Draft prospects like OT Jake Long make scouting look easy. Long was the top offensive lineman on our initial top 32 list back in August, is the top offensive lineman on our board today and will be the top offensive lineman selected in April's draft. Thankfully for my job security, very few college players are as consistently dominant.
Long is not as athletic as last year's top tackle prospect, Joe Thomas, who excelled at left tackle for the Cleveland Browns as a rookie in 2007. However, Long has more than enough range to play left tackle in the NFL, and he is bigger, stronger and more physical than Thomas was coming out of Wisconsin. Long grades out slightly lower than Thomas, who went at No. 3 overall last year, but Long could come off the board earlier in what projects to be a weaker overall class.
Ryan Clady is the only other lineman that projects as a top-15 pick. An early entry, Clady displays tremendous feet for his massive frame. As it stands right now, Chris Williams, Jeff Otah, Gosder Cherilus and Sam Baker are the four other tackles jockeying for consideration in the bottom half of the first round. Baker began the season not too far behind Long, but an injury-riddled senior campaign and a lackluster showing at the Senior Bowl have considerably damaged his stock.