On Thursday, NFL Network analyst Gil Brandt published the first listing of his yearly ranking of the top 100 NFL Draft prospects.
Keep in mind — like any such ranking, it is one man’s opinion. But unlike many others, Brandt is an analyst whose opinion carries a lot of weight; he has “been there and done that” over a very long time. Brandt was the vice president of player personnel of the Dallas Cowboys for 28 years (1960-88). It would be wise not to dismiss his opinion out of hand.
So let’s take a look at how he ranks the offensive tackles — a position on which we expect the Kansas City Chiefs to focus in April:
2. Penei Sewell, Oregon
Sewell is the closest thing to Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden I’ve seen in some time. More so than anything, he can play left tackle, and that means so much in today’s NFL.
8. Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
Slater had a great workout at Northwestern’s pro day, recording a 33-inch vertical and throwing the bar up 33 times. His arms, which people were worried about the length of, measured 33 inches. Ultimately, I think he’s more of a guard than a tackle.
17. Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
Darrisaw, who started as a true freshman, is a very, very good run-blocker.
21. Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
A three-year starter who split his time over the past three seasons between left tackle and right tackle, Jenkins has long arms and is a good athlete — and he’s a better football player than Russell Okung was when he played at Oklahoma State.
35. Samuel Cosmi, Texas
Cosmi is a size and speed guy whose best is ahead of him.
43. Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State
A three-year starter at left tackle, Radunz’s long arms help him in pass protection.
44. Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
Leatherwood, who started for three years on the offensive line, can play two different positions, having spent time at both right guard and left tackle.
48. Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
Mayfield’s pedigree as a strong contributor in a good program is encouraging.
59. Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
62. Brady Christensen, BYU
73. Walker Little, Stanford
76. James Hudson, Cincinnati
88. Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
Just for starters, Brandt lists 13 offensive tackles among the top 100 prospects available. This confirms what many analysts believe: the draft is deep at this position. That’s good news for the Chiefs.
Where Brandt’s different
While many mock drafts have as many as five or six offensive tackles being taken in the first round, Brandt projects only four. As long as there isn’t a run at the position early in the first, the Chiefs may have a better selection of tackles available to them at pick 31 than has previously been believed. This might make it possible for the Chiefs to trade back a few spots and get an extra player early in the second round.
If you disagree with this analysis, that’s fine. But I would point out the draft analysts probably do a much better job at evaluating collegiate talent than they do in understanding the positional needs of a particular NFL team. It’s probably why it is smart to occasionally step back and take a look at a raw talent ranking — especially when it comes from an analyst with the experience and track record that Brandt possesses.
As always, it will come down to how Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and his staff evaluate these players; it’s unlikely they see the draft the way Brandt does. But his rankings suggest that it may indeed be possible for the Chiefs to get a first-year contributor at tackle.