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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

2024 NFL Draft: Ranking every first round-graded offensive lineman

Sports writer Mathias Cubillan ranks a deep group of first-round-level offensive linemen in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft. (Photo via Jonathan Moreau/Creative Commons)

NFL draft coverage has exploded from a cottage industry to a full-scale industrial complex with a remarkable amount of glitz and glamor for an event that effectively boils down to the commissioner reading 32 names off of an index card.

While the flashy skill positions snatch all the headlines, sometimes teams need to take their vegetables and draft the linemen who protect their most valuable asset. The 2024 class is one of the deepest in years, with these players likely to hear their names called on Day 1:

1. Joe Alt, offensive tackle, Notre Dame
Pro comparison: Nate Solder

Alt is a towering left tackle with scheme flexibility. Possessing a mountainous frame at almost 6-foot-9 and 321 pounds, Alt still has great balance and foot speed to constantly reset in pass protection. He’s best deployed as a road grader in the run game, where he has the strength to displace second-level defenders.

Unfortunately for Alt, his greatest asset is also his biggest weakness. His height can make him naturally out-leveraged when thicker, squattier pass rushers get under his pads and drive him back. If he can clean up his habit of leaning forward to prevent the bull rush, Alt should be a stalwart blindside protector from day one.

2. Amarius Mims, offensive tackle, Georgia
Pro comparison: Heracles

Amarius Mims is a narcotic that I simply cannot quit. At 6-foot-8 and 340 pounds, Mims looks like he descended upon us from Mount Olympus. The right tackle is scarily smooth dropping into his pass sets, he’s never allowed a single sack and he has the power to uproot defenders in the run game.

Now, you may be asking, “If he’s this good, why is he not atop this list?” He’s only started eight games. Mims battled through a litany of ankle injuries and was stuck behind other players, and his inexperience shows when he lunges or leans to block. You won’t hear a peep from me if a team decides to take a chance on the crafty and athletic blocker in the top 10.

3. JC Latham, offensive tackle, Alabama
Pro comparison: D.J. Fluker

Sometimes it is as easy as watching five plays, seeing the ball of machetes that lined up at right tackle for the Crimson Tide and saying, “Yeah, that’s a future NFLer.” Self-dubbed “Trench King” (I have questions), Latham is the strongest player in the entire draft class.

Aesthetically, he is shaped more like a guard but passes all the thresholds to play right tackle. Latham’s grip strength and ability to anchor down in pass protection pair well with his freight train style of run blocking. Latham’s feet are solid enough, but oversetting in pass protection can get him beat inside against quicker pass rushers.

4. Olu Fashanu, offensive tackle, Penn State
Pro comparison: Paris Johnson Jr.

Fashanu is an ideal blend of finesse, athleticism and football IQ. By all accounts, Fashanu is one of the brightest guys in the entire class, and it shows up in his film. The left tackle passes off and communicates stunts or twists with ease and has the range to be left on an island to mirror a team’s best pass rusher.

In the run game, Fashanu leaves something to be desired. He can hold his ground against defenders but is not much of a people-mover. If Fashanu can get stronger and play with a bit more of a nasty streak, he will be a plug-and-chug starting tackle.

5. Graham Barton, center, Duke
Pro comparison: Peter Skoronski

Amongst the cleanest evaluations in the entire draft, Barton is a loose athlete with refined technique in pass protection. In space, Barton has the agility to latch onto second-level defenders and create gaps for his teammates.

The Duke product has experience all across the offensive line and will have the versatility at the next level to start in the interior or get a team out of a game at tackle. Barton does not have elite length and can occasionally get pushed back due to power, but he rarely loses cleanly and should slot in as a starter immediately.

6. Troy Fautanu, offensive tackle, Washington
Pro comparison: Isaiah Wynn

Fautanu is remarkably short for a tackle, measuring in at third percentile height at the Combine for all offensive tackles. However, Fautanu is a fantastic athlete with absurd fluidity for the position, and he plays with a sort of savvy typically found in longtime NFL veterans.

With a hard-nosed play style and great range, Fautanu should have four-position flexibility along the offensive line. His aggressiveness can knock him off balance when he tries too hard to decleat an opponent, but Fautanu’s testing and mentality will be loved by NFL coaches.

7. Taliese Fuaga, offensive tackle, Oregon State
Pro comparison: Darnell Wright

A tall and barrel-chested right tackle, Fuaga has the power to drive players back in the run game. Fuaga uses heavy hands to punch and stun rushers in the pass game and has solid foot speed to get into his sets and mirror players off the edge.

While many evaluators believe he can play tackle, his lateral quickness and agility is concerning to me. To maximize Fuaga’s talents and power, a move to guard could give an NFL team a legitimate weapon inside.

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