Bucky Brooks
Tuesday February 19th, 2008

Here are the top offensive linemen and tight ends available in the draft. This list was compiled through conversations with scouts and the study of game film.

1. Fred Davis, USC, TE: The Trojans' skilled pass catcher is the most polished receiving tight end in the draft. Davis -- who led Trojans in receptions (61), receiving yards (881) and receiving touchdowns (8) -- is a precise route runner with outstanding hands and instincts. His uncanny ability to work into open areas of zone coverage makes him an ideal tight end prospect for a West Coast offense. Although he lacks the speed and athleticism of others in the draft, Davis is clearly the class of the draft due to his readiness to play at the next level. As the top tight end prospect, he will come off the board near the end of round one.

2. Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M, TE: An exceptional talent with outstanding size, athleticism and skills, the Aggies' dual-sport star is a playmaking threat with the size and leaping ability to create mismatches in the red zone. Though he isn't a polished route runner at this time, Bennett possesses the athleticism and movement skills to develop into big-play threat on the next level. Scouts have been encouraged by his improved blocking ability and many expect Bennett to emerge as a top-tier talent at the position in time. Look for a team to make a play for Bennett near the top of the second round.

3. John Carlson, Notre Dame, TE: Carlson is a balanced tight end who displays solid skills as a receiver and blocker. Despite lacking the explosiveness to run past defenders on vertical routes, Carlson is a crafty route runner with dependable hands who understands how to use his size to create space. As a blocker, Carlson flashes the strength to control defenders at the point of attack, and has enough athleticism to make solid blocks on the second level. As one of the few tight end prospects balanced in both areas, Carlson can expect to hear his name called in the mid-to-late portion of the second round.

4. Jermichael Finley, Texas, TE: Finley's a talented playmaker with excellent size, speed and athleticism. Despite having only two seasons of college experience, Finley shows potential as a "receiving" tight end. His hands and receiving skills are impressive, but he could have benefitted from another year in school. Regardless, scouts view him as an intriguing prospect and he is likely to be selected in the top three rounds.

5. Brad Cottam, Tennessee, TE: The Vols' tight end missed most of his senior season with a wrist injury, but wowed scouts with his size (6-foot-7, 271 pounds), athleticism and skills during the Senior Bowl. Despite only having 21 career receptions, scouts think that Cottam possesses the tools to develop into a starting tight end as a pro. Based solely on his athleticism and potential, expect Cottam to come off the board by the end of the third round.

1. Jake Long, Michigan: A polished technician with exceptional size and strength, Long has all of the tools to be a premier tackle on the next level. He not only possesses the might to move defenders off the ball in a power running scheme, but he has enough agility and quickness to be an effective blocker on the move. Long's ability to short set, strike and mirror rushers in pass protection is unmatched by any other tackle prospect in this years' draft. Therefore, look for Long to come off the board within the top five selections.

2. Ryan Clady, Boise State: An athletic tackle prospect with outstanding balance, body control and quickness, Clady has all of the movement skills to be an outstanding pass protector as a pro. Plus, he possesses the length to keep rushers from taking the short corner off the edge. Although Clady needs to play with better leverage against bull rushers, most scouts are of the opinion that he has all of the skills to be a perennial Pro Bowl player at the position. Expect Clady to be selected in the top half of round one.

3. Chris Williams, Vanderbilt: The All-SEC selection has outstanding athleticism, body control and lateral quickness. He shows natural ability as a space player and is one of the few tackle prospects capable of playing right or left tackle due to his athleticism. Though some scouts question his aggressiveness, Williams is viewed as an outstanding tackle prospect due to his athleticism, intelligence and consistency. Look for Williams to come off the board in the middle of the first round.

4. Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh: A mammoth tackle prospect who displays surprising athleticism and agility for his size. Otah, who has only played five years of organized football, is an emerging talent ideally suited to play in a power based running scheme. He overpowers defenders at the point of attack and shows surprising athleticism working to the second level. Otah is not quite as polished in pass protection, but displays enough lateral quickness and body control to be a quality performer at right tackle. Expect Otah to hear his name called near the end of the first round.

5. Sam Baker, USC: The three-time All-America has slipped on some boards due to an injury-plagued senior year and a disappointing week at the Senior Bowl. But Baker is regarded as a technically sound player who overcomes his physical limitations (size and strength) by effectively playing angles at the line of scrimmage. Even though Baker will not be a great fit in a power offense, his intelligence, skills and technique make him an attractive option for a team running a zone-based scheme. Look for Baker to be selected near the top of the second round by a team featuring a Broncos-like blocking scheme.

1. Branden Albert, Virginia, OG: An All-ACC selection with outstanding size, athleticism and movement skills, Albert is a dominating player along the middle of the line. He displays enough strength to move defenders off the ball and is athletic enough to make solid blocks on the second level. Though Albert is listed as an interior player, several scouts are intrigued by his potential to play tackle as a pro. Albert, who played two games at left tackle this season, has the agility and length to pose problems for speed rushers off the edge. Albert is a borderline first-round pick as a guard/tackle prospect.

2. Mike Pollak, Arizona State, C: The All-Pac-10 selection has a nice combination of size, strength and toughness. He plays well with his hands and does a good job finishing his blocks in the running game. While Pollak occasionally struggles with quicker defensive tackles in pass protection, he effectively uses angles and body help to solidify the interior. With his combination of experience, strength and toughness, Pollack is a safe bet to be the first center selected in this year's draft.

3. Robert Schuening, Oregon State, OG: The Beavers' team leader finished his career with 50 consecutive starts. Best described a "mauler," Schuening overpowers defenders with his size and strength. Although Schuening isn't effective as a movement blocker, scouts think highly of his ability to control the middle of the line in the running game. Despite Schuening's struggles against top talent at the Senior Bowl, he still carries a third-round grade heading into the Combine.

4. Robert Felton, Arkansas, OG: As one of the few linemen with experience at four of the positions along the line, Felton is attractive to several teams as a potential swing player up front. Possessing surprising short-area quickness and better-than-average lower-body strength, Felton is most effective as a drive blocker in the running game. In spite of his struggles in pass protection against quickness, Felton displays enough ability to be a serviceable guard on the next level. Look for a team to grab Felton as a mid-round value.

5. Drew Radovich, USC, OG: The unheralded guard prospect raised his profile with his strong performance at the Senior Bowl; Radovich displayed a toughness and grit that scouts found impressive during the week of practice. In spite of his athletic limitations, many view Radovich as a player with intriguing potential due to his ability to anchor against stout interior players. Radovich has moved into mid-round consideration on most draft boards.

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