Yahoo! Sports came out with their first-round grades. Not surprisingly, the Browns took a much-needed offensive tackle to help shore up their line and give quarterback Baker Mayfield some breathing room.
It is speculated that Jedrick Wills, Jr., who played right tackle exclusively at Alabama, will be moved to the left side while free agent RT acquisition Jack Conklin will be inserted into his familiar right tackle spot with Cleveland.
However, do not be so quick to insert Wills on the left side.
Conklin played both tackle positions in his freshman year in college and started all 13 games at left tackle and was named First Team All-Big 10 at that position. In fact, during his stint at Michigan State he started 35 games at left tackle and just three on the rightside.
Wills played three years at right tackle at Alabama. It would become easier for Conklin to make the switch than Wills. Leftside and rightside are completely different. The stance is opposite, placement of the hands is different, first-step, angles, muscle memory, dropback positioning, pulling and add the fact that the right defensive end is usually that opponent’s best pass rusher.
That is a good problem for offensive line coach Bill Callahan to make. GM Andrew Berry stated they drafted Wills, their best-ranked offensive tackle, to play the leftside.
There were six offensive tackles drafted in the first-round, and here are the individual team rankings from Yahoo! Sports on each of these players:
Pick #4) New York Giants: OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia — Dave Gettleman and company select the third overall tackle on our board to protect Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. Thomas’ issues with pass-protection technique are worrisome, but he’s an NFL-grade run blocker from Day 1 at either OT spot. Grade: B.
Pick #10) Cleveland Browns: OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama — The Browns get exactly what they needed, an elite tackle to play in front of Baker Mayfield, and not having to trade up for him was a gift. Wills is an explosive, aggressive run blocker and emerging pass protector who has few obvious shortcomings. Grade: A-.
Pick #11) New York Jets: OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville — We had Tristan Wirfs rated higher, and Becton’s weight control will be an issue, but new GM Joe Douglas’ first pick is a massive gamble on upside. Becton has a rare, generational combination of size and athleticism – with elements of his game that need cleaning up. Grade: B-.
Pick #13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from 49ers): OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa — First Tom Brady gets Gronk, now he gets a stud tackle. Tampa Bay trades up and surprisingly nabs LT/RT flexibility and an athlete of Wirfs’ caliber at 13. He has the finesse and power to succeed in the NFL, if he can fix a few technical flaws. Grade: A-.
Pick #18) Miami Dolphins: OT Austin Jackson, USC — We had Jackson as the No. 68 overall prospect. Others had him far higher, and he did donate bone marrow to his sister right before last season, which might’ve hindered his play. We just weren’t in love with him, and believe he needs lot of development. Grade: C-.
Pick #29) Tennessee Titans: OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia — A predictable pick. The Titans are a power run team and needed a RT after losing Jack Conklin in free agency. Wilson’s arrow is pointing up, though he wasn’t our favorite OT in this class and some scouts secretly wished he’d have stayed in school and developed another year. Grade: C+.
So, Yahoo! Sports loves the Browns’ pick of Wills at the number 10 slot. The best part is that GM Berry waited for the draft to come to him and was able to get the franchise’s best OT prospect without spending any of their other draft picks.
And in his post first-round presser, Berry stated that they drafted Wills specifically to be the left tackle. Before Conklin inked his contract with Cleveland, perhaps part of their agreement was that he would be inserted on the rightside. And perhaps before Berry selected Wills, he asked the young buck if he had any issue switching sides.
Apparently the answer was “no worries.”
Grade the grader. What is your assessment of Yahoo! Sports grading of the offensive tackles taken in Round 1?
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