The NFL Draft is finally here, and there are several big names on the market that are poised to not only turn around certain franchises, but ring in a new generation of football. So let’s answer who the top NFL draft offensive tackles might be this year.
There are several standout offensive tackles available this year, and the top five alone have the potential to carry a team’s offensive line. Here are the top five tackles in the 2020 NFL Draft, according to Rotoworld’s Thor Nygard.
Wirfs’ strength has always been prominent, as the hometown hero was not only a standout OL during his time at Mount Vernon High School, but he was also a two-time state champion in shot put and discus throw and a champion wrestler. After his shot-put championship in his sophomore year, he received offers from Iowa and Iowa State and committed to Iowa as a four-star recruit in his junior year.
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The Iowa native became the first true freshman to start for the Hawkeyes in the Kirk Ferentz era, starting eight of 10 games, with seven of those being at right tackle. The following year, he bounced back from a suspension in the 2018 season opener to receive honorable All-Big Ten notice after being a dominant presence over 12 games on the right side, working in tandem with Alaric Jackson. In 2019, he built on his performance, playing 13 games (10 at right tackle) and was named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and was a 2019 second-team AP All-American.
At 6-5, 320 pounds, Wirfs’ size and strength makes him dominant at the OT position, as his work in the weight room translates easily to his strength on the field. He can throw anyone back with force and also has the speed and stealth to keep up with his opponents, as well as large arms and hands that can put anyone on their backs. Not only that, he’s versatile in the fact that he can play either side with ease.
He does, however, have to expand his overall play and ability and make the most of all of his attributes, while also working on his positioning, but is the NFL draft top offensive tackle.
2. Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Another outstanding selection, Thomas slid down a bit in regards to his 40-yard time at the Combine, but in all respect, he is perhaps one of the tackles that is most likely to hit the ground running at the NFL level.
A five-star recruit from Georgia’s Pace Academy, transitioning to the NCAA was nothing for Thomas, who started all 15 games for the Bulldogs in his freshman year. There was no drop-off in his playing ability, as he received numerous Freshman All-American accolades for his performance. And when it came to switching from right tackle to left tackle in his sophomore year, he again was able to adapt without issue to the change, starting 13 games and being named a second-team AP All-American, while receiving first-team All-SEC honors. He then earned first-team all-conference accolades in 2019 and was named a first-team AP All-American for his performance at left tackle in 2019.
Over the course of his NCAA career, he missed just two games: one in 2018 due to an ankle injury, and another to prepare for the NFL draft in 2019.
The 6-5, 315-pound OT is arguably the most ready for the NFL. His competitive drive and quickness makes him incredibly hard to play against, and he’s incredibly aware of what’s going on around him. Not only that, he can recover and redirect on the fly, and has the size and speed to never let his guard down.
However, there is room for improvement when it comes to footwork and perfecting his technique if he wants to fulfill expectations as an elite NFL tackle.
3. Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama
Over his football career, high expectations have never been out of reach for Jedrick Wills Jr. The Lexington, Kent. native went to the Alabama as a five-star prospect and was a standout player from the get-go with the Tide. He played in 11 games in his freshman season, and he was able to take the starting job at right tackle in 2018 when veteran Matt Womack went down with injury. After that, he went from a reliable player to one of the most dominant All-American OTs, leading him to be receive first-team All-SEC and second-team AP ALL-American accolades in 2019.
Standing at 6-4, 312 pounds, Wills isn’t the typical size, he makes up for it with quickness and different approaches to shut down defenders, and out of all the OTs available, he probably packs the biggest punch. He’s able to move well and has great agility, which allows him to transition fluidly and be a strong body mover. He’s also able to control the tempo of play and has quick feet and hands that will benefit him moving forward.
He does, however, need to be able to hold his own and not let pressure to be one step ahead of his opponents control his movements, as this can lead to overextending and wrong reads, while giving the defense the ability to beat him and get past him.
While he isn’t the typical tackle, Wills will certainly be a major asset at the NFL level.
4. Mekhi Becton, Louisville
Becton made headlines with an impressive showing at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in just 5.10 seconds. That’s what got him on the radar of multiple teams, but his skill, size and ability at OT is what has turned him into one of the top tackle prospects available.
In high school, Becton was a major asset in helping Highland Springs capture back-to-back state championships before he went to Louisville as a four-star recruit. Standing at 6-7, 364 pounds, Becton had no problem stepping in immediately, starting 10 games at right tackle for the Cardinals before switching to left tackle for 10 games in his sophomore year, playing just two on the right side. At left tackle through 11 starts in 2019, Becton received numerous accolades and praise for his performance, including first-team All-ACC honors.
Like Thomas, Becton is likely to make an impact immediately at the NFL level, mainly due to his size and 7-foot wingspan. He’s monstrous and a force to be reckoned with, able to easily handle blocking duties. He’s able to throw his weight around and knock kick-outs off their feet, but his skill goes beyond his size; in fact, it’s his positioning that adds to his ability at tackle, especially when protecting the inside post.
There are some issues that come with size, though, especially when it comes to his quickness and staying aware of his surroundings, while also maintaining control over the field and working on his pass-pro performance.
5. Josh Jones, Houston
Having grown up in Richmond, Texas, Jones played both basketball and football for George Bush high school and was originally committed to play for Oklahoma State heading into his senior year. However, when he saw that Houston coach Tom Herman was taking players from around the area, the three-star recruit de-committed before National Signing Day and decided to play for the Cougars.
After redshirting as a freshman, Josh Jones made his debut as a starting left tackle in 13 games the following year. Even after Herman left, Jones stuck with the Cougars, starting 10 games at left tackle as a sophomore. An outstanding protector of the blind side, Jones received second-team all-conference accolades his senior year, even though he only started the first nine games of the season before falling victim to a knee injury.
The 6-5, 319-pound Jones is a work in progress and one of the most promising OT prospects available. He still has ways to go, but with development and time at the NFL level, he can emerge as a strong starting left tackle.
Jones is highly coachable, has a long reach and his quickness, mobility and competitive nature makes him a force on the field. He’s also able to improve his play as time goes on and has plenty of upside and room for growth, while he is also able to adapt to situations and move fluidly and smoothly.
He does have to work on better utilizing his arm length and body control, as well as cleaning up his footwork and angles.