INDIANAPOLIS | Good morning from Day 2 at the scouting combine. Today’s newspaper story analyzed the two philosophies with which teams usually approach drafting a right tackle.
Generally, they either use a high draft pick on a premier athlete who played left tackle in college and convert him to the right side, or they wait a few rounds and select a collegiate right tackle whose resume includes experience at multiple positions.
The most important truth, at least for the Redskins as they look to upgrade the position, is that there usually are more right tackles available in lower rounds.
“The left tackle has got better feet and is a better pass protector, and there are fewer of those guys available, so they get pushed up higher,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “The right tackles, you can find a bunch of those kind-of big, strong, long-armed tough guys that might not be as good pass protectors, but there are more of them available in the draft. Basically, the difference, typically, are the feet. That’s just what separates it.”
Pittsburgh Steelers general managers Kevin Colbert, as quoted in the newspaper story, believes position flexibility is essential for any lineman selected in the lower rounds. Mayock agrees.
“Right tackle is an interesting thing because…if you’re being drafted as a right tackle only, that’s an awkward place to be,” he said. “Because if you’re only a right tackle, it means you better be the starter or you’re going to get cut because you can only carry typically seven or eight guys on game day. So you better be a starting right tackle, because you’re going to have a back up interior guy, and a back up left tackle.”
With that in mind, the Redskins could have some attractive options in the third round and lower.
“D.J. Fluker [of Alabama] to me is by far the outstanding right tackle,” Mayock said. “He’s going to be a first-round pick. The kid from North Carolina, Brennan Williams is going to open some eyes, too. He’s a pretty talented right tackle. I’ve got him in the third round. Ricky Wagner from Wisconsin is an interesting right tackle.”
Wagner played right tackle for his first two seasons and left in his final two.
“It’s been a little bit of a transition after two years,” he said. “It’s just going to take a little bit of time if that’s where I end up playing. We’ll see. Maybe the first month or two, just try to get back to that right side and I’ll be working on it the whole offseason if that’s what I need to do.”
It’s a transition many tackle prospects are mindful of as they seek to improve their draft stock this week.
“It’s just getting that muscle memory back down,” Syracuse left tackle Justin Pugh said. “You’re so used to kicking back with that left foot and now you’ve got to switch it over. It takes a little adjustment, but nothing in the offseason that you can’t handle. It would take a little adjustment, but I’m sure with good coaching I could do it easily.”