The migration of Texas A&M offensive tackles from the right side to the left -- the Aggies have done so with current left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, and with Jake Matthews before him -- hasn't just been about filling lineup gaps from one season to another. It's also been about money and the NFL draft, about recruiting, and about a philosophy that coach Kevin Sumlin has begun to successfully instill, which makes the Aggies' left tackle position the ultimate goal of offensive linemen up and down the roster.
"It's not a coincidence. Both (Matthews and Ogbuehi) were juniors who elected to stay in. You look through statistically over the course of the last maybe 7, 8, 10 years -- we did a study -- the tackles that have been taken highest (in the NFL draft) have all been left tackles in college," Sumlin said. "The one exception was the (right) tackle from Alabama (D.J. Fluker). ... We've talked about improving their draft status by not only playing another year but moving to left tackle and helping their draft status. There is no doubt that helped Jake Matthews, moving right to left after Luke Joeckel left, which moved him up from the late first round to a pick in the top 10."
Matthews, of course, was drafted No. 6 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in May, and if Sumlin is correct about where he would have been drafted had he left college as a junior right tackle, staying in school could have helped move him up as many as 20 picks or more. Like Matthews, Ogbuehi was projected as a first-round draft pick had he left TAMU after last season. But in staying and moving to the left side, he could help himself move up the draft board even more.
And Aggies right tackle Germain Ifedi, a standout sophomore, could be next to make the move. According to Sumlin, players aspire to be the next in line.
"It's something we recruit to. ... I'll put it this way, that left tackle spot is coveted here, because the guys who play there end up making a lot of money later on in life," Sumlin said.
Ogbuehi figures to be the third consecutive Aggies left tackle to be drafted in the first round, and players are acutely aware of the pattern.