Stacking up the competition for a tackle

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I spent some time this weekend working to catch up on all of the mock drafts going on out there and the mocking of mock drafts when I came across an interesting tidbit in the Tennessean.

Jeff Lockridge reported from the Vanderbilt pro day on Friday where offensive tackle Chris Williams was on display for a host of about 50 NFL scouts, including the Bears Rex Hogan. He chatted with agent Bill Johnson, who represents Williams (and Brian Urlacher), and Johnson listed the Bears, Carolina, Houston and Baltimore as potential destinations for Williams.

We’ve seen quite a bit of interest, Johnson told the Tennessean. “We feel like 13 teams in the top 20 could take a tackle.

Now, its a loaded class with talent at offensive tackle, but there isnt that much depth if that many teams are in pursuit of tackles. Johnsons remarks made me chuckle a little. Sure, an agent is going to say anything he can to boost the standing of his client. Thats his job. But 13?

Worth considering is exactly what kind of competition the Bears will have to draft an offensive tackle with the 14th pick in the first round. Its one of the teams greatest needs and there is considerable speculation general manager Jerry Angelo will go that way with the first pick. So, Johnsons remarks led me to review some of the mock drafts and other information out there.

First, I turned to the Sporting News Draft 08 guide. Each team has its needs ranked so I found the clubs with an offensive tackle as one of its top three needs:

(First-round draft position in parentheses)

1st needBears (14), Kansas City (5), Miami (1)

2nd needAtlanta (3), Baltimore (8), Philadelphia (19), San Diego (27), Washington (21)

3rd needArizona (16), Cincinnati (9), Green Bay (30), Houston (18), New York Jets (6), St. Louis (2)

Using that list, 11 teams selecting in the top 20 are in need of an offensive tackle. Maybe Johnson isnt far off.

Then, I looked at some of the mock drafts going on to see how many tackles are projected to be selected in the first round and where.

First, the dean of mock drafts, ESPNs Mel Kiper Jr., has five going in the first round with the Bears grabbing Williams at 14.

Kiper projects:

5. Kansas CityJake Long, Michigan

12. DenverRyan Clady, Boise State

14. BearsWilliams, Vanderbilt

19. PhiladelphiaJeff Otah, Pittsburgh

29. San FranciscoGosder Cherilus, Boston College

ESPNs Todd McShay also has five tackles coming off the board in Round 1:

5. Kansas CityLong

8. BaltimoreClady

12. DenverWilliams

13. CarolinaOtah

29. San FranciscoCherilus

Finally, NFL.coms Vic Carucci continues the trend. He forecasts five tackles going in the first round also:

2. St. LouisLong

5. Kansas CityClady

12. DenverWilliams

13. CarolinaOtah

29. San FranciscoCherilus

At least its a good year to be in the market for a tackle.

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