As the NFL Scouting Combine gets underway here in Indianapolis the much hyped 2010 draft class will finally be put on display, first to team physicians for the medical exams and then GMs and scouts for interviews and workouts. And for teams in need of starting offensive tackle help at the top of the draft, there should be options.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock believes after seeing three selected in the top 10 last year that four could come off the board in this year's class.
"I think you're going to see some movement with the offensive tackles early in the first round similarly to two years ago where we had eight offensive tackles taken in the first round," said Mayock. "I believe six of them may go in that first round this year."
He does however see a drop off in talent at offensive tackle after his seventh edge pass protector, Maryland junior Bruce Campbell. His top six beforeCampbell are Oklahoma State's Russell Okung, Rutgers Anthony Davis, Iowa's Bryan Bulaga, Oklahoma's Trent Williams, USC's Charles Brown and UMASS' Vladimir Ducasse.
After the sudden retirement of Brad Butler last week Buffalo has only one starting tackle from last year's opening day roster in Demetrius Bell, who is coming off a knee injury that landed him on injured reserve last season. The only other tackles under contract that saw time in 2009 were veteran backup Kirk Chambers and second-year players Jamon Meredith and Andre Ramsey who joined the team after the season started.
Offensive tackle figures to get some long, hard consideration by Buffalo's decision makers. When Buffalo is on the clock at nine, Okung is likely to be gone possibly going as high as four to Washington. With Kansas City at five, Seattle at six and Oakland at eight all in need of edge pass protectors, it's hard to say who might be there for the Bills. But Mayock believes any of his top four would represent good value.
"Bulaga from Iowa is the kind of kid that would fit perfectly in Buffalo," said Mayock. "You're talking about a cold weather kid that's tough and technique proficient. His technique is tremendous, he's been coached very well. He's a tough kid, he's smart in both the run and pass games. I think he's ready to start.
"I think the Davis kid from Rutgers even though he's a junior and may be a little inconsistent, he's got the talent to play on the left side day one. He's supremely talented.
"Trent Williams the Oklahoma kid is probably better suited for the right side, but on tape it looks like he can play on the left side to me. I think you could plug him in. With the Bills picking ninth, those are the four guys I think have a chance to be there."
The offensive tackles arrive here at the combine in Indianapolis Thursday along with the rest of the offensive linemen and tight ends as they begin their three-day job interviews.