength that allows him to match many bull-rushing defenders, but he grabs and holds when beaten. He’ll need to add lower body strength to match developed NFL edge rushers. Must keep his pad level lower, and keep his base squared. He tends to open his hips too early on the outside in pass protection, putting himself at a disadvantage. He’ll need to work on his timing with punching, and avoid lunging when beaten.

If he can add bulk, he’s a decent prospect for the Dolphins. He may even be able to play guard if coached well.

3. Garett Bolles, Utah: Bolles is one of the few bright spots of the offensive tackle draft class.

He’s not going to overwhelm you with power, especially in his lower half, but he has elite athleticism. He has the best footwork out of any tackle in the draft, and can reach any blocking angle possible. He does an excellent job using his lateral quickness to block backside or play-side defenders in the run game. Despite not having a fully filled frame, he loves to get physical and put defenders on their backs. He does a nice job of keeping himself balanced in pass protection, forcing the defender to stay squared. He needs to make sure his pad level stays low – especially against powerful edge rushers. He needs to sink his hips more consistently, and trust in his core power against speed-to-power. You can tell when he panics – leaning forward into his blocks with less power than usual.

He’ll have to add weight and get stronger to reach his full potential, but if he does so, there’s no telling what his ceiling could be.

2. Cam Robinson, Alabama: Robinson is a head-scratcher who hasn’t fully put it all together yet.

He has a well-proportioned frame, combining strength and speed in his blocking. He showed flashes of violently jolting defenders back with a powerful initial push. He reaches the second level with an easy transition, showing nice footwork when doing so. He possesses good initial quickness to effectively pull-block. He opens up good holes when using power-running inside. He uses good footwork when mirroring edge rushers and is always looking to finish the play, viciously. Robinson lacks bend and ducks his head in run blocking, occasionally losing sight of his assignment. He occasionally fails to sustain his block, and needs to improve on angle blocking. He can match edge rushers who are fast or powerful, but struggles with the ones who have both traits. His balance needs to improve to avoid being put on his back as often as he was.

He takes the edge rusher out of the play here:

He needs to be polished – he wouldn’t be a first-round pick in last year’s draft – but he has the tools to be a good tackle in the NFL. He would be a reach at the 22nd pick for the Dolphins – similar to when Ja’Wuan James was reached for.

1. Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin: Ramczyk is the only tackle out of the group that should be a first-round pick.

He’s well-built at 6 feet 6 inches tall, 314 pounds; matching up well with most edge rushers throughout his college career. He explodes off the line of scrimmage, driving through defenders in a technically-sound way. He has good athleticism, balance and strength in his blocks, using good pace from the snap. Ramczyk rarely abandons his technique, keeping his head back and pad level squared. He had impressive efforts in pass protection against elite edge rushers, adjusting well to any moves thrown at him.

He mirrors Taco Charlton here:

Edge rushers with length could be a problem for him, since he lacks length. Despite his good technique, he needs to play looser at times – especially in pass protection. Ramczyk isn’t the fastest guy, but has enough speed to solidify the edge. He isn’t an elite talent, but he can be counted on to be a key piece to a team’s offensive line.

Depending on what Miami does with Laremy Tunsil – he’s expected to move to tackle in the near future – selecting an offensive tackle may not make as much sense as selecting an offensive guard. Regardless of their plan, Ramczyk is the only tackle in this draft that would be a justifiable first-round pick, and an immediate upgrade to Miami’s offensive line.