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2020 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackle Primer

The 2020 selection of tackles in the draft is one of, if not the best, in recent memory. Including Iowa product Tristan Wirfs, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr., Louisville’s giant Meckhi Beckton and Georgia’s pro-ready Andrew Thomas just to name a few. The Giants have an unprecedented amount of options just at the one position and let’s decipher who’s the cream of the crop.

Tristan Wirfs

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

I’ve talked Wirfs’ selling points and strengths to death and there’s an argument Wills should be above him due to upside but what separates Wirfs is his technical acuteness. The 40 yard dash isn’t the end all be all for speed in a player but Wirfs’ ran a 4.86 at this years combine at 320 lbs, so that’s something.

Which team should draft Wirfs in the top 5? Read it here

His big frame combined with the speed and quickness makes for a great NFL prototype. But what stands out above all is his hand placement, he drives up through the shoulder pads with good power. Another trait that’s optimal is the openness and mobility in his hips, allowing him to make plays in pass protection. He should go top 10 easily.

Jedrick Wills Jr.

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So the one thing Wills offers far away that the rest don’t is upside. Its cliche I know but he has room to grow. On top of that he has crazy athleticism and hand placement. Wills netted a 99% success rate, allowing 1 sack and 3.5 sacks on over 700 snaps in Tuscaloosa.

He’s mature and coachable, coming from an excellent system under Nick Saban at Alabama. The combination of upside, athleticism and coachability smells like an All-Pro recipe. Another combination of Wills’ that’s really wonderful is his soft feet and infinite motor. He has a dog’s mentality, a gazelle’s feet and a statue’s base. His power and mobility is off the charts.

He played right tackle his three years at Alabama and played blindside for Tua Tagovailoa but he doesn’t have the typical length to play left tackle at the next level. Expect him to stay on the right side and use his power to excel in man schemes and pass protection. It’s 1A and 1B between him and Wirfs.

Andrew Thomas

Photo Credit: John Bazemore/Associated Press

The climb of Wills Jr. and Wirfs on big boards across the country indirectly led to Thomas’s fall. But thats not to say he’s not an incredible left tackle. He spent three full seasons in a pro-like system under Kirby Smart. He offers size, speed and durability.

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Thomas maintains leverage on the line, employing strength and length in pass protection, keeping his arms out. He’s dealt with a myriad of pass schemes and sets at Georgia in pass protection and uses his power efficiently in the run game. He’s the only one in the draft class with identifiable weaknesses however, he’s lackluster in open space and zone blocking in terms of closing. But if he does and lands powerful drives in the open field he’s dangerous. Thomas will go in the first round, most likely as an undervalued steal.

Mekhi Becton

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Now here’s a riser in the mock draft community, I’ve seen Mekhi Becton go as high as number four to the Giants and as low as the start of the second round. I’d lean more in the middle of that somewhere due to ever-present need of offensive line, especially tackles as well as his upside. Becton has smooth, clean feet and excellent size. He has no business being as agile and quick as he is but he does have business being as strong as he is. At a whopping 6’7 369 lbs he acts as a solid anchor off the edge. His balance is pristine for his size but he does have a bit of improvement to do in terms of football IQ and punch placement off the snap.

In a sequel to this write-up we’ll delve into the second wave of big guys at tackle, including Austin Jackson and Josh Jones. We’ll also touch on Michigan center Cesar Ruiz, a desirable player at a desirable position in 2020.

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