First Round: Taylor Decker, tackle, Ohio State
As Kent Platte noted in his first-round possibility piece, both Laremy Tunsil and Ronnie Stanley are extremely unlikely to last to the No. 11 pick. Tunsil would be a fantastic addition, but if your panties are in a bunch over missing the Notre Dame left tackle Stanley, let me assuage your anger.
Nov 21, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Taylor Decker (68) participates in warmups prior to the Buckeyes
Taylor Decker will be better than Ronnie Stanley.
It probably won’t look that way in 2016 or even 2017. Stanley is extremely well-coached and technically adept, as NFL-ready as his Fighting Irish predecessor Zach Martin. But his athleticism is already maxed out, and he has shown he lacks great strength at the point of attack in battles with Clemson’s Shaq Lawson and even Virginia’s Trent Corney. He’s not fast enough with his feet to compensate, either.
Decker doesn’t have those problems. While he tends to play a little high and isn’t as consistent with his squaring up on the edge, he’s got superior functional strength. He’s also significantly better at down blocking, crashing inside and creating big holes in the run game. Check out what he did to Michigan (Decker is No. 68)…
His floor is what Riley Reiff is right now. His ceiling is better than New England’s Nate Solder, a fellow 6’8” power player who went in the first round and developed into a very good left tackle after struggling a bit at first. I’ll take the higher ceiling over the safer pick, thank you very much.
Next: A Big 12 Guard/Tackle