Many fans have been foaming at the mouth in the hopes that either one of the elite defensive tackle prospects in Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy, somehow falls to number three and is on the board when the Buccaneers are on the clock. Some are even salivating over the likes of Tennessee safety Eric Berry and Alabama middle linebacker Rolando McClain at number three overall. But the forgotten prospect seems to be Oklahoma States left tackle Russell Okung.
Should neither Suh or McCoy be on the board. The smartest and safest pick would be that of Okung. Okung is the consensus top rated Left Tackle in this year’s draft class and a sure lock to go within the top five picks. During his four year career at Oklahoma State, he started 47 consecutive games. Further more he solidified his status at the combine after measuring in at 6-foot-5 inches, 307-pounds with an extraordinarily long arm length of 36 inches. But what was most impressive was his strength, as he managed 38 bench press reps of 225 pounds, which was second among the offensive linemen in attendance. He possesses a rare blend of size, speed, and intelligence to combat would be edge rushers at the pro level.
The safest position pick in any draft and in any sport is a Top 10 Offensive Tackle in the NFL Draft. With the Bengals off to a 7-3 start it appears for the 4th year in a row, a team with 4 wins or less selects an offensive tackle in the top 10 and increases their win total to 10+ wins the following season. Ironically Andre Smith has yet to play a down for the Bengals. This year is may be luck, but its not coincidence. If you look at the history of the draft, I doubt you will find a team with 5 or fewer wins that didn’t have a horrendous offensive or defensive line.
With that being said, its clear that the offensive tackle class in this year’s draft is Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung and everybody else. There are solid late first round seniors like Trent Williams from Oklahoma and Anthony Davis from Rutgers. Brian Beluga from Iowa and Charles Brown from USC are underclassmen with high ceilings, but neither is likely to go in the Top 10. This draft is loaded on the defensive side of the ball, so its unlikely you’ll see teams trade up to get a defensive player. Okung is one of the safest picks on the board and fills the biggest need on most of the horrid teams in NFL this season. If Cleveland, St Louis and Tampa Bay are picking in the top three, look for one of them to trade down to a team who is desperate for a left tackle.
Using the above excerpt from Dan Wernery of NFLDraft101.com and expounding on it further by using bust rate percentages applied, with regards to tackles drafted.
Since 1988, there have been 42 offensive tackles drafted within the top 15 picks of the first round, with a bust rate of 24%. Which essentially breaks down to 1 in every 4 tackles picked. Since 2001 there have been 16 tackles picked in the top 15 picks of the first round with a bust rate of 19% which is 1 bust for every 5.33 tackles picked.
List of Tackles selected in the top 15 picks of the first round since 1988.
Robert Gallery (Bust)
Mike Williams (Bust)
Kenyatta Walker (Bust)
Bernard Williams (Bust)
Eugene Chung (Bust)
Charles McRae (Bust)
Pat Harlow (Bust)
Tony Mandarich (Bust)
Dave Cadigan (Bust)
Eric Moore (Bust)
Drafting a left tackle is not a sexy pick, but it has become a smart and safe pick over the years. Taking a middle linebacker or a safety with such a high draft pick. For a position that can be filled almost by any round, would be a waste of value, not to mention seriously decreasing maximization of said value on non premium positions and once again following in the foot steps of the previous regime when they regularly wasted and blundered draft value and negated the chance to truly maximize draft slotting and the weighting of premium positions.
Using a line from the movie the Blind Side when during the opening narrative when equating drafting a franchise quarterback to buying a house. Sandra Bullock says the first check you right is for the mortgage, the second is for the insurance. Based on the team drafting Josh Freeman last year, it might be time to begin writing that insurance check out to the name of Russell Okung.