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2017 NFL Draft: Offensive line rankings

Ranking prospect targets for the 2017 NFL Draft.

Indiana v Northwestern

In recent years, I’ve committed to the concept of an NFL Draft “target board.” The idea is to narrow my scope down to 100 prospects, grouped into tiers that indicate where I’d look to select them in an actual draft. Instead of ranking every single player I’ve watched and graded, these are prospects I feel most confident in from a tape, measurables, production, and athletic testing standpoint. In the following days leading up to the draft, I’ll post my board position by position, and to help everyone understand the methods behind my madness, I’ll even include some handy charts and stats to give some insight into which players “checked all the boxes,” and which ones made the cut despite falling short in one area or another.

The cells in the accompanying charts are color-coded based (liberally) on NFL scouting combine averages per position:

  • Green = Significantly Above Average
  • Blue = Above Average
  • Yellow = Average
  • Orange = Below Average
  • Red = Significantly Below Average

Offensive Line

Forrest Lamp Western Kentucky 6’4” 309

  • DOB: 2/20/1994
  • 2016: 12 starts
  • Career: 51 starts

I love four-year starters on offensive line, and especially those who check the boxes for athleticism. College football is rife with slow-footed plodders who will be relegated to backup roles at best. Most will simply wash out quickly. Lamp brings left tackle experience, a sturdy base and excellent feet. He has short arms and a maxed out frame, not unlike Joel Bitonio and Brandon Scherff in recent drafts, so Lamp will follow in their footsteps inside to guard or center where he will lock down a spot on the O-line for the next decade.

Grade: 2nd Round

Taylor Moton Western Michigan 6’5” 319

  • DOB: 8/18/1994
  • 2016: 13 starts
  • Career: 51 starts

I'd like to see Moton get an opportunity to play tackle, even if only on the right side. He has the arm length and athletic profile, and he seems to have slimmed down from 330 pounds with an eye on getting a look on the outside. Certainly, this would afford him the best earning potential, and I have no reason to question his capability. If he's moved inside to guard, I think we lose some of his value, but regardless, he's another guy with loads of experience who shouldn't miss a beat.

Grade: 2nd Round

Dan Feeney Indiana 6’4” 305

  • DOB: 5/29/1994
  • 2016: 9 starts
  • Career: 46 starts

I've seen Feeney play right tackle, and that was only an emergency move by the Hoosiers. He deserves credit for starting on the outside in a pinch, and while he looked slower and shorter than his measurables would suggest, the fact that he was willing to gut it out there speaks to a team-first mentality.

Feeney is a guy who's dealt with significant injuries. He missed one season with a foot injury, and even more concerning is his concussion history. We know he missed some games last season, but I can't speak to the extent of his issues overall. I just know it has to be a concern for a prospect whose best attribute is his run blocking, no matter how experienced or decorated that player is.

Grade: 3rd Round

Pat Elflein Ohio State 6’3” 303

  • DOB: 7/6/1994
  • 2016: 13 starts
  • Career: 41 starts

Lord knows I would like to slot Elflein higher than this. He's a three-year starter for one of the college football's premiere programs, and he has experience at guard and center, but he falls on the very low end of the spectrum for me athletically. Elflein is a stout run blocker and he's been working this offseason with retired, former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley, so I am certain that those who appreciate technique will value Elflein more than an analytics-minded analyst like myself. I believe he will get an opportunity to start early in his career, but ultimately view him as a swingman/rotational interior lineman.

Grade: 4th-5th Round

Nico Siragusa San Diego State 6’5” 319

  • DOB: 5/10/1994
  • 2016: 13 starts
  • Career: 41 starts

Siragusa has an intriguing combination of size an athleticism, and despite an odd hitch out of his stance, he moves pretty well as a pulling guard. Siragusa plays with a nasty streak, but I'd still like to see more consistency sustaining and finishing blocks. He looks like a project to me, but with upside to make it worth the investment.

Grade: 4th-5th Round

Julie’n Davenport Bucknell 6’7” 318

  • DOB: 1/9/1995
  • 2016: 11 starts
  • Career: 44 starts

Davenport probably has the most expansive wingspan of any offensive tackle in the draft, and upon first watch, I was immediately drawn to the way he was able to stay in front and use his reach in pass protection at the FCS level. I predicted at one point that he would be a big riser after the Senior Bowl.

By most accounts, Davenport put together a good, not great Senior Bowl Week. I wasn't particularly impressed by his game action, but he was definitely on the map. His combine indicates good change of direction, but not the level of speed or quickness I'd like to see in a left tackle. I'm speculating here, but Davenport is probably a little behind the curve of some of these other guys in terms of his strength training. His frame and feet are right up my alley in terms of a project offensive lineman, but now we're hearing he may go as early as the second round. That would be too rich for my blood.

Grade: 4th-5th Round

Conor McDermott UCLA 6’8” 307

  • DOB: 10/19/1992
  • 2016: 12 starts
  • Career: 32 starts

McDermott didn't impress me the first time I saw him, but this was against a healthy Myles Garrett, and it was by far McDermott's worst game of the season. Upon further investigation, the UCLA senior tackle did display more of the athleticism I expected from a former high school basketball player. McDermott tested very well at the combine, and despite early misgivings I think his feet and arm length can get him by in pass protection. I'd like to see him get stronger in the run game. He's an upside play for the price, but at nearly 25 years old, how much room does he have to grow? If I'm looking for a tackle late on Day Three, I'm willing to find out.

Grade: 5th-7th Round

Dan Skipper Arkansas 6’9” 309

  • DOB: 9/20/1994
  • 2016: 13 starts
  • Career: 47 starts

I thought Skipper was holding his own against Garrett in what was considered a mismatch heading into their matchup early last season, and it was Skipper whose cut block wound up saddling Garrett with an ankle injury for the rest of the season. Skipper's lateral movement skills and run blocking ability suggest a player who's best suited for guard, but he's a uniquely tall lineman, so I'm not really sure where he fits. I at least know he can start out on special teams units, where he blocked seven kicks during his four years with the Razorbacks. Every little bit helps a late round guy like Skipper.

Grade: 5th-7th Round

Cameron Tom Southern Miss 6’4” 291

  • DOB: 6/21/1995
  • 2016: 13 starts
  • Career: 48 starts

Tom is an undersized but athletic center prospect who caught my eye while I checked into Southern Miss skill players. I immediately noticed his quick feet and aggressive demeanor, and despite weighing under 300 pounds, I liked his anchor. Tom will probably go undrafted, but I'd consider spending a late round pick if I was in the market for a center.

Grade: 5th-7th Round

Jon Toth Kentucky 6’5” 307

  • DOB: 2/11/1994
  • 2016: 13 starts
  • Career: 48 starts

Toth checks all of my boxes from a size standpoint but his athletic flags almost eliminated him from my consideration. His power in the run game, experience at a high level, and nasty demeanor are enough to sway me. He's one of the few guys whose tape allayed my concerns about some of his measurables. It's an exception I'm more willing to make for an interior lineman than others positions, especially late on the third day of the draft.

Grade: 5th-7th Round

Storm Norton Toledo 6’8” 307

  • DOB: 5/16/1994
  • 2016: 13 starts
  • Career: 28 starts

Norton's feet aren't as good as his athletic testing suggests, but he gets out of his stance quickly, and is able to use his length to make up for some of these issues in pass protection. There are always leverage worries with these super-tall tackles, but this is another player who represents upside at one of the draft's weaker position groups, and at a bargain basement price.

Grade: 5th-7th Round