2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Laremy Tunsil
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: In my first Big Board for the 2016 NFL Draft, Tunsil was my No. 1-rated player and I haven't moved him from the top spot once. He is far and away the best player in the 2016 NFL Draft. In any draft class, even a top-heavy class like 2014 or 2011, Tunsil is worthy of going in the top five, and he is the only prospect who teams feel that way about this year.
Tunsil broke into the starting lineup as a freshman. He was superb as a sophomore and was the best offensive lineman in the nation. As a junior, Tunsil was suspended seven games to start the season over accepting improper benefits from an agent. His stepfather made the allegations after he and Tunsil had an altercation over the summer. Tunsil said he was protecting his mother, and the stepfather denies that side of the story.
After coming back to the field, Tunsil was superb for Ole Miss. His return to action was against Texas A&M, and he impressed with how he blocked Aggies superstar defensive end Myles Garrett. Tunsil showed why he is held in such high regard by performing well in his snaps with Garrett. A week later, Tunsil had some issues with Auburn speed rusher Carl Lawson, but overall, had a solid game. After that, Tunsil dominated against the likes of Arkansas, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State.
Tunsil is a true franchise left tackle who is ready to start in the NFL immediately. He has phenomenal athleticism and quickness. Tunsil is very fast with picture perfect knee bend to mirror and stop speed rushes around the corner. He also has natural strength in his base to hold up against bull rushes and is a rock-solid pass protector. As if those qualities weren't enough, Tunsil has quality length that makes it is hard for rushers to get around him.
In the ground game, Tunsil gets movement at the point of attack. He plays with good leverage and keeps his defenders from making the play. Tunsil is extremely quick to fire to the second level to hit blocks on linebackers while also showing the agility to hit perimeter blocks downfield.
In the NFL, Tunsil will fill out his already substantial frame, which will make him even better. He has the body to grow into being a bigger, stronger offensive lineman. Sources say that early in his career, Tunsil could struggle against powerful edge rushers like a J.J. Watt, but they acknowledge that every blocker struggles with Watt. Still, it will help Tunsil to add more functional strength. The other question that sources have is how will Tunsil handle being beaten? He's dominated at every level of football thus far, including the SEC, so they wonder how Tunsil will respond when he is bested by NFL rushers as no blocker wins 100 percent of their snaps all season long. Sources feel that those concerns are extremely minor.
As a pro, Tunsil looks like he has the potential to be an elite left tackle and one of the best at his position in the NFL. I could see him becoming a perennial Pro Bowler and a dominant pass protector quickly in his professional career.
WalterFootball.com knows that Tunsil his held in high regard by teams picking high, and they believe he is a legitimate top-five talent in any draft class. In speaking with a top general manager and sources at a variety of teams, they agreed with Tunsil being NFL-ready; a franchise left tackle; the best player in the 2016 NFL Draft; and a great athlete with knee bend, quick feet and the size to get stronger. Tunsil is deserving of going with the No. 1-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
In mid-January, I reported that the Titans were interested in trading down, but if they remained at No.1, Tunsil was the initial favorite to be their pick. In following up with Tennessee sources, it sounds like that plan is still on track.
Player Comparison: Tyron Smith. Smith came into the NFL with rare athleticism and quickness as an offensive tackle. He has turned into an excellent left tackle for the Cowboys after being a top-10 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. In the NFL, I could see Tunsil being a player similar to Smith.
NFL Matches: Tennessee, San Diego, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Miami and Tampa Bay
The Titans look like a perfect fit for Tunsil, and I would be shocked if they passed on him. Tennessee gave up the most sacks in the NFL in 2015 with 54. Taylor Lewan is a good young left tackle; he was taken with the Titan's first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but he could move to right tackle if Tunsil is drafted. That would allow the Tennessee to move 2015 third-rounder Jeremiah Poutasi to guard and upgrade the offensive line at three spots. Tunsil would be a perfect franchise left tackle to protect Marcus Mariota for their careers. In speaking with sources in Tennessee, Tunsil is the favorite to go with the first pick if the Titans are unable to trade down.
San Diego likes King Dunlap, but the organization would have a hard time passing on Tunsil. Injuries have simply ravaged the Chargers' offensive front, so getting blocker like Tunsil would really help stabilize the team's offense.
Luke Joeckel struggled once again in 2015. In Week 17, he gave up five sacks to the Texans and looked helpless trying to stop J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. The Jaguars need to move Joeckel to guard and find a true left tackle to protect Blake Bortles. If Tunsil is available to the Jaguars, it would be a no-brainer choice, and moving up for him could make sense for them depending on the cost.
The 49ers, Dolphins and Bucs have bigger needs than offensive line help, but if there was some reason that Tunsil started dropping, one of those teams could find him too good to pass on.
2016 NFL Mock Draft: Charlie's | Walt's
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2016 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
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