Southern California offensive lineman Tyron Smith
Darron Cummings, ASSOCIATED PRESS
NFL draft analysis: offensive linemen
- April 21, 2011 - 8:42 AM
TYRON SMITH, SOUTHERN CAL
The starting right tackle for the Trojans the past two seasons, Smith projects to end up as a left tackle in the NFL and thus is expected to be taken in the upper half of the first round.
There has been speculation Smith could go to Dallas with the ninth pick.
There were some concerns about how light the 6-5 Smith was when he dropped to 285 pounds last season, but he put on 25 pounds before the NFL scouting combine in February and is listed at 307.
Pro Football Weekly calls Smith "clearly the most athletically gifted left tackle prospect in the draft," adding, "Smith looks the way that scouts would draw up a left tackle -- extremely athletic physical specimen with rare arm length and huge mitts to go along with terrific feet."
Smith's football intelligence has been questioned by some.
Another issue is Smith's lack of time at left tackle. He played in 10 games on that side as a reserve in 2008 during his true freshman season but was then moved to right tackle, starting 12 games in 2009 and 12 more in 2010. Smith was named the top lineman in the Pac-10 after last season.
Smith had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee for a meniscus tear in December but impressed NFL executives in late March at his pro day. He put up 225 pounds 31 times, improving his combine total by two, and ran 40-yard dashes that ranged from 4.96 to 5.03 seconds, according to reports.
1. ANTHONY CASTONZO, BOSTON COLL.
After starting 14 games at right tackle in 2007, Castonzo (6-7, 311 pounds) was moved to left tackle and started all 40 games over his final three seasons with the Eagles. Projected as a first-round pick, Castonzo was not at his best at the Senior Bowl but he did show versatility by playing both tackle and guard. That could mean Castonzo has the potential to begin his career at another spot on the line and eventually shift to left tackle. Leadership and smarts are not an issue with Castonzo. He was a team captain and nominated to be a Rhodes Scholar.
2. GABE CARIMI, WISCONSIN
Another prospect who will bring versatility to the team that selects him. The 6-7, 314-pound Carimi played left tackle for the Badgers, but the feeling is he could be shifted to right tackle or guard. Carimi knows plenty about entering a situation with big expectations. After being redshirted in 2006, he replaced Joe Thomas at left tackle and started all 13 games. Thomas was the third overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2007. Carimi displayed his toughness last season playing through a sprained left shoulder. He started all 13 games and won the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman.
3. MIKE POUNCEY, FLORIDA
The last name alone puts plenty of pressure on Pouncey. His twin brother, Maurkice, was a first-round selection by Pittsburgh last April, stepped into a starting role at center and became the Steelers' first rookie Pro Bowl selection in nine years. Mike Pouncey (6-5, 303) played in 14 games at guard in 2009, including 12 on the right side, before being moved to center to replace Maurkice last season. Mike had some issues at center early and could be moved back to guard in the NFL.
ORLANDO FRANKLIN, MIAMI (FLA.)
Franklin primarily played left guard in 2009 but made the transition to left tackle last season and started 12 of 13 games. Listed at 6-5, 316 pounds, Pro Football Weekly describes Franklin as "an enormous, ornery big man who looks every bit the part."
There has been speculation the Vikings could use the 12th overall selection on a tackle. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie will turn 32 in September and the Vikings also could be looking for help in the interior. Center John Sullivan (leg) and right guard Anthony Herrera (knee) battled injuries last season and left guard Steve Hutchinson will turn 34 in November.
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