NFL Network's Mike Mayock held a nearly two and a half hour conference call this afternoon taking questions about this year's draft prospects. As we know, the 2017 NFL Combine kicks off this week so plenty of questions about the draft were coming Mayock's way.
He was asked several times about the offensive line class and prospects in this year's class and Mayock put it bluntly. He said: "This is a really bad offensive line class".
Mike Mayock, touching on some later prospects, adds re: OL, "This is a really bad offensive line class."— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) February 27, 2017
This should be noteworthy to Broncos fans because they just declined Russell Okung's option and are expected to move on from right tackle Donald Stephenson after one year as well. This leaves the Broncos with two holes at each tackle position and a bad offensive line class makes finding those replacements that much harder.
He didn't stop there, he said Wisconsin's, Ryan Ramczyk who is Mayock's top rated tackle and someone consistently mocked to the Broncos in the first round would have been the fourth or fifth tackle taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. A total of 4 tackles went in the first round and the fifth tackle taken was Indiana's Jason Spriggs who lasted until the 48th pick in the draft. So that's not high praise for the top tackle in this year's class.
If Ramczyk was in last year's draft, he'd be the 4th/5th OT taken, Mayock said. Lack of OTs means Ramczyk/Bolles may be gone by 20, he said.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) February 27, 2017
Mayock said because of this poor offensive line class and that finding a starting-caliber offensive tackle could be difficult in this year's draft, that teams could reach for Ramczyk and Utah's Garett Bolles and they may be gone by the time the Broncos pick in the first round.
Now, even if one or both tackles are there at 20, it seems unlikely they would be the top players on the Broncos draft board. Both Ramcyzk and Bolles are just one-year starters at the college level and are considered the top two tackles in the draft. Neither is likely ready for the complexity of the NFL and both come with their own flaws. Ramcyzk is coming off surgery and Bolles is 25 years old. Add all those things together and you have two very risky prospects.
Mayock says it's tougher for OTs to have a quick impact now than 10 yrs. ago. "A bunch of OTs the last 6-7 yrs have been busts or struggled"— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) February 27, 2017
Also, you might be wondering why Mayock has left out Alabama's Cam Robinson when mentioning top tackles in the draft. Well, he believes Robinson is best suited to play guard, not tackle in the NFL. So that takes another potential left or right tackle off the board for the Broncos.
So in short, the Broncos really shouldn't consider taking an offensive tackle early in the 2017 NFL Draft despite what all the mock drafts are saying right now. There are some talented interior players, but the tackle positions look bad and are not worth reaching for.
Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway(and the rest of the NFL's GM's) figure to look towards the Free Agent and trade market to upgrade their tackle positions. This will likely end with some guys getting paid a bit more than we expected and potentially a big trade or two.
So I ask you Mile High Report, how do you think John Elway should go about addressing the tackle position? Should pay big in free agency or roll the dice and "reach" for a tackle prospect in the draft?