The Minnesota Vikings are set with Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt as their starting offensive tackles. They are easily the best tandem in the division and on the league’s best.
The top reserves, however, are also primarily guards. Charlie Johnson is the starting left guard and likely backup to Kalil at left tackle. Recently signed free agent Vladimir Ducasse is expected to be the top reserve at both right guard and right tackle.
Beside the two starters, the only offensive linemen that are primarily tackles are unproven second-year veterans Kevin Murphy and Mike Remmers. Murphy spent all of last season on the Vikings’ practice squad. Remmers has had a more adventurous NFL career. He spent the 2012 season on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad after signing with the Denver Broncos as a rookie free agent. He then spent last season with the San Diego Chargers and played in one game before being claimed off waivers by the Vikings.
The Vikings are unlikely to select a tackle early in the draft, but could be looking for depth in middle and late rounds. Here are the top five offensive tackles as well as an underrated, an overrated and a sleeper prospect.
No. 1 - Greg Robinson, Auburn
Robinson is a big and powerful prospect that could be a cornerstone left tackle. He was a big part of the Auburn’s running game with a dominating blocking style. He has enough athleticism to control defenders at the second level. There are concerns over the simplistic system that Auburn ran along with his tendency to play to high. He still needs to improve as a pass blocker.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 332-pound redshirt sophomore has drawn comparisons to Anthony Davis of the San Francisco 49ers.
No. 2 - Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Lewan was considered one of the top tackle prospects in last year’s draft before he decided to return to the school. He did nothing to hurt his stock and looks like a lock to be selected in the first 10 picks. The exact destination has fluctuated and has gotten as high as the No. 2 overall pick. He is big and athletic with good feet and technique. He has gotten away from his technique at times this season.
The 6-foot-7-inch, 309-pound redshirt senior has drawn comparisons to former No. 1 overall draft pick Jake Long of the St. Louis Rams.
No. 3 - Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Matthews has outstanding bloodlines. His father, Bruce, is one of the most decorated offensive lineman in NFL history. Jake is continuing the tradition with a strong ability to pass protect as well as clearing a running path. He may be the safest pick of the top three tackles with very good strength and technique. He will play light and get run over by power rushers, but it is a knit-picking weakness to his game.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 308-pound senior has drawn comparisons to Joe Staley of the San Francisco 49ers.
No. 4 - Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
Kouandjio was one of the most sought after recruits in the country coming out of high school, but raw and underdeveloped skills have pushed him into the second round or later. His best asset is his run blocking, despite not having a mean streak or mauler mentality. He didn’t present the athleticism he possesses in games at the combine. He has a high-ceiling, but has yet to prove capable of reaching it.
The 6-foot-7-inch, 322-pound junior has drawn comparisons to Tyron Smith of the Dallas Cowboys.
No. 5 - Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
Richardson (No. 74 in the picture) climbed his way into the discussion as a possible first round draft pick. However, he hasn’t lived up to the billing at the combine or in workouts. He has a good, massive frame that can be imposing for defenders. His technique wavers at times and he will lose defenders on quick, side-to-side moves.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 336-pound junior has drawn comparisons to former Dallas Cowboy Erik Williams.
Underrated - Billy Turner, North Dakota State
Turner may be the best FCS prospect in the draft. He was not recruited by any FBS schools and started right away at North Dakota State. He has NFL caliber size, athleticism and body control. He has good bloodlines with a father that was a running back in the NFL along with having a brother that was drafted in 2008. He has good footwork and a mean, nasty mentality. He still needs some polish to his game, but can be an instant contributor to an NFL team.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 315-pound senior enjoyed a well decorated collegiate career with three national championships, two first team all-conference and two first team FCS All-American honors.
Overrated - Seantrel Henderson, Miami
Henderson (on the right in the picture) was also one of the most sought after prospects in his high school class. There was at least one college coach that questioned whether Henderson would fill his potential at the collegiate level. He did all right for the Hurricanes, but never was dominant. He has the skill set to be a cornerstone left tackle in the NFL, but does he want to? That is the question. He has dealt with injuries and off-field issues.
The 6-foot-7-inch, 331-pound senior has drawn comparisons to D.J. Fluker of the San Diego Chargers.
Sleeper - Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, McGill
There are few Canadian prospects that can develop pre-draft buzz. Duvernay-Tardif (one of the many offensive linemen pictured) was able to do that after moving from the the defensive line to the offensive line in 2011. He quickly became a starter. He has the size and athleticism to be a cornerstone left tackle. He is smart with a good frame and low-center of gravity. He is very raw with his technique and consistency.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 298-pound senior will not be an immediate starter in the NFL as he learns the difference in the rules between the Canadian and American game.