By College Football Analyst Josh Buchanan for TonySoftli.com
Leading up to the draft and the release of my final big board and draft guide I will preview each position. Below is a look at each of the projected top five offensive tackles and below that is a look at the top 25 small school edge protectors for the 2014 NFL Draft.
- Billy Turner, North Dakota State
Turner is athletic and runs extremely well. I was watching his tape against SIU and the playoff run just last week and he pulls very well, hits his targets, and works hard. You can tell he has come a long way in two years and did pretty well overall in the postseason. His junior and senior seasons showed major improvements from early on and he has bloodlines with his dad and brother having played in the NFL. He should be a 3rd round selection but there are grades all over the board in my opinion as some teams will likely grade him in the 2nd round while others will view him as a 5th round grade.
- Josh Wells, James Madison
When we took Josh Wells for the NFLPA Bowl I said back then he was underrated. Many I talked to said JMU didn’t have a draftable prospect but I disagreed and he proved me right in the postseason. Wells ran a 5.2 40 at 6’6, 315 pounds with a 31 ½ inch vertical, 23 bench reps, and has a good wingspan (80 ¼). He should have been first-team All-CAA and is a player who should not only get drafted late but can have a solid NFL career. Expect him to be a 7th round selection, unless someone wants to ensure they get him and pulls the trigger in the 6th round.
- Matt Hall, Belhaven (MS)
Hall is a big body at 6’9, 324 pounds and did well at the Shrine Game. Hall did a solid job in his senior year showing decent feet and ability but his pro day workout wasn’t quite enough to get him over the hump in the draft. Expect him to be undrafted due to that and some off field concerns from his past. He is a player to watch who could make it in the right situation.
- Nathan Isles, NC A&T
He’s a big body who had a very good game against the big bodies at App State and shows the build, physical tools, and overall strength to potentially surprise people. He was never really looked at by all-star games and should have competed in the Medal of Honor Bowl but somehow went unnoticed. While he likely won’t get drafted the 6’5 ½, 324 pounder is a big body who could ideally be a right tackle or potentially a guard in the NFL. He should be a priority free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft.
- Danny Kistler, Montana
Kistler came in to the season with many thinking he could be a late round pick and he had a lot of media attention. He deserved the All-America accolades he got but his lack of athletic ability and inability to bend well at his size made him someone who was headed for a fall. He has massive hands at 10 1/8 inches and is a three-year starter who dominated the Big Sky as a junior and senior to earn first-team All-Big Sky honors. He has good length and is ability to hit targets but is more of an inline blocker and does need to get stronger and work on getting to the second level. Expect him to be a priority free agent signing.
OVERRATED: Danny Kistler, Montana
Most gave him free agent grades during the fall and his 5.8 40 along with 18 bench reps, 5.02 short shuttle, and 8.40 3-cone pretty much sealed the deal that he will have to make a team as a free agent.
UNDERRATED: Nathan Isles, NC A&T
Isles was never given the respect he should have during his career. He probably should have been All-MEAC as a junior and deserved first-team honors (instead of second-team) as a senior. Don’t be surprised if he is highly coveted after the draft, as long as he did well at his pro day.
SLEEPER: Bryan Witzmann, South Dakota State
This is your typical Dakota kid who redshirted, looked stiff early on in career, and never got a lot of hype but is a four-year starter who got better as a senior and showed he could make it. His size (6’7 3/8, 311) is very good and he moves well. He needs to get stronger but could make a practice squad or 53 man roster in the right situation.
RISER: Mitchell Van Dyk, Portland State
After a very strong pro day workout at 6’7, 313 pounds running a 5.1 40 and good position drills he has gotten some more interest. My concern on tape was strength and he only did 14 bench reps. This is a player who could have a NFL career with time in a developmental league, oh how I wish there was something like NFL Europe. This is a player who would benefit greatly and could become a quality NFL player with a couple years of hard work at a higher level than college.
FALLER: Danny Kistler, Montana
Kistler’s bad workout at his pro day and performance in the East-West Shrine Game has really hurt his stock. There were concerns from tape this year but it stood out even more in the postseason and thus don’t expect him to get drafted. Had he done well in the postseason he could have been a 3rd Montana Grizzly drafted this year (Jordan Tripp and Brock Coyle will be).
INTRIGUING: Frances Mayes, Florida A&M
Mayes is a huge body who played end for FAMU but is not quite athletic enough for defense. His body type and tools scream NFL right tackle.
SMALL SCHOOL OT RANKINGS
|Pos Rank||First Name||Last Name||School||Round|
|1||Billy||Turner||North Dakota State||3rd-4th|
|2||Joshua “Josh”||Wells||James Madison||7th|
|4||Nathan||Isles||North Carolina A&T||PFA|
|5||Daniel “Danny”||Kistler Jr.||Montana||PFA|
|6||Bryan||Witzmann||South Dakota State||PFA|
|7||Charles||Goodwin||North Carolina Central||FA|
|9||Ryan||Gradney-Riggins||Fort Valley State||FA|
|11||Tevon||Conrad||Saginaw Valley State||FA|
|12||Mitchell||Van Dyk||Portland State||FA|
|13||Jon||Caspers||Northern State (SD)||Tryout|
|21||Marquis||Franklin||Fort Valley State||Tryout|
|25||Marcus “Marc”||Murtha||South Dakota||Tryout|