We are only a few short days away from the draft now, so I thought it would be prudent to bring together all of the players we have highlighted in the past weeks as potential offensive line draft targets in one article. Let us begin to look at the prospects.
Donald Stephenson-Offensive Tackle-Oklahoma. Stephenson might be the most intriguing prospect in the draft. He played left tackle at Oklahoma and has the size, strength, and athleticism to become a very good LT in the NFL. However, he has rough patches where he is somewhat inconsistent. This hurts his value and puts him at the late 3rd, early 4th round. I think the Falcons could take him with their 2nd round pick and never look back, although if he fell to the Falcons in round 3, all the stars could be aligning for this team.
Jeff Allen-Offensive Guard-Illinois. Jeff Allen was the first prospect that Mel Kiper Jr. highlighted as a player that the Falcons might want to draft, and he suggested that they take him with their 2nd round pick. While that may be where his value truly is, I would like him in the 3rd, and even then, I’m not completely sure that the Falcons need to take an interior lineman like Allen unless he is already an elite player.
Matt McCants-Offensive Tackle-Alabama Birmingham. McCants is a solid tackle who is 6’6, and a little over 300 lbs. He has the frame to put on a lot more bulk through weight training, but that is truly the only knock that I can find on this guy. He is excellent against the edge-speed rusher, who is critical to stop. His problem is that his size keeps him from anchoring against the biggest defensive linemen. When he gets proper leverage he can play against anybody, but he needs to gain that bulk to get better. The Falcons could draft a big interior lineman early, and take McCants in maybe the 5th round and have a project player who could one day become their franchise left tackle without expending a high round pick on him.
Kelechi Osemele-Offensive Guard-Iowa State. Kelechi Osemele is, to me, the exact same player as Jeff Allen. Both played left tackle for a Mid-Western corn-growing state, whose side makes them translate as poor offensive tackles in the NFL, but excellent guards. Osemele could end up being a great right guard in Atlanta, but I’m not so sure that the Falcons need to use their first pick on the guard position. Maybe they do, but I see left tackle as a greater need. The predicament is that there will probably not be an elite LT at the Falcons spot in round 2. Since there’s not, wouldn’t it make sense to take the best offensive lineman available, even if he is a guard? Maybe so…
Andrew Datko-Offensive Tackle-Florida State. Datko is a very good player, and has a world of talent, but has been injured far too often. He could be really good, but the injury is just too much of a risk for most teams. A 7th round pick on Datko would be about right; it would mean little risk, with a LOT of upside.
This list is in no way meant to be exhaustive, and these players could easily fall really far, or get taken way higher than they are projected to here. The Falcons may not even be targeting any of them for that matter. But the fact remains that these are the best prospects available on the offensive line in the 2nd and 3rd round, and have a good chance of getting drafted by the Falcons?
What are your thoughts on these linemen? Who do you think also needs to be added to this list?