by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of PFF.com.
As this year comes to a close, Draft 412 will take a look at the 2023 and 2024 draft classes by position. The following is a current “Best Of” list for both offense and defense, taking a look back at the top players from last year’s draft party and ahead to the coming NFL selection process in April.
From Draft 412 to you… Happy Holidays and get your mock drafts ready!!
Since the NFL is shelling out these enormous contracts for their signal callers, one thing is for certain. They are going to pay big money to protect their investments and try everything in their power to escape injury. Tackles are just as important as having a stud wide receiver or a workhorse running back. Without the play of a solid offensive line, those pieces are not going to help you.
The 2023 NFL Draft had 24 tackles selected and here are the best of last year’s selections:
1- Cleveland - Dawand Jones
There were 10 tackles selected before Dawand Jones went in the 4th round. Jones was ticketed to be a backup for Cleveland in 2023, but in week 1, starting tackle Jack Conklin went down with a season ending knee injury. Jones started and played well for the Browns and received high marks for containing the Pittsburgh Steelers' T.J. Watt when the teams matched up. The mammoth tackle, listed at 6’8” and 375 lbs., was on his way to an all-rookie team nomination when he went down with a season ending injury on December 11th.
2- Arizona - Paris Johnson Jr.
It has been a rough season for the last place 3-11 Arizona Cardinals. One bright spot could be the continued improvement of 1st round pick Paris Johnson. The 6th overall pick started all 14 games at right tackle and even though he has had some rough patches, the youngster is looking like a future anchor of the Cardinals offensive line for years to come. Johnson should be moved to left tackle next season.
3- Jacksonville - Anton Harrison
Anton Harrison was selected 27th overall by the Jaguars in 2023. With Walker Little at left tackle, the plan was to plug Harrison in on the right side. Harrison has started all 14 games at right tackle and has steadily improved his game during the season. Jacksonville has taken care of their bookends on the offensive line and have built a young offensive team to grow together.
As we move from the 2023 draft to the 2024 NFL Draft, here is Draft 412’s Top Ten Offensive Tackle prospects:
1- Olu Fashanu - Penn State
Fashanu could have entered the draft last season after making only 8 career starts and been a first round draft pick. He instead came back to school and has been an anchor all season long for the Penn State offensive line and most feel he is now locked in as the #1 tackle coming out.
2- Joe Alt - Notre Dame
In most drafts, Joe Alt should be the first tackle off the board. He has only allowed one sack in the last two seasons at Notre Dame. As his 6’8” frame continues to add weight and muscle, he could be the most complete tackle in this draft.
3- Amarius Mims - Georgia
Mims missed part of the 2023 season with an ankle injury and even though he has less than 10 career starts, scouts have given him a first round grade. He will more than likely step into a right tackle spot and start right away.
4- J.C. Latham - Alabama
Latham is another player who projects to start at right tackle in the NFL. Latham has had a solid career at Alabama and will be a welcome addition to an NFL team.
5- Taliese Fuaga - Oregon State
Fuaga has made the biggest jump from the beginning of the season. Once thought of as a mid-late round pick, Fuaga is a first round talent who has a demeanor the NFL brass will covet.
6- Jordan Morgan - Arizona
Here is where we see a dip in the prospects. Morgan has had some struggles at left tackle, but his size and athleticism has so much upside that he will be gone by late day 2.
7- Patrick Paul - Houston
Patrick Paul is coming off an excellent 2023 season in which he did not allow a sack in 12 games at left tackle. He will have to improve his run blocking but could project as a future anchor at left tackle for years to come.
8- Graham Barton - Duke
Barton struggled throughout 2023 with injuries and performance. He was responsible for 2 sacks and 9 hurries and was slow getting off the snap. He has dropped on many boards but Draft Nation says don’t sleep on him.
9- Kingsley Suamataia- BYU
Suamatai is a high riser who has been mentioned as a first round prospect by some outlets. He still struggles with his balance and his run blocking is a work in progress.
10- Tyler Guyton- Oklahoma
Guyton is the rawest of the top 10 prospects, but he may have the highest ceiling. His athleticism is off the charts, and his 6’7” frame has room to add more bulk. Guyton probably won’t last past the 4th round.