The Niners are in a unique and enviable position this offseason - Jimmy Garoppolo just got locked up on a 5 year deal worth $137.5 million and there is still around $70 million in cap space to utilize. Many believe that this means the contention window for San Francisco is officially open and it’s just a matter of getting the right pieces in place to make a nice playoff run.
The red and gold finished the season strong as they rattled off five wins in a row - which is impressive considering how many holes there are on this roster. Having solidified protection up front after investing heavily in Garoppolo should be near the top of the to-do list for Lynch & Co. this offseason. Joe Staley and Trent Brown seem to have things locked down on both ends of the offensive line but 1) we don’t know how many years Staley has left and 2) there is a chance that Brown does not stay with San Francisco when he hits free agency in 2019. Taking all that into consideration - and having already identified some prospects at guard - we will not identify some of the top talents at tackle in this year’s class.
Top 5 Offensive Tackle Prospects
Orlando Brown - OT
Orlando Brown - University of Oklahoma Height/Weight: 6’7”, 345 lb. Projected 40 Time: 5.45
First on the list is a behemoth of a man, Orlando Brown. 2017 found him being honored as a unanimous first-team All-American, first-team all Big-12, and Big-12 Offensive Lineman of the Year. He started all 40 career games while at OU (all at left tackle).
Just based on size alone, Brown looks the part of an NFL-ready lineman. It seems like offensive linemen are able to stick around for a long period of time. Has the ability to absolutely bullrush opponents. Makes it difficult for pass rushers to get around him due to his massive frame and impressive arm length (which, in turn, plays into the fact that he is a good recovery blocker as well). Overall he is a mauler who will look to intimidate and overwhelm the man across from him on the line of scrimmage. His height, though, provides him a disadvantage when it comes to not having low center of gravity. That inability to gain leverage consistently will worry some folks, but the sheer size and strength of Brown will all but guarantee him a spot somewhere in the first round.
Draft projection: 1st round
Mike McGlinchey - OT
Mike McGlinchey - Notre Dame Height/Weight: 6’7”, 315 lb. Projected 40 Time: 5.30
He - along with guard Quenton Nelson - helped open up holes for one of the top rushing attacks in the nation in 2017 (7.06 yards per carry). Has a background as a tight end which translates into him being a fairly fluid athlete. Has experienced success in both zone and gap schemes and has the ability to play either right or left tackle (any sort of study of film on him will suggest that he is, in fact, more comfortable on the right side instead of the left. A quality down-blocker who tends to get good amounts of movement and push with leg churn.
The knock on him is that he doesn’t have ideal core strength but that is something that can be worked on as he continues to add mass to his frame. Despite that I still expect him to be swooped up in the first round.
Draft projection: 1st round
Connor Williams - OT
Connor Williams - University of Texas Height/Weight: 6’5”, 315 lb. Projected 40 time: 5.31
This year’s draft class seems to lack a clear-cut number one prospect at tackle, but players like Williams don’t mind that - there is a plethora of players who will benefit from the class being so convoluted by similarly-skilled linemen. Williams, though, should be near the top of the pack. He has a habit of being a tenacious weight room presence and is a quality leader in the locker room. In 2016 he earned consensus first-team All-American and first-team All-Conference accolades after starting 11 of 12 games at left tackle. 2017, though, he was injured more often than not (left knee). Also his lack of length may be problematic.
The big question is if Williams will be able to bounce back from injuries and have a solid combine. If so, he’s a guy who may find himself in a pretty good situation heading into the 2018 football season.
Draft projection: Late 1st/early 2nd round
Kolton Miller - OT
Kolton Miller - UCLA Height/Weight: 6’8”, 310 lb. Projected 40 time: 5.25
Miller had a pretty solid season in 2017 as he saw time protecting Josh Rosen’s blindside at left tackle. Has good length to and the ability to stay on the edge in the NFL. Has necessary foot quickness and athletic ability to secure a starting spot at some point in his career. There are worries, though, about the fact that powerful opponents being able to yank him off balance with pulls and sheds.
He has an opportunity to become a nice starter in the NFL but he may need to sit behind some veterans for a year or two. That would provide him with time to work on his footwork and add mass to his frame.
Draft projection: 2nd/3rd round
Chukwuma Okorafor - OT
Chukwuma Okorafor - Western Michigan University Height/Weight: 6’5”, 330 lb. Projected 40 time: 5.39
Chukwuma Okorafor, pronounced “chuck-WOO-muh oh-KOR-uh-for,” came to the United States from Nigeria in 2010 and is slated to be drafted during day 2 of the the draft - pretty impressive for a young man who has not been playing football for very long. Okorafor has thick, well-proportioned frame and carries it comfortably.
Okorafor was First Team All-MAC in 2016 and 2017 and for good reason - he has a unique set of size and athleticism that most are hoping translates into a long and prosperous NFL career. He is a little bit awkward coming out of his stance and, for his size, has a very narrow base. All these things can be worked on with time so it would benefit him greatly if he found himself in an organization where he’d be able to learn the game from some strong veteran leadership.
Draft projection: 2nd round
Alex Cappa - OT
Alex Cappa - Humboldt State University Height/Weight: 6’7”, 305 lb. Projected 40 time: 5.45
How many Lumberjack fans do we have reading right now? They’d be the first to tell you about how good Alex Cappa is; he has a shot at being the first Humboldt State football player to be drafted since the NFL Draft moved from 12 rounds to 7 (Freeman Baysinger, round 12, pick 333, New England Patriots).
Has agility to adjust blocks in space. Overall length and thickness of lower half of his body translates well from college to the pros. Has lateral quickness for reach and pull blocks. Footwork is there to handle combination blocks with proper timing. A downside that many will take into consideration is the fact that he has not consistently played against NFL-level talent, which could contribute to his draft stock. At the end of the day Cappa has the toughness and size to make a way for himself onto a team.