NFL clubs willing to invest in an offensive tackle in the first round of the NFL draft will be better off than those looking to plug the same hole in free agency. But according to NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah, they'll need to reel in one of three fish at the position: Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, Auburn's Greg Robinson, or Michigan's Taylor Lewan.
Jeremiah described the trio as better talents than any offensive tackle on this year's free-agent market on NFL Network's Free Agency Frenzy 2014 program Tuesday afternoon.
"When you compare this free-agent crop of tackles versus the draft tackles, I think these top three guys -- Greg Robinson, Matthews, Lewan -- I think they are better than any of these (veteran) guys who are getting all these big-money deals we're going to see (Tuesday)," Jeremiah said. "I'd take them over Branden Albert, I'd take them over Eugene Monroe, all those guys."
Conceivably, all three incoming rookies could be gone within the top 10 picks, with Robinson or Matthews expected to be first off the board at the position. The St. Louis Rams, with the Nos. 2 and 13 overall picks, appear to have a strong interest in an offensive tackle. NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly noted that three clubs picking later, presumably with no chance at Robinson, Matthews or Lewan, have been active with tackles entering the free-agency period: the Baltimore Ravens (No. 17), Miami Dolphins (No. 19) and Arizona Cardinals (No. 20).
That could harden the market for the Rams to trade out of a first-round pick, and Jeremiah isn't sure moving up is a wise move, anyway.
"Parting with second- and third-round picks in this draft, I don't know if you want to make a habit of doing that, because you're going to get some really solid players there," he said. "... So the St. Louis Rams have a need at the tackle position. I don't think they'll win today (in free agency) but when it gets to draft day, I think they will be the winner. I think they'll get a better player than all these guys."