Restocking the trenches is always a priority for NFL teams, and they will find the cupboard full along the O-line in 2008 -- especially at tackle.
Michigan's Jake Long is the headliner of group. Praised as the best offensive lineman at Michigan since left guard Steve Hutchinson, Long is a possible top 10 pick. Boston College's Gosder Cherilus, Southern California's Sam Baker and Tennessee's Eric Young have also established themselves as potential first-round prospects.
|Michigan's Jake Long will likely be a Top 10 pick. (Getty Images)|
An in-depth look at my current Top 10 senior offensive linemen for the 2008 draft:
1. Jake Long, OT, Michigan, 6-7, 315, 5.08 (40-yard dash)
Long considered leaving Michigan after his junior season for the NFL. A better run blocker than Joe Thomas and a better pass blocker than Levi Brown -- both top five picks last April -- he would have competed to be the first offensive tackle selected in 2007. Characterized by some as Michigan's top offensive lineman since Steve Hutchinson, Long is a likely top-10 pick.
|Gosder Cherilus (Getty Images)|
B.C. has a long history of producing high quality offensive linemen, and Cherilus is the latest to come down the pike. In making a successful transition from right tackle to the left side this season, Cherilus' stock is ascending. He is still a bit raw, but his balance and long arms make him a natural pass blocker.
|Sam Baker (Getty Images)|
Baker's combination of quick feet, balance and long arms make him one of the better pure pass blockers in the draft. Scouts, however, want to see more physicality to Baker's game. He can be bull-rushed into the quarterback and isn't the dominant run blocker his size would indicate.
4. Eric Young, OT/OG, Tennessee, 6-4, 308, 5.18
|Eric Young (Getty Images)|
5. Steve Justice, C, Wake Forest, 6-4, 285, 5.14
|Steve Justice (Getty Images)|
6. Mike McGlynn, OL, Pittsburgh, 6-5, 318, 5.25
McGlynn is a blue collar lineman capable of starting at any position along the offensive line. While all of his 31 career starts previous to this season came at right tackle, McGlynn's size, balance and toughness make him a potential fit at either guard position or perhaps even center, a position he was asked to learn this spring due to team needs. McGlynn has struggled with injuries this season, but his versatility and dependability earns him high praise from scouts.
7. Heath Benedict, OT/OG, Newberry, 6-6, 328, 4.99
Originally signing with Tennessee as a highly touted prospect, Benedict elected to transfer to Newberry in 2004 due to academic struggles. He has dominated the lower level, earning all-conference accolades each of the past two seasons. Blessed with rare athleticism and size, Benedict plays left tackle here. Scouts feel he may need a year to acclimate himself to the speed of the NFL, however, and many are projecting him at guard -- at least initially.
8. Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh, 6-6, 340, 5.36
One of the fastest rising names in the country, Otah entered the season as a late second-day or free-agent prospect and has quietly been Pittsburgh's best offensive lineman. A JUCO transfer who only began playing the game as a high school senior, Otah is still raw, but his rare size, long arms and intriguing athleticism have served him well this season at left tackle.
9. Tony Hills, OT, Texas, 6-6, 305, 5.16
Hills is an intriguing talent. Blessed with a prototype frame for the left tackle position, he flashes the quickness and balance needed to play this position in the NFL. He also has the long arms scouts prefer. For a team known for its power rushing, however, Hills is only a marginal run blocker and scouts want to see more consistency and nastiness out of his play.
10. Chris Williams, OT/OG, Vanderbilt, 6-6, 315, 5.25
A second-team All-SEC choice by the coaches last season, Williams has been juggled between left tackle and left guard throughout his career. His long arms and rare size make him appear a better fit on the outside, though scouts question whether he has the foot quickness to handle NFL pass rushers.
Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, published by The Sports Xchange.