We have already previewed the top quarterbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft class, now it's time to give some love to the big guys up front.
Unlike the quarterbacks, there is a very distinct possibility that the New York Giants could be drafting one of these young men, so it behooves us to at least get familiar with them before the draft.
The First Round
Laremy Tunsil (Ole Miss) -- Tunsil is the top rated offensive lineman in the class for a reason. He is a balanced blocker who is good in the run and passing game, and plays with a mean streak. He's generally fundamentally sound and looks to finish every play with authority. It's not reasonable to expect an offensive tackle to come in and be an immediate difference maker, but Tunsil has a great chance of having a very good career.
Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame) -- Stanley follows Tunsil, and isn't behind by much. He is a great pass protector, using long arms and fluid feet to wall off pass rushers. He could stand to get better (and nastier) in the run game, however, and doesn't finish plays like Tunsil does. There are some who believe that with the right development, Stanley has a higher pro ceiling than Tunsil.
Jack Conklin (Michigan State) -- Conklin's draft stock is difficult to peg. He doesn't get pegged as an athletic tackle on the field, but was one of the most athletic linemen at the combine. His athleticism was actually masked by poor footwork, but the fact that he was able to compensate for that is a testament to how athletic he really is. But the watchword for Conklin is "toughness." He is a brawler, who seems to revel in the physical aspects of the game and imposing his will on opposing linemen.
Jason Spriggs (Indiana) -- Spriggs might be the forgotten man at the top of the offensive tackle depth chart, but there is a lot to like about him. As a former tight end he has terrific feet and lateral agility to go with long arms, active hands, and looks to finish plays. He needs to improve his play strength, especially in the run game, but Spriggs has the tools and mentality to develop.
Taylor Decker (Ohio State) -- Decker is a tall, but strong tackle. Like most of the other top tackles, Decker plays with an attitude and flashes a willingness to play through the whistle. He is athletic enough to win at the college level, but Decker also has a bad habit of playing very upright, which at 6-foot-7 could be a problem against speed rushers at the NFL level.
Le'Raven Clark (Texas Tech) -- There are few, if any, prospects with more raw ability at their position than Le'Raven Clark. There are also few, if any, who need more development. Texas Tech's offense has little in common with the NFL, so he is facing a sharp learning curve. However, he also has amazing physical tools, with a thick frame, quick feet, vine-like 36 1/8-inch arms, and massive 11 7/8-inch hands.
Jerald Hawkins (LSU) -- The Tigers' left tackle has all the tools to be an NFL starter, but it could take him a year of coaching and development to put them all together. He's athletic, with good feet. but still built more like a big tight end than a classic offensive tackle. And like Decker, his height (6-6) can get the better of him with inconsistent knee bend. He does have experience on both the left and right sides.
Kyle Murphy (Stanford) -- Where Decker and Hawkins have the problem of playing too high, Kyle Murphy is usually the low man, and it shows. He isn't a finished product and needs to patch some holes in his game, but his attention to pad level helps, especially in the run game. Interestingly, however, he still needs to get stronger and struggles to anchor against power rushers.
Shon Coleman (Auburn) -- Coleman has intriguing physical tools, and a bully's personality. He generally moves easily on the edge, but is tough to move once he is latched on. A cancer survivor, he is coming out late and will be a 25-year-old rookie who could still stand to add strength and improve his footwork.
Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama) -- Like Tunsil, Kelly is the top of the class in the interior of the line. He is a smart, mobile, and strong center with great leadership abilities. He played a big part in Derrick Henry's Heisman campaign, and will help some NFL line get better.
Cody Whitehair (OG, Kansas State) -- Whitehair was a tackle at K-State, but he projects better inside in the NFL. He has better movement skills than normal for a guard, and which would help when blocking at the second level, on screen passes, and in zone blocking schemes.
Vadal Alexander (OG, LSU) -- Alexander used to be LSU's right tackle, but heavy feet are likely moving him to guard, but like La'El Collins, it should be a good move. He is one of the nastier blockers in the draft and a bull in the run game.
Nick Martin (OC, Notre Dame) -- Younger brother of Zack Martin, Nick is one of the top centers in this draft. Like his brother, Nick isn't an exceptional athlete, but he has a high football IQ, good mobility, and functional strength. He isn't flashy, but he should be an NFL starter, and the leader of an offensive line.
Germain Ifedi (OG, Texas A&M) -- The Aggies have been putting offensive lineman into the NFL at an impressive clip over the last few years, and Ifedi looks to be the next in that line. He has very long arms and a stout build that looks thicker than his 6-6 frame suggests. He doesn't quite have the feet and fluidity of movement to stay at offensive tackle, but his length, power and attitude will play well at guard.