Instead of doing individual players like last year, this year Draft Core will be highlighting the position as a whole.
Players deemed as “Primetime Players” are the elite crop of the draft. Draft Core evaluates the top rated players and highlight a trait or two that will translate to the next level. In addition, Draft Core will make a player comparison and a team that needs the player’s skill set.
The consensus of the NFL Draft Media is that there are four can’t miss prospects at the offensive tackle position: Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas. They are sort of the “Big 4” for the OT position and Draft Core’s Primetime Players for this year’s class.
Tristan Wirfs Iowa
Hall of Fame Ceiling
Wirfs, in simplest terms, is a freak with limitless potential. There are no excuses why Wirfs cannot develop into one of the best offensive tackles ever. The former Hawkeye ran an absurd 4.85 at a 6’5″, 325 pound frame. There is nothing athletically that he does not have in his profile.
It is going to boil down to whether or not Wirfs is willing to put in the work necessary to become one of the greats. There are some effort questions that need to be addressed, but an organization with a good atmosphere and o-line coach would maximize his talent at the next level.
Player Comparison: Trent Williams
When Williams is healthy, Williams is easily a top 5 or 10 OT. Wirfs has all the physical gifts to be as good or even better than Williams.
Team Fit: New York Giants (1st Round, 4th overall)
If the Giants want to protect their investment in Daniel Jones, they need to protect him and Wirfs would be able to do that and more. GM David Gettleman loves building through the trenches and I do not see how he passes up the opportunity to take a prospect like Wirfs.
Mekhi Becton Louisville
Becton is 6’7″ and 370 pounds. With this frame, he was able to somehow run a 5.1 at the NFL Combine. A guy this big should not be able to run that fast. His pure size overwhelms many pass rushers off the edge and in the running game. There are still some technique inconsistencies that need to be ironed out but generally speaking the ceiling here is sky high and there’s a foundation that should allow for early production at left or right tackle.
Player Comparison: Orlando Pace
Pace is one of the all-time greats. By no means is Becton going to be as good as Pace at the next level, but the way the former Cardinal plays is not too far off from the way Pace played. Similar to Wirfs, the sky is the limit with Becton.
Team Fit: New York Jets (1st Round, 11th pick)
The Jets need to protect Sam Darnold. In the Draft Core Mock Draft, New York went with the number one WR in CeeDee Lamb over Becton. For as good as Lamb is, the Jets would be making a great mistake passing on Becton or any of these top offensive tackles. You can’t trust them to make the correct pick with the way they approach the draft.
Jedrick Wills Alabama
A two-year starter for Alabama, Wills enters the NFL with 28 career starts and developed into a polished blocker over his career. Wills is a refined pass blocker with exceptional technique, mobility, power and body control that makes him a dominant performer in pass protection. As a run blocker, Wills has tremendous strength and a maulers mentality to create holes and angles in the run game.
While Wills does not possess the limitless ceiling that Wirfs or Becton has, from day 1, Wills can be a team’s bookend right tackle without any technical or character concerns.
Player Comparison: Jason Peters
When thinking of an underrated and underappreciated offensive tackle, Jason Peters is immediately what came to mind. Solid and dependable, Peters has been a staple for Philly for years and Wills can offer that same dependability.
Team Fit: Arizona Cardinals (1st Round, 8th overall)
Arizona already has a left tackle in D.J. Humphries, so adding Wills to right tackle where his natural position is makes a ton of sense if they want to protect Kyler Murray moving forward.
Andrew Thomas Georgia
Powerful at the Point of Attack
A three-year starter at left tackle for Georgia, Thomas enters the NFL experienced in a pro scheme and executing against the best opponents college football has to offer playing in the SEC. Thomas is able to make the first point of contact almost every time and once he gets his hands on a defender, it is game over from there.
Thomas could be a little more polished with his footwork as he struggles to keep up with speed rushers off the edge.
Player Comparison: Ronnie Stanley
Stanley has developed into one of the emerging left tackles in the NFL. Like Stanley, Thomas enters the NFL with experience with some minor footwork flaws to address.
Team Fit: Cleveland Browns (1st Round, 10th overall)
Cleveland is in desperate need of a left tackle to protect Baker Mayfield’s blindside. A new Thomas slots in at that position for the Browns.