2011 Combine Buzz - The OT Pecking Order
Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo
Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo
Posted Feb 22, 2011

The buzz around the 2011 NFL Combine - The offensive tackle pecking order

2011 NFL Combine Buzz

The Offensive Tackle Order

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2011 Pre-Combine Buzz
- The Luckless quarterback class
- Cam Newton is expected to do it all
- The star defensive tackles
- All the North Carolina talent and what they'll do
- Where have all the good running backs gone?
- The lousy tight end class
- The 40 star speedster will be ...
- The three players everyone will be talking about
- The offensive tackle pecking order
- The strongest position is ...
- Da'Quan Bowers' knee
- Breaking Down the 2011 NFL Combine

2011 NFL Combine Invites & Draft Projection
- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OG/Cs | OTs
- DEs | DTs | LBs | Ss | CBs | Ps & Ks 

As young men start to parade in their underwear in front of old guys with notepads, here are ten things that all the NFL types are talking about before the fun and merriment of the Combine in Indianapolis kicks in this weekend.

The offensive tackle pecking order

Last year, everyone had to have Trent Williams, Russell Okung, and Bryan Bulaga. Throw in Anthony Davis and Rodger Saffold, and five offensive tackles went in the top 33 picks with two (Williams and Okung) going in the top six overall. This year's class lacks the star power, and there isn't a sure-thing, ten-year cornerstone who can be guaranteed to step in and protect someone's blindside right away, but it's a deep class with plenty of very nice prospects.

Ten different scouts will give ten different answers on the pecking order up top, and the difference between the top five tackles could come down to the Combine and the workout. It's that tight and there's that much of a debate.

Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi is the most accomplished college tackle in the draft, but he's not a great athlete and there are knocks on his strength. He can answer both concerns with a great workout, and the spotlight will be on his bench and his feet in the agility drills.

Tyron Smith left USC early, and unlike most of the other top prospects, he's still very, very young and is still scratching the surface. Only 20, he has nothing but big-time upside with the athleticism and the skills to grow into a whale of a left tackle. While Carimi could be pigeon-holed into the dreaded Right Tackle Only category, Smith should look the part of a next-level pass protector if, and it's a big if, he lifts well and shows he has the frame to carry more weight. The former tight end is only around 285 pounds, and he doesn't appear to have the potential to pack on 20 more pounds of good weight.

Boston College's Anthony Castonzo isn't going to be a mauler for anyone's running game, but he has the skills to be a nice pass protector. However, to be the left tackle that many teams will want him to be with a first round pick, he has to rock in the agility drills. He doesn't have the athleticism of Smith and he's not going to beat people up like Carimi, so he's going to have to be technically sound in every drill.

Colorado's Nate Solder is a 6-8 athlete who might be a bit too tall, but his movement and his attitude are enough to make him a starter on anyone's line. However, he might only be a pass protector and he might only be a fit in certain systems. After having problems in some offseason workouts, getting blown away in Senior Bowl practices, he has to be a Combine star to move into the top three of the tackle pecking order.

TCU's Marcus Cannon, Villanova's Ben Ijalana, and Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod are going to be the darlings of teams looking for a good value pick late in the first to midway through the second. Ijalana isn't a left tackle and might end up being a guard, but he's very big, very strong, and shockingly athletic for his size. However, he's coming off of double-hernia surgery. Sherrod isn't athletic enough to be a franchise left tackle, but he could be a whale of a right tackle for a finesse passing team. Run blocking will be his biggest problem, so a big lift on the bench press will be vital. Cannon is the biggest X factor because of his versatility and his strength. The bench press won't be a problem, and there's a chance he owns the Indianapolis weight room. But can he move? No one is going to spend a first round pick in this draft on a talented guard, but Cannon's ability to play inside or out could make him a top 30 pick if he shines this week.