Philadelphia Eagles Draft preview: Offensive Tackle Position

Jan 2, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk (65) blocks Western Michigan Broncos defensive end Keion Adams (1) in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. The Badgers won 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk (65) blocks Western Michigan Broncos defensive end Keion Adams (1) in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. The Badgers won 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia Eagles are setting their draft boards and we’re doing the same here at Section 215.

The NFL draft is rapidly approaching and April 27th will be here in the blink of an eye. Between now & then, teams will be finalizing their draft boards: ranking players based on talent, production, potential, intangibles, scheme fit, etc. Over the coming weeks, we will be doing the same thing. Each week leading up to the draft, Ben Solak & I will rank the prospects of a certain position based on fit for the Philadelphia Eagles. We will discuss & debate the players before finalizing the order; in the same way the Philadelphia Eagles personnel department is currently doing. By the time April rolls around, we will have scheme-specific rankings for each position, which will provide some clarity on the Philadelphia Eagles Big Board as a whole. Thus far, we have covered the following position groups:

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

This week, we talk dancing bears and succession: it’s the Offensive Tackles.

Mike’s Rankings

  1. Garrett Bolles, Utah
  2. Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
  3. Antonio Garcia, Troy
  4. Cam Robinson, Alabama
  5. Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
  6. Dion Dawkins, Temple
  7. Roderick Johnson, Florida State
  8. Will Holden, Vanderbilt

Ben’s Rankings

  1. Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
  2. Cam Robinson, Alabama
  3. Dion Dawkins, Temple
  4. Garrett Bolles, Utah
  5. Antonio Garcia, Troy
  6. Will Holden, Vanderbilt
  7. Andreas Knappe, UConn
  8. Taylor Moton, Western Michigan

The Discussion:

MC: Before we get started with the tackle group in this draft, last week we discussed the tight ends but did not address Adam Shaheen (University of Ashland) as we didn’t feel we had valid game tape to do so. With some digging, however, you were unable to unearth the footage. What were your thoughts on Shaheen and where would you have him ranked among the TEs in the class?

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BS: Shaheen is exactly what you’d expect from a DII product being mentioned as a potential Day 2 pick: fantastic size, surprising athleticism, and super raw. Folks threw around Travis Kelce as a potential–I don’t see that level of straight-line speed and quickness, but you can tell by watching Shaheed that the unpolished tools are there.

In this loaded class of TEs, I’m not looking Shaheen’s way until early Day 3, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a team took a flyer on his upside in Round 4. Given Philadelphia’s relative stability at the position for this year, Shaheen could be an option to bring in and sit for a year as you introduce him to an NFL offense and start coaching up his blocking technique.

But that’s enough about TEs–I’m excited to talk about this tackle class because we have a lot of discrepancy across our boards. You’ve got to talk to me about what you see in Garett Bolles, and what you’re missing in Cam Robinson and Dion Dawkins. C’mon Mike! Gotta respect the Temple product!

MC: I love Bolles’ ass. Seriously. If you watch his tape, you see it all the time. Other than tape-watchers, the only person who sees more Bolles ass is Joe Williams. That is, objectively, a great thing. It means Bolles is always in position and putting himself between the defender and the RB. He is always in the right position: opening a hole for his man. This sounds simple and logical but you would be surprised how many college tackles rely on getting their hands on the opponent and moving them with brute strength. Bolles’ ability to be in the “right place” so consistently shows his understanding of the play design and athletic ability to flip his lower half: each helping to manipulate the defender. It’s impressive.

One thing I think is important with regard to Cam Robinson: he is my fourth-best tackle prospect and a second round projection for me. It is important to remember with a lot of draft takes (taeks? whatever…) that the evaluator can like more than one guy. I am not saying Cam Robinson is the next coming of Danny Watkins. He is going to be a good, if not great tackle, for many years in the NFL. What I like about the guys I have ahead of him (a better way to phrase it…especially if I ever encounter Robinson), is their athletic ability. I didn’t see the same footwork and lower half with Robinson that I did with Bolles, Ramczyk, and Garcia. Also, is it me, or does he seem to stand around a lot during plays? Maybe the benefit of being surrounded by so much other OL talent in Tuscaloosa.

With Dion Dawkins, get ready for the twist. I am going to have him ranked high as a guard as well. This is where, quite honestly, he may even be higher on the Philadelphia Eagles draft board than a Robinson or Garcia. He has the OL versatility the Philadelphia Eagles covet. Howie Roseman mentioned as much yesterday in his press conference. Pederson followed Roseman by praising Isaac Seumalo for being versatile. Dawkins could line up at no less than 3 spots on the offensive line in the NFL if needed. I am, at present, talking myself into ranking him higher. Finish the pro-Dawkins argument for me, Ben.

BS: It’s interesting because he’d be a fine player at guard, but it’s not like he’s a bad tackle! He’s a doggone talented tackle, and I don’t understand why you’d move that player to guard, at least on your board. Now, if you bring him in and he struggles, give him a go at G, see if it fits, but I’m drafting him as a tackle.

I see the necessary athleticism. I see the power–a lot of it. I see heavy hands, torsion strength, functional anchor, deceptive balance, decent quickness, great explosiveness. I don’t know what more you’d want.

The issues I see on tape come mostly from mental lapses. He struggles with false starts and sometimes clearly confuses the snap count, leading to late get off. Sometimes his footwork gets lazy–it’s not bad, it’s just lazy. I need my offensive line coach to know that if I bring Dawkins in, he’s going to need some solid coaching to keep up mentally in the NFL. That’s the only area I imagine he falters, and a movement to guard isn’t going to do much for him there.

MC: I think you may be misunderstanding me. I am not saying it is a bad think that Dawkins can excel at both guard and tackle. I am saying it to his benefit that he can do both. I think if we had made this week’s post about the offensive line collectively, Dawkins would be top 5 for me because of his versatility. I believe he is a fine tackle for all of the reasons you claimed. I also believe he could play guard “in a pinch” and not necessarily have to be moved there in the NFL.I think he’d be the kind of OL the Eagles love.

BS: I’m curious to hear about your read on Antonio Garcia, the kid out of Troy. Having him higher than Robinson just seems a travesty, to me. Garcia has some really impressive athleticism, no doubt–but the lack of technical skills and lower body power really concern me. I watched him get beat by speed off the edge and by power through the body, and Troy’s scheme rarely asked him to engage with a defender for a full three seconds, the NFL pocket time. What has you drinking the Garcia Kool-Aid?

MC: Like you said, the athleticism is unbelievable. I will say this though, after seeing the Combine weigh-ins & bench, he is much lighter in the pants than I thought and 24 reps with some of the shorter arms among the OTs (33 ⅜”) isn’t going to do him any favors. If he can add functional mass in an NFL strength program, then I think he could be a great NFL OL…if not, this will be a bad take in less than 3 seasons.

So I’m a Vanderbilt alumnus and big believer in what Derek Mason is building in Nashville. But the Twitter tells me you may be an even bigger believer of Will Holden. PREACH

BS: So, we’ll start with the disclaimer: there’s only one game of Holden tape on Draft Breakdown, so his evaluation needs to a grain of salt. But when Holden was called up as an injury replacement to the Senior Bowl, where OTs had been struggling all week, he really shined. I heard from multiple attendees that he just flat stonewalled some of the more productive rushers there. They lauded his hand placement and power, his footwork, and his frame.

I see two of the three of those strengths on tape. The man is built like a refrigerator. He weighed in on Combine week at 311 pounds, but he stands at 6’7, and he has these broad shoulders that carry the weight real well. Prototypical tackle build. And the footwork is super clean on tape: powerful, controlled kick slide. Occasionally he’ll get lazy, but the ankle flexibility, the knee flexibility, the weight on the toes–it’s all there.

The hands, however, only flash. When he lands his punch inside and on time, he’s one of the best pass protectors in this class. He has great lateral agility and a solid anchor. But his hands often arrive late and lack fire–he gives up his chest way too often–and he suffers for it. He can get walked back or push-pulled when he surrenders his center like that. If he can develop consistent hand usage, I think you’re looking at an NFL tackle.

Lightning round! We both only have one tackle the other doesn’t. Sell me on Roderick Johnson in one paragraph, and I’ll give you the same for Andreas Knappe.

MC: Roderick Johnson has the size you want at tackle in the NFL. He finished his career at Florida State starting 31 consecutive games since first being plugged into the starting lineup in 2014. That is some invaluable experience in a championship-caliber, Pro style offense. Not for nothing, but his work at left tackle is a major reason why Dalvin Cook produced the way he did in Tallahassee. He has an excellent frame at 6’7” and 298lbs. His leverage shows on tape, as it should with 36” arms when he attacks the defender. The problem is he doesn’t attack often enough. With his size/length, he shouldn’t let guys get into his body as frequently as he does. He plays high and needs to work on his balance & footwork. Working behind a mentor like a Jason Peters would do wonders for his game in this regard. This is the kind of developmental prospect the Philadelphia Eagleswould love to get behind a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.

BS: Andreas Knappe joined football late after coming to UConn straight from his native country of Denmark. He saw some playing time in 2013 and 2014 but became the Huskies starting right tackle in 2015 and his tape was ugly. Clearly lost in the sauce, he was just a big guy (6’7, 320 lbs) who occasionally hit people, and that was it. The difference in his 2016 tape is stark. His footwork improved drastically, but still needs some work; same with his punch, though it’s further along than his feet. He’s incredibly athletic for his size and excels at combo/second level blocks. Flexible and really well balanced for his size, Knappe is the exact sort of guy I’m bringing to be my starting right tackle two years down the road.

The Big Board

  • Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
  • Garrett Bolles, Utah
  • Cam Robinson, Alabama

    Dion Dawkins, Temple

    Antonio Garcia, Troy

  • Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
  • Will Holden, Vanderbilt

    Andreas Knappe, UConn

    Roderick Johnson, Florida State

    Next: Could Brandin Cooks Come to Philly?

    Next up: Offensive Guard/Center

    Writer’s note: Let us know in the comments or on Twitter what you think, and be sure to keep an eye out next week for our Offensive Guard/Center rankings!