By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
With the decisions of Tyler Lewan and Jake Matthews to return to school for their senior season one of the 2013 Draft’s strongest positions took a bit of a hit. That being said there are still plenty of quality linemen to do all the dirty work while receiving very little appreciation. I guess that’s why they call them the “Big Uglies”.
The Jets could use a RT and adding another OG wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Here is a look at the best from the guys up front.
1. Luke Joeckel TEXAS A&M (LT)
My #1 overall prospect is perfectly suited to play what has become a premium position, not just on the offensive line, but for the entire offensive side of the ball. With the NFL becoming a contest of who has the best quarterback play, someone who protects his blindside is paramount. Joeckel is a smooth athlete with prototypical size, a fluid backpedal, good technique and was extremely productive against the stiffest of SEC competition.
2. Chance Warmack ALABAMA (OG)
It’s not often you see a true guard prospect crack the top 10 overall list, but Warmack has earned that high praise from Todd McShay and many others. The best offensive line prospect on a team with four future draft picks (including three this year) Warmack is an excellent technician who has the strength to drive defenders off their line. He has also started for both of ‘Bama’s back to back titles.
3. Eric Fisher CENTRAL MICHIGAN (LT/RT)
A late rising prospect who will face a stiff jump in competition going from the MAC to the NFL is now the second best OT prospect. Fisher is long at 6’8 and is laterally mobile enough to play LT, but would be particularly valuable because of his ability to play either tackle spot despite being only 305 lb. An athletic, aggressive player who could really take advantage of Lewan and Matthew’s decision to pull out and jump squarely into the first round mix.
4. Lane Johnson OKLAHOMA (LT)
A former Sooner quarterback and all-around impressive athlete Johnson needs some polishing to reach his potential, but could in time become a stud pass protecting, franchise level left tackle. He has the necessary size at 6’7 305 and that aforementioned coordination gives him the mobility to effortlessly match defenders on the edge. He will need to be taught technique as well as how to utilize leverage and put on some more pounds of muscle, but could really be a steal in this year’s draft.
5. Johnathan Cooper UNC (OG/C)
In evaluating Tar Heels star running back Gio Bernard I think it’s overlooked how talented the group up front is, and Cooper is the best of the bunch. While a tad undersized at just under 300 lb, Cooper has a strong lower body and is truly an elite athlete for an interior linemen. He plays guard for UNC but would be an ideal candidate to move inside to center, where I feel he could be an All-Pro.