NFL Draft  


Michigan's Long leads a strong senior class of OTs


The senior offensive line class is a study in contrasts. The interior offensive linemen are unusually weak, while the tackle position offers quality and depth along with some interesting wild cards.

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USC's Sam Baker must demonstrate more consistency and toughness if he hopes to become an elite prospect.

1. Jake Long, Michigan (6-foot-7, 305 pounds): Has worked hard to improve his footwork and had a great senior year. Worst case scenario, long a perennial Pro Bowler on the right side. However, he dropped weight and improved his technique to become an elite tackle. He minimized his tendency to be top-heavy in pass protection and shows an ability to bend his knees and punch with power and balance. Long is a lock in the top 10.

2. Jeffrey Otah, Pittsburgh (6-7, 305): Huge frame, long arms and a very powerful lower body. I watched him battle Chris Long in his first start at Pitt and knew he had a chance to be special. When he bends his knees and plays with leverage he is a tremendous drive blocker. Otah is raw and ideally suited to play right tackle but is athletic enough to handle the left side. He'll be the second senior OT drafted and should go in the top 20.

3. Sam Baker, USC (6-5, 314): Baker is a versatile lineman with an ability to play every position but center along the front. He understands angles and is more of a finesse player than a powerful mauler. Despite a senior year marred by nagging injuries, Baker's versatility should make him a solid second round pick. However, I don't see the toughness and play-by-play consistency to make him an elite NFL player.

4. Chris Williams, Vanderbilt (6-5, 314): Intelligent team captain had a great senior year. Williams is a natural knee bender with good feet and athleticism and is beginning to learn the nuances of the LT position. He may be raw but I like his upside. One concern may be arm length which must be verified at the combine. Also has experience at LG.

Mayock's full rankings

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5. Gosder Cherilus, Boston College (6-7, 313): Had a better junior year at RT than he did at LT as a senior. Has more physical ability than former second-rounders from BC, James Marten and Jeremy Trueblood, but is not as consistent or nasty. He has long arms and is powerful, but struggled with speed on the left side. He has a great work ethic and should develop into an excellent RT in the NFL.

Wild cards

1. Carol Nicks, Nebraska (6-5, 345): Attended three colleges but stunned me with his impressive play against the USC front seven. Nicks has a huge body with great upside but must be evaluated thoroughly in the intangibles.

2. Oneil Cousins, UTEP (6-4, 300): Former DT who will test exceptionally well and had a very good senior season. Ultimately, his best position may be inside.



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