Big money. That’s what free agent offensive tackles will be receiving this week from teams desperate for help at one of the NFL’s key positions. They need to find a way to protect their quarterback’s blindside, so they’re willing to spend millions of dollars in the hope that it will solve the problem.
The much cheaper solution is to draft a player who can man the offensive tackle post. For at least a few seasons, that’ll provide protection at a fraction of the going rate, at least until the rookie contract expires.
It’s why so many top picks have been tackles in recent years, including Nos. 1 and 2 a year ago, and three of the top four. In the salary cap era of football, finding an offensive tackle in the draft is the best way to build an economically viable team.
Who is on the board this year that can help a team? Here are the top 10 offensive tackles in the 2014 NFL Draft:
10. Joel Bitonio (Nevada)
Bitonio was able to shine throughout his career at Nevada, being one of the best players on the field week in and week out. He was quick, tenacious and strong, providing the Wolf Pack with help in both the passing and running games. But there are concerns about him making the leap to the next level. His measurables suggest he may have to move to guard in the NFL.
9. Billy Turner (North Dakota State)
Light on his feet, teams love Turner’s athleticism. They can envision him having little trouble manning the edge, dealing with the speed and quickness of pass-rushing defensive ends. But there is some concern with his fundamentals and technique. At NDSU, Turner was able to dominate opponents in spite of some bad habits; that won’t happen at the NFL level.