PewterReport.com analyzes the top players in the 2022 NFL Draft with its’ position previews. J.C. Allen keeps things rolling by previewing the offensive tackle position, with a comprehensive look at what the Bucs have and what they need at tackle. Allen also provides a detailed list of this year’s top tackles. In addition, Scott Reynolds offers up the team needs and the annual PewterReport.com Bucs’ Best Bets – the most likely tackle for the Bucs to select in Rounds 1-3, and in Rounds 4-7.

What The Bucs Have At Offensive Tackle

Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs

Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Tampa Bay has one of the best pairs of offensive tackles in the NFL in Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs. Smith is coming off his best season in his seven-year Bucs career. He showed more consistency from snap-to-snap and impressed with an improved snatch-and-trap move. Wirfs made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team last year in his second season. He has the potential to go down as the best offensive lineman in Tampa Bay history. Wirfs is on a possible Hall of Fame trajectory if he avoids injury and consistently maintains his high level of play.

The Bucs re-signed Josh Wells this offseason. Tampa Bay has signed him to a one-year contract in each of the last four seasons. He has the versatility to be a swing tackle capable of playing on the left and right side. But Wells can also move inside to guard in a pinch. Wells’ experience gives him the inside track to be the third tackle on the depth chart. The Bucs also signed Fred Johnson, who played at Florida. The massive 6-foot-7, 326-pounder played right tackle and guard for three years in Cincinnati. He’s a mauler in the run game with a lot of upside. He could stick as a reserve lineman this year. The Bucs will also bring Brandon Walton and Jonathan Hubbard to camp for competition.

What The Bucs Need At Offensive Tackle

The Bucs are set at offensive tackle with the starting duo of Wirfs and Smith. Tampa Bay’s re-signing of Wells and the addition of Johnson gives the team two experienced, versatile reserves at left and right tackle. Johnson’s ability to move inside to guard also helps with positional flexibility across the offensive line.

Tampa Bay likely won’t draft another offensive tackle. If the team does it might be to grab another offensive lineman to move inside to left guard to challenge for a starting spot. The Bucs already have Aaron Stinnie, Nick Leverett and Robert Hainsey to compete for the right to replace Ali Marpet. Tampa Bay can never have enough good offensive line talent. And if the right lineman is there the Bucs could pull the trigger in the third, fourth or seventh round to add depth.

beef o bradysPewterReport.com’s 2022 NFL Draft Previews + Bucs’ Best Bets are presented by Beef ‘O’Brady’s – Good Food. Good Sports.

Visit BeefOBradys.com to place your order for Draft Weekend! From to-go to full-on catering – make it Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. Visit any of the 45 Tampa Bay area Beef ‘O’ Brady’s locations. See you at Beef’s!

Top Offensive Tackles In 2022 NFL Draft

*Important Note: These players are NOT listed in the order of Pewter Report’s ranking for them. Rather, the numbers are provided to show you the rough order in which we expect them to come off the board during the draft.

1. N.C. State OT Ikem Ekwonu – Junior – 6-4, 310, 4.93

Ekwonu has very few holes in his game and projects as an immediate starter at left tackle. A mauler in the run game, he improved his pass protecting tremendously in 2021. His athleticism is clear when watching him, and he can ascend to the second level quickly. He displays good foot quickness to pair with lateral mobility. Ekwonu has the prototypical build and nasty demeanor teams look for in offensive linemen.

There are very few inconsistencies in Ekwonu’s game, but he can improve in a few areas. He needs to be more consistent in his hand placement. And in his pass sets he will sometimes lunge at defenders. He can be overaggressive at times, and needs to show more consistency in his initial punch often misfiring. The first team All-American, first team All-ACC and Jacobs Blocking Award lineman started 36 games for the Wolfpack over his three-year collegiate career. Ekwonu should be drafted inside the top 10 picks.

2. Alabama OT Evan Neal – Junior – 6-7, 337, N/A

Alabama OT Evan Neal

Alabama OT Evan Neal – Photo by: USA Today

Neal projects as a day one starter in the NFL. A dominant run blocker, his massive 6-7, 350-pound frame allows him to bully defenders. He shows incredible burst off the snap and can knock opponents back with his powerful punch. Also, he utilizes his length and size which allows him to edge defenders off from the pocket.

Neal has several things to improve on at the next level, such as weight distribution and hand placement. He’ll often lunge at defenders in pass protection and is inconsistent in his technique and leverage. Finally, he doesn’t possess elite lateral movement and is susceptible to speed rushers. The consensus first team All-American and first team All-SEC tackle was a team captain for the Crimson Tide. Neal started 40 games at three different positions in his three years at Alabama. Neal should be drafted inside the top 10 picks.

 3. Mississippi State OT Charles Cross – RS Sophomore – 6-4, 307, 4.95

There is no doubting Cross’ potential to develop into a top left tackle. He is excellent in pass protection and displays great technique and football IQ. Possessing elite athleticism, he fires out of his stance and his superb footwork allows him to mirror defenders. One of Cross’ biggest concerns is his run blocking, as he’s coming from an air raid offense. He also needs to be more consistent in hand placement and getting better depth in pass protection sets.  He’ll struggle with speed rushers and can sometimes get caught with counters. The first team All-American, first team All-SEC and Kent Hull Trophy winner started 22 games at left tackle in his three years with the Bulldogs. He’s expected to be selected within the top 15 picks.

4. Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning – RS Senior – 6-7, 325, 4.89

Penning is a powerful blocker with a nasty demeanor that plays through the whistle. He’s got the prototypical frame teams gush over and the athleticism to match. Penning plays with sound technique in the passing game with a strong anchor, very rarely getting bull rushed. He’s like a torpedo in the run game, firing out of his stance with a strong first punch.

Penning will need to get better at his technique, often relying on his strength to win at the point of attack. In addition, he can sometimes be over-aggressive and will lunge at defenders.  He’s guilty of occasionally playing with high pad level that will cause him to lose leverage in pass blocking sets. Level of competition is a concern as well, but he could start his rookie year. The first team All-American, first team All-MVFC, started 33 games over his five years with the Panthers. He is projected to be selected within the first 20 picks.

5. Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann – Senior – 6-6, 303, 5.05

Raimann, a former tight end, is extremely athletic with good lateral movement and recovery speed. He displays exceptional mirroring skills in pass sets and has good balance. A quick learner, he possesses a good football IQ and shows a natural feel for the position.

However, Raimann will need to get bigger in his lower body to anchor better. He has a tendency to open his hips too early in pass sets and lacks power in his punch and grip. Another knock on him is his arm length, at just 33 inches. Because of that he may be best suited to move inside. He’ll also be a 25-year-old rookie. The first team All-MAC and MAC Medal of Excellence winner started 29 games for the Chippewas including 11 starts at tight end. He’s projected to be taken in the second round but could sneak in the end of the first, competing to start his rookie year.

6. Tulsa OT Tyler Smith – RS Sophomore – 6-4, 324, 5.02

Tulsa OT Tyler Smith bucs

Tulsa OT Tyler Smith – Photo by: USA Today

There are plenty of things to like about Smith as a prospect, starting with his violent playing style. He has one of the strongest grip strengths in the draft. Once he latches on to the defender, it’s over. He’s surprisingly nimble for a man his size and displays good lateral movement and burst off the line.

But Smith tends to play with a high pad level and loses leverage battles because of it. He’ll need to refine his technique in pass protection sets and is vulnerable to speed rushes. His footwork needs work as well; he’ll often grab defenders to stop them, leading to holding penalties. Smith will need some time to develop and may be forced to move inside to guard. The second team All-AAC tackle started 23 games over three seasons for the Golden Hurricanes. He is expected be selected in the second round, but will need time to grow into a starter.

7. Minnesota OT Daniel Faalele – Senior – 6-8, 384, 5.60

Faalele is a mountain of a man. He’s got incredible length, boasting an 85” wingspan. His initial punch can knock defenders off balance, and he has an impressive anchor. For a player of his size, he shows surprisingly good quickness and has an explosive burst off the line. His wide frame and long arms make it difficult for defenders to get their hands on him or get around him.

Faalele will struggle with speed rushers that line up wide and needs to be more consistent with hand placement and timing. He struggles with balance issues, and because of his size can play with a high pad level. He lacks natural instincts for the position and isn’t the nastiest finisher. The first team All-Big Ten started 31 games at right tackle over his three years for the Gophers. He’s expected to come off the board in the second or third round and should compete for a starting job right away.

8. Washington State OT Abraham Lucas – RS Senior – 6-6, 315, 4.92

Lucas is an excellent pass protector with the ideal size and length for the position. He displays great instincts and tremendous hand movement. He has strong hands and plays with good fluidity in his pass sets. Coming from an air raid offense, Lucas needs to be more consistent in his run blocking. He can be slow to anchor and struggles with speed-to-power defenders. While he has good athleticism, he’s not explosive and wasted movements can open up soft outside edges. The first team All-Pac 12 right tackle started 42 games over his five years with the Cougars. He is projected to go in the third round, but could sneak into the latter half of the second.

9. UCLA OT Sean Rhyan – Junior – 6-4, 321, 5.25

Rhyan started 31 games over three seasons at UCLA, where he earned first team All-Pac 12 in 2021. His compact build and short arms make a transition to guard a likely possibility for him in the NFL. Rhyan’s testing numbers show a great athlete for the guard position, although his tape showed more flashes of that athleticism rather than consistent dominance. Rhyan has an amazing grip when he latches, allowing him to control and drive his defender wherever he wants. He can climb to the second level and blow up linebackers when he can get his hands on them. But Rhyan can struggle against longer, faster pass rushers. Rhyan has a tendency to overset, allowing defenders to cross back on him with a free lane to the QB. The junior will most likely be a late Day 2 pick.

10. Ohio State OT Nicholas Petit-Frere – RS Junior- 6-5, 316, 5.14

Petit-Frere is far from a polished prospect, but has the NFL frame and length that teams look for. He’s quick off the snap and has little trouble moving in space, reaching the second level with ease. A stellar run blocker, he violently drives defenders and is a nasty finisher. He has good athleticism and powerful hand strength to latch onto defenders.

Where Petit-Frere will need to improve is in pass protection. He’s inconsistent with his hands and can fail to establish leverage at times. He sometimes displays muddy footwork and is a bit light in his anchor. He’ll struggle with timing and tends to float too wide in pass sets, limiting his recovery. The first team All-American, first team All-Big Ten offensive lineman started 32 games for the Buckeyes at both left and right tackle. He is projected to be selected in the third or early fourth round.

beef o bradys bucs

Best Of The Rest

11. Penn State OT Rasheed Walker – RS Junior – 6-6, 313, N/A

Walker has great size and displays an excellent anchor to sit down vs bull rushes. He’s got violent hands in pass sets and quick feet to recover. Walker also explodes off the snap and has little trouble getting in front of screens and reaching the second level. However, Walker often displays poor leverage, lunging at defenders. He has an inconsistent punch, and his lateral stiffness will put him in unfavorable positions. Choppy footwork and high pads get him in trouble. He’ll also take bad angles at the second level, especially in the run game. The honorable mention All-Big Ten left tackle and team captain started 32 games for the Nittany Lions. He is projected to be selected in the third or fourth rounds.

12. Southern Utah OT Braxton Jones – RS Senior – 6-5, 310, 4.97

Jones often displays good depth in his pass set and excellent quickness out of his snap to deal with speedier rushers. He’s got great grip strength, and once he latches can drive defenders off the line in the run game. Jones has elite length and plays the game with an aggressive demeanor.

However, Jones has a tendency to play with a high pad level, losing leverage. He’s inconsistent with his hands, often slow to react, and doesn’t have a great punch. His light anchor allows him to be pushed back into the pocket as he doesn’t display good knee bend, often relying on the strength of his upper body. The first team All-American and first team All-Big Sky left tackle started 39 games for the Thunderbirds. He’s projected to be selected in the fourth round.

13. Arizona State OT Kellen Diesch – RS Senior – 6-7, 303, 4.89

Diesch shows great balance and technique in pass sets with excellent hand placement. He plays with good pad level, getting low at the point of attack. Diesch has smooth movement skills getting to the next level and pulling in space. He’s got quick feet and a natural feel for the position too.

But Diesch is light in his anchor and can get driven back by bull rushes. His shorter arms make it easier for defenders to knock away his hands, resulting in grabbing and lunging from the big tackle. He displays choppy footwork at times, and needs to improve as a run blocker. The second team All-Pac 12 left tackle started 17 games for the Sun Devils after transferring from Texas A&M. He projects as a day three pick, selected in the fourth or fifth rounds.

14. Louisiana OT Max Mitchell – Senior – 6-6, 307, 5.32

Mitchell’s greatest strength is in pass protection, where he gets great depth and plays with good balance. He displays excellent reactionary athleticism with good feet and solid lateral movement. In the run game, Mitchell shows strong balance with the ability to climb to the next level. Mitchell will need to continue to add bulk in the NFL. His inconsistent anchor leaves him susceptible to speed-to-power rushers, and he’s not physically imposing. He lacks the strength to move defenders off the ball, and doesn’t dominate at the point of attack. The first team All-Sun Belt lineman made 29 starts at left tackle and seven at right tackle in his four years with the Ragin’ Cajuns. He projects as a day three prospect selected between the fourth and fifth rounds.

15. Southern OT Ja’Tyre Carter – RS Senior – 6-3, 311, 5.13

Southern OL Ja'Tyre Carter Bucs

Southern OL Ja’Tyre Carter – Photo courtesy of Southern University

Carter fires out of his stance, engaging defenders with good grip strength. He has a high football IQ and understands blocking angles and uses his body position to his advantage. He’s got quick feet and above average lateral mobility. However, Carter needs to play with better balance and avoid lunging at defenders. He’s not an explosive athlete and will struggle with speed rushers. He has just average strength and is inconsistent with his hand placement. He may be better suited to slide inside at guard. The second team All-SWAC left tackle made 37 starts for the Jaguars over his five years. Carter had a zoom meeting with the Bucs during the pre-draft process. He is projected to go in the sixth or seventh round in the draft.

16. North Dakota OT Matt Waletzko – Senior – 6-7, 320, 5.03

There are a lot of things to like about Waletzko’s game. He possesses elite length with an 86-inch wingspan and has outstanding athleticism for his size. He displays good range and lateral mobility, along with solid recovery ability. For someone of his stature, Waletzko plays with good bend and pad level in his pass sets. However, Waletzko’s light frame sees him struggle with powerful rushers and he’ll need to add bulk to his lower body. He is guilty of overreaching, leaving him off balance and causing him to lose his footing. He’s often late off the snap, allowing defenders to get an initial move on him and doesn’t possess elite grip strength to recover.

Another area of concern is his ability to sustain blocks at the second level and the level competition he faced in the FCS. The second team All-American and first team All-MVFC left tackle was a team captain starting 29 games for the Fighting Hawks over his four years. Waletzko had a virtual meeting with the Bucs in the pre-draft process. He is projected to be selected in the seventh round, but could sneak into the back half of the sixth.

Bucs’ Best Bets: Offensive Tackles

Bucs’ Best Bet – Rounds 1-3: UCLA OL Sean Rhyan

UCLA OL Sean Rhyan Bucs

UCLA OL Sean Rhyan – Photo by: USA Today

Rhyan was a three-year starter at left tackle at UCLA since his freshman season. He has tremendous experience and had some great film against Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, a potential Top 10 pick, this year. Rhyan is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-5, 321 pounds with a massive torso and trunk and thick legs. He has tremendous grip strength and creates enough torque with his upper body to literally throw defenders aside. That’s likely due to his high experience as a three-time shot put champion. Rhyan also played rugby in high school and is a nasty, physical offensive lineman as a result.

He had enough quickness and athleticism to play left tackle in college. But Rhyan would have to move inside to guard or perhaps to right tackle in some schemes at the next level. His feet are inconsistent from snap to snap. Rhyan will show good quickness on a kick step on one play, but then stop his feet when engaged with a defender on another. That leads to lunging and losing leverage. Rhyan also has a propensity of not trusting his feet at times, evidenced by more false starts than he would like. The Bucs could be interested in this massive lineman in the third round or fourth round. Rhyan is an extremely hard worker with a great, no-nonsense demeanor that Tampa Bay craves in players.

Bucs’ Best Bet – Rounds 4-7: Southern OL Ja’Tyre Carter

Carter starred at Southern where he played left tackle for the Jaguars. At 6-foot-3, 311 pounds, Carter is built like versatile Bucs offensive lineman Nick Leverett. With his frame a move inside to guard seems likely. It should be noted that Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht has a history of drafting college tackles and moving them inside. That happened in 2015 with Ali Marpet, in 2018 with Alex Cappa and last year with Robert Hainsey. Carter’s great play at the HBCU level afforded him a trip to the Senior Bowl where he more than held his own vs top competition. Against the likes of potential first-rounders Logan Hall and Travis Jones, Carter performed equally well in pass protection and in the run game.

Carter does need some technique work. He has a habit of stopping his feet at times in pass protection and standing upright. That causes him to lose his leverage and get driven backwards. But Carter does have strong hands and a powerful grip, which helps him latch on to pass rushers. Carter is also mobile enough to get to the second level and seal off linebackers in the run game. If the Bucs decide to draft an offensive lineman for depth and competition late on Day 3, Carter could be an option. Tampa Bay has met with him this offseason.

Share On Socials

About the Author: J.C. Allen

J.C. Allen is one of PewterReport.com’s newest beat writers. As a New England transplant, he has closely followed Tom Brady’s entire career and first fell in love with the game during the Patriots 1996 Super Bowl run. J.C. is in his second year covering the team after spending a year with Bucs Report as a writer, producer and show host. Some of his other interests include barbecuing, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. His favorite Buccaneer of all time is Simeon Rice and believes he deserves a spot in Canton. Follow J.C. Allen on Twitter @JCAllenNFL.
Subscribe
Notify of
2 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
scubog
scubog
2 months ago

Gee, I thought for sure Ted in Tampa would be pimping Sean Rhyan to replace Donovan Smith even though virtually every evaluator projects him to guard. No idea why both “Best Bets” for OT’s are likely guards. I’d sure like to see someone a bit better than Josh Wells. Maybe Fred Johnson is that guy.