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2017 NFL Draft offensive line watch list: Cam Robinson, Pat Elflein, others to watch

The 49ers offensive line is showing improvement, but there is always room for more depth. We’ve got a look at a few options in next year’s draft to watch this fall.

The 49ers offensive line is unexpectedly turning into a bright spot in the offense. All spots on the offensive line are solidified, but the team should be looking for a replacement for Joe Staley. Considering the Niners draft in the top ten, there’s no left tackle worth selecting that high. However, there are quality players that are deserving of a second or third-round pick. Here are some names to look out for.

Zach Banner

#73 | USC Trojans | Senior | OT
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 360 lbs
Career Accomplishments: 2015 All-American third team and All-Pac-12 first team, Phil Steele All-Pac-12 second team

Strengths: The obvious – size. At 6-foot-9, 360-pounds, Banner’s frame is unparalleled. His length makes it very difficult for pass rushers to get around him. He is also athletic for a guy his size, displaying the ability to get to the second level in a hurry and pull. Banner also wins by keeping defenders off his chest and utilizing excellent hand placement.

Weaknesses: He plays too upright. It’s a hard fix due to massive size, but it leaves him vulnerable to power rushers getting low and knocking him off balance. Banner also lacks elite foot quickness, which causes him to get beat off the edge by speedy opposition. Is not a bulldozer in the run game and doesn’t fuel his blocks through his legs.

Round Projection: 2nd-3rd

Cam Robinson

#74 | Alabama Crimson Tide | Junior | OT
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 327 lbs
Career Accomplishments: FWAA Freshman All-American, USA Today High School All-American (2013)

Strengths: Showcases a strong lower base in pass protection. He has the ability to hold ground against power rushers and packs a vicious punch to keep defenders off his chest. In the run game, Robinson is unstoppable. He can reach the second level and get blocks made due to his athleticism. He fires off the ball with force and finishes very well.

Weaknesses: Robinson is often caught off balance due to poor technique. He tends to lunge and then get shed by his opposition. Bad decision making off the field led to his arrest.

Round Projection: 1st

Ethan Pocic

#77 | LSU Tigers | Senior | OG-C
Height: 6’7” | Weight: 302 lbs
Career Accomplishments: 2015 SEC Academic Honor Roll, 2015 All-SEC Second Team (Coaches)

Strengths: Pocic has recorded 216 knockdown blocks over his three-year career, including 132.5 in his junior campaign. He’s a brick wall. He wins through his strength and viciousness at the point of attack. Pocic plays to the whistle and has above-average athleticism and hip flexibility.

Weaknesses: Pad level is too high. He’s 6-foot-7 so Pocic is bound to have some trouble in that area, but I’d like to see him bend at the knees more. Will sometimes pick the wrong the defender coming across the formation.

Round Projection: 1st-2nd

Roderick Johnson

#77 | Florida State Seminoles | Junior | OT
Height: 6’7” | Weight: 311 lbs
Career Accomplishments: All-ACC First Team (Media, Coaches), All-America Second Team (Sporting News, USA Today Sports), ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy Winner

Strengths: Possesses ideal size and length for a left tackle. Johnson isn’t overly violent in run-blocking, but he does get the job done. He can wall off defenders and open holes effectively. He wins with insides hands allowing him to turn his defender.

Weaknesses: Moves like he has cylinder blocks on his feet. Roderick’s slow feet paired with his high pad level gives him trouble on the edge. He lacks the quickness and agility to compete with speedy opposition. Johnson is also very stiff. His absence of hip and knee stiffness results in him relying on his upper body, often over extending.

Draft Projection: 3rd

Pat Elflein

#65 | Ohio State Buckeyes | Senior | OG-C
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 300 lbs
Career Accomplishments: Academic All-Big Ten Conference honor, three OSU Scholar-Athlete awards, two-time first-team all-Big Ten Conference guard

Strengths: Elflein is a glass-eater. He plays nasty and generates great drive in the run game. Elflein utilizes his strong upper body to cling to the defender and push him out of the play. He plays with a good base and stays balanced in pass protection. He’s smart and plays with likeable awareness. Elflein’s eyes are impressive – can sense pressure and picks up blitzes well.

Weaknesses: Is not overly athletic and does not showcase great speed when asked to pull. He also struggles against opposition with length and power. Elflein’s arm size is average at best, so longer defensve lineman get into his chest first.

Draft Projection: 2nd