I've gone into a mini hibernation in relation to my ' On The Trail' series over the past couple of months, after all it's more important to focus on the players that we have then the ones we could potentially have in one years time. However two pre-season games in and seeing Sanchez and Tebow running for their lives got me thinking about next years offensive line draft class. Let me preface this whole article, it's the pre-season and I'm not panicking. Mangold, D'Brickashaw and Moore won't be playing at full capacity yet and when they do it will elevate the whole line. Matt Slauson has been adequate and Wayne Hunter has been well Wayne Hunter. The point remains, Wayne Hunter is 31 years old and isn't going to get a whole lot better.
I always support taking offensive and defensive line early in the draft. I've been reading about how Matt Kalil the Vikings first round selection is completely stonewalling Jared Allen in practise. I watched Detroit's first pre-season game and their first round selection Riley Reiff looked impressive with the 2nd string unit protecting Shaun Hill and keeping him clean on two touchdown drives. It looks like Cordy Glenn will start at left tackle up in Buffalo. I sang the praises of Bobby Massie before the draft and it seems as though he may win the right tackle job in Arizona over Bridges. Any of those guys, especially Massie a 4th round prospect could have easily taken over Hunter.
One of he best offensive line talents in the country is based down in where else, Alabama! Barrett Jones is a first round prospect who can play anywhere on the line. He has spent the majority of his time at right guard but at 6'4 and 300+lb's, he has the talent to be a talent at right tackle. He has played left tackle for Alabama as well and won the Outland trophy for the best interior lineman last year. The bottom line is that Barrett has a ton of talent and a ton of versatility, which means he is likely a top 10 selection.
Next stop Wisconsin! and Ricky Wagner, a player who a lot of people will be familiar with as he has been highly touted for a while now. Ricky spent the majority of his early career for the Badgers at right tackle before moving over to left tackle for the 2011 season starting all 14 contests. This year he'll need to improve his technique as he seems to rely on his upper body strength more and more, however he has the ability and the size to become an impressive tackle at the next level, personally I think he is better suited to be a right tackle at the next level than at left.
Lets go down to Louisiana for Alex Hurst, a player with a ton of talent and one of the most underrated prospects in the country in my opinion. In 2012 he will be entering his third season as the starting right tackle for LSU. First team all SEC coaches selection, Hurst is one of the most reliable and durable athletes on the team. He has excellent size and excels in both run and pass blocking. At the moment I think people are rating him in the 3rd round, but he'll be a bottom of the first, top of the 2nd round selection next April.
These are three seniors who will be entering the draft, however if you include some possible underclassman this draft gets a whole lot deeper at the offensive line front. Taylor Lewin from Michigan, Seantrel Henderson from Miami, D.J Fluker from Alabama, Chris Faulk from LSU and Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M.
Plenty of options in 2013, and after another year with Hunter I'm pretty confident we'll be looking at tackles in April.