Draft Sleepers - Offensive Line

Following on from draft sleepers at RB , draft sleepers at WR , and draft sleepers at QB/TE/FB ; here's my sleepers on the o-line. Personally, I think o-line is the core of any offense. Maybe not as critical as QB but without a good o-line, there is no running game and no passing game. Without a deep o-line, no team can make it through an NFL season deep into the playoffs. Without a deep and talented o-line, you lose the scheme flexibility that makes it possible to defeat whatever defense you face. And while the Broncos have a good young starting o-line, our depth is basically non-existent. We have to solve this problem and this year's draft class is a good opportunity to do so. To do so however, we are going to have to do so by not signing bench-level FA's. High upside prospects who aren't drafted only go to training camps of teams that have roster openings.


This year's draft class is very shallow at sure-thing NFL caliber starters. Peter Konz, Mike Brewster, Ben Jones may be it. Each year, roughly 10 centers are drafted (plus another 10 UDFA invited to camps) so most draft picks will be projects of some sort. Fortunately, the list of development/prospect types is pretty good.


This year's draft class is pretty solid but trails off pretty sharply after the top 10. Usually 15 are drafted with another 25 invited to camp so a team may need to use a late round pick to secure a particular prospect.


As usual, the number of sure-thing NFL caliber pass-protect tackles is small and they will be gone in the 1st round most likely. There's a larger number of right-tackle only (run blockers on teams with RH QB's), and a few near-ready pass-protect tackles. And there's a pretty large number of development projects. But the basic rule of the last few years applies. If a team wants a player who has the potential of one day starting in the NFL, then you are going to need to spend a draft pick. And the FA route for teams is expensive. Most likely, 20 tackles will be drafted with another 40 invited to camps. The two mid-round draftees that I like are Matt McCants and Andrew Datko. Both have 1st round upside and reasons why they aren't in the 1st round. Below that is where my sleepers are.


David Snow - 6'4" 303 lbs - Texas - C/G - A top 5 OG prospect out of HS. 4 star prospect. Has started 25 games at G and C for Texas. Has good technique and good footwork but has fallen from the radar because he plays on a poor team and he needs some strength training. He will likely not be drafted but an NFL team with a good strength training program will get a steal. He has rotational and maybe even starter upside.

Kelvin Beachum - 6'3" 306 lbs - Southern Methodist - G/T - Not ranked highly out of HS. Has started 50+ games at left tackle for SMU and has had a great college career. Is too short and too small to start at tackle in the NFL but is a good athlete, coordinated, fast on his feet, and reasonable power. Seems ideal as a swing tackle or for a ZBS system and has starter upside at guard and rotational upside at tackle. Is currently on the edge of being a late round pick.

Alex Netter - 6'4" 316 lbs - Northwestern - G/T - A moderately ranked TE out of HS. Has started 50+ games at left tackle for Northwestern. Not really a great athlete but has great technique and has shut down rushers like Ryan Kerrigan and Adrian Clayborn. Probably too short to be a NFL tackle and there will be a transition if he switches to guard. Has starter upside at guard, rotational upside at tackle, and some gimmick flexibility as a pass eligible tackle.

Will Blackwell - 6'4" 312 lbs - LSU - G/T/DT - A top 20 DT and 4 star recruit out of HS. Went to LSU and played (no starts) DE his freshman year. Switched over to the O-line and has had two good years (injured in 2010). Is still very raw technique wise but shows enough lateral agility to potentially be a pass-protect starter at tackle someday. He won't likely be drafted but will definitely make a team's practice squad in year one and roster in year two. Has starter upside for a team that has time and coaching to develop him.

Mitchell Schwartz - 6'6" 318 lbs - California - T - A top 20 G and 3 star recruit out of HS. Good athlete, raw technique but he hasn't been playing tackle for long. He's currently projected as a 5th or 6th rounder. I'm not sure his upside is much more a swing tackle but he'll achieve it fast so he'll be drafted by a team that needs to fill a roster hole fast.

John Cullen - 6'4" 300 lbs - Utah - T/G - The #1 big guy (OL) Juco transfer in 2009. Has started for two years at LT at Utah. Is a solid athlete but very raw technique and he is small for tackle. That size and strength can create problems when he goes up against better competition and Utah doesn't really face strong competition. He is currently projecting as a 7th rounder. A team with a good strength program that can sit him on the bench and coach him for a year or two may well get a starting pass-protect tackle out of it.

James Carmon - 6'7" 330 lbs - Mississippi St - T/NT - The #2 big guy (DT) Juco transfer in 2009. Played at DT in 2010 and OT in 2011. That's ONE year playing experience on the o-line. The guy is an absolute monster as an athlete. But like any juco, there are going to be questions about intelligence and about how fast he can pick up technique and NFL schemes. There are also self-discipline questions re his weight (it's fluctuated from 310 to 370). And do you play him on o-line or d-line? Anyone old enough to remember William Refrigerator Perry will immediately be reminded of him. I'm not sure he's draftable but he is going to play in the NFL someday. An athlete this size cannot be left out of the NFL to wander around on his own eating small villages. Video below is from his juco days on D

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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