Updated Nov. 8, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
A lot was made that offensive tackle was one of the weaker positions in the 2017 NFL Draft. Edge protectors are critical players in the NFL, and there are many teams across the league that are desperate for tackles who can help protect a franchise quarterback. That desperation was given further proof last week when the Seahawks shipped two second-day picks in the 2018 NFL Draft for a declining 32-year old left tackle in Duane Brown, whose best football is behind him. Looking at the 2018 NFL Draft class, however, one can understand why the Seahawks gave up a lot for Brown along with hoping he could help them compete for a championship this season and next year.
At the start of this season, there was reason for optimism that the 2018 class was going to be stronger at tackle. The advance scouting services partnered on by NFL Teams, National Scouting and Blesto, had three offensive tackles with high preseason grades on Washington's Trey Adams, Texas' Connor Williams and Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey. Of the trio, only McGlinchey remains as a top prospect for 2018 NFL Draft.
Adams tore an ACL and stated he plans to return to Washington. Williams played poorly before his own knee injury sidelined him, and his draft grades are poor - see below. Another bigger-name tackle prospect who has underwhelmed this year is Clemson's Mitch Hyatt - see further below. While that group disappointed, sources from multiple teams identified three tackles who have had breakout seasons to help the position. They didn't say this trio was first-round caliber, but they could be second-day picks who provide value.
Of this trio, the only one who plays at power-five school is Washington State left tackle Andre Dillard. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder and has some quickness with athletic ability to go with NFL size. He has been a good blind-side protector for Luke Falk and has impressed scouts this fall. Dillard could get second-day consideration in the 2018 NFL Draft if he decides to skip his senior year. Dillard might be better off returning, getting stronger and improving to hope that he flies up boards as a senior.
A player who has really created a nice buzz in the scouting community for his skill set is West Georgia left tackle Desmond Harrison. Sources say the 6-foot-7, 300-pounder has a first- or second-round skill set, but he won't go that high. Harrison started out his collegiate career at Texas before ending up leaving the program over some positive drug tests. Still, his impressive play and skill set are being discussed in scouting circles.
North Carolina A&T offensive tackle Brandon Parker has also had some positive talk going around about him. The 6-foot-8, 310-pound giant has received some fourth-round grades. However, if he performs well at the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine, that grade could easily rise.
While these three are't seen as first-round talents, they could offer some values for Day 2 of the 2018 Draft and help shore up another weak class of offensive tackles. There will certainly be many tackle-needy teams in the 2018 NFL Draft hoping that they can land a diamond in the rough.