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Draft Snapshot: 10 Takes on Tackles in 2017 NFL Draft

Posted Apr 21, 2017

The clock is ticking on the 2017 NFL Draft.

One of the league’s most important events kicks off with the first round at 7 p.m. (CT) on April 27 in Philadelphia. The second and third rounds begin at 6 p.m. (CT) on April 28. Rounds 4-7 start at 11 a.m. (CT) on April 29.

The Vikings currently have eight selections in the draft, beginning with the 48th overall pick, which is the No. 16 spot in the second round.

Vikings.com is taking a glance at the top prospects at each position leading up to the draft.

Here we take a look at offensive tackles.

Where the Vikings Stand

The Vikings added a pair of veteran free agents in Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, and the pair are expected to slide into the starting roles right away. Third-year lineman T.J. Clemmings has made 30 starts over the past two seasons. Rashod Hill saw action in his first NFL game last season while Austin Shepherd spent part of 2016 on the practice squad. The Vikings added Marquis Lucas and Reid Fragel this offseason. 

Recent Draft History (over past five years)

Total number of offensive tackles taken: 105

Round 1: 22

Round 2: 15

Round 3: 12

Round 4: 13

Round 5: 14

Round 6: 12

Round 7: 17

You can never have enough tackles. One the league’s premier positions, tackles are tasked with protecting quarterbacks from elite edge rushers. Teams invest heavily in the position by taking double-digit tackles in each round, but the opening round is where teams try to find decade-long stalwarts.

The Prospects (based on rankings by CBS Sports)

1. Ryan Ramczyk 

Wisconsin, Junior, 6-foot-6, 310 pounds

Combine numbers

Bench press: 25 reps of 225 pounds 

2016 stats: started all 14 games at left tackle; consensus First-Team All-American; consensus First-Team All-Big ten selection; helped Wisconsin rush for 203.1 yards per game

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Ramczyk “fires out of stance with pads tucked under bent knees. Accelerates into target. Punch and extend drive blocker with hip flip to lock in leverage. Pushes with flat back and duck-footed follow through to sustain and walk defender off his mark. Technician who has been taught the fundamentals.”

Zierlein also noted Ramczyk has a “linear frame with narrow shoulders and short arms for the position. Lack of a broad frame makes protecting his edge more challenging. Edge players with length land jabs to his frame to create separation.”

2. Garett Bolles

Utah, Junior, 6-foot-5, 297 pounds 

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.95 seconds

Vertical jump: 28 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet, 7 inches

3-cone drill: 7.29 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.55 seconds

2016 stats: started 13 games at left tackle; First-Team All-Pac-12 selection

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Bolles has “elite athletic ability with the sweetest feet at the tackle position in this draft. Movement skills are smooth and unencumbered. There isn't an angle block he can't get to. Smooth climbs to linebackers as a work-up blocker, and has rare ability to accelerate from that block up to a third target.”

Zierlein also noted Bolles’ “frame is a little narrow and legs appear to be shorter than normal. Devoid of drive power in his lowers. Pad level rises and he struggles to generate much movement against stout outside linebackers at point of attack.”

3. Cam Robinson 

Alabama, Junior, 6-foot-6, 322 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 5.15 seconds

Vertical jump: 26 inches

Broad jump: 8 feet, 10 inches

3-cone drill: 7.81 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.82 seconds

2016 stats: started 15 games for Crimson Tide; unanimous All-American selection; Outland Trophy winner, given to college football’s best interior offensive or defensive lineman 

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Robinson has an “outstanding, proportional frame with combination of thickness and athleticism. Fires into his target with a forceful pop generating early power and push. Can uproot defender and turn him out of hole as a drive blocker. Able to respond to power with power. Can work seamlessly from block to block in combos.”

Zierlein also noted that “balance issues a concern. Struggles with active, high-motor defenders. At times he ducks head into his run blocks, losing sight of a moving target. Narrow in-line power base due to lack of bend and excessive leaning. Weight creeps too far past his feet in both run and pass blocks.”

4. Taylor Moton

Western Michigan, Redshirt senior, 6-foot-5, 319 pounds 

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 5.18 seconds

Bench press: 23 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 30.5 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet, 1 inch

3-cone drill: 7.73 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.58 seconds

2016 stats: started 13 of 14 games in 2016; helped Western Michigan to 13-1 record

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Moton is “big off the bus. Massive frame with good arm thickness and proportional build in his legs. Plus arm length with big hands. Starting experience at right guard and tackle. Comes off the ball with pad level. Makes concerted effort to drop hips and roll under his target at contact.”

Zierlein also noted Moton “will need to play with quicker hands into punch as guard. Looping, wide approach with hands toward target could open his chest to defenders. Footwork needs plenty of work. Needs choppier feet. Waist bending in run game needs correction.”

5. Roderick Johnson

Florida State, Senior, 6-foot-7, 298 pounds

Combine numbers

None; did not participate 

2016 stats: Started all 13 games he played; earned Jacobs Trophy (ACC’s best blocker) and named First-Team All-ACC for a second straight season; helped Dalvin Cook rush for 267 yards (second-most in school history in one game) against South Florida; First-Team All-American by Walter Camp; Second-Team All-American by Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and American Football Coaches Association

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Johnson has an “exceptionally long with well-proportioned frame. Looks the part. Has telephone poles for arms. Unfurls his length and consistently jabs into defenders with maximum arm extension. Punch can be very disruptive for edge rushers who have to alter their rush plans. Plus power as a run blocker.”

Zierlein also noted Johnson is a “high-cut waist bender and leaner who is constantly playing with his weight way out in front of his feet. Plays with an alarming lack of body control and balance. Weight is rarely centered. Big feet get tripped up too often.”

6. Antonio Garcia 

Troy, Senior, 6-foot-6, 302 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 5.15 seconds

Bench press: 24 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 301 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet

3-cone drill: 7.98 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.94 seconds

2016 stats: started 13 games; First-Team All-Sun Belt selection in 2016

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Garcia has “outstanding athleticism. Very good lateral quickness coming out of stance. Former high school hooper who still has basketball feet. Able to mirror pass rushers before and after engagement. Rarely beaten cleanly around edge by speed.”

According to Zierlein, Garcia “carries stringy frame with upper body that looks like a defensive end. Lack of lower body strength exacerbated by elevated pad level. Needs to bend hips to dip pad level below defender's. In pass protection, opens outside hip up early rather than staying square in initial stages.”

7. David Sharpe

Florida, Junior, 6-foot-6, 343 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 5.44 seconds

Bench press: 19 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 20.5 inches

Broad jump: 8 feet, 1 inch

3-cone drill: 7.87 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.78 seconds

2016 stats: started all 13 games at left tackle; one of two players to start every game for Florida 

Hot take: According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Sharpe “carries his bulk well, sporting broad shoulders and thick limbs with good overall weight distribution. He is surprisingly quick off the ball in pass protection, generating instant depth with his kick slide. He possesses very long arms and terrific upper body strength to corral edge rushers when he gets his hands on them.”

According to Rang, Sharpe “lacks the foot quickness to remain outside at left tackle in the NFL and may be best suited sliding inside to guard. He lumbers off the ball and struggles to recover once beaten, extending his arms and grabbing cloth, which will lead to holding penalties in the NFL. He over-sets to the outside, leaving the inside free for savvy pass rushers to attack with spins and counter-moves.”

8. Chad Wheeler

Southern California, Redshirt senior, 6-foot-7, 306 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 5.48 seconds

Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 20.5 inches

Broad jump: 8 feet, 9 inches

20-yard shuttle: 5.01 seconds

2016 stats: played in 11 of USC’s 13 games; helped Trojans earn a victory in the Rose Bowl over Penn State

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Wheeler is a “solid athlete. Competitive with high football character. Comes off the snap with controlled, tight footwork in short areas. Works to stay connected to his blocks. Balanced on angle blocks with ability to keep his man centered while chopping feet. At best as a move blocker.”

Zierlein also noted Wheeler “missed time in each of last three seasons, and also missed spring practices in 2013 with knee injury and part of senior season in high school with shoulder surgery. Core strength is below average. Comes out of stance with high pad level and leverage game suffers. Initial contact at point of attack lacks pop.”

9. Julién Davenport

Bucknell, Senior, 6-foot-7, 318 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 5.45 seconds

Bench press: 18 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 27 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet, 10 inches

3-cone drill: 7.57 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.69 seconds

2016 stats: started all 11 games; team captain; Earned First Team All-America honors from four organizations (AFCA, Associated Press, STATS, Walter Camp); First-Team All-Patriot league selection

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Davenport “possesses elite arm length and hand size for the position. Can unravel his arms and stick them into the chest of a frustrated edge rusher. Able to gain necessary ground to race to the edge over first two kick slides. Keeps head back and out of pass sets when he punches.”

Zierlein also noted Davenport’s “competition level won't have him prepared for NFL rushers. Feet are a little heavy. Struggles to redirect back inside against stunts. Plays with inconsistent base width and balance. Will allow secure blocks to slip out of the side door due to poor footwork.”

10. Will Holden

Vanderbilt, Redshirt senior, 6-foot-7, 311 pounds 

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 5.47 seconds

Bench press: 243reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 28 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet, 3 inches

3-cone drill: 7.71 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.72 seconds 

2016 stats: started all 13 games; Second-Team All-SEC selection in 2016 by conference coaches 

Hot take: According to NFL.com, Holden “operates with adequate body control at the point of attack and in space. Efficient in his movement. Climbs to the second level and is patient before engaging. Has power in his push and can be an effective drive blocker in the running game.” 

According to NFL.com, Holden “has some quickness limitations that will likely necessitate a move to the right side. Has short arms which affects his ability to re-direct pass rushers around the pocket once they get to his edge.”