Top offensive tackle prospects for 2010 hail from the Big 12

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Penn State's Dennis Landolt is one of many offensive tackle prospects who started their careers at another position.

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Editor's note: This is part of a weekly series detailing the top senior prospects, by position, for the 2010 NFL Draft.

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For years, everyone has heard or read about how important it is to have an outstanding offensive line to be successful, and to have that, you need above average tackles. In the 2008 draft, seven tackles went in the first round. All seven started at some time during the 2008 season, with Jake Long (the first overall pick) being named to the Pro Bowl.

The left tackle is a paramount job to fill. With the exception of a team with a left-handed quarterback, the job of a left tackle is to protect a quarterback's back side. He usually has to block the defense's best pass rusher, so teams are loking for players who have quick feet, long arms, speed and strength.

Because there are few lefties at quarterback (in fact, not a single starting quarterback in the NFL currently is left-handed), the left tackle is celebrated a little more than the right tackle, who should be a big, strong player that excels as a run blocker.

In 1997, both the St. Louis Rams (Orlando Pace) and Seattle Seahawks (Walter Jones) both paid a high price to move up in the first round to select players they thought could be franchise left tackles and they were correct.

In 2000, the Washington Redskins gave two first-round picks (16th and 21st) plus a fourth and fifth-round choice to move up to third in the first round and draft left tackle Chris Samuels.

1. Trent Williams

College: Oklahoma
Height/Weight: 6-4, 305

Williams started in 2007 and 2008 at right tackle, but will play left tackle in 2009. He started six games as a true freshman in 2006. He has good speed and athletic ability. He has been well-coached and is a good, but not great, worker. Williams will be a first-round pick and can be a long-time starter in the NFL.
2. Russell Okung

College: Oklahoma State
Height/Weight: 6-4½, 300

Okung will be a four-year starter for Oklahoma State. He has started 35 games in three years, moving from right to left tackle in 2008. He is strong, athletic and has good feet. He was first-team All-Big 12 last season. He will start and play a lot of years in the NFL. Okung is a first-round pick.

3. Adam Ulatoski

College: Texas
Height/Weight: 6-7, 305

Ulatoski is a fifth-year player who has started four years. He started at right tackle in 2006 and 2007 and switched to left tackle last season. He is a smart, well-coached player with good strength. He made first-team All-Big 12 in 2008. His best position is most likely right tackle, but he can play left tackle if needed. He has great character (reminds you of the Titans' David Stewart).
4. Selvish Capers

College: West Virginia
Height/Weight: 6-4½, 295

Capers is a fifth-year player, who didn't play in 2005. He played tight end in 2006 and moved to tackle in 2007, starting seven games at right tackle. He started all of 2008 at right tackle. He needs to get stronger, but has very good athletic ability for the position. That said, he needs some work refining his game.

5. Ciron Black

College: LSU
Height/Weight: 6-4, 325

Black is a fifth-year player who has started 40 straight games at left tackle. He played a school-record 1,031 snaps in 2007. He is a better run blcoker than pass protector. He is a good, but not great, worker. When you watch tape, you expect more than you see.
6. Tony Washington

College: Abilene Christian
Height/Weight: 6-6, 305

Washington is a second-year player at the school after transferring from Trinity Valley Junior College in Texas. He played high school football in New Orleans. He is tall, moves well and looks above average in everything he does. A lot of scouts will visit this school in the fall to watch Washington. The big question about him is why he went to junior college out of high school.

7. Sam Young

College: Notre Dame
Height/Weight: 6-4, 317

Young started as a true freshman in 2006 at right tackle. He started 10 games at left tackle in 2007. He was the first freshman lineman to start at Notre Dame since 1972, when freshmen became eligible to play. He is a good run blocker, but needs to get stronger and better at pass protection. He was a great high school player in Florida. Young will be a good NFL player at right tackle.
8. Charles Brown

College: USC
Height/Weight: 6-5½, 290

Brown is a fifth-year player, who came to USC as a tight end. He moved to tackle in 2006 and started at left tackle in 2008. He is a very good athlete with good feet and is well coached at USC by offensive line coach Pat Ruel. Brown needs to add weight and strength, but he can play left tackle in the NFL and has upside.

9. Kyle Calloway

College: Iowa
Height/Weight: 6-6½, 318

Calloway is a fifth-year player who played guard in 2006. He was a left tackle in 2007 and right tackle in 2008 and was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten last season. The best NFL position for Calloway, who has good foot speed, will be right tackle. Iowa does a great job coaching offensive linemen and has a great strength program. Calloway should be a solid pro starter.
10. John Jerry

College: Mississippi
Height/Weight: 6-4½, 345

Jerry is in his fourth year at Ole Miss after spending one year (2005) in prep school. He has started 34 games over the past three seasons playing right guard, before moving to right tackle in 2008. He was named second-team All-SEC last season. Jerry is a very powerful player, but does not have good enough feet to play left tackle. He's not fast and needs to improve his speed.

11. Ed Wang

College: Virginia Tech
Height/Weight: 6-4 5/8, 300

Wang is a fifth-year player who started his career at Tech as a tight end ( Duane Brown, a first-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 2008, did the same). He moved to tackle during the 2006 season and has started at both right and left tackle. He is an athletic player with good feet and speed who is getting stronger. Wang's mother and father were members of the Chinese Olympic squad during the 1970s. He has good upside.
12. Mike Tepper

College: California
Height/Weight: 6-5½, 317

In his six years at Cal, Tepper has started at right tackle and played some left tackle. He is a strong player with average speed and footwork. He can only play right tackle in the NFL.

13. Kevin Haslam

College: Rutgers
Height/Weight: 6-4¾, 300

Haslam, a very hard worker, has started at guard and tackle but his best NFL position will be right tackle. He has good toughness, but he's not great athlete. Rutgers linemen have done well in the NFL over the past few years.
14. Rodger Saffold

College: Indiana
Height/Weight: 6-4½, 305

Saffold played as a true freshman and started six games at left tackle. He has started 29 games there over the last three years, but he must get stronger after playing injured in 2008. Saffold looks good, but he needs lots of work. He will get a lot of attention this year.

15. Matt Kopa

College: Stanford
Height/Weight: 6-4½, 305

Kopa is a fifth-year player, playing his second year as an offensive lineman after starting his career at Stanford as a defensive lineman. He earned his first start last year and finished the season with six starts. Kopa is a good athlete who needs strength but he is very smart and has upside.
16. Chris Scott

College: Tennessee
Height/Weight: 6-4½, 320

Scott is a fifth-year player who has started 26 games over the past two years, the last 18 at left tackle. He has good strength and the ability to play if he improves his work habits.

17. Dennis Landolt

College: Penn State
Height/Weight: 6-3, 305

Landolt, a fifth-year player who came to Penn State as a defensive lineman, will finish his career as a three-year starter. He is a hard worker with good strength and speed. Landolt is a right tackle only in the NFL.
1. Derek Hardman

College: Eastern Kentucky
Height/Weight: 6-5½, 294

Hardman is a fifth-year player who has started 35 games in three years. He started 2006 and 2007 at right tackle and 2008 at left tackle. He was first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference last season. Hardman has good athletic ability, but needs to improve his strength. He is very smart and earned his business degree in Dec. 2008. He has good upside.
2. Casey Knips

College: South Dakota State
Height/Weight: 6-7½, 309

Knips is a fifth-year player who started two games in 2006. He is from Adrian, Minn., a small town in the southwest corner of the state with only 1,200 people. He has some athletic ability, but needs more strength. Knips, who is smart and a hard worker, is an interesting project.



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